Ask the Experts: Help with Bridesmaids' Dresses

by Marta
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Ask the Experts is your chance to get all your wedding questions answered by a panel of wedding professionals.

If you have a question for our experts write asktheexperts@onewed.com

This week a bride writes all the way from New Zealand to ask:

Hi Guys,
I have 4 bridesmaids but all different sizes 8 to 22, I am trying to keep the cost down as much as possible as the girls have kindly agreed to pay for their own. I have looked at places that have a broad range but they’re so expensive, I did want all the girls to look the same rather than just buying a dress each and looking mismatched. I have also looked at making dresses but the cost is high also. This is the only part of our wedding that I can’t seem to relax about yet, any really good ideas??

Thanks, Sam

Here’s what our experts say:
Melissa of Stylish Blooms Says:
Depending on your color scheme a great option is to have each girl wear a black dress in the style they choose (with some limitations) this way they will all be uniform in color and still have a dress that compliments their body shape. If black isn't an option you could try department stores. J. Crew also has a great line of dresses that could also be a much less costly route. If you pick a costlier dress pick a color and style that your attendants can wear again. It might make the investment for the dress easier to handle.

Ariana of Iris Fields Says:
Wedding party attire is always a very big decision (so not to worry about being concerned)! So here are the solutions: Ask the bridesmaids to all wear black because everyone already has their "go to" black dress and this way they look enough alike that you are happy. If you truly want to have a color then there are so many companies where you can mix and match the style but have the same color (to fit all shapes and sizes). These dresses run under $200 a piece. If this is too expensive for your girls I would suggest offering to offset their cost a bit (a small sacrifice for the "look" you want). You can also ask that they don't give you a wedding present because they have so graciously offered to pay for their own dress. Typically you could also go off the rack with a small party of 4 but since you have a size 22 that does cause an obstacle. Hope this helps!

Heidi of Three Graces Design Says:
As custom invitation designers, we understand that "one size does not fit all!" So when it comes to selecting your bridesmaids' dresses, consider a retail chain bridal store. They offer two-piece coordinating dress lines and very reasonable prices. You may want to keep the skirt consistent, to give that uniform appearance, but allow your bridesmaids to select the top that they feel is most flattering for their build. You are not alone in this dilemma. You will find dresses that fit your bridesmaids’ budgets as well as their sizes.

Jeff of BlackBird Images Says:
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any one bridesmaid dress “work” across a range of sizes; often a few bridesmaids are delighted and one or two are less than thrilled. Also keep in mind you may ask your girls to buy a dress they will never wear again. The key is to decide what is most important to you: Having your bridesmaids match or keeping their costs down. There is no wrong answer, because either approach works: Some of the happiest bridesmaids we’ve seen were allowed to choose their own dresses (within reason and within specific parameters), while on the other hand most bridesmaids won’t mind buying the dress you choose simply because since they are honored to be in your wedding.

So take a step back and decide whether having your girls look the same is important to you; if not, give them some latitude. As long as color and dress length are similar they will look good as a group, and if you want to extend the premise let the guys choose different ties or shirt colors (again, within reason.) And keep in mind whether everyone matches or not in no way reflects on your taste or sophistication; we just photographed a $200,000 wedding and the bridesmaid dresses were similar but not matching. It’s your wedding and should reflect your dreams – do it your way based on what is most important to you.

About our Experts:
Melissa Bonoffksi is the creative force behind Stylish Blooms in Bristol CT. She holds and A.A.S In floriculture and have over 13 years design experience.

The co-owner of Three Graces Design, a custom-design invitation business in Oak Park, Illinois, Heidi has years of experience in design and event planning.

Jeff Haden is President of BlackBird Images, wedding photographers based in Harrisonburg, VA. Not only is he a well-respected and talented photographer, but has also gained recognition as a ghostwriter.

Ariana Gordon Stecker is the co-founder and Lead Planner for Iris Fields, Inc. She is a seasoned New York City event professional who has been featured on MTV, Fox News, and the New York Times.