It’s a part of being a bridesmaid that many dread – shopping for the bridesmaid dresses! Luckily, we’ve put together a handy survival guide for bridesmaids shopping for their dresses with the bride…
Who pays for the bridesmaid dress?
First things first – make sure you have a chat about budget with the bride! Being a bridesmaid can be expensive, so it’s good to know upfront whether you’re expected to pay for any (or all) elements of your bridesmaid ensemble. In the UK, it’s traditional that the bride buys the bridesmaid dresses, but you may be asked to pay for your accessories depending on the bride’s budget. Either way, it’s good to get this chat out of the way before you start bridesmaid dress shopping.
When to shop for bridesmaid dresses
It’s easier if your bride has already chosen her wedding dress before you start shopping for bridesmaid dresses, as you can then make sure that your dresses complement the style, fabric and shape of her gown. You may want to start shopping for dresses about a year in advance, as you’ll be able to find more styles to suit your chosen wedding season. Pastel shades and floral prints will be popular around Spring and Summer, and more deep jewel-tone shades and sequins appear in shops in the run-up to Christmas party season.
Work with the bride
Remember that this is the bride’s big day, not yours, so try to be supportive even if she picks dresses that you wouldn’t usually choose yourself. Make constructive suggestions rather than just complaining when you don’t like a suggested style, and give her positive feedback when you see styles you like.
Picking the right colour
Your bride is likely to have some ideas when it comes to her colour scheme, but if you’re shopping for gowns together, you might want to advise her on colours that will work with her theme. Bear in mind that you want the bouquets to pop against the bridesmaid dresses, not blend in, and think about how the groomsmen’s suits will look with the chosen colour palette. If you’re the maid of honour, you might even want to wear a slightly different shade to the other girls so you stand out.
Don’t size down
Even if you’re planning to go on a pre-wedding diet, don’t order your bridesmaid dress a size smaller in the hopes that you’ll slim into it. If you’re unsuccessful, you may struggle to find the same style in a larger size so that you’re not mismatched from the rest of the bridal party, which will put unnecessary stress on you and your bride. If you do end up losing the weight, then you can easily have your dress altered – it’s much easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out.
Be a team player
If the other bridesmaids are very different in size, shape or age to you, then you may want to suggest as a group to the bride that you wear different dress styles in the same colour. If she wants you all to match, however, then try to be flexible and pick something that everyone is comfortable with. Multiway dresses are also a great option for large bridesmaid parties, otherwise you may never reach a decision.