Can I Really Choose ANY Bridesmaids Dresses?

Sometimes the utterly overwhelming range of options can put brides-to-be into a tailspin. Not only are their potentially hundreds of ceremony and reception venues to choose from, thousands of styles of crystal and pearl wedding jewelry, millions of wedding gowns, and an infinite number of cake flavor combinations, there are also the things brides need to pick for others. Even your wedding colors will impact your wedding VIPs!

One of the biggest for others picks a bride-to-be will make is the bridesmaids’ dresses because the bride is choosing clothing for other people – and clothing can be a pretty personal thing. The bridesmaid who feels less than body confident may prefer a very different dress than the bridesmaid who is a fitness instructor, for instance. The color that looks smashing on one washes another out. One finds strapless bridesmaids’ dresses flattering. Another thinks they’re immodest.

Film Title: Bridesmaids

And so on and so forth.

Of course, the bride-to-be has final say over what the bridesmaids will wear just like she has final say over almost everything else. That doesn’t mean that she can’t do the kind thing and take her bridesmaids’ sizes, preferences, and personalities into account when choosing bridesmaids dresses. There is something to be said for good manners and there’s almost nothing more mannerly than making sure that the people who will celebrate your big day with you will be comfortable and happy and look their best.

alfred sung bridesmaids dresses

If your bridesmaids are all very different people, this gets more difficult. Your options include simply making a final choice after taking everyone’s opinions and preferences into account, letting bridesmaids choose their own dresses in one color or color family, or choosing a designer and letting bridesmaids pick frocks from a particular collection in one specific color.

You may be surprised at how grateful your bridesmaids are that you’ve either given them even the chance to offer up some input or the full freedom to choose their own dresses. Never forget that letting someone else dress you can be a pretty scary thing.
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Having More than One Maid of Honor

Some brides have two or three close friends or sisters they love dearly and find it difficult, if not impossible, to select only one Maid of Honor or Matron of Honor. If that sounds like your situation, what’s the solution? Why not have two or even three women as your Maids of Honor or Matrons of Honor! Sure, it’s not the norm, but there are no written or unwritten rules that say you can’t go big or go home when it comes to naming your wedding attendants.


Here are some practical and etiquette tips that will help you navigate these uncharted waters:

* Try to divide the duties up so that no one feels left out! For instance, have one Maid of Honor hold the ring or your bouquet during the ceremony and another arrange your gown or you can have both of them arrange your gown.

* When it comes to choosing bridesmaids’ dresses, you can set your two MOHs apart in a different color or style or make things easier on everyone by allowing your bridal party to choose their own dresses in a specific color.

* Giving your multiplicity of MOHs special bridesmaid jewelry can set them apart from your other bridesmaids if you want to do that.

* Try to divide up the duties before the wedding, too, when it comes to who will help with flowers, invitations, favors, etc. Because everyone is so busy today, your Maids of Honor may actually find it helpful to not be responsible for some tasks.

* Or you can have your Maids of Honor share equally in everything, making every duty into a party. However, this can sometimes be a more difficult alternative for the bride to manage because there are then three schedules to work around instead of two.

* In your wedding program, list both or all your attendants as Maids or Matrons of Honor. Who should be listed first? This can be done alphabetically or by age. Some brides also choose to include a few special words in their program about why you chose more than one.

* As for who escorts both Maids of Honor back down the aisle after the ceremony, you can have the best man escort one on each arm if you’ll have an uneven number of wedding attendants, or they can simply walk with groomsmen in whatever order they’re standing at the altar.

Photo: KT Merry

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How NOT to Go Broke as a Bridesmaid

white bridesmaids dresses II

So last week we talked about the cost of being a bridesmaid and for those who haven’t read the post I’ll just sum up by saying cha-ching! Standing with the bride while she says her “I dos” can get pretty pricey. The good news is that you don’t have to go broke without a fight – and by fight I mean a little creative thinking and maybe a heart to heart with the bride-to-be. Here’s how to (maybe) save money while being a bridesmaid:

1. Know the deal. When you’re hanging with your bestie and she pops the question, don’t beat around the bush when it comes to finding out what you’re in for. Is the bride expecting a Vegas weekend bachelorette bash? Does she have a dress in mind – or is she considering letting the maids choose? How many pre-wedding soirees will there be? Will you be expected to be at them all?

