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How to Choose Flattering Bridesmaid Dresses Everyone Will Love

A bridesmaid in a knee-length iris dress, a bridal party all wearing different dresses, and a woman in a long, burgundy velvet gown.
David’s Bridal/Jenny Yoo

Wedding planning takes a lot of work, including choosing not only your own dress, but those for your bridesmaids, as well. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ve got a bit of guidance that’ll help you choose bridesmaid dresses both you and your BFFs will love!

Wedding planning trends are ever-evolving, which makes staying up to date on what’s hot quite the struggle. Traditionally, brides chose matching dresses for all of their attendants, but these days, many are embracing a more flexible approach. No matter which you prefer, we have some suggestions that are sure to make your big day all the more special.

The Traditional Vs. Modern Approach

Two images of dresses that go well together for a MOH and bridesmaid to wear.
David’s Bridal

Bridesmaid dresses have had a bad rep for a long time. Traditionally, these expensive, identical gowns were chosen by the bride, worn for one day, and then retired to the back of a closet, never to be seen again.

Some still prefer this tradition, and if you do, that’s perfectly fine. After all, it’s your wedding! Plus, it is much easier to check this task off your endless wedding to-do list if you only have to choose one dress rather than five or six.

If, however, you’re interested in a more modern approach to bridesmaid attire, or if you still want everyone to match, but are open to a few detail or color tweaks, we’ve got the low-down.

There’s nothing wrong with going with a matching look for your bridal party. Traditions are traditions for a reason. For example, this flutter-sleeve dress with a full, pleated skirt, creates a dreamy effect. It’s also flattering on many body types, comes in a ton of colors, and is elegant enough to be worn at other occasions after your wedding, which your friends will appreciate

You still add a dash of modern to your traditional look by allowing your maid of honor to wear a different dress. For example, to flow with the flutter sleeve dress above, you can go with something like this cold-shoulder dress, which boasts a bit of a bolder look.

Another thing you can do is choose a matching color and or length, but allow each bridesmaid to wear a different style in that same shade. For example, one might choose a gown with straps, another might prefer an off-the-shoulder look, and so on.

It’s true that modern brides are actually (dare we say it?) allowing their bridesmaids to choose their own dresses. Everything from separates to mismatched looks are in.

Now, if the thought of what someone in your crew might show up in has you terrified, we get it. Rest assured: the bride’s vision should always serve as a guide for the bridesmaids’ selections. After all, it’s your day, so you absolutely have veto power.

However, if everyone wears something different, it just makes things a bit more visually interesting. It also allows your carefully selected squad to embrace their individuality. Your closest friends and family will enjoy your big day all the more if they can wear something they like and feel comfortable in.

YIANNA Lace Corset Strapless Wedding Corset

Perfect for strapless and off-shoulder gowns.

Today, it’s becoming far more common for brides to give their ladies a little freedom to select something they’ll be comfortable wearing and feel pretty in. Even completely different dresses can all still work and look gorgeous together.

Three different bridesmaid dresses in iris.
David’s Bridal

For example, this classic one-shoulder dress is figure-flattering thanks to its tight crisscross waistband. While posing for photos, it offers a gentle elegance, but once it’s time to bust those moves, the full-sweeping skirt makes it totally dance-worthy.

If one of your maids prefers sleeves, she might opt for this gorgeous and romantic flutter-sleeve gown. It also features the same crisscross design at the waist as the one-shoulder dress above.

The more formal dresses above can still be paired with this fun, flirty, (and short) chiffon number. The color is identical, but the personality is completely different. The wrap effect also echoes the crisscross waist design of the other two gowns.

IDIFU Low Kitten Heel Wedding Dress Pumps

Splurge on the dresses, save on the shoes.

Guide Their Search

Two women shopping for bridesmaid dresses.
Anna Furman/Shutterstock.com

If you plan to let your ladies select their dresses, they’ll still need some guidelines from you before you turn them loose in the dress shop.

Provide them with some essential details, such as fabric type, length, and which colors are acceptable, so they know what to browse while shopping. Your bridesmaids will likely have different body shapes, budgets, and preferences, but giving them some guidelines will help narrow down options.

If you trust them to follow your guidelines, that’s one less thing you have to worry about. However, again, it’s your day—if you want to make sure everyone stays on the same page, ask for pictures before anyone commits.

A good compromise between the traditional and modern approach is for the bride to choose a few dresses yourself that they can try on in different styles or colors, and allow them to make the final decision. You can use this same approach when helping your mother select her dress.

Coordinating dresses separately is difficult, but sometimes, it’s necessary due to distance. If possible, though, make your dress shopping day a group outing. Not only will this allow you to select and/or approve options, but it’ll also give you all a chance to spend some time together in person.

Ask Them to Choose Dresses that Complement Yours

Three bridesmaid dresses that complement the wedding dress very well, as the colors match the belt on the wedding dress.
Karkhut/Shutterstock.com

Selecting the wedding dress of your dreams is a monumental decision, but figuring out what your maids will wear is just as significant.

If you’re unsure what you want them to wear, consider selecting dresses that complement yours. Once you’ve found the perfect gown for your big day, move on to bridesmaid dresses.

Consider your wedding dress style so your bridesmaids can follow through with similar accents. For example, if you plan to wear an enchanting ballgown, the bridesmaid dresses could feature a similar tulle skirt or fitted upper waistline to match.

This works well when selecting a flower girl dress too, as there are several pretty options available that’ll complement your dress.

Give Everyone a Dress Budget

Several bridesmaid dresses placed on a rack with their pricetags showing.
Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock.com

If you’re paying for all of your bridemaids’ dresses, be sure to let everyone know that upfront, so they’ll feel less stressed while shopping.

