Going bridesmaid dress shopping is one of the most frustrating tasks. Everyone means well, but women tend to have different taste in clothing. It’s hard to reach a consensus when you’re dealing with different body types, skin tones and grand wedding plans. Everything needs to match and look amazing preferably without costing an arm and a leg.
I had three people in my bridal party – a matron of honor, maid of honor and bridesmaid. I hoped that since I had been a bridesmaid before that I would know how to make the whole bridesmaid dress decision easier. I thought that if I had the ladies choose that everyone would be happier. I gave them one rule: they either needed to all be in the same dress or in similar dresses made of the same material.
We couldn’t find a lot of similar dresses that worked. A lot of manufacturers design two similar dresses for bridal parties, not three. We tried picking three random dresses with the same material and it didn’t look very good. When you’re working with a small wedding party it looks very odd and thrown together. The ladies didn’t want the maid and matron of honor in one dress and the only bridesmaid to be in another. Sadly, it turned out that everyone needed to be in the same dress.
The ladies wanted something that they could wear again and decided to choose a cocktail dress. It took us a long time to find a dress that would work on all body types. After a long search, we found one that had ruching very similar to my wedding dress. The ruching would magically draw your attention away from trouble areas of the body and flatter each body type. The catch was in the price tag. It was a $200 dress.
Now, I’ve never been lucky enough to spend under $150 on a bridesmaid dress not including accessories. This bridesmaid dress was going to cost more and would need alterations. I triple checked to make sure that this is what everyone wanted. It was an investment I wouldn’t normally ask unless they were sure this was “the one”.
Not everyone was completely sold, but it was the best compromise the group could make. Everyone purchased their dresses and we hoped for the best.
I don’t know if anyone in the bridal party ever worn their gowns a second time. The one thing I did notice is that after all of the extra work to pick the right dress the ladies decided to change for the reception. They wanted to wear something a bit more comfortable. They all matched for the wedding and then danced the night away in the dress of their choice. Everyone was happy in the end, which is what matters most.
Looking back, allowing the women to decide on the dress was the right decision. I thought they looked beautiful, but still wish the dress hadn’t cost them so much. The three of them were on different sides of the nation and it was very difficult to get a consensus over e-mail. Considering the fact that not everyone could go try on the dress, we had to hope for the best. It was the simplest option and in the end it made the most sense. If we’d all been in the same city, I am curious if the same dress would have been picked.
Looking back with my 20/20 hindsight, here’s my two cents on how to make the experience easier.
Tips for the Bride:
- Have fun and enjoy dress shopping.
- Expect drama and handle it as best as you can.
- Hold tight to your ability to overrule heinous options. You have the final say.
- Decide what matters the most. Do you care more about the color, the style or the price tag? Listen to your ladies, understand what they care about most and compromise.
- You cannot make everyone happy. Don’t let this decision stress you out any more than it needs to.
- Allow your bridal party a chance to express themselves. If they have to be in the same dress, let them pick the shoes, hairstyle and accessories.
- Always have a fun gathering after dress shopping. Try to organize a chance for your ladies to bond over more than their differing taste in clothing.
- If the bridal party isn’t in the same city, do the best you can. Not everyone enjoys technology and can communicate via e-mail or Facebook regularly. In this case, try to organize something fun before the wedding. Pedicures are always a great idea.
Tips for the Bridal Party:
- Pick your battles. If the wedding colors are pink and pink, then you can’t argue with the bride about the color of the dress. However wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable or ridiculous is something you should voice.
- In the end, the bride gets to overrule you. Instead of feeling stuck with a horrible dress, try to come up with a compromise. Maybe there’s something special you can suggest like a shawl or sweater that can make the ensemble more tolerable.
- Don’t worry about wearing the dress twice. You probably won’t.
- There will be handsome men at the wedding, but there won’t be a lot of time to flirt. Try to find a dress you can feel confident in and don’t worry about the single men. If it was meant to be, he’ll fall for you regardless of what you’re wearing.
- Weddings are an investment all around. There’s the dress, the shoes, the showers, the hairstyle, the accessories, the pedicures, and the bachelorette party. The bride and groom will be broke. If you can’t make it to an event or afford the dress, tell the bride ahead of time. She’ll understand and be able to tell you if she can help and how. Otherwise, it’s your responsibility to budget.
- Being a member of a bridal party can be trying. It can make or break friendships, but when you get through this experience together that bond of friendship will last a lifetime.