2. Tell it like it is. If you’re concerned about the cost of being a bridesmaid, know that the bride-to-be is probably more interested in your support than in having you spend a gajilliondollars. Probably. As we all know from reality TV there are plenty of so-not-cool brides out there. Let your friend know you’ll be working with a budget so she can help you save money.

lela rose bridesmaid dresses

3. Suggest mismatched maids. Besides being cool, mixed up bridesmaids dresses are also economical – especially when bridesmaids can pick their own frocks. If the bride-to-be is just not into that, then do her a solid and help her shop so you can steer her toward lower priced options.

4. Suggest combining pre-wedding parties. Co-ed bashes are pretty awesome and most brides I know have plenty of guy friends anyway, so why not combine the engagement party and shower? Or have a joint shower and bachelorette party if you think the bride’s family can handle things getting a little crazy.

5. Don’t complain; get creative. If you accept the position of bridesmaid, you kind of do have to go with what the bride wants when it comes to your dress and bridesmaid accessories. Act negative about it all and you may just get fired. Better: speak up when it comes to your budget and availability, suggest less expensive alternatives, and consider that you might not be the only bridesmaid freaking out about the big bill.

6. It’s okay to say no. When you’re really, really, really concerned about the cost of being a bridesmaid – as in, it’s the wedding or tuition – do the right thing and tell your bestie that you’d love to but you just can swing it right now. She’ll either pony up on your behalf if she’s in a position to do so or you two can commiserate together over margarita shooters. Win win for honesty!

Have you ever had to say no when a bride-to-be asked you to be her maid? Or are you a bride who’s worried about how much your wedding is going to cost your friends?
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Be a Bridesmaid and Go Broke?

It’s no secret that saying yes when the bride-to-be asks you to be a bridesmaid means you’re on the hook for splashing out the cash in the months leading up to the wedding. What’s less well known is just how expensive being a bridesmaid can be! One reason for this is that what bridesmaids traditionally pay for varies by region – I’ve been to places in the US where it’s expected that the bride herself will foot the bill for her maids’ dresses and bridesmaid jewelry as well as cities where bridesmaids are expected to pay for just about everything, from hair and makeup to brunches to out-of-state girls’ weekends. In other words, what it costs to be a bridesmaid is ALL over the map.

bridesmaid shoes - bridesmaid accessories

But that doesn’t mean that the bridesmaid-to-be can’t look into how much she’s going to spend before all is said and done. Here is a list of the usual costs associated with being a bridesmaid:

Travel Costs

Even if you’re not flying anywhere, you may still be doing plenty of driving when you factor in the dress shopping and the bridesmaid tea and the pre-wedding soirees. From home to venue and venue to home, assume you’ll be spending at least a couple of hundred bucks on gas alone. If you have to book flights and/or hotel rooms, adjust that figure accordingly.

bridesmaids dresses - bridesmaid dressesThe Dress

The average cost of bridesmaid dresses is $150 and that’s on the low end of things nowadays. This is, of course, an inescapable cost – even if the bride-to-be is a sweetie and letting her maids choose their own dresses. In that case, you can keep costs down by shopping solo, but don’t forget to consider the cost of alterations (if necessary) and undies. And woe unto the budget-loving bridesmaid whose bestie chooses a $500 frock!

The Accessories

The nicest brides do their maids a solid and grab everyone’s accessories while letting them wear their own shoes. Nice brides choose bridesmaid accessories and shoes, expecting the bridal party to pony up, but she keeps them budget friendly. Which, in this case, means $150 or under. You know your friend – if you think you will be obligated to buy jewelry and shoes you cannot afford think carefully about whether to accept her invitation to be in the wedding party. It’s okay to say no.

bridesmaid jewelry sets - bridesmaid jewelry

Hair, Nails, and Beauty

Expect to spend $100+ if the bride-to-be is expecting you to join your fellow maids in getting matching manicures, updos, and airbrushed makeup. Yes, going out for a spa day is the bomb, but not so much if you’re going to go broke in the process. Sometimes the bride or her family will foot the bill but not always.

Pre-Wedding Parties

These days there is no telling how many parties you’ll be responsible for hosting but no matter what the number there’s a good chance you’re going to be expected to pay for your share of the food, favors, décor, invitations, and venue. The average cost for bridesmaids in this area tends to be about $50 per host per party – so multiply accordingly and expect that the bachelorette party could cost a lot more.

