Your big day is all about you and your spouse and showcasing your love in a way that represents you both. In ensuring that your celebration is all about you, it’s easy–and often understandable–for others’ wants and preferences to take a back seat to your vision.
Bridesmaid dress choices have been notoriously one-sided decisions, rarely taking into account what the bridesmaids may or may not like. And most bridesmaids are willing to compromise–accepting all manner of oversized bow, inconceivable color, or uncomfortable fabric for the honor of standing beside you on your big day.
But think about it. Would you rather see all of your bridesmaids unhappy in the lime green halter midi you fell in love with, or all of them beaming in something equally beautiful but perhaps not exactly of your choosing? We often look our very best when we’re confident, and let’s face it–there are few dress options that universally flatter all shapes and sizes perfectly.
Giving your bridal party a little leeway with their dress decision will not only garner a sigh of relief from even the most agreeable bridesmaid, but will ensure they’ll actually want to wear their gowns again. Most importantly, you’ll have one less item on your already packed to-do list.
Everything Old Is New Again
Resilient styles come and go in cycles. First, something becomes so popular retailers can’t keep the item on their shelves. Over time it becomes passé, or often uncool to be seen in public donning even a remote version of the item. It often disappears into relative obscurity before eventually cropping up again.
Slowly, subtly, but persistently you’ll start to see it in fashion magazines: on a celebrity or highlighted in a man- or woman-on-the-street pictorial taken someplace where fashion reigns supreme.
The item then transitions into the sacred “vintage” stage–an iconic piece that deserves a place in everyone’s closet–before, eventually, fading from the public eye once again. The process can take years or can be as short as just a few months, but, chances are, we’ll see items from our past pop up again in our fashion futures. They’ll occasionally be redesigned, but sometimes they’ll be exact replicas of their often-regrettable originals.
Whether you’re hosting a period wedding or simply want to highlight your favorite time in fashion history, consider giving your bridal party an entire era to draw inspiration from and leave the details up to them for oldies but goodies you’ll all be happy with.
Time to Play Dress Up
Have an unusual or especially fun theme that just screams for something a little more outstanding than an appropriately-hued frock and a delicate strand of pearls? Perhaps you find yourself inspired by you and your soon-to-be’s mutual love of all things zombie-related. Maybe you can’t get enough happily ever afters. Whatever your passions, you’ve decided to theme your wedding and you’re pulling out all the stops to translate your vision into the perfect wedding celebration. And that includes your bridesmaids’ attire.
Consider everything from tattered clothes and matted hair to unseemly prosthetics and strategic hints of blood, and invite your bridesmaids to join you in the undead movement. Or have them dress up as your favorite notable princesses or heroines for an enchantingly good time. No matter your theme, allow guests the flexibility to get a little creative and not only will you have the perfect additions to your ambiance, but they’ll have next year’s Halloween costumes.
A modern and increasingly popular option is to select a certain dress style or color and to leave the rest up to your bridesmaids. If you’re deciding on a particular color, offer them the most descriptive classification as possible (like deep eggplant purple) and pass out a swatch of your favorite for their reference. (Without the perfect lighting, a picture won’t capture the color exactly so only use this if you absolutely have to, or if you happen to have a professional photographer who wouldn’t mind lending his or her services to you for smaller projects.)
However, try not to be too rigid about your bridesmaids finding exact matches. Different materials will affect how a color appears to your eye, and unless two dresses are from the same line and by the same designer, chances are that your ideal chartreuse, forest green, and even hot pink hues will have many different visual translations.
Talk to bridal shops. While most lines will have one style available in several colors, some even allow you to customize the actual design, giving bridesmaids the freedom to choose from a range of lengths, necklines, and other elements.
Ah, the little black dress … a staple in virtually every woman’s closet. Typically, the LBD comes in classic, clean lines, allowing for unparalleled versatility and lasting power in the ever-changing and fickle world of fashion. Allow bridesmaids to choose a black dress that fits their personality and their body type and they’ll surely thank you for the extra freedom and the opportunity to add a must-have piece to their wardrobes.
While black isn’t necessarily an ideal color choice for every couple, LBDs can add to the formality of the evening. Pair with wraps in your chosen wedding color or unifying accessories or accents to tie them effortlessly into the celebration.
Any Way You Want It
Can’t decide exactly which dress to choose? How about them all? Convertible dresses give you and your bridesmaids endless style options–from strapless to halter and everything in between. If you’re adamant about having all of your bridesmaids in the same gown, these will ensure that every bridesmaid has the opportunity to wear it the way it suits her best.
For example, show off one bridesmaid’s sculpted shoulders by suggesting she opt for a strapless configuration or play up another’s perfect proportions by thinking of ways to accentuate her waist. Convertible dresses caress curves, flatter any figure, and can help make your bridesmaids feel beautiful.
No matter how hard you try, it can be difficult to please everyone, but with that little bit of added flexibility, your bridesmaids can at least feel like they’re a part of the process. So save yourself a few heavy sighs, a couple of rolled eyes, and a potential headache by giving your girls the options they need to choose something they truly love.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.