How to dress your bridesmaids (without losing any friends)
Your wedding is one of the only times you get to have a say in what other people wear (unless you’re a particularly bossy person). But figuring out how to dress a group of women with different shapes, sizes, styles and personalities can be more painful than fun – especially when you’re also trying to deliver on a particular vision. These days, brides are moving away from dressing all their bridesmaids in identical unflattering satin dresses, but they’re still keen to make the bridal party look cohesive in some way.
Although I tend to focus on dressing the bride, my years in the industry have taught me a few things about making the bridal party look great too - without hurting anyone’s feelings or blowing any budgets.
The first step is talking to your bridesmaids about what they want to wear. Sure, it’s your wedding, but they’re your best friends and/or family, so you want them to feel comfortable and gorgeous, right?
Ask your bridesmaids and your Maid of Honour what they like to wear - is it floaty, fitted, short, long, frilly, simple? You’ll probably get different answers from different people, but it will give you a good idea of where to start.
This is also a good time to talk about budgets. In some countries, it’s standard for bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, in others, the bride pays. Sort out your expectations now, and you’re less likely to have issues down the line.
Then start thinking about what you want. Fortunately for modern brides, there are plenty of ways to create a beautiful, cohesive bridal parties that everyone’s happy with.
Here are some of the trends we’re seeing, and how to make them work for you:
One of the biggest bridesmaid trends in recent years has been choosing different dresses in the same colour. This solution works well because your bridesmaids still look connected, but everyone gets to wear a dress they like - no more busty ladies feeling like they’re popping out of strapless dresses, or short people feeling swamped in maxi dresses. If you’re letting your crew choose their own, make sure you agree on a level of formality first - you don’t want one bridesmaid in a cotton sundress and others in formal evening wear.
You can choose a single matching colour and give your bridesmaids free rein, or choose a base colour, like green or pink, and let your bridesmaids pick their own shade. If you do it this way, check choices ahead of time so you end up with a nice range of shades, rather than three in hot pink and one in pastel.
Same but different
On the other hand, if you and your bridesmaids can agree on a dress style choosing different colours for each can look equally stunning.
This works best if you choose colours that work well together - jewel tones like purple, dark red, and navy look beautiful together, or pick paler pastels for a summer wedding.
Dressing bridesmaids in charcoal or white is one of the easiest ways to coordinate - and it looks great too. If you let your bridesmaids choose a charcoal-coloured dress, they can either buy something suitable or choose something from their own wardrobe - great for people with lower budgets. Then, go bold with flowers or accessories in bright colours or metallics. Gold and black is also a winning combination.
White seems counter-intuitive, but it can look clean, simple, and beautiful. If you’re doing this one and you’re also wearing white, make sure your bridesmaids wear shorter, more casual dresses so it’s clear that you’re still the bride.
Going beyond the dress
Bridesmaids have worn dresses for decades, but there’s no rule saying they have to. Increasingly, we’re seeing bridesmaids in formal separates - like a long, flowing skirt and contrasting top. This look gives you a bit of flexibility. Bridesmaids can choose a top to suit their shape, and it’s often easier to tailor separate pieces to fit different bodies.
What suits you
Putting your bridesmaids in suits or formal pants can look amazing (even if it shocks your older relations a wee bit). A beautifully tailored suit looks stunning on most people, and if you want to be even bolder, a formal jumpsuit could work.
This trend works particularly well if your bridesmaids aren’t super traditional, or don’t really wear skirts or dresses very often. You love them for who they are, so you don’t want to make them into something different just because it’s your wedding day!
Sorting the small stuff
Once you have the outfit organised, you can start thinking about all the other stuff, like flowers, accessories, hair and shoes.
If you’re doing dresses in a range of colours, choose bright bouquets or flower crowns to match each one - or do white flowers to contrast. Let your bridesmaids choose their own shoes in a single colour - or get them all to wear the same shoes if they’re wearing different dresses.
Hair is personal, so it’s best to be flexible about it. You can’t really demand that your bridesmaid grow her pixie cut out for you, or dye her bright pink hair blonde. A simple headband or clip is a good way to tie different styles together.
The most important thing is making sure all your bridesmaids look and feel great on your big day, because you love them (and because you want big, genuine smiles in your photos).
If you’d like some professional help figuring out what your bridal party should wear, send us an email or pop into the Daisy showroom for a chat - we’re always happy to help.
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