A thousand dollars to be a bridesmaid?! Probably not, but maybe. And if you have that money to spend, awesome. But if you don’t you need to either decline the invitation to be a bridesmaid – graciously, of course – or have a frank discussion with your bride-to-be bestie about the intersection between bridesmaidom and your budget.
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When Choosing Bridesmaids Dresses Is a Chore

Paloma wrote in to ask:

I’m so sick of thinking about my bridesmaids’ dresses! I’ve been dreading having to make a decision about anything. I can’t even decide on a color! Can you help?

I get it.

Choosing bridesmaids dresses can mean the best day out with your girls ever… or a nightmare of scrolling through pages and pages of dresses because you have no idea how you’re going to choose between the kerjillions of gowns out there. Seriously, today’s brides-to-be have a ton of options, and that many choices doesn’t always make deciding on a color scheme or style easy.

Once upon a time, it was easier. Every bridesmaid wore the same satin dress with dyed to match shoes in a shade determined by the bride’s bouquet of silk roses. Matchy-matchy was IN and it was so simple once you had your wedding colors. But now? Plenty of brides are still opting for matching gowns on their ‘maids (without the dyed shoes, thank goodness), but there are lots of other ways to dress a bridal party.

For instance, you could:

  • Pick a color or even a palette of colors, and let bridesmaids choose any bridesmaids dresses in that palette from a designer like Dessy bridesmaids dresses. Some brides will give ground rules, like no strapless dresses or full length, but some let their ‘maids take the lead.
  • Put together a set of guidelines, like cocktail length… jewel tones or pastels… strapless… polka dots… Grecian… whatever. Then let bridesmaids shop for bridesmaids dresses they love that fit into your criteria.
  • Pick a pattern. When letting bridesmaids pick their own dresses, this option is for only the most laid back brides, since ‘florals’ might mean different things to different people. But brides can also choose a series of patterned dresses and ask their ‘maids to decide who will wear which dress.
  • Really consider what gowns will look best on what brides and create a palette of not just colors, but also girlfriends. You pick not only colors, but also dresses – and then assign those dresses to individual bridesmaids. This works best for laid back bridesmaids.

Is it any wonder brides-to-be can get frazzled over frocks for the bridal party?

The best advice I can give you if you’re starting to consider just go matchy-matchy even though you’ve never loved that look is to browse tons and tons of pics. The more bridesmaids dresses you look at – and I mean just look at, no pressure because this should be fun – the more confident you’ll be when it comes to actually making a choice. And loving that choice! Don’t rush it, think creatively, and remember that whatever you pick, your besties will adore it.
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Brides and Bridesmaids, Lovely in Lace

When I was poring over the spring 2014 wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, trend hunting my tush off, one thing I saw over and over was lace. Let me tell you, I love lace. But is lace a trend? Can a lace wedding dress be trendy? I’m not ready to go there. This flimsy fabric has been found on wedding dresses for so long that who knows when it first found its way onto a train or bodice.

What was surprising that I was seeing lace on bridesmaids. Wouldn’t you know it, what was once the sole territory of the bride herself has trickled down into bridesmaid fashion – and how!

What’s so exciting about the lace bridesmaid dress trend – yes, I said it – is that it gives brides-to-be and brides yet another option. Bridesmaids dresses have, not by design but sometimes by default, been rather dull. The same old A-line frocks in jewel tones that virtually guarantee said dress will never, ever, ever be worn again.

But a lace bridesmaid dress? This isn’t just femme, it’s femme fatale! I’m picturing a draped back panel. An illusion neckline. A lace overskirt in any color you can imagine.

Now are you excited?!
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Anything But Boring: Gray Bridesmaids Dresses

Going gray isn’t something to be ashamed of… when you’re choosing wedding colors, that is. Nor is it something to worry about when it comes to hair, but I’m here to talk about bridesmaids dresses, not aging gracefully. And hey, I don’t judge.

What makes gray great? I say it’s a neutral that has some flair. Think gunmetal or silver or the palest gray that’s the exact color of a sky after a storm. Soft or dramatic. These are the sophisticated shades that make a bride’s white dress pop. Black can do the same, but we all know it feels a little prom-esque. Gray is elegant without inviting comparisons to funerals… galas… or yes, proms.

Sorry. I love black bridesmaid dresses. I really do. But sometimes they can feel like a little much.

Gray, on the other hand, can be coordinated with almost every bouquet color because it’s a neutral. And it practically doubles the chances that the dress will be worn again, which is apparently today’s gold standard for any gown designed for ‘maids. It’s particularly wonderful when what you’re going for is a more formal, but also modern look. Think sheer asymmetrical straps or an updated Grecian look.

