Here Are the Top Bridesmaid Dress Shopping Etiquette Rules to Know

Reduce the stress with these expert tips.

bride and bridal party

Photo by Megan Robinson

Wedding parties have long been a tradition for years, and as it pertains to bridal parties, becoming a bridesmaid is a coveted title many people look forward to receiving. What's more, given the unique recognition associated with being a bridesmaid, special attention typically gets placed on the bride's inner squad; so, what they wear on the big day is of the utmost importance.

Similar to most wedding shopping experiences, searching for a bridesmaid outfit can be fun, but it's no easy feat. Many members of the party are likely dealing with different budgets, body types, and style preferences, which can sometimes cause a bit of tension once it's time to find a look that everyone loves. However, while tricky and oftentimes challenging, we're here to say that shopping for a bridal party look doesn't have to be a stressful venture.

With the professional advice of Carolyn Bosco, founder of OuiShopp, here are several shopping etiquettes rules for brides and bridesmaids to know when searching for the perfect bridal party ensemble.

Meet the Expert

Carolyn Bosco is the founder of OuiShopp, a social shopping app designed to help brides and bridesmaids share advice and suggest specific items (especially bridal party attire) while wedding planning.

Shopping Etiquette Rules for the Bride

Before diving into the shopping experience, you should first research the best styles and brands available both in-person and online. This will allow you to formulate a baseline as to what you'd like your friends to wear, and can greatly help narrow down the styles, silhouettes, and colors you'd ultimately like to select. Once a foundation has been set, you can then venture into discussions about the budget and shopping timeline.

Talk Openly About Budgets from Day One

Weddings can sometimes feel like an etiquette minefield, and setting a budget for your bridal party members is a sensitive topic that can disrupt even the most meticulously planned processes. Regardless of how you feel about money discussions, though, you should not put off having a conversation about dress expenses.

"Your bridesmaids will be putting a lot of time and energy into your wedding, and they will be happy to do so, but you also don't want to put too much pressure on them and ruin the entire point of the wedding—enjoyment and celebration! Be transparent with your bridal party so you can be sure everyone feels financially comfortable," says Bosco.

Start Searching for Looks Ahead of Time

Brides are typically encouraged to have an idea of the dresses they'd like their bridesmaids to wear at least seven to eight months before the wedding. This will give your closest friends enough time to order their looks, and account for any alterations that may need to be done to their dresses. It's important to remember that many formal bridal party retailers only offer made-to-order looks, so it's not always easy to buy a last-minute ensemble, unless shopping off-the-rack.

Shopping Etiquette Rules for the Bridal Party

As the bridesmaid, what your wear to a wedding can be tricky: It's not your wedding, but it is your dress. So, here's what to keep in mind to help things go as smoothly as possible.

Have an Open Mind

Before you get anxious about what you'll be asked to wear—whether it's a style or color you're not partial to—keep an open mind and be flexible with all suggestions. Oftentimes, many bridesmaids end up loving the bride's selection once they've tried on the dress. In the end, though, it's the bride's big day so what she says goes.

Follow the Bride's Lead

For those who have the freedom to choose their own dress style, be sure to follow the bride's lead. Does your BFF want everyone in chiffon or in a dress with sleeves? Is there a length or detail they prefer? Stick with the recommended parameters set by the bride, and always check in if there's a look that slightly veers from what you've been asked to wear.

Give Constructive Feedback

Wearing a dress that you totally hate? Keep any strong feelings to yourself. Instead, find a helpful way to vocalize what you don't like, whether it's a shade that's not working on your skin tone or a neckline that's way too revealing for your liking. "Definitely be open and share preferences, but just make sure it's coming from the right place!" advises Bosco. "She'll understand and work with you on it."

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The Ultimate Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Shopping

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