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How to ensure that dressing your bridesmaids goes smoothly - avoid stress, drama, and hurt feelings with this straightforward advice!
You've assembled your #bridetribe, and all of you are ready to start shopping for what they'll wear as they stand beside you on the happiest day ever! Bridesmaids dress shopping should be fun, but more often than not it ends up being a tense experience. We don't want it to be a source of tension - nothing should come in between you and your ladies, least of all a dress*!
*(Cause that's all it is. A dress. Both you and your bridesmaids should keep that at the forefront of your mind throughout the process!)
Here are some ideas for making shopping easier!
1. Set & Communicate a Budget
This is one cost that you're not paying (hallelujah). Your bridesmaids said yes knowing they'd have to foot this bill, yes, but the fact that you're not paying should make you more considerate of their budget, not less. You might not know everyone's financial situation, and there are other costs associated with being a bridesmaid too!
It doesn't mean you can't ask them to wear an expensive dress, but it does mean that you should try to keep costs low if you can, and you should set expectations up front - before you start shopping - about how much their dress may cost. This doesn't necessarily mean they'll back out if it's too much, but it gives them time to save and plan, and they'll appreciate you communicating honestly with them. If you are unwilling to compromise about an expensive dress you want, and a bridesmaid is not able to afford it, consider paying for part of the dress as part of the bridesmaid gift.
You also need to factor in alterations, which can be expensive, and factor in timing. If you wait any longer than six or seven months until the wedding, then rush orders may need to be made, which can also increase the cost.
2. Be Mindful of Their Body Types
Another delicate consideration. Finding a dress for multiple people is HARD, because not every dress flatters every body type - and that's okay. Your bridesmaids are going to be in a lot of photos and you don't want them to be uncomfortable or hiding from the camera.
Ultimately, you decide what they wear, but just because you love halter tops doesn't mean that will look good on your maid of honor. Some bridesmaid dresses tend to be very boob-dependent, which is not a good look if a couple of your bridesmaids are not well-endowed. All body types are beautiful and should be celebrated, so just be aware of that when selecting a dress or dress options!
Mismatch dresses are totally a thing, if you do it right. You could have all the ladies wear the same style in different hues, or have them all wear the same color in different styles.
3. Shop for Your Dress First
It's not like your dress has to match theirs, but you don't want it to clash, either. If your dress is creamy lace, your bridesmaids shouldn't have brightly colored satin dresses, for example (shudder). This is why it's always a good idea to have your dress first. Or at least know what you want it to look like...but this is risky, because if you change your mind halfway through the process and your bridesmaids have already bought their dresses, there's no going back. Better safe than sorry!
4. Try to Strike a Control Balance
You're the bride, and everyone is focused on making you happy, most of all your bridal party! When they signed up to be your bridesmaids, they knew they might end up with a dress they would have never picked up on their own. They're ready to lay down their personal preference so that you can have the wedding and bridal party photos you've always dreamed about - but that doesn't mean you should torture them by being a total diva and insisting on one specific, expensive, potentially unflattering dress.
However, this also doesn't mean that you should have a completely laissez-fare attitude about the whole thing and leave them without direction. That's putting a lot of pressure on them to figure out what you like and predict your expectations. And if they're all left to decide all of the details on their own, you could end up with a tacky hodgepodge of mismatching shades and fabrics.
Find a happy medium; provide just enough direction so that expectations and vision are clear, but don't be bridezilla.
5. Have Them Measured
Bridesmaid dress sizes run differently than normal dress sizes, so you'll need each bridesmaid to be aware of this and know their measurements going in. Many bridal experts suggest having each bridesmaid professionally measured; we don't know that that's totally necessary, but we do know that knowing exact measurements is a must before anyone purchases their dress!
6. Don't Forget About Shoes
This is one of those items that may get forgotten in the shuffle of other, more pressing considerations, but footware is not to be set to the side in a formal occasion; it matters! Bridesmaids will pay for their shoes, as well, but you want to be again considerate of cost and comfort - they'll be helping you around all day and dancing with you all night, so don't put them in the kind of designer heels that will make their feet ache. And if they're wearing long dresses, the shoes may not even be noticed by many of the guests or even the photographer. What we recommend is giving them parameters: high heels, open toed, color, material, etc., and then asking them to send pictures of what they find before purchasing so you can approve them. Some bridesmaids may have shoes already in their closet that will work perfectly!
7. Communicate Often
The buying process can be a long one (getting measured, finding the right style, fitting, purchasing, having alterations made, etc.) In the six or seven months that all of this is happening, they are living their normal lives in addition to helping you with other wedding details, so it's important to communicate clearly and often in order for everyone to stay on the same page! A short text to thank them for all their cooperation and ask them where they are in the process can go a long way!
8. Consider Your Options
Bridal boutiques aren't the only places to buy gowns. If you're looking for more variety, check out retail stores, which often have quality dresses (though they may not be labeled as "bridesmaid" dresses) for more affordable prices.
Shopping online is also one of the most popular ways to find bridesmaid dresses these days, and it's a great way to make sure everyone, even if they live out of state, is on the same page! You can compare a range of prices and styles, and read reviews about fit, quality, customer service, and more. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you allow bridesmaids to buy from different online stores, colors may look different even if the name is the same. For example, burgundy on one site may look more purple than a burgundy from another site, which may appear more crimson. Just be careful!
9. Eat Before You Go
This one's kind of a bonus, but if you DO go shopping all together in a brick-and-mortar store, remember to make the experience an enjoyable one. Leave yourself plenty of time in the day so no one feels rushed; don't shop on an empty stomach (no one wants hangry bridesmaids, and this is sure to cause irritability). Find creative ways to make it fun (drinks and a movie afterward)! After all, this is a unique experience - you want it to be pleasurable and memorable for them and for you.
What other questions do you have for us about bridesmaid dress shopping? Do you have any tips you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments! And shop kadlee.com for the perfect accessory to gift your bridesmaids!
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