One of the most connected and vital elements of planning for a wedding is choosing and working with your bridesmaids. While some people do choose to have no attendants, bridesmaids are a common part of many weddings. On the one hand, you are crafting the design of your wedding, so your vision for how things will look is important and determines whether you have a look that says “elegant,” “rustic,” or “traditional.” On the other hand, your bridesmaids have their own fashion sense, budgets, and preferences that may impact how comfortable they feel fulfilling your vision of the wedding. Here are a few ways to make sure that you are respecting and valuing your bridesmaids’ tastes while also getting the lovely wedding pictures you want.
As Soon as You Have Your Bridal Party, Do Some Online Collaboration
One of the best ways to keep the communication lines open is to start talking about your bridesmaids’ outfits early! Create shared Pinterest boards or an email thread where you all throw out ideas. Try to encourage your bridesmaids to add ideas first, since they are likely to “go along” with whatever you decide. Once you’ve seen their thoughts and Pinterest favorites, add some of your own to start narrowing it down. Most likely, this will help you take their ideas into account while still reaching a compromise that fits in your particular wedding vision.
Consider Price Ranges Based on Other Wedding Expenses
Your bridesmaids love you and want to make you happy, but being in a wedding party is a substantial expense that is worth thinking through a bit. If your bridesmaids will be paying for flights and hotel rooms to get to your wedding, think about ways that you can get the price point down for the dress. Especially if they won’t realistically “wear the dress again,” aim for a very affordable and widely available dress. These days, many online clothing stores make great options, with free returns if a particular size doesn’t fit, so finding a dress when it is on sale for your ladies may be a great way to show you notice and appreciate all they are doing to be with you. On the other hand, if everyone lives nearby and doesn’t have to pay for travel, you can reasonably look into higher-quality dresses without breaking everyone’s budgets.
Offer Two or More Options and See What the Bridesmaids Say
While some brides will want to go with a very specific style, think about whether slightly mismatched dresses (such as a different maid of honor dress in the same color) would be an option for you. Some styles look better on certain body types, so if you can possibly offer your bridesmaids a choice, they may really appreciate it. If you are committed to a single gown, get the girls to vote on the dresses and talk to anyone who doesn’t like the top choice to make sure that they are willing to get on board. Nothing is fun about having one girl wearing a dress that makes her uncomfortable, and it is worth going back and looking for more dresses to make sure you find something that can satisfy everyone involved.
A bigger version of this is to pick a color or a range of hues (for instance, all the “natural” shades of green, basically just not neon) and let the ladies choose a dress that works for them. Often, this ends up looking fabulous and means that some girls don’t even have to buy a new dress.
If You Are Asking a Lot, Consider How You Can Budget to Make It up to Them
If the expenses are piling up—hair and makeup, a nice dress, a very specific pair of shoes—consider how you can help your bridemaids out. Can you put mani-pedis into the wedding budget as an activity for you all before the wedding? What about renting a house for the bridesmaids to call their home during the days before and after the wedding, saving on lodging? Even if the way you make it up to them is a heartfelt letter for each of them about how much you value their friendship, recognizing and elevating their contribution will remind you all of your closeness and will help make any expenses totally worth it. Bridesmaids often are in a season where they attend or bridesmaid in multiple weddings, so these touches of kindness and concern can really mean a lot.
The most important thing to realize when working with your bridesmaids is that the way weddings usually go is just that: a general idea. With your particular bridesmaids, a new kind of outfit or preparation experience may work better. Incorporate the tastes and desires of your bridesmaids not only to be a good friend, but also so that you can make more exciting memories together that stay with them long after your wedding is over.