How to Shop for Bridesmaid Dresses

It can be a challenge for both the bride and the bridesmaids.

Shopping for bridesmaid dresses can be tough whether you’re the bride or one of the ‘maids. If it’s your wedding, it can be a challenge to make everyone happy while still choosing gowns that fit within the vision of your big day. You may be inundated with conflicting opinions, or have each of your gal pals try to be easygoing so you wind up having no idea about preferred budgets or styles. As a bridesmaid, you want something that works for your body type and skin tone, but without seeming demanding and bulldozing the other women into something unflattering. 

bridesmaid dress shopping tips for brides and bridesmaids
Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios; Planning & Design by Geller Events; Bridal Stylist: Dear Maradee

Perhaps the easiest solution is to just allow your bridesmaids to wear dresses of their choosing and embrace the mismatched trend. However, it’s still helpful to provide some guidelines, i.e. in terms of length, as it can be overwhelming for bridesmaids if they don’t know where to start. Preferring your bridesmaids to match doesn’t make you a bad person, though, just be sure that what you choose doesn’t make the ladies feel actively uncomfortable.

The bride should reach out to each person individually to get an idea of budgets and any potential deal breakers, such as if someone isn’t confident a strapless dress will stay up. Bridesmaids should remember this doesn’t have to be the perfect dress, it just has to work. Once there is a rough idea of what to search for, a shared Pinterest board can help to discover potential gowns. 

While it’s great if the whole group can go shopping together, that’s not always logistically feasible. Sometimes everyone is too spread out geographically and some bridal parties are simply too big. If everyone will be wearing the same dress, a bride should take a few of the ‘maids – maybe even just the maid of honor – to find something. Be sure to always send everyone the top choices and give them the chance to try it on before a final decision is made. When the bridesmaids will be wearing different gowns, even if they’re in the same color, they can easily go shopping on their own, but they should certainly send a picture to the bride for final approval before purchasing. 

For more tips, learn how to coordinate your wedding-day look with your bridesmaids, find out how to incorporate multiple colors into the bridal party ensemble, and view inspiring bridesmaid photos from real weddings to get ideas.

Authored by: Emily Lasnier