Finding the Perfect Little Black Bridesmaid Dress

black Anne Taylor bridesmaids dress

Photo: Turnquist Photography

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Newlywed Courtney Kern is the owner of Events Beyond, a wedding and event design company. Engaged since 2007—yes, she's heard every Five Year Engagement joke—she knew exactly how her dream day would unfold, but that doesn't mean the process was always a cake walk.

We've all been there. You're looking at your cousin's wedding pictures—the ones from 1990—and you can't help but stare at the bridesmaids wearing poof-sleeved dresses in Miami Vice teal and hats the size of UFOs. And you think to yourself: I will never be that person. I will never be the bride who makes her dear friends and family wear (and suffer the indignity of purchasing) dresses that are so big and so bright that they will become a Halloween costume.

When it comes to choosing bridesmaids dresses, it's crucial to consider body shape, height, and the oft-overlooked factor: skin tone. Some brides select their bridesmaids' dresses based on their wedding color scheme alone. And while your blonde friend will look stunning in a rich, harvest brown, your brunette friend will be less enthused. You want you closest friends and family to look their best, feel comfortable, and be happy with the decision you make. Yes, it's your special day but it's a dress they're paying for.

When it came time to select bridesmaid attire I was fortunate. With only two women in my bridal party, my childhood friend Erica and my sister-in-law Michelle, the process was simple. My bridesmaids and I have similar tastes. We prefer clean lines and classic shapes that can be changed up with fun accessories. And, as my husband and I threw an intimate, rooftop New York City wedding, we all agreed that little black dresses would fit the venue and vibe. (And being a budget-conscious bride, I would have felt guilty making my two recently married bridesmaids purchase a dress that would never again leave their closets.)

Even though my nature (and day job) is to help select the perfect dress, I was fairly hands off. I sent the ladies a few links for dresses that I thought were cute and asked both of them to keep their eyes open and let me know if they stumbled across something they liked. Erica took the lead and decided to select a scoop-neck, silk dupioni Ann Taylor bridesmaid dress I had gravitated toward. (My favorite feature—pockets! In my opinion, all bridesmaids dresses should come equipped with pockets. You never now when you'll need some one to hold your three shades of lipsticks and glosses.) As soon as the $235 dress went on sale for $130, Erica jumped. They arrived in just and a week, and better yet, fit both women!

We accessorized their looks with pink and gold-toned necklaces from Nordstrom Rack and champagne-colored heels by Lulu Townsend (which were a steal at DSW). After topping everything off with Banana Republic sweaters (to keep the ladies warm on the breezy rooftop), my bridesmaids spent less than $300 each and looked lovely.

—Courtney Kern

Get caught up with all of Courtney's posts, here.

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