Choosing bridesmaids dresses is no easy task, but its one of the most exciting and often the most emotional parts of the wedding planning process.
Inviting the special women in your life to be your bridesmaids; your sisters, your lifelong friends, your cousins and special family friends; is a way to seal important friendships during this very special time in your life. Choosing the bridesmaids dresses, whether you do it yourself or together with your bridesmaids, is an integral part of the tradition.
Naturally, its the bride who will be the focus of attention on her wedding day, but its important for the bridesmaids to look gorgeous too. Choose something simple and not overdecorated or detailed, but which will make your bridesmaids look elegant, sophisticated and feminine.
It's important to choose a dress style which will flatter everyone's figure. This is never an easy task, but empire waists and A-line or princess skirts will tend to suit most shapes and sizes.
If your bridesmaids have very different figure types and heights, and you think they might feel uncomfortable in matching dresses, a nice alternative is to choose the fabrics and colors, and allow each individual bridesmaid to choose her own dress style.
Always keep a budget in mind for your bridesmaid's gowns. It's very unfair to expect your bridesmaids to buy overly expensive dresses, and it may damage your relationship with some of the most important women in your life. Around $100-250 each dress is generally considered a reasonable cost. If you have your heart set on a more expensive gown, you might consider making up the difference yourself.
Classic Looks for Bridesmaids
Any kind of formal gown, semi-formal or evening dress can be chosen as a bridesmaids gown, so you have literally thousands of options. Satin, organza, chiffon, Georgette, tulle, lace, brocades, and crepe are all classic fabrics for bridesmaid dresses. Whether you choose real silks and imported laces, or more economical alternatives will depend on your budget.
It is traditional to choose a one-piece dress or gown, but separates are definitely an option. Mixing and matching separate blouses and skirts makes it easier to find a style which suits each individual bridesmaid.
You should think about the time of year you plan to hold the wedding, and how this will effect your gown's choices. Choose lighter fabrics for summer, and a sleeveless or even a strapless dress style. If your wedding is planned for a cooler time in the year, long skirts and sleeves are best, or include a shawl or wrap as part of the outfit.
It's a nice idea to choose your colors according to the time of year also. Fresh, soft colors are lovely for spring and summer; golds, copper tones and rusty reds for fall, and deep marine blues, teal green, deep burgundies, and plums, or platinum shades for winter.
Choose colors which will match the flowers which are in bloom at the time of year, so your gowns will tone in nicely with the bouquets. Discussing your color ideas with your favorite florist will make the job of choosing colors much easier.
For a very sophisticated, formal look, black or black and white never goes out of style... Alternating black and white solid panels have a very dramatic effect.
For a more romantic look, use white or a solid color overlaid with black lace, either as a feature of the dress itself or as a shawl or wrap.
Soft, pretty pastel shades like lilac, powder pink, cream, platinum and eggshell blue are always popular colors for bridesmaid dresses, because they always look good together with the white or ivory shade of the bridal gown. Adding dramatic color accents in the bouquets creates a very attractive look for the wedding party as a whole.
Another idea which works very well for bridesmaids gowns is to use a silk or satin fabric with a subtle cross-weave in a contrasting color, and match the bouquets to the cross-weave color. The bouquets will bring out and enhance the color highlights in the dress fabric, which has a very pretty effect.
Accessories for Bridesmaids
The simplest look will tend to work best, so accessories should best be kept to a minimum. Often a simple pair of earrings, a brooch or necklace is all the jewelry you'll need. Its traditional for the bride to give the bridesmaids their jewelry as a gift, which is a lovely idea.
For a very formal look, shawls, gloves and even small tiaras are always appropriate as bridesmaids accessories.
Keep comfort as well as style in mind when you choose shoes for your bridesmaids. Very high heels may be uncomfortable to stand in for any period of time. Also consider the fact that the bridesmaids will most likely be wearing the shoes for the wedding ceremony and the reception, so choose shoes which will be comfortable to wear all day, then dance away the night.
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