A great wedding is all about the details. From shopping for the dress to the invitations, there are decisions to make at every turn. One of the most stressful times for a bride is deciding on bridesmaid dresses. For many brides, it can be more challenging than selecting their own wedding gown. It is important that you manage your expectations from the very beginning and keep the process streamlined and simple, allowing for it be a fun and memorable experience for everyone.   Q: Should I take all my bridesmaids together to pick out the perfect dress?   A: No. Too many opinions can make the process long and stressful. Instead, try taking one girl who may be harder to fit. Narrow the choices to three dresses before getting the majority opinion. Q: Should I tell my bridesmaids to go buy whatever dress they like in an attempt to be the cool and carefree bride, hoping to make it easier for them? A: No. Your friends ultimately want YOU, the bride, to be happy with the dress. Take the pressure off them. Save them hours of stressful shopping and narrow the choices for them. Q: Should I be mindful of price, even though my bridesmaids can afford it.   A: Yes. Be sensitive to budget. Never assume you know how much your friends can afford. If you have caviar taste, offer to pay at least half. Q: Is it impossible for all my bridesmaids to look and feel great in the same dress? A: No. Most bridesmaid designers are aware of differing body types in the average bridal party and have styles to accommodate. Ask your bridal consultant, they have seen these dresses in many shapes and sizes and can make suggestions. Q: Should I order my bridesmaid dresses in a timely manner?  A: Absolutely. Your girl’s time is valuable too. You don’t want your bridesmaids running around for alterations and accessories at the last minute. Having dresses arrive no later than a month before your big day will ease the stress. Q: If I decide to have my bridal party wear different dress styles, is it possible for the colors and fabric to match? A: Yes. Bridesmaid designers now offer a lot of different styles and necklines in the same color and fabric. Narrow the choice to dresses that come in the color and fabric you want. Then let your maids pick the style they are most comfortable with. Q: Will my bridesmaid dresses require alterations? A: Yes.  Most bridesmaid dresses are ordered to the closest manufacture size, and not cut to your bridesmaid’s exact measurements. Make sure your wedding party understands this and budget time and money accordingly. Q: Is there an added benefit to buying my bridesmaids dresses from the salon where I purchased my bridal gown? A: In most cases, yes. Most bridal salons will offer discounts to their loyal customers. Working with your bridal consultant, who already understands the vision of your special day, can be a huge advantage. Q: One of my bridesmaids is expecting, will I be able to find a matching bridesmaid dress for her? A: It shouldn’t be a problem. It has become more common for designers to offer select styles in maternity. Bridal salons are used to working with sizing for expectant bridesmaids and will know the best options based on their due date. Q: Am I getting a good deal if alterations are included in the price of the dress?  A: No, this is generally not the case. You know the saying, “Nothing is free.” If alterations are included in the price, you are most likely paying for the price of the dress with the overall average cost of alterations worked in. Q: I found bridesmaids dresses online for a really great price. Might this be too good to be true? A: Listen to your inner voice. The bridal industry has issued a “Buyer Beware” alert concerning vendors that are strictly on-line retailers. More often than not, these are scams and the buyer has no recourse when the wrong dresses, in the wrong sizes arrive. Sometimes, they don’t arrive at all. Not worth the stress, money, and loss in time.
Christa Smith is a long time bridal industry expert and wedding dress consultant. She has spent the last fifteen years in the bridal industry and has seen how difficult it is for brides to navigate the process of selecting the right bridesmaid dress. Photo by: Jana Marie Photography

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