Choosing your Bridesmaids Dresses

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Once you have chosen your wedding dress you can move onto your leading ladies' dresses. You may have an idea about colours and designs or you may need to visit some bridal stores, flick through magazines or scour the web to get inspiration.

Who's Paying

You should decide early on who is paying for the bridesmaids dresses. Traditionally the bride's family pay for them but nowadays it is usually the bride/bride and groom who will pay. Bridesmaids will often pay for and choose their shoes and accessories as these can be worn again.

If you want your bridesmaids to pay for their dresses you should ask them straight away but you must be prepared to have less say in the dress design and where it is purchased from; you can however give a rough brief and state the colour scheme. High street shops (as opposed to bridal boutiques) such as Coast, Karen Millen and Topshop are a cheaper option and may have something suitable. BHS, Debenhams, Marks & Spencers and Monsoon all have bridal ranges. Hiring the dresses may also work out more cost-effective.

Shapes, Sizes, Colours

Some brides make the mistake of picking out a dress for their bridesmaid which they love but which simply does not compliment their shape. Often with multiples bridesmaids, the bride's chosen dress will suit one or two but not all of the bridesmaids.  If you have a number of bridesmaids who are different shapes and sizes why not choose the same colour for them all but in different dress designs? The assistants in bridal boutiques will be able to offer advice on dress shapes. If on the other hand, your bridesmaids have different skin tone and hair colours, why not choose a similar dress design in slightly different shades such as in varying metallics or a range of greens, pinks, purples or blues. 

Also, don't forget to ask your fiance's opinion on the colour you are picking for your bridesmaid's dresses as this will be influenced by your wedding theme and it is traditional for the groom, best man and ushers to wear the same colour cravats – they may not fancy hot pink!

Trends

You may want your bridesmaids in traditional long dresses or shorter cocktail style dresses. The season in which you are marrying and the type of wedding you are having may also influence your choice. Look at the latest colour and style trends for bridesmaids and perhaps choose dresses which complement the design of your own wedding dress; for example, if you are having a flowing organza dress you may want your bridesmaids in the same material or if you are having sequins or crystals on your dress you may want theirs' to have similar detail.

Dress Fittings

Going with you to choose their dresses and attend fittings are the main things that your bridesmaids should do in the lead up to the wedding. Plus, the chief bridesmaid traditionally arranges the hen do.  But your bridesmaids should also be there to help you with anything you need (within reason!) such as choosing your wedding dress. See our articles on the role of bridesmaid and the chief bridesmaid.