Trying to Keep Dress Drama to a Minimum

This isn’t exactly the post I wanted to write. I wanted to write about how I let my bridesmaids (my two sisters, remember?) pick whatever they wanted, how they’re going to wear their dresses over and over, and how it was so easy and casual and perfectly coordinating without being too matchy.

Well. It didn’t work just like that. But first let’s look at my inspiration pictures.


Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Braedon Photography


Image via Green Wedding Shoes / Photo by The Schultzes Photography


Image via She Walks in Beauty / Photo by Stephanie Williams Photography

I think many of us have seen these pictures! The bridesmaids look effortlessly stylish and chic—like they pulled any old dress off the rack. And all of a sudden there they all are, these gorgeous, polished bridesmaids in perfectly coordinating dresses.

Looking back at these pictures, it’s entirely possible they looked for weeks or even months for their dresses—there could have been some arguments between the girls who had different ideas on what was “stylish” or “coordinating.” Some of the girls maybe had to pay a little more than they were comfortable with. And unless the bride was really totally OK with whatever the girls chose (which makes her a much better woman than me!), there might have been some bridezilla drama going on. But looking at just the pictures, it seems like it was so easy!

Back in October when I got engaged, I was totally convinced the mismatched bridesmaids’ dresses would work just by letting my sisters pick whatever they wanted to wear in a shade of the wedding colors. (They also needed to be knee length and not strapless.)

Three months passed, and we had gotten nowhere. They had looked through hundreds of dresses online, gone dress shopping, and argued back and forth on options. I think there are four reasons for why this technique really didn’t work with my sisters:

  1. My sisters have very, very different styles. One of my sisters proclaims herself a modern-day hippie and loves crazy bracelets, long skirts, headbands—you get the picture. My other sister is more reserved and prefers simple jeans and a V-neck shirt.
  2. They’re both tall (over 5′ 8″) runners, which means they’re built like athletes, not tiny gymnasts. This makes finding casual dresses that fit a muscular frame comfortably and still fall to the knee really, really difficult.
  3. My wedding colors were “officially” coral and seafoam—but neither of my sisters was really on board with wearing coral. Which was totally fine with me, but seafoam is a really hard color to match. They ended up looking for anything in the “light green” range, but matching “mint” to “meadow” could get into the “almost the same color but not quite, so they clash” category.
  4. My sisters are both younger and still in college. This also means they didn’t want to spend a ton on their dresses, and I didn’t want them to either!

This post is already long enough, so we’ll save the decisions we made until the next post! Any thoughts on how to make mismatched dresses work? What if you have a small bridal party? What about younger bridesmaids?


Mrs. Lemur

Greenville, South Carolina
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Charts and Graphs by Mr. Sword
Add a comment


  1. Member
    kmarie719 795 posts, Busy bee @ 11:19 am

    I also only have a bridal party of two, and decided on convertible dresses right from the beginning! That way, the styles can be different, they can wear them again, and they will be matching without matching. I think it will work out!

  2. Member
    heykaraoke 1771 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:28 am

    LOVE your inspiration pics! Especially the one in the middle. My girls have very different tastes, so I’ve got some who like strapless, others like straps, some like floor-length skirts, others like short dresses. So that middle picture helps me get an idea of what all that will look like mixed together. I like it! Looking forward to seeing what your sisters chose to wear :)

  3. Member
    BookishBelle 1629 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:33 am

    I had 3 girls, and we all went shopping at a bridesmaids store together. My sister (MOH) came out in a dress I LOVED on her, and so I made the other 2 pick dresses by the same designer in the same fabric, length, and color, so they all were cohesive, but different styles that suited each of their bodies. They all looked gorgeous!

  4. Member
    faitherfordandtom 108 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:35 am

    As long as you have coordinating colors, you don’t have to worry about ‘making them work’.

    Working in the wedding industry, I see a lot of brides who try to create a backdrop for themselves out of their bridesmaids, but it is SOOO important to remember that they are people, not props.

    If the dresses are decently coordinating, and match the personality of each sister, it will look awesome! On the other hand, if you try to force them into something that is ‘so not them’ it will look ‘off’.

    The best advice is to just relax- everyone’s eyes are on you anyways!

