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Bridesmaids And Their Dresses

February 3, 2010

So here is the low down, y’all, there are a couple of ways to do this:

(a) You tell them “I like blah-blah-blah, this is what you are wearing, it is going to cost blah-blah-blah”

(b) You tell them, “My colors are blah-blah-blah. Go forth and prosper” or something of the sort. This also has very many variations to it. This is benefit of being the bride. You said “toad” and people start hopping (or least that what brides think is going to happen, the reality of it is you say “hop” and people go “why?” “when?” “do I have to?” “I don’t like to hop that high, can I hop this high?” etc. Which is not neccessarily a problem. Brides need to understand that people are not toads and that will be the end of that)

So I picked (b).

For very many reasons:

(1) I am a firm believer that birds of a feather flock together. That is why all my bridesmaids are tragically good-looking, smart, successful women. The plus of this is that people look at them and go “she must be just like them” even if you happen to be ugly as sin, dumb, and a loser. It is called the halo effect (that is an actual-non-made-up-Jesselyn-term. Go look it up).

(2) I have been in my share of weddings (when I was not so bitchy and people liked me) and believe me, paying for a dress that you are never going to wear again (no matter how much you love the bride) still stings the pocket book.

(3) It was (and sometimes still is) inconcievable to me that one dress can be flattered on multiple types of figures.

(4) I have an issue asking people to pay for something they didn’t pick out. Even with makeup, if they were more comfortable doing their own, then go on then. If I wanted to make sure everyone had everything I wanted, I would pay for it.

(5) I really don’t care that much

This (b) option is a very popular now apparently in the bridal world. For good reason I might add (see 5 reasons above). So as a bride who has been through that (wait, I am not married yet) here are some tips for those of you who might consider that option:

If you are a really picky bride, I understand how this option might frighten you. Here are some ways to help with the panic-I-am-not-usually-a-bridezilla-but-I-am-nervous aspect of letting your nearest and dearest pick their dress on your big day:

Give them as much information as you can/ want. This means if you are a real stickler about the exact color, then give them a clip of fabric, or a pantone chip, tell them what length you want. I find that the more bridesmaids you have the more intentional the look of vastly different dresses look. So say if you have 12 bridesmaids (believe me, there are those out there), the varying lengths and shades look unstudied and cool not weird and thoughtless.

Ask them (nicely, mind!) if you could see the dress before they buy it. Generally, they will show you regardless anyway because that is what women who are excited do when they find a dress they love: “OMG! OMG! I found the most amazing dress!” But generally, it is good to cover your bases. Also, great is hosting a long shopping day together so you can see what they have gotten themselves into (pun well intended, thank you very much).

Have a timeline and check on them from time to time. Try not to nag. Truth of it is, there might be a couple of people probably procrastinating so give people a time limit about a month out than you are comfortable with. This way you are not freaking out on your ladies/men and looking like the proverbial bridezilla (you might be but this way we can keep it a secret. It is ok, we all have those moments).

Do not renege on your word. It is not nice to pretend you are not picky when you really are. That is called false advertising. Or bullshitting. If you are an uptight wad (nothing wrong with that, I am one most days) then do yourself and them a favor and pick out their dress. It will save you headaches and save them anguish. Don’t for Heaven’s sake tell them “I don’t care what you wear as long as it is navy and long”. And then “I don’t care what you wear as long as it is navy, long, and strapless”. And then, “I don’t care what you wear as long as it is navy, long, strapless and looks exactly like this one right here”. Make sure you know exactly your preference first time round and change it as little as possible during the show. Remember, a fight over a dress is so not worth a friendship

From my own personal experience, I have found that this process has proven best for someone like me. Who is a stickler about somethings (guest list) and not about others (bridesmaids dresses). I have noticed a few things about women that should have been obvious before but now more than ever: women really care about what they wear on your big day. Out of my four girls only one of them borrowed her dress to save on money. The rest paid well over $200 a piece for their dresses (and remember I didn’t pick them). You might say that you want them to wear their dress again but no one is really going to wear a long formal gown again. Even if they picked it. Even if the dress is so beautiful it makes them giggle like a 5-year old when they are really 27. Even if they will gladly spend $200 over dollars on it volunteerly. There will still be problems. It is like hitting up the mall to find a black dress and miraculously all the mall has is blue dresses. Of course, when you don’t need said black dress two months later then you see tons of them. Same rule applies here. This does not get rid of all bridesmaid stress about dresses but it does help alleviate them.

