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Once you’ve found your gown, the next challenge is choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses. This task can be just as hard, if not harder, than choosing your own gown. Trying to please all the girls and prevent any arguments can be a daunting task for even the most easy-going bride.

I spoke with some of our expert consultants, and did some research online to provide you with some suggestions to make the experience as easy as possible.

1. Colour

The colour of your girls’ dress is more than likely going to be your wedding colour. When deciding on your wedding colour, try to pick something that will flatter your girls. For example, lots of brides love the pale pink/blush colour, but this can make certain skin tones looked washed out. Instead, choose a more flattering colour for your girls’ dresses and use the pale pink/blush as an accent colour in flowers and/or décor.

2. Style & Fabric

When choose the style of the dress there are many factors to consider.

Choose a dress the complements your dress, but isn’t too similar that your dress no longer stands out.  For example, if you have a solid lace dress, consider a bridesmaid dress with some lace, but not solid lace as well.

Try to find a dress that flatters all your girls. Everyone wants to look and feel good in their dress. A-line skirts and empire waists are generally flattering for all body types. Another option is to choose a colour, fabric, and length, then let each girl choose her own dress so she has something she likes and feels comfortable in. Another option is to choose a dress that can be worn in multiple ways, such the Mori Lee 712 dress. Each girl can wear her dress in a way she chooses, and you still have a cohesive look.

If possible, try to find a dress that your girls can re-wear. There is a wide variety of styles in bridesmaid dresses today, many which can be easily re-worn, with or without alterations. Your girls will appreciate the fact that they won’t be opening their wallets for an item they’ll only be wearing for a few hours one day. Gather & Gown is a great line for re-wearable dresses. A personal favourite is the Bedford dress. It’s a great choice for your girls, and is something they can easily wear again to work or other event.

Choose a fabric that is appropriate for the season. If you’re having an outdoor summer wedding satin is not a great choice since its warm, and your girls will be sweaty and uncomfortable. Instead choose a cooler, lighter fabric such as chiffon. The thicker and warmer nature of satin is a great choice for a fall/winter wedding.

3. Budget

When choosing the dress, be considerate of everyone’s budget and financial situation. While one bridesmaid may not have a problem spending $300 on a dress, another bridesmaid may not be in such a fortunate situation. Consider speaking to each bridesmaid individually to determine their budget, and then choose a budget for the dress that is appropriate.

If you really want the girls to wear a dress that is over their budget, consider paying the difference yourself.

4. Timing/Ordering

Make sure you order your bridesmaid dresses in time. Bridesmaid dresses usually take 3-5 months to arrive at the store after being ordered. You also need to factor in time for alterations.

If you’re ordering dresses by the same designer in the same colour, make sure you order the dresses at the same time. This ensures all the dresses receive the same dye-lot which will prevent minor colour variations between the dresses, creating a cohesive look.

5. Alterations

Make sure you let the girls know how you want their dress to fit so they can have any adjustments made during their alterations.

For example, the hem length: do you want the dresses to stop at a specific point on each girl (ex. mid-knee cap), or a specific length from the ground so all the dresses stop at the same spot in photos (ex. 30” from the ground, including shoes).

Just like alterations for your wedding gown, remind the girls what they need to do/have when they go for their alterations:

– undergarments they’ll be wearing under the dress on the big day
– the shoes they’ll be wearing if necessary
– to be considerate of any scent sensitivities the seamstress may have, so abstain from wearing perfumes and scented lotions that day

6. Additional Tips

Consider doing a pre-shop for bridesmaid dresses alone, or with just your maid of honour. Pick out a few styles that you like, then come back with all your girls and have them help decide from the selections you already made. This can help make the process easier since the girls are limited to their choices, and can reduce the potential for arguments amongst the girls.

Remember, while you do have the final say in the dress choice since it is your wedding, you don’t want to be a dictator. Your girls are choosing to participate in your big day, and making a large financial commitment to do so. Becoming a dictator can create hurt feelings, and a dress is not worth the loss of a friendship.