  5. Member
    sn2bmrsmntgmry 1118 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:51 am

    I’m excited to see what your final choices were. I went the route you wanted to go. I had two attendants and they are completely different body types.. I’m talking 6’2″, no bust, wider hips vs. 5’2″, very busty, no hips!! And they have completely different personalities and styles. We all went together and I let them pick what they wanted, they ended up picking the same color but different material. They were so happy that I was happy. I’ll admit that after the fact I worried that I should have mandated they were the same material b/c I was worried about the pics but in the end they both looked great, the pics are great and they were HAPPY and so was I.

  6. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:19 pm

    I’m looking forward to the results here… I’m currently thinking I’ll let my girls (3 sisters and best friend) choose their own dress. Except I’ll choose the designer, fabric, the color, and the length, just for the sake of uniformity. So basically I’ll let them choose their neckline. LOL Regardless, I can’t relinquish full control because I’m too concerned about it looking like a hot mess if the styles are all over the place or mismatched fabrics.

    I love the inspiration photos though, and I never think the other girls’ choices look haphazard, but I feel like mine would.

  7. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:50 pm

    @kmarie719: I was really drawn to convertible dresses at first! Unfortunately a lot of the ones I found were really expensive.

    @HeyKaraoke: I always thought it was “bad” to mix short & long dresses but that bridal party totally rocks it! We’re not mixing (and it wouldn’t work as well with only two bridal party members), but I know it could work.

    @BookishBelle: Spoiler alert: this is basically what we did 😉 good call!

  8. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:54 pm

    @faitherfordandtom: Actually the coordinating colors part was one of the hardest things! There are a LOT of shades of green out there. Haha.

    @sn2bmrsmntgmry: Those are crazy different body types! I love that they were able to find something that worked for them :) My sisters have similar body types, but like I said they’re just athletic and tall. I’m not tiny (5’6″ and a runner) but I still feel tiny next to them sometimes.

    @Blonde17Jess: I totally think this is the way to go. Except I’d make one suggestion… what about choosing designer and fabric and a range of colors? For example, they can pick light blue or light green (in specific designer colors). Depending on your color scheme of course! And it’s totally ok to mix lengths… unless you’d rather have them all one length.

  9. Member
    sinfoniaxid 62 posts, Worker bee @ 12:58 pm

    I am having the same issues….My girls range from all sizes and shapes and I can’t imagine making them pay much more for a bridesmaid dress than they would pay for a normal dress! I would like all the dresses to be navy and knee length, and my favorite fabric is chiffon, but I’ve totally given up on fabric and may sway on length as well. It shouldn’t be too hard to just get a navy dress but for some reason they’re just not selling right now. I thought about the convertible dresses but after looking at prices it doesn’t seem worth it. I hope you found a way to get the Dress Dilemma under control, cuz I may take a tip or two from you!

  10. Member
    lilmsplanner 15 posts, Newbee @ 1:15 pm

    I ended up giving my girls the option to pick anything they felt fantastic in as long as it was black.

    So far it seems to be working out as I haven’t heard any complaints or problems from them.

    I may be one of the lucky ones who frankly doesn’t care about being uniform or how the pictures will look. I just want the girls to be comfortable and feel great. Perhaps they can wear the dress again too!

    Good luck to you, there are so many options out there now a days!!!

  11. Member
    mmle 155 posts, Blushing bee @ 1:16 pm

    I LOVE, LOVE the mismatching maid look. My five girls all chose different (mostly) navy dresses and it looked so, so chic. It is something that really ends up working and looking fabulous- try not to over think it! Easier said than done : )

  12. Member
    nel13 411 posts, Helper bee @ 2:02 pm

    I had the same dress ideas and the same wedding colors. I feel your pain.

  13. msjackrabbit Member
    msjackrabbit 1080 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:25 pm

    I’m having the exact same problem.

    Can’t wait to see what you got in the end!

  14. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:41 pm

    I tried to be the “cool bride” and let my girls pick, and it backfired on me. I had a vision of what I thought they would all pick, and when they picked other things, I didn’t like it. Fortunately, their dresses were easily returnable. I ended up finding a gorgeous dress that they both wore on our wedding day.

  15. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:52 pm

    I didn’t even pretend to let my girls decide their own dresses. They’re all over the country, so trying them on wasn’t possible. I knew JCrew had quality clothes, so we just went with it.

