Picking out bridesmaids dresses that result in good photos and happy bridesmaids

By far and away the most stressful part of planning our wedding was picking out the bridesmaids dresses.  Initially I thought, oh this is easy, I have my 5 best friends who will understand that we only have a limited time to pick out a dress since we are getting married in only 4 months, and they will be happy to wear anything I pick out.  Happy to wear anything was definitely not the case.  All of them said ultimately they’d wear what I’d pick for them, but I wanted everyone to be comfy and feel beautiful in their dress.  I had bridesmaids ranging from 5’1″ to 5’11”, with bustlines ranging from AA-DDD.  So here’s what I learned going through the process, and hopefully it will help you as well.

What Colors are Best?
In photos, the dress colors that photograph well are ones that provide a contrast to the white of the brides dress.  So I’m talking about the jewel tones: Deep blue, eggplant purple, forest green, emerald green, teal, ruby, wine, black, and more recent trends, chocolate brown or cinnamon.  Additionally, these colors tend to be universally flattering on people.  Even if your wedding “colors” are pastels, you can incorporate those colors as accents into complimentary sashes or the bouquets.  By picking dresses that fall into this general color palate you are making it more likely that when your friends take photos of the bridal party with their own cameras that they will turn out well because of certain algorithms in digital cameras that determine the proper exposure and white balance of an image.

Do they all have to wear the same dress?
Absolutely not.  This is a very popular trend these days.  This is a strategy that can go really well or really wrong depending on how it is executed.  For example, telling people that you just need to wear a dark blue dress of their choice is a very BAD idea.  The only color that works for is black.  For all other colors, there are just so many hues of each, some with more blue in them some with more green, some are lighter, some are darker. That variety of color makes it nearly impossible to execute this strategy for bridesmaids dresses and have a bridal party that looks well-put-together.  Because of this, if you pick to have your bridesmaids wear a color other than black, I suggest you pick a specific color (i.e. bill levkoff eggplant), and a specific fabric type (european satin), and designer that your bridesmaids can choose from.  Once the girls pick their dresses, they should put the order in all at the same time.  That way it comes from the same dye lot.  The girls also don’t have to all wear the same color dress too.  One thing to be mindful of though is a certain level of balance, or else things will look strange.  For example, if you have 4 bridesmaids and 1 maid of honor, you can do the following types of combinations.  All the same dress and color, all the same dress and maid of honor has a different color than the others, two of say green and three of blue.  Style differences as long as they are all the same length (long, tea length, or short) aren’t too noticeable.  But when a single girl, other than the maid of honor, is wearing a different style than everyone else because she may be more or less endowed than the others, that can make them feel kind of awkward.  So in situations like that try to get at least 2 girls to wear that style dress.  This should then result in everyone being as comfortable as possible and that helps provide happy bridesmaids, which takes stress off the bride, and that  is an equation for great photos.

When should the dresses be ordered?
This depends on how much time you have allotted between your engagement and your big day.  Believe it or not, but you need to order the bridesmaid dresses almost as far in advance as the wedding dress!  Don’t forget that your girls will probably also need alterations on their dresses, and that takes time as well.

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