Traditionally, though, bridesmaids purchase their own gowns, shoes, and accessories, which is why having a dress budget is incredibly important for everyone to know before they head out on a shopping spree. You’ll also need to make sure everyone is comfortable with the price.

It’s important to be considerate of others’ lifestyles. Not everyone has the same income or expenses as others, and wedding-related costs quickly add up. After all, the dresses aren’t the only thing your bridesmaids will be paying for.

For example, everyone will need to buy you a gift for your shower and your wedding. The maid of honor also usually pays for a bachelorette party or weekend. On the big day, there are other costs, like makeup, hair, and nails.

All of this quickly adds up, and might not be realistic for some, especially if the dress alone is on the expensive side. This is why it’s important to discuss this sooner rather than later. A gentle reminder can help open a conversation about the budget. It will also be especially helpful for everyone to know what else they’ll have to buy.

BRIDES recommends reaching out to each of your bridesmaids individually via email or text, so you can have a private conversation about individual budgets. Providing a price range is an easier way of getting through these awkward money-related conversations.

The following are pretty typical price ranges for bridesmaid dresses:

  • $100-$200
  • $200-$300
  • $300+

The Season and Venue Matter

Three images of bridesmaid dresses that can be worn for each season all by BHLDN
BHLDN

The style, color, and fabric of your bridesmaid dresses will differ significantly depending on the season, so everyone will need to keep that in mind, especially if they’re shopping months in advance.

For example, this soft chiffon maxi dress is delicate. The ruffled, yet rustic look would work well for spring and summer weddings. For a spring wedding, brides usually opt for pastels or softer tones, like lilac or sage. During summer, feel free to push brighter colors, like blues or purples.

Celebrate the rich colors of fall with this Beckett satin charmeuse maxi dress. Your bridesmaids will be the perfect picture of autumn in colors like eggplant, midnight blue, or dark emerald. The soft fabric and formal neckline also make it perfect for that time of year.

In winter, it’s more appropriate to select dresses made of heavier fabrics and in darker colors. This Jenny Yoo Ellis velvet dress is luxurious and the dark berry color is perfect for a winter wedding. The v-neckline and floor-skimming skirt give this dress a dramatic appeal your bridesmaids will look dazzling in.

Another consideration is the venue of your wedding. If your ceremony will be at a church or chapel, perhaps long gowns with lace sleeves would be more appropriate than flashier dresses.

On the other hand, if your wedding will be an indoor/outdoor affair at a rustic barn, fun flowy dresses with pockets might better suit the occasion.

Keep in mind the time of day also makes a difference in what people should wear. Darker, more formal colors and styles are standard for an evening wedding, while lighter colors and fabrics are more common for daytime weddings.

Mix and Match Colors, Lengths, and Styles

Three dresses all in lovely colors and styles that flow well together and help bridesmaid express individuality.
AZAZIE

Again, if you’ve found a color that you and your squad love, don’t be afraid to mix and match shades, styles, and lengths to create a more fun, individualistic vibe. For example, you might consider a lovely color palette of pastels that match your floral arrangements in spring, or a bold red theme for a fall wedding.

A range of fabrics and dress styles will give your girls a chance to embrace their different body shapes and styles. Mixed hemlines are another easy way to give your bridesmaids a bit more freedom to choose something they’ll feel comfortable in.

To pull off varying dress lengths, keeping colors within the same range will maintain a balanced look in photos. The same is true with different styles.

For example, this plum-colored Azazie Arabella dress is gorgeous on its own, but with a few other unique choices in the mix, you can create a lovely pattern of mismatched bridesmaid dresses.

For example, the Arabella would look amazing next to something like this raspberry berdie pantsuit. The wide legs and pleated waistband are both flattering and formal, and perfect for those who don’t like dresses.

This mulberry AMDIS dress with its asymmetrical hemline would make another great addition. The color goes well with both the plum and raspberry dresses we mentioned previously (see image above). Plus, the twisted-halter neckline and cascading, draped front give this dress its own flirty vibe.

From flowing, bohemian style to elegant lace details, there’s a fabric and style for every member of your bridal party. Letting them mix and match will make your day more visually appealing, and allow your nearest and dearest to express their individuality.

Accessorize

Three accessories for bridesmaids that look stunning and make great gifts all from BHLDN.
BHLDN

Matching earrings, bracelets, and hairpieces (and even hairstyles) are also traditional. In fact, the bride often gifts these items to her bridesmaids, so it’s one less thing they have to pay for.

For a traditional gift to give your favorite girls, try something like these elegant Coryn earrings, which feature crystal-dusted pearl drops. The subtle dangle baroque pearls are lovely and make a generous gift.

You can pair the earrings with this gorgeous Tribeca bracelet. It features the same pearls as the earrings, dotted throughout a gold bracelet.

If you’ve gone the more traditional route with the clothing, these smaller details are another perfect opportunity to give your bridesmaids a bit more leeway. After all, everything you let them choose on their own is one less thing you have to worry about!

The same rules apply with hair accessorizing. You can either provide guidelines or give them as much freedom as you’d like. For example, if you envision all your ladies with their hair in an updo, then be sure to tell them that ahead of time.

You can go as far as gifting your bridesmaids with matching (or mismatching) hairpieces, or, if appropriate for their budget, you can select pieces you’d like them to wear.

These Florelle hairpins make a lovely (and generous) gift and would look fantastic with the pearl earrings and bracelet we recommended above.

Xuhan Short Elegant Floral Lace Gloves

For an extra touch of elegance.


Shopping for bridesmaid dresses is one of the most memorable (and challenging) steps during your wedding planning process. Once you decide on a traditional or modern approach (or a mix of both), you’ll be able to find flattering dresses your bridesmaids will look and feel amazing in on your big day.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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