Taking your wedding party out for a mammoth bridesmaid dress (or jumpsuit, or suit) shop? Make it easy and stress-free, with no drama or dress disasters.
(4 minutes to read)
Going shopping for wedding attendant outfits is going to be like herding cats. Everyone has different bodies and are comfortable with different styles. Some people look amazing in one colour but it makes the other people look like they’re sick. There’s someone who plans to lose 5kg before the big day, and someone who suspects she might be pregnant. Then, there’s co-ordinating the shopping day in itself, trying to get all schedules aligned.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.
1.Plan that shopping date in advance
Choose a shopping day a few weeks (or more) in advance. Everyone has a busy schedule, and it can be tough to find a day that suits everyone. Planning in advance means your team have time to get their diaries aligned. Be clear about how long the shopping will take; realistically, it’s probably going to be an all-day event (including the champagne lunch, of course).
2. Don’t leave shopping until the last minute
If you end up needing to order the dresses, shopping at the last minute could mean you don’t have enough time to get what you want. Try to shop seven to eight months before the big day. If you leave enough time, it also means you might be able to wait to buy the dresses and get them on sale.
3. Have an idea of what you’re looking for
Set up a group chat before the shopping event and let your attendants post and chat about dress/ outfit ideas. If you go shopping with no ideas, it could be a waste of time. This also means your wedding party will be looking out for dresses that are similar and can pinpoint a shop that you need to visit.
Fabric; unforgiving satin, or a gorgeous floaty chiffon?
Dress length; A formal ankle-length gown or a summery knee-length affair?
Sleeves: Yes? No?
Neckline: How much cleavage is too much (or, not enough?)
Style: Modern, classic. Grecian, simple, bows?
4. Togs, togs, togs, togs… undies
If your bridal party wear the underwear they intend to wear on the day- such as shapewear and a strapless bra- it will make shopping easier.
5. Try on ALL the things
While you think you know what you want, try on a bunch of other outfits too. You never know what might be a surprise hit… or just something that’s worth posting on Facebook for giggles.
What’s happening with shoes? Are you wanting everyone to be matchy-matchy? Or are you happy to designate and style or colour and let them pick what they want? What will look good with the outfit style? Should they be wearing heels while they try on dresses?
The hairstyle can make an outfit look totally different. If your BM’s have long hair, get them to bring a hair tie so they can do quick up-dos while they trial dresses.
8. Think about the cost
Who is paying for the bridesmaid dresses? Remember that weddings are expensive, and bridesmaids might end up paying for hair, makeup, the dress, new underwear, shoes, nails, jewellery… it could be super expensive for them (or you). Set a budget and have a firm understanding of who is paying for what.
Then, at the shop, while the price on the tag might say one thing, could you get discount for buying three identical gowns? Make sure you take into account the extra expense for tailoring.
9. You don’t have to buy on the day
While you hopefully have a much better idea of what you want after the shopping trip, you don’t have to buy the dresses that day. Go home, think about it; would you want the dresses in a different colour? Or would you prefer a different length to the one that was tried on? Look online and see if you can find a bridesmaid dress shop that has exactly what you want.
If you do decide to order online, get your bridesmaids measured by someone who knows what they are doing. It could save a lot of time and stress. Also, remember you can always take a dress in (or shorten it), but you can’t make fabric grow. If in doubt, order up.
10. Have an open mind
Both the bride and the bridesmaid should be willing to accept outside ideas. Be a bit flexible. Try on things you didn’t think about, have a bit of fun, and throw a few ideas around. At this stage, you should have time up your sleeve to experiment, and you might find that the perfect outfit is something that you’ve never ever considered.