Whatever you do, don't leave the choice of bridesmaids' dresses as an afterthought to your wedding dress. Choosing bridesmaids' dresses is just as important as choosing the bride's dress. Why? Well, some people think that the because the bride is the most important female the bridesmaids should sink into the background and do as they are told and wear what they are told to wear. Wrong! Firstly, your bridesmaids are your friends and relatives. They deserve some consideration. But, actually, they deserve a lot more than that. Bridesmaids and bridesmaids' dresses should complement and enhance the bride and the whole occasion. Just because the bridesmaids look beautiful doesn't detract from the bride. In fact, if your bridesmaids' dresses are not up to scratch, it will spoil the whole effect. So how do you go about making the right choice for a group of your friends and relatives who, traditionally, have to pay for their own dresses? Price and who pays is the first thing you have to decide and only you will know the answer to that. It may be that you have decided that you will pay for the bridesmaids' dresses. In that case don't be a dictator. Sit down with your girls (or their mothers if you have very young bridesmaids) and look through some catalogues. Go out with your bridesmaids and look and feel, try on some styles. Try to make a joint decision so no-one feels left out. The question of payment need not be a vexed one. But if your bridesmaids are paying for their own dresses you have to have the diplomatic skills of Condy Rice. If they are paying, they will naturally want to have a bigger say in the choice. This makes it even more important that you get together and discuss. Whatever the situation is regards who pays, you will all have to agree on the following factors: Price; Color; Style. Price: You must agree a price range first because whoever pays must be comfortable with the decision. Be sensitive to those who may feel they have to go along with the other bridesmaids but may be stretching their resources. Price will determine what your range of options are and where you go to buy your dresses. You may be able to do a deal with the maker of your bride's dress if you are also shopping for bridesmaids' dresses. Shop around; maybe have the bridesmaids appoint a representative to go with you. Come back with some ideas of costs. Color: You have a range of options: same color as bride; different but complimentary; contrasting. This is a matter of personal choice but unless you are having some New Age affair in the woods, it is recommended that all the bridesmaids are dressed in the same color. It is a good idea to take with a sample of the dressing dress and then try it with different colors. The bride should insist on the final color scheme but it is important to reach agreement. Depending on your bridesmaids and your relationship with them, it may be a good idea to have a firm opinion in advance about what you want. It is your wedding after all! Before you decide on a different color to the bride you have to consider the overall look, and think of flowers, corsages or other accessories. Will I work? Get some advice. The best people are the ones with experience; dress shop owners, family and friends who have made their own weddings. Take advice and make a decision. One last word of warning: don't forget the poor groom and best man. You need to know what colors (all the poor dears will have a limited choice compared to you) they are wearing so you don't clash with them. Style: This is very much a matter of taste and fashion. It is also determined by the bride's dress. Your bridesmaids' dresses really must compliment the bride's dress. Contrasting styles can look disastrous. Depending on the formality of the occasion you do not have to insist on all bridesmaids' dresses being exactly the same style but they should 'match'. Again, it's very much a matter of how you want your wedding. You will be surprised at what bridesmaids are wearing these days if you are used to a 'traditional' look. These days bridesmaids' dresses come in a variety of styles which will make your bridesmaids drop-dead gorgeous and turn the aisle into a catwalk! Strapless dresses are very popular now as are spaghetti straps. Lengths vary but be sure to go for one length for all to look co-ordinated. You might also want to consider that today's bridesmaids wear dresses that can be re-used as evening wear, cocktail dresses, suits and so on. So when choosing, bear in mind that whatever the expense and whoever pays it is a nice thought that your girls will be able to wear their outfit many times in the future. And finally... As they say, this is the most important day of your life. If your bridesmaids are happy with their dresses and look stunning they will give you and everyone else a lot of pride and pleasure and a wedding day to remember.
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