How to choose your bridesmaids dresses

What to wear if you are a bridesmaid

Before a bride can start to dress her bridesmaids she needs to pick and choose them first, which can be difficult and even a controversial issue between the bridal friends, her family and the family of her groom. Normally the bridesmaids consist of the bride’s closest friends and family members.


The history of the bridesmaid varies across different cultures and throughout the centuries, but in general the bridesmaids function was a kind of bridal infantry as they accompanied the bride to the groom's village. They formed a sort of "protective shield" by providing emotional support as the bride was leaving her home, family and friends as well providing actual protection by being all dressed in similar outfits to the bride to intervene if any danger to the bride was arising such as hurting her, stealing her or her dowry.

Later on the role of bridesmaids was altered to cast out evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. Bridesmaids were then dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn't know who was getting married. This belief lasted to Victorian times! Judging by wedding photographs from those times it takes some time and effort to pick out the bride and groom from among the other members of the bridal party.

Today a lot of the previous customs died out over times but a lot of them are still present in the function and role of a today’s bridesmaid. Though bridesmaids don’t provide any more physical protection to the bride they still continue to provide her with emotional support before and after the wedding as well their bridesmaid dresses are commonly chosen in harmony with the look and feel of the wedding.

There is no set rule on how many bridesmaids are appropriate. In general the guide line is how big wedding party is (meaning how much help do you need to coordinate them, also they should be in proportion on how many wedding guests you are having) as well based on a practical choice like if they will all fit around the altar and last not least on a sensible choice like how much you want to spend on dressing them.

As rule of thumb formal wedding tend to have six bridesmaids plus the maid of honor. Semiformal and casual weddings can have just one bridesmaid - the maid of honor - but typically have about three to five.

A thought to keep in mind that all weddings will have stressful situations no matter how well you planned every detail ahead and prepared yourself for all eventualities that could possibly go wrong. So, don’t add more stress by choosing a group of bridesmaids that are too different one another. Instead choose a group of bridesmaids that are more likely to get along and can work together on all the planning for your big day. Too many bridesmaids will mean too many opinions- more women to manage and expect to go along with each other.

How to find the perfect bridesmaids dresses?

After the bride chose her wedding dress, the mother of the bride dress and the mother of the groom’s outfit she needs to undergo the often quite tricky and complicated task to choose bridesmaids dresses that suit her bridesmaids in colour, style as well look age appropriate on them.

As we all know we women come all in different shapes and have our own infinite number of features that sets us apart even if we share the same size. That means we have all different needs and need therefore style guidelines to create visual balance in our body shape and look, so we feel confident and comfortable about ourselves. This doesn’t change when becoming a bridesmaid.

So, finding one bridesmaids dress that will suit bridesmaids various body types will be a very difficult task, if not impossible. Also, you need to consider the colour for the bridesmaids dress. Only because a bride loves a colour for bridesmaids dress it doesn’t mean it will suit all her bridesmaid automatically. It is important to take the bridesmaid’s different opinions, suggestions, individual tastes and style personalities into consideration when selecting a bridesmaid dress. At the end of the day you want to them to be happy on your wedding day, so they need to feel good about themselves by wearing something that they like and feel comfortable in it. At the end their happiness will be as well your happiness. Don’t make them do something you wouldn’t appreciate yourself. A growing tradition for bridesmaids’ dresses is that the bride selects the colour and the designer and allows the bridesmaids to select a flattering dress style.

Here is a style guide to find the best bridesmaids dresses for your bridesmaids:

  • What are their body shapes- if they are different they will need a different dressing guide to create visual balance. You can coordinate the bridesmaids dresses by dressing them in their best mutual colour-which is as well colour coordinated to your wedding dress- but in different dress styles to suit and flatter their different body shapes.
  • What is their height- if they are of different height they will need as well a different dressing guide to look best for their height
  • Do they vary in their body features such as bust, neck, arms, waist and calve size- bridesmaid’s dresses don’t accommodate automatically all the different individual female body features. So, if you have a bridesmaid e.g. with a full bust as well with a small bust they will need a different neckline to create visual balance.
  • What is their age difference? It is common that there is a bigger age gap between the bridesmaids, because e.g. one of the bridesmaids might be a a younger sister or niece. So, an icy pink or peach might look lovely on her but not on your best friend who is in her 30’s and is already married and has already kids of her own.
  • What colours will look good on them and is as well best colour coordinated with your wedding dress? Your bridesmaids will not only vary in their body shapes and body features but as well in their hair and skin colour. So, each of them will look best in a different colour palette. Having said that there will be always a handful colours, that will look good on all of them. Once that is decided narrow it down to which of those work with your wedding dress and as well suits your bridesmaids taste. An alternative to choosing a universal colour is to have a colour theme for your bridesmaids. Meaning they wear each a shade of the colour that suits them best.
  • Make sure they feel comfortable in them so, you can be assured they feel at ease when helping and assisting your big day
  • Generally it is best if the bride covers the cost for the bridesmaid dresses. Otherwise she needs get further agreements from them on costs and bridesmaids styles since they might have then as well the expectation to wear the bridesmaids again.
  • Make sure your bridesmaids dress reflect as well the theme of the wedding location and the season e.g. higher or lower neckline, strapless or long sleeve dress, the weight of your fabric reflects a warmer or a colder climate, will you be outside? Do your bridesmaid’s dresses need to coordinate shawls, boleros or cardigans?
  • Make sure that your bridesmaids try on their dresses and accessories several times before your wedding day
  • Bridesmaids shoes- best is always to keep them in the same colour, but they can vary in style or heel height and/ or style

Bridesmaids dress ideas:

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Checklist for ordering your bridesmaids dresses

After all the trouble of finding the perfect colour and style for your bridesmaids you want to make sure you have saved all the right information to every single bridesmaid of yours. You don’t want to risk of getting the sizes all mixed when ordering them with the wedding dress designer or retailer.

So, here is a quick checklist:

  • Do you have every bridesmaid's full set of measurements?
    Fitting Date:
  • The receipt of your bridesmaids dress should list the following confirmations: 
    (1) The wedding date
    (2) All special requests and accessory descriptions, including shoes
    (3) Delivery dates
    (4) Refund and/or cancellation policy
    (5) Full dress description
    (6) Designer name
    (7) Style number or detail
    (8) Sizing
    (9) Colour
    (10) Fabric
    (11) Ideally you have your friend’s name listed with her very own bridesmaids dress requirements
  • Quantity of bridesmaids dresses ordered
  • Check in with the wedding store or wedding designer a couple of times before the wedding, if all work is on track and that there are not open questions that could interfere with delivering the bridesmaids dresses on time. Don’t leave it up to the last minute or to chance!

If you have a number of bridesmaids and it is difficult to get them all at the same time to their bridesmaids fitting, then minimize the stress and organisations involved by allowing them to go to their dress fitting separately or if they prefer or feel comfortable to order their bridesmaids dress themselves either with the shop or designer directly or placing their own order online.

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