Welcome to Bridesmaid Week!
For the next few days on the blog, we’ll be sharing posts dedicated to the leading ladies in your wedding day, the matrons of honour, the chief bridesmaids, and the beautiful bachelorettes.
And how better to get things started, than with a debate on dresses?
As the owners of a family run (and incredibly homely!) wedding dress boutique in London for the past six years, they’ve seen their fair share of well-styled bridal parties.
So without further ado, let the debate begin, over to you Jo and Claire…
Getting hitched is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things that can happen to a girl. However, planning a wedding means making lots of decisions quickly but carefully.
One decision that need not be overwhelming is choosing what your bridesmaids will wear.
Whilst you might have your heart set on a designer wedding dress, if your bridesmaids aren’t also in outfits they love, you might find that a few fake smiles creep into your wedding pictures on the big day.
Traditionally, bridesmaids will wear identical or matching outfits in a style and colour chosen by the bride. But having mismatched bridesmaids can be chic or eye-catching if done correctly.
There are a number of pros and cons to each approach, but instead of leaving you yet another wedding task to complete, we’ve decided to take this one on for you.
Same colour, same style, same dress
The traditional option is usually safest option when it comes to the bridesmaids’ dresses, as you know that all the bridesmaids will look the same. This means that you don’t have to worry about clashing colours, uneven styles or alarming dress decisions.
Pros: Choosing the same dress for each bridesmaid should theoretically be the easier option, and more often than not, it is.
One major advantage of choosing this option is that you get to organise a day out with all your closest girlfriends and start searching for the perfect option together. This also ensures that you have each bridesmaid on hand to flag up any issues she might have with your dress of choice early on.
Through choosing to dress all your bridesmaids in the same dress, you also reduce the pressure on your bridesmaids to find their own dress, making the whole process less stressful for all your favourite ladies.
Cons: However, whilst a day out dress shopping with the girls might sound heaven, it could turn into hell the minute one bridesmaid can’t wear high neck and another doesn’t feel comfortable in a strapless.
If you’re the kind of bride who endeavours to please everyone, you might find your day out becomes more stressful than stress-free. However, as long as you provide the group with a couple of options to choose from, most bridesmaids should be able to agree on at least one style of dress.
Buying the same dress for all bridesmaids can also result in some bridesmaids feeling uncomfortable on the day, and there’s nothing worse than pictures filled with fake smiles and awkward poses.
Consideration: When choosing any aspect of your wedding, think about how you would like your wedding pictures to look and whether you prefer the more traditional, uniform look, or the more contemporary, mismatched approach.
Different colour, different style, or different dress
Going for mismatched dresses gives you another decision to make: will you spend a day with your bridesmaids choosing their unique dresses or allow them total free reign to search out the dress of their dreams in their own time?
If you choose the day out option, you will be there in person to either confirm or reject their choice of dress, but if you decide to go with the other option of allowing them free reign, you can still request a picture before you confirm any dress choice, allowing you to retain some creative control over their decisions.
Pros: If you friends are particularly picky, or they just know exactly what they want and what they feel comfortable in, this option is by far the best.
You can provide your bridesmaids with just a colour guide, allowing them to source different cuts, different lengths and different designs.
If you have a particular vision in mind, you can add a few more guidelines, such as the length of the dress, whether or not it has sleeves and whether it should be plain or patterned.
By going for the unique dress approach, you also have the freedom to allow your bridesmaids days, weeks or months to find the perfect dress, without confining them to a single day out. This can be extremely useful if you have friends who are tricky to pin down, live far apart or who would struggle to agree on a single dress.
Cons: Allowing your bridesmaids total free reign to source their dresses without you present can be slightly risky if you’re the kind of bride who’s particular about things matching.
Even if you are able to see pictures of each dress before each bridesmaids makes the purchase, you might find that when you see all dresses together, you end up with an array of dresses that don’t quite suit one another.
If you can organise a get-together before your bridesmaids buy their dresses, this should help you to keep any unwanted options safety off the table.
This option is also slightly more tricky if your bridesmaids struggle with organisation, as you might end up with a last minute panic that you definitely don’t want or need.
Consideration: If you’re looking to dress all your bridesmaids individually, you should think about exactly how you want it to look before you speak to the ladies.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of different ways that you can execute the unique dress approach, but all that matters if that you are happy with the end result.
So whether you choose a similar colour, the same cut or ensure that no two girls look alike, just make sure both you and your bridesmaids share the same overall vision.
If you prefer not to provide any guidelines for your bridesmaids, you can throw a theme out altogether.
Instead of providing a colour, length or style, you might choose to allow your bridesmaids any dress of their choice, making them totally unique.
However, just because you choose to throw out a dress theme, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a touch that brings the whole group together. Whether it’s the same shoes, the same hairstyle or the same bracelet, you can still pull all your ladies together with these final touches — while also enabling them to express their individuality on the big day.
The most important thing when it comes to dressing your bridesmaids is that you and your bridesmaids are happy and have the best day possible. So go for whichever option will make your wedding day (and the lead-up to it) as smooth, fun, and stress-free as possible.
Choices, choices! We’re pretty partial to mix and match dresses, but choosing something uniform can be really easy, especially if your girls have similar styles or body shapes.
Dresses with adjustable straps are also a great option for the best of both.
Thanks so much to Jo Cowan and Claire Chapman of Belle Bridal for sharing their expert insights!
Visit the Belle Bridal website for more inspiration and advice on finding your dream wedding dress. (They specialise in sample dresses, so you can get that designer gown, at a fraction of the price, without ordering it months in advance.)
Get more Bridesmaid Dress Inspiration.