Finally, gray is – dare I say it? – a universally flattering color. Scratch that. What I mean to say is there are so many shades of gray that you can outfit ‘maids of all skin tones without leaving one poor girl looking sallow and drab. Such is the power of gray!
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Serious Glitz for Your Wedding or New Year’s Eve

Are you dressing up for New Year’s Eve? Or possibly having a New Year’s wedding? Then do we have some inspiration for you!

We think that brides want to sparkle at their ceremonies and receptions as much as lovers want to sparkle on the night before a whole new year begins, so right now we’re thinking about gorgeous sparkling sashes, gold and crystal wedding tiaras, sequined heels, shimmering body dust, rhinestone garlands, gold table runners, and everything else that glitters.

And the best part about a wedding color palette that includes rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystals, gold, and other metallics is that they’re easy to combine with other colors. Antique gold and saturated sky blue, for instance. Or burnt orange and gold. Silver and deep purple. Pink and hand-cut rhinestones.

Or just go for the gold with a few accent colors… if you dare! At an evening wedding, crystals sparkle and wink in the candlelight. In the daytime, glitter is playful and whimsical. Seriously, brides, bring on the sparkle! You’ll be glad you did!

Happy partying!
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Wedding Trends: Dusty Rose and Antique Gold

For holiday weddings or weddings hosted during the holiday season, metallics are always in style. But it’s entirely possible to take the brilliance of gold or silver too far, which is why both need a balancing color to temper the shine. Or run the risk of channeling 1980s chic, and not in a good way.

Right now, we’re in love with dusty rose as a complementary color for gold – especially antique gold – for the color combo’s softness, prettiness, and femininity. It’s elegant without being too showy. And it’s the kind of color palette that is always on wedding vendors’ radar so you’re never going to have trouble finding accessories for yourself or your venue.

For example, Lela Rose bridesmaids dresses can all be had in a gorgeous, soft dusty rose – and we have just the gold bridal tiara to match!

This is an amazing wedding color palette for any bride-to-be who loves a traditional, vintage look or wants her wedding to have a Victorian vibe. Even subtle touches in dusty rose and gold paired with creamy white and be stunning. Think gold chargers, pink peonies and white roses with gold ribbon, edible gold and rose ribbons on a wedding cake, and top it all off with real or glass pearls. For the DIY inclined, we love the sparkling pink heart toothpicks above.

Or go all the way with a gorg dusty rose wedding dress!

Like we said, this is a combo that will never go out of style so your options will be almost endless. A stress-free palette? Dusty rose and gold is probably as close as you can get!
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What to Do About a Pregnant Bridesmaid

Life happens, and once you reach a certain age there is a good chance that someone in your social sphere will be pregnant or be thinking about getting pregnant. That means that unless you choose bridesmaids that are vocally child-free, you run the risk of having a pregnant bridesmaid in your wedding party. But is it really that big a deal? We – and most easygoing brides will hopefully agree with us – say no. Most wedding ceremonies are not so long that a pregnant bridesmaid can’t make it through. A little sparkling cider can stand in for champagne if your bridesmaid doesn’t feel comfortable having a glass of the real thing. And maternity bridesmaid dresses exist for a reason!

The four maternity bridesmaid dresses pictured above are from premier bridesmaid dress manufacturer Alfred Sung and come in every color featured in the brand’s more prominent collections. That means that if you have an already-pregnant bestie or one of your ‘maids falls unexpectedly pregnant, she can still look and feel like a million bucks when she stands up to support you on your big day.

Whether you need to make other concessions for a pregnant bridesmaid depends a lot on the bridesmaid herself. For instance, you may want to find out whether her due date and your wedding day will overlap or whether she feels well enough to play an active role in your ceremony and reception. Even if you’re totally comfortable knowing that she may not be able to make it to the wedding on time or at all because of labor or complications, she may not want to be another source of wedding planning stress. We recommend that you diplomatically offer a pregnant bridesmaid an out – don’t make her feel unwelcome, but let her know that you won’t be mad if she feels like taking on the duties of bridesmaid while pregnant is just too much.

That said, many, many pregnant friends, sisters, and cousins have stood at the altar alongside the brushing brides in their lives without incident so don’t make the mistake of selling your pregnant bridesmaid short. She may be every bit as excited about your wedding as you are – and looking forward to seeing what the world of wedding fashion has to offer!
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