Find Bridesmaids' Dresses
Your Friends Will Love
(And Actually Wear Again)

Bridesmaids
fuschia strapless bridesmaid dress

Photo: Corbin Gurkin

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Guest blogger Anna Maltby shares the ins and outs of narrowing down your bridal style, snagging your dream wedding location, taking the perfect engagement photo, and more.

Few aspects of a wedding are the butt of more jokes than bridesmaids' dresses. Who hasn't poked through the back of her mom's closet to unearth an iridescent taffeta made-for-Halloween frock? Luckily, the last several years have yielded an explosion in more tasteful options—thank you, Jenny Yoo and J. Crew!—but somehow my least favorite part of bridal-party attire, the uniform mandate, has by and large remained de rigueur.

I am blessed to have totally gorgeous, smokin'-hot bridesmaids who would probably all look amazing wearing burlap sacks—but honestly, it doesn't matter how great-looking you are: Not all dresses look perfect on all people. And I hated the idea that any one of my 'maids could feel stuck wearing—not to mention buying—something they felt less than confident in. So I knew the uniform look was out.

Second factor: Cost. What's "reasonable" to one person could be "outrageous" to the next, and I didn't want to make any assumptions. So I set up a poll at Survey Monkey that allowed my friends to weigh in on what they'd feel comfortable paying. The results were about what I would have responded, too, but unfortunately, pretty far below typical bridesmaid dress prices.

Third factor: I know every bride says this and it rarely works out, but I really, really, really wanted the dresses to be something my bridesmaids could wear again. In my opinion, the only dress you should have to buy and wear once is your wedding dress (with the possible exception of the Forever 21 getup you buy on your lunch break when invited to a last-minute cocktail party).

It took some internet-legwork, but I finally found what I thought was the perfect solution: ASOS. Can I take a minute to gush a little about how utterly obsessed I am with ASOS? I actually had to unsubscribe from their daily emails because of how quickly my checking account was dwindling. Anyway, their stuff is cute and inexpensive but, by and large, relatively good quality—my girls could pick something that worked for them, that they'd wear again, and that wouldn't break the bank.

But if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This was no exception. Certain parental parties who shall remain nameless expressed some concern that the ASOS dresses I'd chosen were too short and not formal enough for the occasion. And since I aim to please certain parental parties—and they've been shockingly easygoing about almost everything else in the wedding process—I scrapped ASOS and started over.

Using Polyvore's insanely helpful search function, I was able to shake out a handful of beautiful dresses in peacock-esque jewel tones (spoiler alert: our color palette!) that just so happened to be the stylish but modest maxi-length, making certain parental parties happy. Oh, and did I mention they all cost less than $150? One actually was from ASOS, but the rest were a smattering of random online shops and U.K. retailers that ship to the U.S.

peacock colored bridesmaid dresses

Photo: Courtesy of Pinterest

Next I created a Pinterest board (check it out here!), slapped up all the options, and let my bridesmaids take a look. I asked everyone to rank their top three favorites, in order, and I was able to arrange it so that everyone was assigned a dress that made their top 2. The scary part was that all the dresses were only available online, but once everyone's packages arrived, by some miracle (and, I'm guessing, thanks in large part to the fact that—as I said before—my bridesmaids are all freaking gorgeous), everything fit and looked fabulous.

This was clearly not the most simple, straightforward process in the world—the online-ordering thing alone was significantly nerve-wracking—and I may or may not have driven my bridesmaids completely crazy with approximately six emails a day. But I actually managed to get my bridesmaids in dresses they feel happy in, that didn't empty their bank accounts, and that there's actually, maybe a chance they'll wear again.

One thing's for sure: No one's going to be using them for an ironic Halloween costume down the line.

Browse 1,700+ bridesmaid dresses.

—Anna Maltby

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