How to Dress Your Bridesmaids



(View full post on Darling Magazine.)

So he finally popped the question, and it’s only been a few weeks and you’re already in full Wedding Planning mode!  For those of you who aren’t married or are unfamiliar with the wedding world, wedding planning is almost a full-time job.  It can be extremely overwhelming when you consider:  this will probably be the biggest party you’ll ever throw and everyone has their opinion to add as to how it should happen, where it should happen, how much money should or shouldn’t be spent, etc.  Not to mention the endless traditional expectations of hosting a wedding.

Now I should mention that I am single, but I have been a bridesmaid 15 times, and I have been a wedding photographer for 6 years.  So it’s safe to say I have been around the block a few times!

Before you curl up in a corner and cry (please don’t do that), be encouraged by this:  it is 2015 and this is your wedding!  You get to create a wedding that first and foremost reflects the love of you and your partner.  Let yourself off the hook in regards to trying to please everyone, because it is simply not possible.  The quicker you can do that the quicker you can enjoy this process!

There are a lot of things we could talk about, but let’s start with Bridesmaid Dresses!  I cannot tell you how many of my brides have spent endless hours looking for that perfect shade in that perfect silhouette that will look good on 8 different women.

Here’s the secret:  there typically is not one color or one silhouette that will look good on everyone.  Let go of the old tradition, and embrace the new tradition of choosing a color palette and allowing your bridesmaids to choose a dress that best suits their bodies.



Why is this a good idea?

  • This will save so much time.  It can be hard to let go of control with your wedding, because every detail can seem like such a huge deal.  From someone who has photographed hundreds of weddings, I can promise you that no one really remembers what the bridesmaids wear, let alone what color their fingernails are, or whether or not they have matching shoes.  Getting hung up on details like this can really steal the joy from the process of wedding planning.  It is ok to let go,and trust your closest friends to choose dresses that not only flatter their figures, but that you will love as well. There are even multiple gown designers that offer beautiful dresses in the same color palette in different silhouettes.  Some of my favorite are:  Adrianna Papell and Amsale.
  • Gone are the days when you wear a purse to match your shoes (who does that anymore).  You can actually create an effortlessly cohesive look with different styles of gowns.  Take for example the wedding below.  My best friend just got married, and she sent us all paint swatches with a color palette, and said to pick a long gown in the ‘Champagne’ color family, and have it be floor length.  Though all of our dresses our different they came together flawlessly, and at the end of the day most of us truly are able to recycle and wear the dress again for another event.
  • Along with the above comment allowing your bridesmaids to choose a dress that best suits their body is a great way to honor their budget.  Let’s face it as amazing as it is to be asked to be in your best friends wedding; it also can be very expensive.  (A few years ago, I spent over $2,500 on being in weddings!).  As friends it is our joy to throw showers, and give the bride the experience she desires and deserves.  However, It can be hard to spend several hundred dollars on a dress that you don’t look good in, and will never wear again, and that you probably cannot resell.  One of the wonderful things about giving a color palette to your bridesmaids is that they are much more likely to find a dress that they actually really love and will be able to wear again!


You’ve got the color palette, now how to choose the dress:

  • Before shopping set your budget.  Whether it’s $75 or $250, stick with your price range and don’t allow yourself to try on dresses above your price range.  What can happen is you try on the $500 dress that is way out of your price range, and then anything else that you try on in your price range will feel second rate.  Your overall experience will be disappointing.  (This tidbit came from a manager of the world famous wedding gown salon Kleinfelds)  The employees will not allow you to even try on a dress outside of your price range for this very reason!
  • Know your body.  This may take some research. For a general rule of thumb if you are well endowed stay away from strapless dresses (the last thing you want is to be pulling up your dress all night).  A great alternative is a halter or one strap dress.  For athletic figures A-line and empire waists.  For an hourglass shape a wrap dress accentuates your curves.  Nordstrom has a great online resource for body types HERE.  Most importantly make sure that you feel beautiful in the dress.  If it’s a little snug, or no matter how many people say it looks great if you don’t feel great in the dress it doesn’t matter.
  • Try try try again.  Make an appointment at a store, and ask for a personal shopper.  Stores like JCrewNordstrom, and even Anthropologie will set aside dresses in your color palette if you call ahead, and they’ll even help accessorize your look.  Often times the dress we like best on the rack isn’t what we end up going with.  It can be that unexpected dress on the rack that you don’t really like that sometimes ends up being the winner!  Be open minded, and try on lots of dresses!  That way in the process you can find what styles look best on you so you’ll be better prepared next time!



All in all remember it is ok to let go of some traditions.  Figure out what is important to you and your fiancé, and be open and flexible with other aspects of your wedding and trust your bridesmaids that they will look amazing on your special day!



All photos by:  Kayla Adams

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