Whether you’re a modern, traditional, or even an “I have no clue which type of bride I am” bride, you may want to think carefully about how you dress your bridesmaids. There are tons of ways to think outside-the-bridesmaid-box with non-maid-y options, but navigating those waters can be tricky. Every day I go into my closet and roll my eyes. A rainbow of satin stares back me—unworn and unloved. I’ve been a ‘maid numerous times. Every time the bride “tried” to pick something we’d wear again. I’ve never ever worn any of those dresses besides for that one trot down the aisle. Honestly, I actively tried to avoid them. That’s not to say I’m innocent in all this bridal bad judgment. When I was planning my wedding, of course, I said the same thing. You’ll totally wear these again. Pick something you’d wear again. I’m not sure any of my attendants ever took me up on that. But at least I really did try! Or I like to tell myself I did.
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To me, the quintessential bridesmaid gown is A-line, satin, strapless, and long. Maybe it’s knee-length, if the bride thought she was being different. You can donate them or try to sell them to a second-hand shop, but at the end of the day, they’re just a waste of space in your closet.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to create a gorgeous bridal party that doesn’t scream bridal party. I’ve come up with a list of eight ways to pick non-bridesmaid-y dresses without going too far off the reservation. I’m not saying I’m the expert here—oh wait, yes I am! Plus, if you follow my advice, I guarantee you’ll have stellar pictures and even happier looking ladies.
Bridesmaid Dresses that Aren't Boring: 1. Step away from the satin.
Nothing says “bridesmaid” like shiny, squeaky satin. Yes, satin does look put together and glamorous but it also looks like every other bridal party in the history of weddings.
Why not try and switch up your fabric? Soft, flowing chiffon is flattering, comfortable, and comes in every silhouette under the sun. Plus, it’s a lot more forgiving on certain body types than satin. Kennedy Blue
, available exclusively at the Wedding Shoppe, has two gowns that really stick out to me. Two of the best-selling styles, Olivia
, are chiffon with ruched bodices and flowing skirts. If your heart is set on satin, consider mixing and matching fabrics. Some of the newest styles
have satin tops and chiffon skirts--chic, right? Or mix-and-match your girls in satin and chiffon gowns, creating a modern take on this classic fabric. 2. Think outside the rainbow.
Certain colors are always associated with weddings. During the spring, these are soft pastel colors while during the fall, people tend to look towards golden and burnished tones. For my wedding, I wanted colors that would pop and really stand out. I thought my ladies should complement the decorations and vice versa.
I went with royal blue and hot pink. I wasn’t afraid that my maids would stand out; I wanted them to. Why not look beyond ROYGBIV (please tell me I don’t have to explain that acronym) and pick colors that stand out. The Wedding Shoppe has designs that come in every color under and outside the rainbow
. Seriously. How about Canary, Watermelon, or even Sangria? 3. Bolder can be better.
Prints can be a little tricky when it comes to attendant attire. Do you put them all in the same print? Mix and match? Select just one or two attendants for print? Yes, prints can be scary, but you can do it!
My favorite thing, and the very best one about using prints, is that very few people go down that route. I actually know only one brave soul who did. And while it was rough picking the dresses out, figuring out the best way to attire everyone, at the end of the day we all looked gorgeous. Prints instantly provide your bridesmaids with a unique look that you probably won’t see anywhere else. 4. Asymmetrical is A-OK.
One of my all-time favorite styles of the past few years has been the one-shoulder asymmetrical look. You can be a Grecian goddess or subtly sexy without flashing too much. Plus, the trend is extremely flattering on most body and bust types.
You can choose a one-shoulder look with a fitted bodice like Bill Levkoff 492
, which creates an hourglass silhouette or look for a short and flirty style, such as 477
, which your ladies could easily wear again. Either way, you know I approve of anything that pushes aside that strapless sweetheart style so popular with today’s bridal wear. 5. Cheers for sheers.
Recently, I went shopping to find a gown for a black tie wedding I have. I tried on a ton of looks and finally fell madly in love with a black and white geographic print with a sheer panel around my waist. Now, sheer panels can be chic or seedy. In the wrong place, it’s definitely more “Pretty Woman” than pretty dress for a wedding. But done right, and sheer can be eye-catching and head-turning. How stunning is this new look from Christina Wu? Sheer fabric at the waist creates a crop-top style that's appropriate for any ceremony. 6. It’s all in the details.
Usually, your attendants are attired in a single color with maybe a flower here or bow there. Why not add a little glitz to all that glamour? Lace and beading detailing, even just a little, instantly ups the appearance of your maids. Styles with lace overlay, like Kennedy Blue’s Charlotte or Harper, have a unique and vintage feel and are the perfect complement for anyone with lace detailing on their wedding dress. If you’re more of a beaded kinda bride, then Alfred Angelo
has several styles dotted with just a subtle swath of crystal, just the right amount to add a bit of sparkle without overshadowing the bride. As if that could happen! 7. Take the plunge.
This one is for the more risqué lady. And one who doesn’t mind (maybe) sharing some of the spotlight with her maids. In my mind, the typical bridesmaid dress has a sweetheart neckline. Maybe it’s straight across or maybe there’s a little bit of a dip, but more often than not, you’ll see a bunch of strapless sweethearts marching around.
Why not mix it up and let your ladies show a little skin…just a little. Bari Jay 1452
both have deep V-necklines, but don’t worry, neither enters into JLo territory. (Think that green Versace Grammy dress circa 2000). It’s just enough of a plunge to add a little bit of sexy without being overly showy. If you want the girls tucked in, consider a plunging back! Plenty of styles feature V or open backs. You can even create your own with a convertible option, like the Twist from Dessy
. Plus, this jersey frock can be re-twisted to create an array of silhouettes and necklines—talk about wear-again ready! 8. LBD.
There’s a reason LBDs (little black dresses) are a staple in every woman’s closet. They’re chic and glamorous, yet always in style. They may seem like a strange choice for a wedding, in stark contrast to your glowing white gown. But LBDs are almost a guarantee that the frock can be worn again. Whether the wearer chooses to do that is another story. Short Alfred Sung
looks in black are classic and work just as well down the aisle as they do out for a fun night out or cocktail party. And of course, black never ever goes out of style.
Give your girls a break.
Every time I’ve been a bridesmaid, and we’re talking double digits, I’ve gone through a myriad of emotions. Happy that I’ve been chosen, excited for the actual wedding, dreading all the stresses leading up to the big day, and worried the dress will be a dud. I hate to say that bridesmaid gowns are a dime a dozen but they can be if you don’t do your research. With a little time and energy, you can dress your dames in looks that are unexpected but not completely crazy – not that being crazy is a bad thing. You may also like...