5 tips for bridesmaid style that’s individual as you are

Nikki Parkinson Fashion 30 Comments

As a woman of a *certain age* I’ve given up hope of ever being asked to be someone’s bridesmaid.

Yep.  Bring on the pity party for one.

A friend of mine has 12 puffy taffeta dresses in storage at her house – testament to the TWELVE times someone thought her worthy of a prime wedding photo spot standing front and centre with the bride and groom.

Now admittedly, one of the big reasons that I’ve never been a bridesmaid is that I only have brothers.  Having a sister generally – but not always – gets you a bridesmaid gig.  And during my wedding era (THAT year when you are at a wedding every second weekend), all my best friends had sisters aplenty to fill the silk chiffon.

So, my observations of being a bridesmaid were limited to those at my weddings and THE funniest movie ever, Bridesmaids, which I giggled, cried and almost peed myself through on Saturday night.

Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kristen Wiig and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids

Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kristen Wiig and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids. Photo: Photo by Universal Pictures

Bridesmaids stars a gaggle of female comedians with a script that centres around the impending nuptials of Lillian, who asks her best friend Annie to be her maid-of-honour, much to the envy of Lillian’s “new best friend” Helen.  The ensuing rivalry between Annie and Helen sparks a hilarious rollercoaster of laugh-out-loud moments that should come with a “don’t watch with a full bladder warning”.

Just thinking about the bridesmaid dress shopping and fitting scene is enough to bring on a new bout of giggles … let’s just say that … when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. No matter which end it’s coming out of. The whole scene (minus the untimely bodily functions) reminded me how fraught the whole bridesmaid dress caper can be.

Think about it.  It’s very rare than anyone has a bridal party of friends and family with have similar body shapes and similar clothing tastes.  To compound this, the bride will generally have bridal tunnel vision about her wedding.  Such tunnel vision has been known to make normally stylish women get a bad case of matchy-matchy meringue-itis.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  The princess bride.  Strapless long, boofy gown.  Pretty, matchy-matchy bridesmaids all in a row.

I get that brides want their vision to translate to their photos but there are so many ways to style your wedding party that still unifies the entire look but gives it a stamp of individuality.

Here are my top 5 bridesmaid styling tips

1.   REALLY think about the body shapes of your bridesmaids.  Talk to them.  They know which styles suit them best.  Brainstorm ideas before hitting the shops.

2.   With this in mind, it’s no longer necessarily for every bridesmaid to wear the same dress.  Complementary styles in the same colour or fabric can work beautifully.  For a simple and effective solution, I love the Sacha Drake Ultimate Dress or Ultimate Maxi Dress – each member of your bridal party can wear a way that suits them.  AND they’ll wear them long after the bridal bouquet has been thrown.

3.   If you are expecting your bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses (and this is usually the case), be considerate about their budgets.  Spending a fortune on a lime-coloured strapless beaded dress is hardly value for money.  Your bridesmaid is unlikely to trot it out for your next Chinese and karaoke night.

4.  Let’s talk matchy-matchy.  Really, it’s SO not necessary.  Apart from the dresses, which we’ve already discussed, hairstyles can be different; the jewellery can be different; and – shock horror – the shoes can be different.  Yes, it will take a bit more of a “vision” to pull this off but get it right (and seek out some styling help) and you’ll have an original look for your wedding party.

5.  Buy bridesmaid dresses off the rack as opposed to a traditional bridal store (there are some great bridal stores which don’t fall into the traditional – Sunshine Coast’s Eve Boutique is one of them).  This is a sure-fire way to get a bridal look that’s individual and not “cookie cutter” style.  It’s also a great way to tap into current trends and find dresses that suit everyone in your bridal party.  Look to Australian labels such as Cue, Review, Matthew Eager, Lisa Ho and Rachel Gilbert for on-trend elegance.

Here are some non-traditional bridal party looks I found on Pinterest.  They’re not necessarily a style I would choose but they show individuality and personality.  And I will give that my vote every time.

Have you been a bridesmaid? Were you happy with your dress?  And have you seen Bridesmaids yet? Spill …


Comments 30

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  1. I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times, only one of the dresses was not too ‘bridesmaidy’ to be worn again and sadly 3 out of the 5 brides were ‘bridezillas’. I still love them though:o) It was good to know how not to behave when I became a bride. I had a ‘man of honour’ who selfishly refused to shave his legs & wear a dress, and my two sisters who could wear anything they liked as long as it did not clash with my red dress – Man of honoour wore a suit and the girls wore lovely blue dresses and the day was heaps of fun.

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      Sounds perfect, Jane! I went to a friend’s wedding last month and she has a Bridesman – he was perfect – even fixed up the bride’s train as required. Every wedding should have a bridesman.

  2. Having turned 40 at the start of the year, I can’t imagine I will ever be asked to be someone’s bridesmaid. I’ve been a bride, that’s good enough for me, I kept things simple, just the one bridesmaid for me.

