Over my 10 years in retail, I've dressed brides, bridesmaids, mothers of both bride and groom, as well as countless wedding guests. It has given me a great insight to the workings of the wedding party, so I thought I'd share a few tips for shopping for bridesmaids dresses.
I'd always suggest shopping high street for dresses. They're a fraction of the price, and in a lot of cases are actually better quality, more flattering and fashion forward than the bridal store option. I'm quite biased towards Coast! But there are tons of places, Monsoon, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Debenhams, Phase Eight, Ted Baker, even F&F at Tesco!! TwoBirds is also an excellent option, so many way to wear the dresses and so many colours to choose from. You'd be hard pushed to not please everyone.
But with so many options available it is very easy to get overwhelmed, so here are my Top 5 Tips For Surviving Bridesmaid Dress Shopping.
1. Book an appointment
|Coast by Appointment|
Like having your own private
personal shopper and dressing room
Whatever you do though, don't swan into a busy shop at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon with your Mam, three bridesmaids and a flower girl, take over every available fitting room, insist you're 'just browsing', then get pissed when there isn't a staff member available to spend an hour pulling stock and cleaning up for you.
Similar colours in different dresses that
flatter everyones figure is a beautiful
option if you have a large bridal party
I'm not saying walk into a shop with your heart set on an exact colour, material and style. Definitely don't do that, not unless you're willing to have dresses made specially and pay the premium to boot. But have some sort of a idea of what you like. And what your bridesmaids like too. Do you want them all matching/ similar/ completely different? Is there anything you hate and absolutely don't want? I've had may a bride say she's open to anything, only to then dismiss every dress I've pulled because it's strapless/ the straps are too detailed, or too high cut, the skirt is too full, the colour is not bright enough. Give your sales assistant some guidance and it will save time for everyone.
3. Decide who's paying for what
|A smaller budget in no way means|
If you know what you're working with
from the start, it's easier to find the
perfect dresses at the right price.
I'm not saying there is any hard and fast rules for who pays, but from my experience, the cost of the dresses, at least, comes from the wedding budget, with a few brides asking (and in some cases BMs insisting) that shoes for example be paid for by each individual.
Remember as well, that being a bridesmaid is a big expense, and some people might feel uncomfortable shopping and not knowing if they can afford what you want them to wear.
While we're on the topic of money, have an idea of your budget before you shop. Dresses can range from £50-£500 a piece, so know what you're comfortable with before you fall in love with something WAY out of your price range. If you are asking your bridesmaids to pay for the dresses, respect their budget.
Sales assistants are also used to working with budgets, so will be able to help find everything you need, for close to what you want to spend.
Chances are, when dressing more than one adult woman, you're going to be dealing with different body shapes, sizes, tastes etc. Rather than forcing everyone into the same dress, to start with I'd recommend each girl picking two/three dresses she likes in her size and everyone try on one dress each at a time. This way you can eliminate definite 'nos' straight away without having to pull every dress in every size from the shop floor, and stressing everyone out by trying on more dresses than is necessary.
When you've found your top 2/3, get them in everyone's' size then see them all together.
Listen to what your bridesmaids like/dislike about dresses, and respect them enough to accept if they're not comfortable in something. It can get particularly disheartening, if one girl is a completely different shape to everyone else, or is struggling with their confidence. Remember why you chose your bridesmaids, they are your nearest and dearest friends, treat them as such!
|Monsoon have some fabulous 'mini-me'|
dresses for your junior bridesmaids.
I could go on forever, but think I'll stick to this for now. I'd love to hear how your bridesmaid shopping experience was, and feel free to ask me any questions!!