YES, a part of the wedding planning process you’ll actually enjoy! Bridesmaid dress shopping is so much fun. It’s like trying on homecoming dresses, but this time you get to pick what your friend wears!
Bridesmaid Dress Shopping Tips
You’ll need to shop for bridesmaid dresses a minimum of six months before the big day. It takes 3-4 months for dresses to come in after ordering, and you have to leave enough time for alterations. I actually recommend shopping at least 8 months in advance if possible so you can check it off of your to-do list and your bridesmaids who need some time to get the cash together are able to get the dress ordered in time.
Here’s a list of bridesmaid dress shopping tips to keep everyone in the bridal party happy.
- Scope the salon out. Don’t just choose a salon on a whim, or you may be in for a rude surprise when dresses don’t come in on time (or at all!). Check online reviews, visit in person to see how friendly the consultants are, and ALWAYS book an appointment in advance.
- Respect everyone’s body type. Every person in your bridal party is going to have a different shape, height and skin tone. That’s why, if possible, you need to ask all of your bridesmaids to try on dresses. What looks great on one person may not on another.
- Make sure it’s comfortable. You don’t want to be dealing with cranky bridesmaids on your wedding day because their circulation is being cut off. Likewise, you want them on the dance floor, right? They’re not going to dance if they can’t move. Ask them to sit down and move around in it and whether they think they’ll be able to dance in it without an issue.
- Pick something appropriate for the venue. If you’re getting married in a church, you don’t want to choose something too short or low cut. If you’re getting married outside in the summer time, you don’t want to choose a fabric that’s heavy or a dress that’s long. Choose a dress that goes with your wedding look.
- Avoid a hodge podge. If you don’t want all of your bridesmaids to wear the same dress, that’s your prerogative…just be sure to avoid everyone looking like a mess in the process. Try choosing different dresses in the same color from one designer. If you want different colors, stick to two and make sure that they complement each other. Choosing something too similar makes some of the dresses look new and others look old, and some colors just clash together. No matter what, choose one length; mixing lengths makes the bridal party look a bit messy.
- Ask your bridesmaids’ opinion. You don’t want to them to suffer in silence if they’re totally uncomfortable with your choice. It’s ultimately your decision, but if all your friends hate it, maybe try something else. If you have one bridesmaid who can’t seem to be pleased, ask your Maid of Honor to step in and shut down any rude or distracting comments. You don’t need to deal with sassy bridesmaids. They’re supposed to be there to make your time easier!
- Be mindful of price. Unless you want to pay for the bridesmaid dresses, you have to think about what your bridesmaids consider affordable and set a maximum budget. Be sure to verify that the salon you choose has tons of options in your price range. If you’re totally in the dark about price, call a bridesmaids lunch and ask their opinions about it before you go shopping. After shopping, put your Maid of Honor in charge of making sure that all the bridesmaids order their dresses before the deadline.
Make a day of it and go out to lunch afterward. It’ll be a great bonding experience for everyone, and it’s a positive day in an otherwise stressful time.
Along with the many responsibilities prior to the wedding, there are a bevy of tasks that bridesmaids should take care of on the actual day the bride says “I do.” The bride is going to be stressing, so make sure you keep everything smooth sailing for her by adhering to these bridesmaid duties the day of the wedding:
Get your hair and makeup done by the professional of the bride’s choosing. Don’t try to cut costs by doing it yourself or having someone else do it unless the bride wants you to do so. You may get lucky and have a bride that pays for it for you, but the payment responsibility is on bridesmaids for this.
Make sure the bride eats. Grab food for her because she won’t want to eat and won’t have time to get it for herself. Be sure to also eat something yourself!
Stay sober until the reception. It’s okay to have a glass of champagne to celebrate, but save the heavy drinks until the party. You’ll need to be ready in case the bride needs assistance with something, and you’ve still got to make it through the ceremony and photos.
Help the bride into her gown. The mother of the bride and Maid of Honor may have this covered, but most bodices need several hands on deck to get the zipper up.
Offer to help the bride go to the bathroom. Carrying all of that fabric makes it very difficult to use the restroom, so offer to assist her if she needs it.
Smile as you’re walking down the aisle. Some people get nervous when they’re walking down and it shows on their faces. Be sure to show how excited you are for the wedding- the guests and the photographer will be watching.
Stand up with the bridal party at the altar. Your feet aren’t going to like it very much, so be sure to break your shoes in beforehand and use foot relief inserts.
Be a good sport for the photos. Sometimes it might feel like you’re doing something stupid, but take one for the team and do it with a smile. Most of the time when you’re doing something that seems silly or awkward, it actually makes for a great photograph.
Get on the dance floor. The bridesmaids’ main job at the reception is to keep the party going and get people dancing. No one wants to go out to an empty dance floor, so the bridesmaids should be the first people out there.
Give a gift. Yes, you’ve done a lot for your friend and spent a ton of money already, but you still have to give a gift. They’ll return all the favors when it’s your turn at the altar.
Be on time. Try to get everywhere you’re supposed to be a few minutes early. It’ll take a load off of the bride’s mind.
Maid of Honor Duties on the Day of the Wedding
As the ringleader of the bridesmaids, the Maid of Honor duties for the day of the wedding include all of the above, plus:
Be the main point of contact. Your phone should be on and by your side until it’s time to walk down the aisle. If there’s an issue with any of the vendors or deliveries, they should be contacting you and you can relay information to the bride.
Sign the marriage certificate. The bride may sign the marriage certificate before or after the ceremony, and after she signs, you’ll sign as a witness.
Fluff the bride’s train before walking down the aisle. You’ll be the last bridesmaid in line before the bride walks down the aisle, so make sure her train is laying flat and straight behind her before stepping out.
Hold the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s ring during the ceremony. The bride will be joining hands with her groom, so she’ll need to hand off her flowers. The best place to keep the ring is on your thumb until the bride needs it.
Bustle the bride’s dress after the ceremony. You’ll want to go with the bride to her final fitting so the seamstress can show you exactly how to bustle the train and you can practice doing it ahead of time.
Give a toast at the reception. This is not something you should wing; you can go heartwarming or funny, but either way it should be thoughtful and personal.
Bring a little something extra to the day. Little things like bringing the bride a card talking about how excited you are or bringing champagne and orange juice for mimosas will show her how much you love her and support her as she takes the plunge.