  16. Member
    hammondda 50 posts, Worker bee @ 4:54 pm

    I started in the same boat. I wanted my 3 girls in similar dresses, but I didn’t want them to spend a ton, and more importantly, I wanted them to feel comfortable. 2 of the 3 girls ended up falling in love with the same dress and the 3rd was very unsure. In the end, we decided majority ruled. Awaiting the arrival of the dresses now to see how they look! Best advice I received was, Ultimately…its your day, not theirs.

  17. Member
    brooklyn55 743 posts, Busy bee @ 6:38 pm

    I am doing mismatched dresses! And it was easy for us! I have 3 bridesmaids but it was only easy because we decided to go with David’s Bridal which offers a lot of different dresses in like 27 different colors. I originally with shopping with 2 or my 3 girls and they both liked satin so they both got satin dresses in Marine (navy blue, my colors are navy and coral). The only requirement was they had to be short versus long. One is strapless, one has the single shoulder strap. Since they both went with satin, it made sense that my third bridesmaid went with satin which worked out because the dress she loved most was satin. It is strapless but a completely different style than the other strapless and they look great together! They are wearing matching coral heels from Kohl’s and will have coral flowers (and I am getting them coral earrings as part of the gift to them).

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    californienne, Guest @ 6:41 pm

    Sorry, but you are NOT being the “cool” bride here. If you really want them to be pick what they want (something they will wear over and over) then you have to ease up. Either dictate the color scheme OR dictate the style (knee-length and not strapless), but not both.

  19. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:51 am

    @SinfoniAXiD: It’s really hard isn’t it!? You’d think buying a dress would be easy… I definitely found it was easier to specify a designer even though I didn’t want to do that at first. Then at least you know the colors will match!

    @lilmsplanner: I’m so glad it’s working out for you!! Black is probably a little easier since there are more black dresses than coral or seafoam out there, you know?

    @mmle: Part of the problem (which I mentioned in my post) is that my sisters are younger and one of them couldn’t care less about fashion. Haha! So she HATED that I was letting them choose. It wasn’t a reaction I was expecting :)

    @Nel13: I mean, how do you match coral and light greens right? It looks amazing in your head but it’s hard to do in person :(

  20. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:53 am

    @Miss Jackrabbit: It sounds like it would be so easy, but it’s really hard, isn’t it? So dumb!

    @Mrs. Treasure: You’re exactly right. I tried to be “cool,” it didn’t work, and I realized it wasn’t right for us. Fortunately it worked out in the end :)

    @Mrs. Pony: My two sisters are in town with me and it was still hard! I can’t imagine having girls all over the country.

  21. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 5:56 am

    @Hammondda: I kind of did this. My one sister found a dress that worked and I told the other sister that she could choose from a handful that matched 😉

    @Brooklyn55: See that’s the way to do it if you’re struggling with the mismatched dresses thing. Pick a designer and a color (or array of colors) and then let them pick. That’s what worked for me!

    @californienne: This post is actually about how I wanted to be a cool bride and failed because it wasn’t right for us. But thanks for your input!

  22. Guest Icon Guest
    Californienne, Guest @ 6:16 am

    The post is about you thinking you were being cool when in fact you were being controlling and had unreasonable expectations. It didnt “work” for your sisters because it was a fantasy. This isn’t about them or “us,” it’s about you.

  23. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 6:47 am

    @Californienne: Thanks for your thoughts :)

  24. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:26 am

    I picked a color at David’s Bridal and let my bridesmaids pick any dress in that color. That way I knew the colors would match but each bridesmaid could choose what she was comfortable wearing and paying.

  25. Member
    berrymagick 47 posts, Newbee @ 1:15 pm

    Heres a idea that could maybe work Miss Lemur….check out the link i posted (sorry i dont know how to post the picture) see how the BMs are all in neutals and some have sholders covered etc, well I think if your sisters could choose two neutral coloured dresses (from the same line, so they colour match) then you could add a coral sash/ribbon to one and a seafoam sash/ribbon to the other?
    My sister has agreed to wear coral, but this is what I might do if we cant find ‘the one’ :)

  26. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 6:13 pm

    I’m interested to see what you picked! It’s hard when you have to coordinate with people, especially when they have opinions too.

add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors