A popular trend in bridesmaid fashion is letting your bridesmaids choose their own dresses. Every bride does it differently- some just give a color requirement while others specify what designer, store and styles that they want. The idea of letting your bridesmaids choose their own dress is attractive for many reasons including letting them choose a style that is comfortable and attractive on them, allowing them to choose a dress they will wear again and not having your bridesmaids complain that you put them in the ugliest dress of all time.
I have spoken to many a bridesmaid who feels extreme pressure when having to choose their own bridesmaids dress - worrying if she will be the only one in the long version of the dress, the only one in a certain color, the only one in silk, etc. The idea behind the trend of letting bridesmaids pick their own dress was to relieve pressure - not intensify it. You want your bridesmaids to be comfortable but you also do not want to sacrifice the overall style of your wedding by having a mish-mosh of dresses standing by your side- unless you are like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses. When deciding to let your bridesmaids choose their own dress keep these rules in mind:
Color: Most wedding parties all wear the same color. If this is important to you be sure to specify what shade of color you want your ladies to wear. For example if you want your bridesmaids to wear blue specify if you want royal, cornflower, sea foam, Columbia, light blue, navy- you get the point! There are more shades of a color than you have bridesmaids so be as specific as possible! If you want your bridesmaids to wear any color other than black specify which store or designer you want them to get their dress from to ensure the same color is worn by all maids.
For cohesiveness choose one specific color to prevent one bridesmaid choosing a different color than the rest and feeling like she stands out like a sore thumb. Remember, you are letting them choose their own dresses for their comfort but you don’t want them to feel awkward or bring attention to themselves- it is your day to shine after all!
With that in mind, some brides choose to have the maid of honor in a different color to have her stand out ala My Best Friend’s Wedding. Another idea on color is choosing one style from a store and having each bridesmaid wear a different color in that same style but remember this takes a lot of coordination on your part and the bridesmaids to decide who wear what color. The last option is having some of your bridesmaids in a color while others are in a print that ties into the color. With the print/color option keep cohesiveness in mind and remember that it will require a lot of coordination between you and your maids!
Fabric: Specify the type of fabric you want your maids to wear. Many brides will just choose a color on JCrew and let their bridesmaids loose but remember that Atlantic Blue looks different look different in cotton cady than it does in silk taffeta or silk chiffon. Different fabrics evoke a different mood as well where cotton cady is appropriate for a casual fete silk taffeta is more appropriate for a more formal affair. Additionally, the same rule applies as with color that you don’t want one bridesmaid in cotton cady while the rest are in silk taffeta.
Length: Length many times is determined by the formality of your wedding and what time your wedding will be taking place. For cohesiveness and ease of your maids nerves and sanity be sure to specify short, tea length or long.
Style: The style of a dress is probably the number one reason why bridesmaids like choosing their own dress. A maid with a fuller bust typically doesn’t want a strapless gown for fear of popping out while a maid with a smaller bust doesn’t want a halter that she can’t fill out. When allowing your maids to choose their own dress give them 3-5 style options to choose from keeping the color and fabric consistent. This allows you to have a cohesive bridal group while allowing them to choose style that allows them to feel comfortable, beautiful and thankful that you let them choose a dress that they can wear again.
Remember: Be as specific as possible for what you want- the more specific you are the easier time your maids will have choosing a dress and they won’t be stressed or resentful!
See the following links for some great options: