Your bridesmaids are going to be your support on a day full of heightened emotions. These guidelines will help you to draw them into the pre-wedding excitement, instead of into planning stress.
Your chosen bridesmaids may include a group of sisters, relatives and friends, all of whom you know with varying degrees of intimacy. If you’ve asked someone to be a bridesmaid at your wedding, the chances are she feels delighted and honoured.
Perhaps you have already been a bridesmaid yourself, or perhaps you’re the first to tie the knot in your family or social group. Either way, it’s a delicate balance between your own choices and theirs. Your bridesmaids may include a range of ages, so don’t try to force young styles on more mature ladies. Sophisticated elegance looks good on any age, while fashion forward trends can be incorporated in subtle ways.
In the Victorian era, white was the official colour, with bridesmaid dresses matching the bridal gown. Today, you aren’t limited to a particular etiquette, but that doesn’t mean it will all somehow work out at the time without any guidelines at all. Start planning well in advance to avoid the stress of last minute details you might not have factored in.
Most wedding planners will advise on preparing the guidelines for bridesmaid dresses at least six months in advance. This gives you time to discuss it informally with the girls and narrow the choices down without leaving it so open that it requires lots of visits to the tailor or tantrums as your day approaches.
You’ll want to be mindful of your bridesmaid’s preferences, while still creating a sense of harmony within your wedding style. How do you walk this tightrope with ease? Remember that no two bridesmaids are alike, but if you ask each for their own preferences, you may be overwhelmed with trying to co-ordinate it all. Instead, try to narrow down from the don’ts instead of do’s.
Their general measurements may not apply to formal dresses, so request measurements from a professional seamstress. Taller girls may require a bit of extra length, or some may need shorter. Allow time for some tailoring, but don’t try to crowd them all into the salon at the same time for a once-off fitting. Give your bridesmaids time to pop in for measurements at a convenient time and location and send them to you.
Ask them to send you a photo in their formal wear or a cocktail dress, so that you have a good visual idea before you start looking for ideas. An outfit may appear perfect on a salon model, but then not be right when translated to different shapes. If you are used to seeing your best friend in her work outfits, or your sister in her jeans, you may not be accurately gauging their formal style. Once you’ve gathered measurements and photos on your desktop or phone, you’re ready to start browsing bridesmaid dresses options online.
Be open and talk about this upfront. Unless you have a very large wedding budget and you’re gifting your bridesmaids with their dresses, be mindful that most will want a dress that they can wear again for different formal or party occasions. Designer style doesn’t have to break the bank, and if you give them practical options that aren’t limited to a once-off wear, they will be grateful.
Fit and comfort is important, especially if you would like natural smiles to adorn your wedding album. Some girls may love off-the-shoulder or strapless, while others are more comfortable in a modest neckline. Allow for a little bit of variation and then pull it all together with a colour spectrum, the same length or accessories that suit your wedding style.
Of course you’ll want to complement your bridal style, and sometimes a colour choice is perfect for everyone. But remember that your chosen colour scheme can work without being limited to one flat colour that will suit everyone.
Suggest a range of nude colours, or stick to one classic colour and allow for different heel lengths. The girls may already have a pair that is suitable, or will want to shop for a pair that they will wear again. On the day, your bridesmaids may be on their feet as much as you are. Their comfort is important. Remember to ensure they have snacks available and that no-one forgets to eat in all the preparation. This isn’t a time for dizzy spells.
It is your wedding day, and you can’t accommodate every single taste preference without becoming lost in chaos. At the same time, you don’t want to control the details to the point of losing friendships during the course of the preparation. Allow for some unexpected feedback on bridesmaids dresses and provide some versatility in your options. Work with your bridesmaids along the way. Bookmark and share your favourites. Shopping together can be fun and inspirational, and doesn’t require setting aside days to hit the pavements.
If you’re a bridesmaid reading this and not the bride, follow her lead and give constructive feedback. That is what friends are for, after all. Don’t have rigid expectations yourself or be forced to bend to all demands, but be prepared to support her through the practical and emotional highlights of an exciting event and planning process.
The Ronald Joyce collection of Bridesmaid Dresses is extremely versatile. Browse the range for inspiration and brainstorm ideas together.
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