What to Do If You Hate Your Bridesmaid Dress

An expert shares the best ways to appropriately and respectfully navigate this situation.

purple bridesmaid dresses

Getty Images

When it comes to bridesmaid dresses, it's ultimately up to the bride to decide what each member of the bridal party will wear. These looks are generally a representation of the bride's personal style, and thus, the outfits that are selected are meant to complement the aesthetic of the wedding and are not a reflection of each individual bridesmaid.

However, personal style is just that: personal. Not everyone will have the same taste as the bride, and there is always a chance that a bridesmaid could end up hating her dress. And while most brides will make every attempt to ensure their closest friends are wearing looks they feel comfortable and confident in, it is common for a bridesmaid to get the short end of the stick when it comes to wearing an ensemble that's highly unfavorable. But if that's the case, what’s a bridesmaid to do?

“A bridesmaid who hates their dress has two choices: smile and wear it—remembering you agreed to be the bride and your friend's support on her day—and focus instead on your hair, makeup, and accessories,” shares stylist Sarah Sommer. “Or, she can talk to the bride about how she feels in the hopes of coming up with some kind of compromise.”

For those that are in this situation and are unsure of how to navigate this uncomfortable scenario, we have a few more answers for you. With the expert advice of Sommer, here's everything you should know if you find yourself having to wear a bridesmaid dress you absolutely hate.

Meet the Expert

Sarah Sommer is a stylist at Wardrobe Apparel who specializes in on-figure styling for commercials, fashion/editorial, and individual brands. She has been a freelance stylist for about four years and founded Styled by SAR at the end of 2020.

What to Do If You Hate Your Bridesmaid Dress

Hating your bridesmaid dress is a trope played out in movies and TV shows for a reason: it’s an all too familiar experience. What's more, even if the bride lets you pick out your own look, you may still end up with something you’re less than excited about.

If your dress is ill-fitting or just completely unwearable, the bride deserves to know as soon as possible, so you can work together and find something to wear for the big day. However, if you’re venting just to vent, keep it to yourself. The bride already has a lot to deal with, so only share information that relates to any potential wardrobe mishaps. And for a list of more practical steps to take, read on below, as highlighted by Sommer.

Just wear the dress.

As much as it may pain you to be photographed in a dress you don’t love, remember why you’re wearing the dress in the first place. A wedding is meant to honor a couple who has made the decision to join their lives together in marriage and is not a day dedicated to celebrating your killer sense of style. “Remember it’s one night of your life and one of the most important days for your friend, the bride, and not worth losing a friendship over or adding more stress to either of your lives,” says Sommer. Sometimes a dress is just a dress, and while your feelings are valid, they do not need to hinder the wedding experience.

Focus on accessories.

The dress is just one aspect of your overall look. While it may not be up to your standards on its own, you can always elevate it by choosing accessories that make you feel like you (as long as they’re not distracting and are approved by the bride). “At the end of the day, play up what you can with your hair, makeup, and shoes,” says Sommer. You can even ask the bride if you're able to add a few personal touches to your look during the reception.

Ask the bride for an alternative. 

A difference in taste is one thing, but if you have valid reasons to not like your chosen ensemble, it doesn’t hurt to ask if the bride has any other options that would work for the big day. “Never be afraid to ask the bride if there is any flexibility in the dress choices, especially if it’s a matter of cost or not feeling comfortable with the cut/style,” says Sommer. “Be prepared to share why and maybe even have a couple of backup options ready to show her in her bridesmaid dress color.”

In general, an unflattering cut or style can often be distracting in pictures, so a change in silhouettes might be the best solution for you both. To avoid any last-minute scrambling, though, order and try on your ensemble well in advance of the wedding to make sure the fit is right. 

Excuse yourself from the wedding party.

“If it’s really something you and the bride can’t agree or compromise on, be prepared to politely and respectfully withdraw yourself from the wedding party,” says Sommer. This option is definitely a last resort, as your absence could disrupt the couple’s plans and potentially do lasting damage to your relationship with the bride. So while we don't recommend taking this route, it is a choice to consider if you feel like you have no other path to take.

How to Respectfully Share Your Opinions With the Bride

If you do feel as if you need to have a conversation about your bridal party dress, use your judgment when figuring out the best time to approach the bride. Choose your words very carefully and explain why you’d like to wear something different. Also, be specific and share what you don't like about the dress, whether it's a shade that clashes with your skin tone or a neckline that's too low, and don't forget to share some alternative options.

If the bride happens to suggest something that is more wearable than the first option, but it's still not something you would gravitate towards on your own, don’t push your luck. Settle for a look you feel comfortable wearing, even if it’s not the best choice in your opinion. It’s one day, and it’s famously not your day. 

Related Stories