4 Essential Tips for Picking Your Bridesmaid Dresses

bridesmaid dresses
Photo by Jessica Roberts Photography

Gone are the days of awful bridesmaid’s dresses that your friends will DREAD wearing. There are so many beautiful (and budget-friendly) bridesmaid dresses and other non-traditional options out there that your friends will actually be EXCITED to wear them. Whether you want to opt for a mix-and-match look or a refined and elegant collection of the same cocktail dress, it’s become easier to find an array of choices that are flattering for each and every bridesmaid. But who pays for them? When do you order? And where do you even find them? We’ve answered these common questions in one handy list:

1. Where to find the perfect bridesmaid dresses

You can visit bridal salons and boutiques for bridesmaid dresses (like Bella Bridesmaids and BHLDN), or you can shop online for the perfect dress (we prefer the latter, especially if all your bridesmaids live in different locations). Check out our favorite online  bridesmaid dresses here. We also love traditional retailers like Nordstrom, where you can find bridesmaid designers like Jenny Yoo, or go outside the box with a brand like BCBG that offers great dresses that are perfect for your bridesmaids.

2. What style should you choose?

Brides tend to choose bridesmaids dresses that complement their wedding color scheme. You don’t want to go too matchy-matchy here, but you do want everything to look cohesive. While bridesmaids used to almost always wear the same color, trends these days are moving towards mix-and-match styles, like solids and floral prints or dresses that are in the same color family (like pink) to create an ombre effect. We love this idea as it allows your bridesmaids some flexibility and in turn, they can choose the dress that most fits their personality (and budget). Just remember to give your bridesmaids clear-cut directions, offering advice such as “I would love for you all to buy a dress you love in a shade of blush, but stay away from anything too bright (like a hot pink). Also, please no strapless dresses.” It also helps to send over color examples you find on Pinterest (Tip: Create a shared Pinterest board for your bridesmaids) of dress styles and shades you love.

3. Who purchases the bridesmaid’s dresses?

It’s customary in America for the bridesmaid to purchase her own gown. When it comes to the price range of dresses you look at, be considerate of your friends. If you know the group is budget conscious, make sure to choose an option that’s affordable. We like to say dresses should cost less than $300, but the more affordable, the better. Remember, even though the options are fantastic, this still might end up being a one-time-wear dress, so you don’t want to make your ‘maids use a whole paycheck for it. That being said, there are some cultures where the bride actually pays for each bridesmaid’s dress. And, if you’re feeling generous and have the means, it’s a nice gesture, but definitely not required.

4. When do your friends need to order the bridesmaids dresses?

Like your wedding gown, bridesmaid’s dresses from bridal salons and designers take some time to arrive at the shop. You should start thinking about the type of bridesmaids dresses you’d like as soon as possible and make a decision at least six months before the wedding. This allows two to three months for the dress to arrive and as much as six weeks for alterations. However, if you’re flexible on dresses, traditional retailers stock certain styles that can arrive in as little as a week.

Now! Treat your bridesmaids to something fun. Check out these 15 Super Fun Ideas for Bridesmaid Gifts.

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