When it comes to picking bridesmaid dresses, there is no better way to draw attention away from your stunning wedding dress than by having a poorly coordinated bridal party. To outfit your 'maids in a style (or styles!) that make sense and don't shift the spotlight, ask yourself the following: What types of dresses will your bridesmaids want? What shapes flatter their bodies? And just as important, what colors and fabrics coordinate with (or at the very least, enhance) your wedding style? Once you've nailed down those key questions, use the six tips below to make sure your bridal party looks pretty, polished, and perfectly complementary to all of your wedding-day details.
1. Pick a unifying element. Whether you're pro matching bridesmaid dresses or not, something should tie your bridal party together style-wise. Pick at least one aspect of your bridesmaids' look—be it the color, neckline, or fabric—that unifies the group. This could even be a surprising add-on accessory like a fun shrug or bolero.
2. Coordinate your fabrics. It's going to look odd if you're wearing a soft, flowy chiffon gown, while your bridesmaids wear structured taffeta shifts. Choose a fabric for the bridesmaid dresses that complements your own.
3. Choose a length. Again, not all of your dresses need to match, but they should be the same length. You definitely don't want one of your 'maids "hemming up" the agreed upon tea-length skirt to show off her standout legs.
4. Select a style that flatters. Choose silhouettes that work well with your bridesmaids' body types. "Jersey fabric and straps fit well on petite women," says David's Bridal Bridesmaid Dress Merchant Alissa Banks, "while a flowy empire waist allows for extra tummy coverage." For bridesmaids looking to add some shape, "a fit-and-flare silhouette with a corset back adds curves," says Banks.
5. Alter as needed. Even though bridesmaids shouldn't go rogue with alterations (see #3), the girls in your group should get their dresses tailored to their bodies. It may cost a few extra dollars, but the alternative is having a poorly-fitted dress that no one will want to wear or see ever again.
6. Listen to your bridesmaids. At the end of the day, having an unhappy bridesmaid helps no one. If a friend is giving you flack about her dress, try to work with her as much as possible. Is the fit bothering her? Does the dress cost too much? Troubleshooting the problem before the big day will make everyone happier.
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