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Everything You Need To Know About Bridesmaid Dresses

There are so many frequently asked questions when it comes to bridesmaid dresses – like who pays for bridesmaid dresses or do bridesmaid dresses have to match? Here’s your ultimate guide of everything you need to know about bridesmaid dresses.

Shortly after you find “the dress” for you (read my wedding dress shopping tips here), you’ll need to decide what your leading ladies will be wearing by your side. If you’re still having trouble choosing your bridal party, start here. 

That nasty rumor about wanting hideous bridesmaid dresses so they don’t outshine you… well’s that’s just NOT true. I’ve never talked to a bride who felt this way. Most future Mrs. want their ladies to look beautiful, fit in with the theme and style of the wedding, and be comfortable.

This bridesmaid dresses guide contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.

picture of bridesmaids with bride in background with text overlay that says everything you need to know about bridesmaid dresses

Everything You Need To Know About Bridesmaid Dresses

Before we hop into everything you need to know about bridesmaid dresses, you may be wondering…

  • Who pays for bridesmaid dresses?
  • What are some affordable ideas for bridesmaid dresses?
  • Do the bridesmaid dresses need to match?
  • When should we decide and order the bridesmaid dresses?
  • Where should we buy the bridesmaid dresses?
  • What kind of bridesmaid dresses should we choose?

Who pays for bridesmaid dresses?

Per The Knot, “bridesmaids are generally expected to pay for their own wedding-day ensemble (shoes and jewelry included).” This being said… brides, PLEASE be considerate here.

I’m sure your ladies are more than honored to be standing by your side on your wedding day, but remember they are not only needing to cover the costs of their dress, shoes and jewelry but most likely bachelorette party costs or travel, bridal shower party costs and gifts, wedding gift, etc. etc.

Being a bridesmaid can seriously start to add up and become a very expensive honor, especially if you’re a bride with high class taste. Try to make your bridesmaid dresses affordable or flexible.

Further Reading – Read more about what bridesmaids are expected to pay for (and what they aren’t) here.

What are some affordable ideas for bridesmaid dresses?

To make my bridesmaid dresses more affordable, I decided to let my ladies shop for whatever style dress they wanted as long as it was in a neutral shade.

This allowed them to choose something in their price range (or better yet, already in their closet!). This also gives your bridal party the freedom to wear something that they feel comfortable in, look great in and will wear again.

We completed the look with all having black shoes, which most ladies already have on hand.

Bridesmaids standing around bride wearing neutral colored bridesmaid dresses holding baby's breath bouquets with door behind them

Another affordable idea for bridesmaid dresses is renting them! Guys do it with their tuxes, right? Why can’t ladies rent their dresses?! Some leading dress rental websites are Rent the Runway and Weddington Way.

Do the bridesmaid dresses need to match?

This is totally up to you. Some brides like the consistency and traditional nature of matching bridesmaid dresses, but don’t feel you are obligated to do anything.

Obviously, you can see above that my bridesmaid dresses were all mismatched, but in the same neutral shades.

Another idea is the mix up the colors, but keep the same style of dress, like they’ve done here with bold and bright colors. You can also do the opposite and use the same color dress in all different styles, like these ladies in sparkly gowns.

When should we decide and order the bridesmaid dresses?

If your ladies are going to be shopping for their own dresses (like mine did), give them as much notice as possible so they aren’t rushed to find something that fits within your parameters.

If you’re going to be ordering from a bridal store, you need to allow a six month window before the big day. This will give you time to get alternations if needed.

Where should we buy the bridesmaid dresses?

There are so many options out there. If you’re going with the more traditional bridesmaid dress route, it’s likely that the store you purchased your wedding dress from also has bridesmaid dresses. You can gather the ladies and shop around at all the different bridal stores in your area and make a fun day out of it too!

If you’re doing mismatched dresses, then the options for where to buy your bridesmaid dresses are endless! Many of my ladies purchased theirs at ModCloth.

What kind of bridesmaid dresses should we choose?

This is another thing that is totally up to you! Just be sure the bridesmaid dresses you decide fit in with the overall style or theme of your wedding (read my tips on how to choose a style for your wedding here). If you’re going for a vintage feel, a vintage style dress or something with lace is a good option. If it’s a black tie affair, long evening gowns fit right in. Aim to choose bridesmaid dress styles that are timeless and fit different body types well.

If you keep in mind these tips from everything you need to know about bridesmaid dresses, choosing your bridesmaid dresses doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task to check off the ultimate wedding checklist. I’d love to hear if you have any other bridesmaid dress tips!

Pictures of bridesmaids standing next to bride with text overlay that says everything you need to know about bridesmaid dresses

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