Here's Everything You Need to Know About Dye Lots for Bridesmaid Dresses

Ensure your bridesmaids' dresses really match.

bride and bridal party wearing gold dresses

Photo by Madison Emily Hare Photography

If you have ever shopped for a bridal party dress at a salon, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about dye lots. “Most fabrics used for bridesmaid dresses (such as polyester chiffon, tulle, or mesh) are spun in a neutral ‘greige’ color,” says Grace Lee, founder and CEO of Birdy Grey. “The bulk fabric is then dyed in large batches (we're talking hundreds of yards at a time!) according to a specific color formulation. The vat that the fabric is dyed in is then assigned a unique code called a dye lot.”

What Is a Dye Lot?

A dye lot is a record or code indicating what dye vat a fabric or trim was colored in. The code, oftentimes numeric, is used to identify and track the varying hues of dyed fabrics.

As it pertains to these specific color codes, some salons insist that dye lots are the only way to ensure every dress matches perfectly, so many brides will insist that their bridesmaids order their looks at the same time and at the same salon. However, some brides don't care, and simply just let their gals shop for ensembles of their own liking.

So, the question is, do dye lots really matter? Is it something brides need to add to their list of things to worry about? Below, we spoke with a few experts from some of the top bridesmaid dress companies to get the low down on dye lots—plus, tips on how you can ensure a beautifully coordinated bridal party.

Meet the Expert

  • Grace Lee is the CEO and founder of Birdy Grey, a bridal company that specializes in affordable, inclusive bridesmaid dresses.
  • Ranu Coleman is the CMO of Azazie, an online boutique specializing in wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and mother-of-the-bride attire. 
  • Janine Diaz is the fabric coordinator for Jenny Yoo, a bridal retailer that specializes in modern-day wedding gowns, bridal party dresses, and event attire.
  • Paula Arruda, director of production at David’s Bridal, a retailer that specializes in wedding day attire for all budgets and sizes.

Do Dye Lots Really Matter?

Simply put, yes! For brides who desire a cohesive bridal party look, dye lots are a way to help guarantee that every bridesmaid dress is perfectly coordinated on the big day. “Since bridesmaids need to take group photos and stand near one another during a wedding ceremony, it is definitely noticeable when two people standing next to one another get dresses from significantly different dye lots and have a different shade of the same color dress on,” shares Ranu Coleman, chief marketing officer at Azazie.

Janine Diaz, fabric coordinator for Jenny Yoo, also adds, "If an exact color match is what you want for your bridal party, it is very important to have dresses cut in the same dye lot (on the same order), however small the color differences in color may be."

What's more, larger brands have systems in place to ensure all bridesmaid dresses are the same color via dye lots, regardless of when or where they're ordered. “David’s Bridal has a proprietary color creation process at our Color Center, which has been in place for over 15 years,” says Paula Arruda, director of production at David’s Bridal. “That means bridesmaids can order dresses at different times and in different locations across the country without worrying if the colors will match—because our color experts are overseeing color creation and ensuring color-matching from start to finish. It gives our brides and their bridal party more flexibility and helps reduce stress in the process.”

Dye Lot Shopping Tips

When it comes to ordering bridesmaid dresses using dye lots, Diaz notes that every approach is different and depends on the bride's ultimate goal. “Leniency between color shading really depends on the bride and her party,” she says. “Although we do recommend parties to order their dresses all at once, if the members of the party need to order separately, we suggest ordering all dresses from the same designer and their certified retailers.” After that, there are three other factors to consider when color-matching any wedding day ensemble.

Look for quality control

“For a matching bridal party, ensure you’re purchasing dresses from a brand that prioritizes quality control. For example, if one of Birdy Grey’s dye lots is off, our quality control team rejects the fabric, and it won't see the light of day." shares Lee.

Stick with bridesmaid dress companies

Coleman urges brides to stick with bridesmaid dress companies, even if shopping on a budget. “Even at a lower price point, we at Azazie still specialize in custom-made dresses and understand the dying and matching process. Fast-fashion companies are entering the bridal space, but they may not be equipped with the process to deal with matching across dye lots," she notes.

Go for mix-and-match looks instead

Of course, you can nix the issue altogether with a mix-and-match bridal party. “We are a big fan of this look, and we cater to it by creating styles, fabrics, and colors that can be easily blended together to make a cohesive bridal party look, without the worry of dye lot variances,” says Diaz. Lee adds, “It’s rare that we see a bride go for full-on matchy-matchy these days. Instead, they’re opting for a mixed palette of colors and silhouettes, creating fresh color combinations and allowing bridesmaids to choose a color they find flattering!”

  • Are there certain colors that are more impacted by dye lots?

    “Neutrals and grays are more difficult to keep consistent because they are the combination of many different hues,” says Arruda. “Any small change in the recipe or dying process can be very noticeable.” Lee agrees, sharing, “Lighter, dustier shades, such as pale pinks, roses, or mauves, are definitely more difficult to shade-match than darker hues, such as burgundy, emerald, or navy.”

  • Are some fabrics more susceptible to differences in dye lots?

    “Fragile textures, like chiffon or tulle, do not necessarily affect color,” says Arruda. “Laces, however, can be a bit more difficult because sometimes they are a blend of different fiber types, such as rayon and polyester, which requires different types of dyes to be used at the same time in the same bath."

    Lee further breaks down this point by sharing, “Different fabrics pick the same color formulations differently. For example, if we used the exact same blush pink formulation on chiffon and mesh, chiffon will render paler, and mesh will appear more vibrant. There's definitely an art to shade-matching between fabrics!”

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