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  3. I have thankfully never been a bridesmaid before. My close friends were in Singapore when they got married, and the first one was when I was a student, so I had a limited budget and couldn’t go back. My second one, was when I just had a baby I think so again, couldn’t go back. I do have a story to share about my SIL’s bridesmaid though. First, the bridesmaid picked herself to be my SIL’s bridesmaid – yup, not kidding. Forced herself on my SIL and because she was her husband-to-be’s niece, she had to keep her mouth shut. Then, the bridesmaid insisted on picking a dress which looked more like a bride’s dress! Oh, and my SIL had to pay for it too! It’s tradition I think for her to foot the bill unfortunately. The story gets worse – she was the worst bridesmaid EVER. Did not bother helping my SIL out on the day itself but luckily my SIL’s cousin came over from America, so she had some back-up. I think she was glad when the whole day was over.

  4. This article needs to be in a bridal magazine. Brilliant tips! I was a bridesmaid 5 times, and while I was happy to wear anything to please my friend, I felt happier at the weddings where I felt comfortable with what I was wearing. I especially love the vintage/different bridesmaid look. So much personality!!

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  5. I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times – and except for the bright blue taffeta my step mum made me wear, I liked all of the dresses. To be honest I was always so honored and thrilled to be sharing the special day with my friends that it made me less vain about myself.

    That said, I wish I had paid more attention at my BFF’s wedding. My dress had a deep cowl neck which was hard to find lingerie to go with, and so, given I have small boobs I decided to go bra-less. Great wedding, and the reception was a hoot until one of her aunties came up to me and mentioned I have lovely boobs…! Apparently I had flashed the entire ball room when I bent over to sit down. OMG. Major wardrobe malfunction…!

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  6. Love the bridesmaids post – I am off to see movie tomorrow night.

    I have been a bridesmaid twice (so I have TWO bad taste outfits to choose from for parties…) my star bridemaid moment was locking myself in the bathroom and redoing my makeup against the bride’s wishes as she had a mate do Nutrimetics “makeovers” on us – cue pink eyeshadow and blush on me. I already had baby’s breath in my hair and curls – enough was enough.

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      1. A cousin. So she’s with me for life 🙂 I almost forgive her, 15 years on…

        And I wish I was joking about the baby’s breath.

  7. Oh my lordy how funny was Bridesmaids!!! (even the BF loved it – in fact it was HIS idea to see it!). I have been a bridesmaid three times (and I have NO sisters) and even thought I loved all the dresses at the time, I am yet to wear any of them again. For me they are almost TOO special to wear ‘just’ out to dinner etc so they just sit in my wardrobe.

    I was also a flowergirl when I was three and can I tell you, I got SO much wear out of that dress because it lived in our dress up box until I was too big to wear it as a dress and started wearing it as a skirt – cost per wear on that baby was about $1!

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  8. When I got married I had 5 bridesmaids, One was 45, one was 7 months pregnant, one hates long dresses, one was happy to wear whatever and I also had a junior bridesmaid who was 13 at the time. It was impossible to find something to suit them all.

    I had my dress made, by a very clever woman who could make anything from a photo. So I decided on a colour, and told the girls to find a dress they liked that could be made out of chiffon or satin or a combination of both. They had whatever hairstyles they liked, and got their own strappy black shoes (non matching).

    They all carried the same flowers and wore the same necklaces and earrings and we used some sparkly beads sparingly to tie it all together.

    They were all happy, which meant that I was happy and they looked stunning.

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  9. Ah….a bridesmaid post. Loving it!

    My niece (my age) gets married in December. So looking forward to seeing her walk down the aisle. (Altho, she’s getting married on my husband’s 40th birthday. That’s not going down very well. 🙁 ) Not sure how many bridesmaids she’s having. Glad I’m not one though. Can’t do much from the other side of the country, and being my BF’s bridesmaid was enough for me! It was kinda a lot of work. Glad to have done it, but glad not to do it ever again. 🙂

    Having said that, bridesmaid dresses have come a long way since the mid-90s!

    My niece was a bridesmaid TONS of times. I’d love to see all her dresses lined up. One cost her $400 back in the early 90s, which was a LOT for her to outlay at the time. And it was terrible too. Def something you would NEVER wear again (read: be caught dead in).

    I LOVE the idea of different styles of dresses for each bridesmaid. Classy and showing individuality.

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  10. I love that first image, all the dresses are so pretty and go so well together.

    I’ve been a bridesmaid twice before but I was only 16 (both my parents remarried the same yeR) so it wasn’t really the same as being a ‘proper’ bridesmaid. My dads fiancé (though they are divorced now – complicated family I have! Lol) let me choose my dress though which was really fun 🙂

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  11. At my friends wedding, she had 5 bridesmaids. We’re all different heights and shapes so she decided the colour and we all picked a different style that we liked from the Alfred Angelo collections. The photos looked great and we were all happy with how we looked. Have I worn it again? No, but it looks pretty hanging up in the wardrobe.

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