Bridesmaid style has come a long way. Gone are the days of everyone wearing the same dress. Today, brides are mixing it up with mismatched bridesmaid dresses, creating truly unique ensembles featuring gorgeous gowns with different styles, fabrics, hemlines, and colors. The trend allows you to highlight each individual woman and ensure she's wearing a dress that makes her feel great.
Using mismatched bridesmaid dresses presents a new set of challenges, however. If it's not done right, you can end up with a disjointed-looking bridal party rather than a cohesive, complementary one. The first step is deciding which mismatched route you want to go. Here's a breakdown of each way to do it.
Same Dress Style in Different Colors
If you've found a dress that you absolutely adore and really want the same silhouette for all (just make sure it's a flattering one!), fear not—you can still embrace the versatility of "mismatched-ness" within your bridal party by opting for different colors. Keep in mind that while rainbows are pretty, they're not completely necessary for a bridal party look, unless you really want a rainbow vibe—then go for it!
Examine and play with fabric swatches before you determine your scheme, and try to keep it to no more than three variations in color.
Same Dress Color in Different Styles
This option is perfect for the bride who wants to hold fast to the tradition of everyone in the same color but also acknowledges the fabulousness that is diversity among her bridal party. By committing to the same hue yet allowing for options in style and design, you're acknowledging a golden rule that all bridesmaids can appreciate: Not every dress is flattering for every person. An added bonus? Allow your girls to pick their favorite style. They will appreciate the freedom of choice and are sure to be comfortable and happy. What more could you ask for in a bridal party?
Different Dress Styles and Colors
If you're going to commit to using different bridesmaid dresses, you might just want to go all out. For a really stunning look incorporate both different designs and colors into your bridal party ensemble. You can stick within the same family and play with different tones and hues or use the palette of your wedding inspiration while shopping and selecting. Just be certain that once all dresses are selected, you have the time to see them together.
Tips for Pulling Off Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses
Now that you've figured out a basic plan for your bridesmaid dresses, here are 10 expert tips to help you navigate how to do mismatched bridesmaid dresses and present a cohesive fashion story.
Consider Hemlines Carefully
In the true spirit of mismatching, brides often choose different length bridesmaid dresses. Just be sure that there is a good mix of lengths (and silhouettes) to go around. Otherwise, bridal party photos may look a bit awkward if all your girls opt for long except one or vice-versa. Whether you choose all floor-length gowns, a uniform to-the-knee hem, or varying lengths based on the dress and the 'maid, make sure you stick to a hemline or have balanced options on the table. Your photographer will thank you!
Don't Vary Too Many Features
Less is more when it comes to different bridesmaid dress features. A good rule of thumb is to only switch up one or two things about each dress and keep the rest the same. For example, choose different necklines and colors (in a pre-decided color palette) but in the same fabric. Or, choose a different dress fabric (lace, cotton, chiffon, brocade, etc.) and necklines but in the same color. If you change much more than the basics (color or style), you run the risk of a confused-looking bridal party.
Examine Color on Sample, Not Just Swatches
Different colored dresses are very popular right now. But it can be difficult to select ones that look good together since you're limited to the colors the designer offers. Also, the small swatches on a card often look very different when they are made up in a gown. The easiest way to visualize how they will look together is to check out the full-size samples in daylight and switch out different options until you are happy with the combo.
Guide Your Girls
A lot of brides love the idea of giving their bridesmaids a color and the freedom to shop for their own gown, but this method can really backfire. Think about it: If you tell your six girls to find a long navy dress, you are going to end up with six different shades of navy that may not blend well. You are also going to have different fabrics that won't photograph in the same way. The result? Awkward photos.
Make a separate appointment without your bridesmaids to decide their options in advance. Pre-select the dresses, necklines, and colors that you like. Then, let them choose their favorite among your preset choices. It will save you a lot of confusion at the ordering appointment when you are all together.
Tie the Look Together With Identical Accessories
While alternating colors, styles, silhouettes, or all of the above, it's important to have one design component that ties all the looks together for a cohesive aesthetic. Perhaps a rhinestone belt or hairpiece can do the trick. If you're alternating dress colors, represent each color in the bridesmaid bouquet for stunning photos. Or, consider statement necklaces or earrings for a uniform accessory look. (You can give these as bridesmaid gifts, too!)
Get Input From Your Bridesmaids
The beauty of having various bridesmaid dresses is that each girl can feel beautiful and confident in their own look while still fitting into your desired vision and color scheme. Before you go assigning the dress model, make, and color, talk to your girls. We can guarantee your bridal party will be more than grateful to have their voices and concerns heard. Bustier bridesmaids may want a more modest neckline, some girls may want fitted silhouettes, and others may not have a preference whatsoever, but since you have the room for discussion, take this opportunity to give your girls a choice.
Forget About Finding Dresses They'll "Wear Again"
The fact is that no matter how pretty the dress is, they will always feel like a bridesmaid wearing it. So choose a dress that you like and they feel good in, and, hopefully, you will both enjoy on your wedding day.
Have a Vision and Stick to It
Unless you're going for straight-up rainbow vibes, it's important your vision still has a theme or guiding concept. Maybe you have six bridesmaids and colors will vary by pairs of two, or perhaps you want all your girls in varying shades of one color family. Regardless, don't be too relaxed with your vision. You still want your bridesmaids to look like bridesmaids, right? To do this, share swatches or color families with your girls, or give them options of 10-15 dresses to choose from in the colors you desire. By doing this, they still have an element of choice, and you have peace of mind that your dresses will meet your vision for the big day.
Create a visual mood board to communicate your vision with your crew. Include swatch colors, dress silhouettes, and inspo photos of what you picture the group to look like on the big day.
Consider One Designer
Another option for creating a cohesive look is simply sticking to one designer's collection and having everyone choose different colors and styles from it. This way, each lady shows off her own personality while still wearing a very similar dress to the others. This is also a great way of ensuring there's no shade variance within the same color (ie: six different interpretations of navy).
Flowers Can Pull It All Together
Don't forget the flowers! When it comes to both different cuts and colors in your bridesmaids' dresses, the perfect way to tie it all together is with neutral and simple matching bouquets.