10 Things No One Tells You About Bridesmaid Dress Shopping


bridesmaid dress shopping tipsBy Caitlin Zentgraf

Hello, fellow brides-to-be! My name is Caitlin, and I’m a member of the editorial team here at WeddingWire. I’m also recently engaged and planning my real-life wedding as we speak. Throughout the entire process, I’ll be giving you insight on my experiences until I walk down the aisle. First, it was wedding dress shopping and next up: bridesmaid dress shopping -- and all the surprises and advice that comes along with.

Related: How to shop for bridesmaid dresses»

1. Scheduling Can Be a Nightmare, So Do It in Advance
There’s a good chance that some of your leading ladies have busy schedules, depending on their significant others, jobs, and extracurricular activities. Send out an email asking what dates for dress shopping work best for them. It may be a lot of back and forth (17 e-mails, in my case) but that way everyone is included and can hopefully attend.

2. Do Your Research BEFORE You Start Shopping
Browse through the latest bridesmaid dress collections for the upcoming season to get inspiration. Ask: What color, fabric, length, and silhouette do I want? Luckily, I already knew that I wanted to mix ‘n’ match necklines on a particular short chiffon bridesmaid dress.

3. Don’t Let Your Bridesmaids Come Empty-Handed
Your bridesmaids should bring any appropriate shapewear and shoes similar to those they might wear on your wedding day. It’s also important to know that the bridal salon may not have dresses in everyone’s size - in my case, the salon only had sample sizes of 2, 4, 8, and 10. It would have been ideal to know that information in advance, but don’t worry, clips helped.

4. Modesty is Your Responsibility
The store we went to only had three fitting rooms, so with seven girls, it was like a race to get in and out. It would have been smart if my ‘maids had brought robes or slips so that the appointment didn’t feel like fitting room musical chairs and everyone could be comfortable while waiting.

5. Let Your MOH Stand Out
I couldn’t be happier that my younger and only sister accepted my offer of being my right-hand woman, but I should have vocalized from the start that I wanted her to wear a different dress than the rest of the girls.

6. Try on Multiple Options and Request a Fashion Show!
My bridesmaids went in knowing what they wanted, and only ended up trying on one style each. Our appointment ended up taking only 45 of our allotted 90 minutes. I wish we had spent more time trying on multiple options, even if just for comparison’s sake.

7. Discuss Hairstyles as Dresses are Selected
Make sure to talk about hairstyles shortly after your ‘maids pick their dresses, and figure out which styles will make sense with which dresses. If one was wearing a one-shoulder bridesmaid dress, it could be up. If one was wearing a strapless bridesmaid dress, it could be down. I honestly hadn’t thought about how I wanted their ‘dos to look until I saw the dresses.

Related: WeddingWire’s Makeover Tool

8. Don’t Be Shy - Ask About Discounts
Make sure you are aware of the price tag, tax, and any shipping or alteration costs. Since I fell in love with bridesmaid dresses that were a bit over budget, I was willing to pay the difference as part of my gift to my bridesmaids, if needed. But turns out there was a sale going on, so I didn’t have to!

9. Avoid Last-Minute Disasters and Pick Backup Options Now
Your sales consultant might encourage your crew to pick backup options on the off chance that one of your dresses are unavailable or on backorder. Even if this isn’t the case, it’s a good idea to have backup options in mind. My wedding isn’t until September, and we went shopping in February. Could it really take until June for the dresses to come in? Not necessarily, but they wanted us to be prepared.

10. Eat Afterwards, Not Before
I don’t know how many times I heard, “I’m SO bloated,” during the entire shopping experience. We had a huge brunch beforehand. French toast, pancakes, eggs benedict, corn bread muffins, you name it, and we ate it. Probably not the best idea pre-shopping. Perhaps go for a light snack beforehand so no one is “hangry,” but save the big meal for later - consider it an after-party!

Ready to start shopping for your bridesmaid dresses? Find a salon near you »

Photo by Minerva Photography

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