The guys have it easy! They don't have to worry about style, color, or cut. They simply pick up a tuxedo a few days before the wedding and they're set. But the ladies have their work cut out from them when it comes to finding the right bridesmaid dresses.
For one thing, the tradition has become increasingly ambiguous in recent years. In the old days, the bride had absolute authority when it came to choosing a style and color. Many times she even selected each girl's dress. But that is seldom the case nowadays.
Because most bridesmaids pay for their dresses, they often prefer to pick their own gowns. Again, there are no formal rules of etiquette here, which makes the process more democratic and confusing at the same time. In this article we will proffer a few simple rules for selecting the perfect bridesmaid dress.
When in Doubt, Defer to the Bride-to-be
The bride-to-be always chooses her dress first. She may then accompany her bridesmaids to the store or let them shop on their own. A popular trend for many busy brides is to actually delegate the responsibility of dress approval to the maid of honor. Since her best friend is often there with her when she chooses her dress, the maid of honor knows what style of dress the bride-to-be expects.
Even in the most untraditional ceremonies, the bridesmaids all wear the same color dresses. Most brides-to-be are responsible for choosing the color of the gowns, since they alone are aware of the floral arrangements and color schemes of the ceremony.
But that doesn't mean she has to select a color that screams wedding, like fuchsia, hot pink, or red bridesmaid dress. Remember, most bridesmaids buy their own dresses these days, which means they prefer gowns they can wear more than once. Perhaps that is why more brides are going with muted colors that are perfect for any formal occasion.
Colors like black and platinum are perennial favorites that never go out of style and can been worn whenever. Bridesmaids also flip for paler colors like taupe, sand, and lighter shades of yellow that are fit more informal ceremonies or dinner parties down the road. Burgundy and hunter green are the top choices for fall weddings.
Most modern brides-to-be defy tradition when it comes to the more specific aspects of the dress selection process, like style. In the end, they want their friends to be comfortable with their dresses. One word of advice: a bride-to-be should set a few simple rules with regard to style. Rules like no strapless numbers or no hemlines above the knees are quite common, especially for formal ceremonies.
This is where the bridesmaids should be afforded a bit of leeway. As you may know, formal long bridesmaid dresses are designed for all different body types. It is simply unreasonable to expect all of your bridesmaids to fit into the same cut of dress. For example, a pear-shaped woman who carries her weight in her hips and thighs will want to draw attention away from these areas. Basic cuts like A-line dresses with high or empire waists can help them achieve this affect, which will invariably make them feel more confident and comfortable.
The bridesmaids are often able to choose the fabric on their own. But because they have to pay for their own dresses, the bride or maid of honor should try to get the girls to agree on a fabric that everyone can afford. Dresses that are made from expensive fabrics like silk can be extremely expensive and a few of the girls might be embarrassed to admit that those materials are beyond their budgets. In that case, the bride should insist on more affordable synthetic fabrics like rayon, which looks quite a bit like silk.
Advice for the Bride-To-Be
The easiest way to make sure that everyone is happy on your big day is to set the rules from the start. Let your friends know exactly what you expect without being too overbearing. Give them simple guidelines and if they seem a bit unsure, go shopping with them.
Again, the choice of color is yours and yours alone. We recommend a color that is not wedding-specific and will let them wear the dress more than once. As for style, you can be as involved or uninvolved as you would like. The worst mistake you can make is to delegate final dress approval to the maid of honor only to speak up at the last minute and request new dresses. Believe us, it happens. And while most friends will put up with that type of behavior because it's your big day, they certainly won't appreciate it. It is better to simply be honest with everyone from the start. If you want everything to be perfect, in your eyes, let them know that from the outset.