How To Go Bridesmaids Dress Shopping So That Your Friends Don't Hate You

Sponsored by Brideside

When planning a wedding, you’ll quickly learn that everybody has an opinion, and many of them won’t line up with yours. (Is that why they say opinions are like assholes…because they’re full of…no wait, it’s because everyone has one.) Anyway, there are few times that it will become more evident that it’s really f*cking hard to get people to agree on one thing more than picking what bar to go to on a Saturday night, and that is bridesmaid dress shopping. Like, you and your friends can barely decide on a vibe for going out one night—despite everyone agreeing they’re going to dress like scrubs, at least one person always shows up in a crop top—so how the hell are you going to choose bridesmaid dresses? It’s gonna be hard, but services like Brideside are switching up the way we shop for bridesmaid dresses, and making things a lot less painful for all involved in the process. TG.

So how do you keep a group of stressed out and on a budget betches happy? Read on for our tips.

1. Give Options

This can be a little difficult if you have upwards of five bridesmaids varying in size and like, personal aesthetic/attitude (case in point: my roommate and I went to the same party Saturday night, me in a lace-up crop top and denim shorts and her in a flowy mermaid skirt and flowery top). That being said, there are silhouettes that tend to look good on everyone—think flowy, v-necks, and nothing too short. You can also ask your bridesmaids to choose from a few styles you’ve already picked out. Remember, not everyone has to match perfectly—choosing ombre and varying dresses by complementing styles is a very easy way to make your friends happy and a fun way to switch up traditional wedding attire. And, using a service like Brideside allows everyone in the wedding party to try on a few dress options BEFORE dropping any money on them. Think of it like Rent the Runway for your wedding party. For $30, each girl can try on three sample dresses, which, to me, sounds a lot more convenient than trying to either get everyone to the same shop or assigning dresses via email that no one has ever seen, felt, or tried to sit down or do the Cotton-Eyed Joe in. Create a custom closet for your whole wedding party on Brideside’s website, then let your girls pick and choose what to try on. You can also choose different styles (or make a stylist do it for you, my personal favorite choice) and see what flows nicely together.

As a note, I know you want to just tell all nine hundred of your bridesmaid to “pick whatever as long as it’s dusty pink / black / sky blue” but you’re opening yourself up to a lot of trouble if you do that. You’re going to end up with a lot of slightly off colors and a lot of questions regarding if any of your friends are actually color blind because you clearly said apricot, not peach!! *Takes deep, calming breaths* Anyway. Working with one retailer like Brideside lets you pick a stylist, a color palette, and not just let a bunch of betches run wild on your local bridal salon looking for the Pantone color that you’ve demanded they wear that looks slightly different to everybody.

2. Be Mindful Of Budgets

I get that every bride wants their bride tribe to look amazing and sophisticated, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every girl may have $500 to blow on a dress they’ll only wear once. (Nobody is going to shorten it; grow up.) Unless you want to end up in an article by yours truly on a truly insane bride who demanded her bridesmaids drop $800 on a designer dress, talk money ahead of time and settle on a number that everyone feels comfortable with. Spoiler alert: it’s probably going to be around and under $300.

On top of settling on a magic number, if you set up your digital closet ahead of time with Brideside, you can add favorites for all your bridesmaids to see. Plus, bridesmaids can also add styles if you’re open to mixing and matching, which takes a little off your plate, but calm down—you’re still in charge. They can even input measurements so the stylist can cater to you even better so you hopefully don’t have to try on every dress with a giant binder clip. Basically, it’s a win-win. 

If you’re all heading to a bridal shop together, make sure that your stylist only pulls selections that fall within the agreed-upon budget. Like, you don’t want to fall in love with bridesmaids dresses that are around $700 each and have a full-blown meltdown in front of everyone… again. With Brideside, you can shop for styles at around $150 (and like, strong-arm your maids into throwing you an elaborate bachelorette party since you’re SUCH a good friend and saved them so much on dresses) or go fancy with styles up to $300. Which is still not even expensive as far as these dresses go. How positively luxe of you. 

3. Color Is Important

Think about your group and what color scheme, or differing but complementing scheme, can work with everyone’s complexion. (Hint: Almost everyone looks good in blues, greens, and some burgundies). It’s definitely an extra consideration, but you’ll be thankful once you see your pictures and no one looks like a washed-out ghost or Oompa Loompa. Using Brideside can actually really help with this, since the colors you see online (or with one or two bridesmaids in a shop) can look completely different once they’re on Rachel who lives 300 miles away. Curate your online closet with a few varied color families and then they can try on the style at home with a few color swatches for reference while Facetiming and giving you, the bride, the final say. Ah, technology.

4. Think About Your Dress, Too

It’s important to take your own wedding dress into account when you’re choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses. I mean, you are kind of important. If you’ve bought (or are leaning towards) a grand ballgown style, it’s probably best not to have casual mismatched mini dresses. Or like, questionable footwear (COWBOY BOOTS! CONVERSE SNEAKERS! CROCS!), but that’s an article for another time. If you’re going for sleek and styled, a fluffy, ruffled number on your girls is going to look a little out of place. At the end of the day, you’re the bride, and your friends have to match your style for once. Own it. Making it as easy for your friends as possible while staying true to your own style is completely reasonable, and even more importantly, doable. 

5. Consider The Weather

If you’re getting married in the winter, don’t put your girls in short or backless dresses. If you’re getting married in the summer, it’s probably best to steer clear of heavy fabrics, high necks, and long sleeves. These are pretty obvious memos, but I’ve seen brides create a mutiny by overlooking basic weather patterns. Use logic, and choose light, breathable fabrics for warmer seasons, or light fabrics with the option for shawls for the winter. It’s really not that hard.

The way we plan and approach weddings is changing, and that goes for shopping for bridesmaids dresses, too. Gone are the days where you are all shoved into the same strapless gown (thank you, sweet Jesus). Brideside can help you create a unique experience that will take so much of the stress and hassle out of choosing your bridesmaid dresses and leave your girls with dresses they will actually want to wear. But not like, a second time, probably, because that’s just how it f*cking goes. 

Images: Genessa Panainte / Unsplash

Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki aka Betchy Crocker writes about food, fashion, and whatever else she's in the mood to complain about for Betches and like, some other people. She resides in Asheville, NC, where she spends her time judging hipsters and holding on to her Jersey heritage and superiority. Yell at her on Instagram @sarahnowicholson