Dressing My Leading Ladies

I’ve never been a bridesmaid. I am sure having experience being a part of wedding planning provides brides with a lot of perspective on many of the planning decisions—such as what works and doesn’t work, how to tiptoe certain issues, etc. When Mr. Wallaby and I got engaged, I realized…I’ve only been to a few weddings as an adult. I was really intimidated by wedding planning. I thought, if there is a primer on wedding planning for dummies, I need it! So I had precisely zero experience in the bridesmaid department.

I knew from early on in our engagement, though, that I didn’t want to be too fussy about what the bridesmaids wear. I love them dearly and want them to look and feel pretty—but beyond that, I don’t care too much! They all have great taste and enviable wardrobes. They also all have very different figures that may not be flattered in the same dress. So I decided that I would leave the fashion up to the girls! I showed them my general color palette, and instructed them to pick out whatever suits their fancy, to create a mismatched look:


Photo by 1313 Photography / Image via Style Me Pretty.


Photo by Jessica Lorren Organic Photography / Image via Style Me Pretty.

The girls set off searching for dresses. After a few months, three of my bridesmaids had found dresses they liked, and we ran into a problem…All of the dresses were completely different. And not everyone was ok with that. Two of the dresses were pretty casual cotton dresses, 1 was a dressy satin dress…and no one was too happy with the outcome. And so I went back to the drawing board.

I decided to rule out satin dresses. My wedding dress is a charmeuse slip with a lace overlay, so satin seemed too shiny next to my own dress. Also, I associated satin bridesmaid dresses with fancy weddings in upscale hotels, and Mr. Wallaby and I are throwing an outdoor BBQ wedding—so we don’t want anyone to feel overdressed.

When I looked at inspiration pictures of wedding parties, I found that I was attracted to chiffon dresses. I love the soft, flowy look of chiffon and in my experience, it’s always been really comfortable. Some of the most popular chiffon bridesmaid dresses out there are J. Crew’s bridesmaid collection. So I did some stalking of J. Crew’s website, and I fell in love with all of the different styles of dresses the store offers in silk chiffon. Another benefit of J. Crew is there are stores nationwide, so my out-of-state bridesmaids can try on dresses at their local J. Crew stores.

I emailed the bridesmaids and asked them to pick out any style of J. Crew silk chiffon dress, and I offered a range of colors that complement the rest of the wedding. I also offered to help hunt for lightly used dresses on eBay for my bridesmaids on tight budgets. So far, four girls have picked out their dresses:


J. Crew Louisa dress in dusty shale.


J. Crew Arabelle dress in dusty shale.


J. Crew Macie dress in graphite.

Bridesmaid C and Bridesmaid K both bought the Macie dress during a flash sale on J. Crew’s website. The dress was marked down from $250 to $89! For those of you who are interested in J. Crew’s bridesmaid dresses, if you allow enough time, you can wait for one of these sales. I would highly recommend checking their website regularly, because the dresses sell out quickly.

Once all of the dresses have been purchased, I’ll photoshop a photo of them all for your viewing pleasure. I can’t wait to see all six pretty ladies dressed up!

In the meantime, for those of you who are debating whether to allow their bridesmaids to wear mismatched dresses, or if you are in the process of selecting dresses, here are some tips from my experience:

1. Decided what “mismatched” look you want: mismatched colors, mismatched dress styles, same color in different shades… there are a number of possibilities! An article over at Belle The Magazine has some advice on mismatched dresses, along with some pretty eye candy.

2. Provide plenty of guidance and inspiration pictures. There was some confusion with my wedding party about what type of dress would be appropriate, and if I could do it over again, I would’ve provided some more guidance from the beginning. If you’re doing shades of a certain color, consider telling your maids a certain length or fabric or designer to stick to so it looks cohesive.

3. Accessories can pull everything together. My bridesmaids are wearing nude-colored shoes (in whatever style they please… since the wedding will take place outside on the lawn, I suspect most of the girls will wear wedges!) and they will have matching bouquets. Look how these gorgeous maids’ matching bouquets and shoes in similar tones pull together their whole look:


Photo by Jill Thomas / Image via Once Wed.

4. Beware of clashing colors. Any two colors that your maids choose should be able to complement one another.

5. Be able to describe a general theme to your bridesmaids to help offer inspiration. For example, offering words such as vintage, modern, eclectic, retro, girly, sophisticated, and chic can help them choose looks that fit together.

6. Have fun with it!

What do you think about mismatched bridesmaids dresses—are they a “do” or “don’t”? Have you ever been asked to pick out a mismatched bridesmaid dress for a wedding?


Mrs. Wallaby

Wedding Date:
November 2012
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  1. Member
    shaynapunim 654 posts, Busy bee @ 9:13 am

    Thank you for your advice!! I know I want mismatched dresses; however, I have yet to choose which look I want.

  2. otter Bee
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:14 am

    I love the dresses your girls have picked so far! Those are some of my favorites 🙂 And great tips on how to go about the mix and match; I could’ve definitely used those when I started planning!

  3. mspony Bee
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:29 pm

    Yay Jcrew dresses, your ladies are going to look amazing!

  4. Member
    jacofblues 1468 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:50 pm

    Yeah I really love the mismatched dress look however my fiance wasn’t much of a fan! Instead we are doing mismatched hair and makeup!

  5. Member
    Red Poppy 31 posts, Newbee @ 10:08 am

    J. Crew bridesmaid dresses are so pretty! I love the mismatched look. My bridesmaids were sort of matching, sort of mismatching. Different dress styles in the same designer, length, and fabric (except my then-pregnant sister who had a different fabrication), same flowers, any shoes, any updo, and makeup done however they wanted. I just wanted the girls to be comfortable and happy!

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

    I love the colors and mismatched but matched style! I bet they will really complement each other well.

  7. beanstalk Bee
    Mrs. Beanstalk 770 posts, Busy bee @ 3:23 pm

    I heart J. Crew! You can’t go wrong with any of their clothes/dresses… everything is so classic! By the way, I have to say, I LOVE that first photo by 1313 Photography…they were our wedding photographers!!!!!

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