The best part of this whole darn thing is, you can tell them, “Sucks, but I didn’t pick your dress out”.

Anyone letting their girls have their own merry way with their gowns? Have any tips to share?



Pictures credited to Martha Stewart Weddings

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 7:24 am

    we just emailed back and forth alot with links and decided on a pretty cheap dress from urban outfitters they all liked and would wear again. They all seemed happy and that was all i wanted. No drama, no loans to be taken out to get dresses.

  2. February 3, 2010 9:29 am

    We just said “purple, and tea length”. Although,we knew we’d all be going shopping together since there’s only a handful of places to get a more formal dress (as opposed to the party slut options which seem to be everywhere) so I didn’t have the anxiety of not seeing it before hand. That might have thrown me off a bit.
    I actually enjoyed shopping with them at the bridal salon where I ordered my dress because we all got to see everyone try everything on so we knew what worked and what didn’t.
    In the end, they all picked a different cut though the bridesmaids picked a different fabric than my maid of honor, which is fine by me. Although I didn’t have much of a choice in our town so I couldn’t help the limited/expensive options, I already feel bad enough making them pay so much (it’ll likely cost them ~$250) that I wasn’t going to be picky with what it looked like.
    One of them actually seemed peeved that I didn’t have more of an opinion, like I should know exactly what I want them to wear, what cut, what length, what color, what fabric. She’s a bit of a victim of the wedding industry though, so I let it fly.

  3. February 3, 2010 12:13 pm

    I let them have at it….I first said anything navy. The only thing I changed was “navy and tea length or shorter.” 3 of the girls still don’t have their dresses picked out yet (but i know they will…they are procastinators…so i’m not worried even though there is only 17 days till the wedding!). I found that “navy” is too general and difficult to match exactly…so as long as they are in the dark blue-ish color range i’ll be fine. Honestly, if they feel good, they’ll look good, so even if one of them showed up in a light blue dress, it’s just one of those details that I just don’t care about that much.

  4. barbride permalink
    February 3, 2010 12:37 pm

    I think this is a great idea when you have a smaller bridal party, but with 8 girls, I am just too worried that it would take lots of nagging and checking in to get everyone on board. I also think it’s stressful for the girls to have to look for their own dress – my experience looking for specific things has always been like the one you noted at the end of your post – looking for a black dress and I can only find blue. I thought it would just be easier if I picked a dress (in 2-3 styles of the same color and designer and fabric) and had the girls pick from that. I haven’t found THE BM dress yet, but getting close. Glad it worked out for you and can’t wait to see pics!

  5. February 3, 2010 5:13 pm

    Very cool of you.

    It is crazy how obsessed other women are with looking good on your big day. Some of my bridesmaids have told me they are 1. tanning 2. dieting 3. going to a hair salon 4. wearing $200 shoes. These are all things I am not doing, so its kind of weird. Also, my mother (who I rarely speak to and has no role in the wedding) made me sit through a long fashion show as she showed off a variety of dresses and accessory options the last time I went home.

  6. February 5, 2010 1:01 am

    I’m between choices at the moment. I was going to pick a color at David’s Bridal and tell them to pick whatever tea length dress they wanted in that color. But there are cute ones in a similar color at J. Crew as well and I want my girls to have options, so I may just say dark purple and tea length and offer them some links to help out.

    What I find crazy is that instead of my being a nazi and checking in with them, I’ve got one bridesmaid who continues to check in with me. I get weekly texts/e-mails asking if I’ve picked bridesmaids dresses yet. I don’t get it. My wedding is 7 months away.

  7. April 26, 2010 1:53 am

    It is very important to me for my bridesmaids to have dresses that they wwill wear again! I have been bridesmaid three times… and ended up with three outfits I have never worn again.

    We are going shopping together for the first time this Saturday, the designer who is making my dress has said that she can make her designs to measure in the fabrics that they choose for the rack price, so first option is to see if she has a style that each bridesmaid likes and we’ll coordinate colours.

    If that doesn’t work then I will consider letting them loose with a colour theme and the directive to get something designed and made locally.


  1. Bridesmaids Dresses (um, for real this time) | Getting Hitched

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