Now that you've found your dream dress, it's time to start another gown shopping journey: the quest for the perfect bridesmaid dresses. No matter your wedding style or the size of your bridal party, we've got everything (and we mean everything!) you need to know to find the right dresses for your girls. Check out our tips to make bridesmaid dress shopping a total breeze.
Begin by Browsing
Start off by doing some research. Download the Wedding LookBook by The Knot app, where you can browse thousands of gowns, bookmark your favorites and share them with your friends, and then find stores in your area that carry the dresses you love. If you're flipping through magazines or browsing online, tear out pages or save images to your inspiration board to help zero in on the colors and styles you like best.
Keep Costs in Mind
If any of your friends have been in a bridal party before, they'll know the bridesmaids pay for their own dresses. But a gentle reminder is never a bad idea. When it comes to price, try to be considerate of your friends' lifestyles. If you're concerned your wedding might be a financial burden for one or more of your bridesmaids, focus your search on dresses in a more affordable range, or select a color you like and let them pick their own style. Another idea: Take a cue from the guys and consider renting your bridesmaid dresses. Rental sites like Rent the Runway and Vow to Be Chic let your girls choose high-end designers in a wide range of styles and colors for a fraction of the cost.
Consider what kind of shopping experience will suit your personality best. If you tend to have strong opinions, it's probably better to shop alone (or with just one friend). If you prefer more input, take the whole gang and give them guidelines, like color or fabric.
Stick to a Schedule
To ensure your bridal party matches your style, order your gown before making any decisions about the bridesmaid dresses.
It takes two to three months for orders to arrive and four to six weeks for alterations. A six month cushion will give you and your friends ample time to find, order and fit the dresses.
Find the Right Fit
A bridesmaid dress is typically ordered using a person's biggest measurements, so your friends will likely buy dresses at least a size larger than they normally wear. If a friend wants to buy a size smaller, let her know it's much easier to alter a bigger dress, and if the dress ends up being too small, she'll likely have to order a new one and you'd hate for that to happen.
Select a Dress Shade
There are several foolproof ways to pick the perfect color. One of the easiest methods is to play off of the color schemes of the venue and the season. For instance, if your wedding will be held at a rustic vineyard with burgundy décor, you'll probably want to rule out bright yellow dresses. Rich colors—marsala and emerald—work well in the fall and winter months, while lighter shades—mint and lavender—are perfect for spring and summer. If you're still at a loss for exactly which hue to choose, go for a general color, like green, and let your bridesmaids pick their favorite shades from light to dark for a trendy, mismatched look. Want to push the envelope even further? Consider prints—floral-print bridesmaid dresses are hot right now. Just remember: Patterns work best in smaller parties and should be paired with simple accessories. Or, you could flout tradition altogether and opt for an all-white bridal party, à la Kate Middleton, for a look that's crisp and chic.
Find Complementary Colors
Also, think about choosing a color that goes well with a variety of skin tones. Stonewashed colors, like blush, greige (a combination of gray and beige) and sand, are universally flattering and right on trend. Jewel tones (think: amethyst, emerald and sapphire) complement fairer complexions, while brighter, bolder hues, like cobalt blue and hot pink, pop against darker skin. Want an edgier feel? Try flattering metallics, like silver, bronze and champagne. If you're opting for a print, make sure the dominant colors work with your entire bridal party. Or alternatively, deck out just your maid of honor in a print and keep the rest of your girls in solid colors. Fully embellished dresses are another fashion-forward option for a more glamorous affair. We love the idea of mismatched sequin dresses, that way your girls can choose a shade that suits them.
Consider Lingerie Logistics
Remind your girls to get the right undergarments. Depending on the style of dress (read: strapless or one shoulder), your bridesmaids may need some special support. Trust us—even the most amazing dress can look unflattering with the wrong bra. In addition to a new bra, each bridesmaid might also need a specific panty or body shaper.