Non-Traditional Bridesmaid Dresses

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Your friends will be flattered when you ask them to be bridesmaids in your wedding. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a huge honor. It’s only later, after they accept, that they will start worrying: “What terrible dress is she going to make us wear?” Bridesmaids’ gowns are almost always a tough sell. Your friends probably don’t all share the same body type, fashion style, or budget. It can be difficult to find one single dress that will flatter them all. There will be back-and-forth conversations that make you want to issue them all potato sacks and be done with it. How can you make this easier?

Many brides are turning to matching colors instead of styles for bridesmaid dresses, which allows each bridesmaid to choose a style that best flatters her figure. However, it can be hard to match color shades exactly when each bridesmaid is buying her dress from a different location.  Rather than trying to control every gown’s slight variation, why not coordinate your bridesmaids by theme, instead? The following are some ideas for the offbeat bride who’s ready to have a little fun with tradition. 

Thrift Store Finds

Bridesmaid dresses are notorious for being unflattering and gaudy, so why not turn tradition on its head and intentionally go after the stereotypical look? Browsing thrift store racks with your best girlfriends can turn into a hilarious pre-wedding activity, and you’ll each get the chance to pick the dress that best flatters your body (or that just makes you laugh the hardest). Bring small prizes to give to the girl who finds the most hideous thrift store item–just don’t make her wear it. This activity will take the pressure off of you, and will also keep your bridal party in high spirits.

The best part of intentionally–tacky bridesmaid dresses is that no one has to worry about having to purchase an expensive, unflattering dress just for the wedding day. You can set a strict gown budget at 20 dollars per person, and if any bridesmaid doesn’t like the way she looks in the photos later, she can always blame it on the “crazy” dress. 

Big Accessories

If you’re facing mutiny from a group of bridesmaids that refuse to agree upon your choice of bridesmaid dresses, don’t become a bridezilla. You can still impose continuity among the women by decorating them with large, matching accessories. More than a few friendships have been torn apart in pre-wedding planning frenzies, and you don’t want yours to fall victim over a something as petty as a fashion choice. Let the girls have it their way this time. They can wear any dress from their own closets or store of choice, as long as the dresses are in the same general style.

Next, bring on the matching accessories. As wedding party gifts, you can give your bridesmaids matching necklaces, hats, scarves, sashes, or elegant belts that tie everything together. The more distinctive the accessory, the better. Consider matching fascinators (the tiny hats or feathered ornaments that clip to the side of the head), or even delicate sun parasols. As long as the dresses share one common feature (like length, color, or cut), your bridesmaids will form an unmistakable group. 

Costumed Bridesmaids

Why not let your bridesmaids stand out with delicate costume pieces like fairy wings or flower garlands? Small, elegant touches will find themselves at home in any kind of wedding, whereas more playful, casual weddings can get away with bold costumes like colorful tutus and fun feather boas. You may also want to give your bridesmaids a general theme like, “Anything that’s animal print,” and see what they bring back. This offers them versatility, while complying with your chosen theme. 

If you’re holding your wedding on a holiday, you’ll have a ready-made theme for your bridesmaids’ outfits. Think red with white Malibu trim and small reindeer antlers for Christmas, or tiny Cupid wings for Valentine’s Day. 

Keep it Light and Fun

When you give your bridesmaids free reign to choose their own styles, colors, and price range, you’re freeing them to kick back and enjoy your wedding with a minimum of stress. Your bridesmaids’ efforts, budgets, and attention are better spent planning your bachelorette parties and wedding showers–and making sure everything goes right for you on the big day.