Deciding whether or not to have mismatched bridesmaid dresses doesn’t seem like a hard decision until you actually have to make it. I personally love the look! But I’m finding that within mismatched bridesmaid dresses are varying degrees of mismatchy-ness. Below is a helpful guide with some thoughts to consider on, 1) If you should have mismatched dresses, and 2) Different ways to create a mismatched look:
– When your bridesmaid’s body types range from tall and thin to short and curvy, it may be difficult to find one dress that flatters everyone. Allowing different dresses for each bridesmaid will let each of your most important girls look amazing, and avoids anyone feeling like they weren’t considered when picking out the dress.
– If any of your bridesmaids are in a tough spot financially, picking one bridesmaid dress for everyone to wear from your bridal shop can cost about $200 for each bridesmaid (and then potentially adding alteration fees for hems, etc.) [Source]. If you decide to go the mismatched route, your girls can scour other stores and online shops outside of the bridal store to find an inexpensive dress. I’ve personally found some cute dresses I like for my bridesmaids that are $20!
– You may also want to emphasize their personalities. An easy way to do this is to let them choose their own dress. For my bridal party, I have one bridesmaid who is as classy as they come (like Jackie-O style), and another who is totally a hippie. I’d love to see them stay true to themselves! This way my classy bridesmaid can wear a simple dress flaring at the waist, and my hippie bridesmaid can wear lace with gorgeous detail.
– Another thing to consider is the size of your bridal party. If you have an average or high number of girls, the mismatched dresses can actually still pull together to form one cohesive image. Think about the dalmations from 101 Dalmations. They all have different patterns of spots, but when you see them all at once you can’t tell between one or the other.
Side note: You do not need 101 bridesmaids to pull off the look! I’d suggest more like bridal parties of 4 or more.
– There’s also the go-to concern when picking out any bridesmaid dress – Can they wear it again? Anyone who spends good money on a dress probably has the hope of wearing it again. If your girls are picking out their own dress, they may actually get to do this
– One reason you may consider to not mismatch your bridesmaid dresses is, just as in the pros, your bridal party size. Having a small bridal party (like 1-3 girls) may prohibit them from standing out as bridesmaids. On the other hand, a rustic/boho/shabby-chic wedding theme would definitely be able to pull this off.
– But the biggest con of all to mismatching bridesmaid dresses – being a self-proclaimed (or diagnosed) OCD bride. Beyond just the fact that they’re not all the same dress, there are some other variants that can happen from one bridesmaid to the next:
Different shades – Within every basic color comes a million shades to go with it. If you want everyone in a grey dress, you may end up getting charcoal, slate, and silver instead.
Different lengths – If the only direction provided is “short,” your girls may take this to mean anything that doesn’t hit the floor. Across your bridesmaids you may end up with tea length, at the knee, and mini.
Different fabrics – Even in the same color, a fabric can make it seem lighter or darker from dress to dress. Freedom to pick any dress may result in chiffon, taffeta, and lace all appearing in your bridal party.
Alternatives That Still Allow Some Variation
– Instead of mismatching your bridesmaid dresses entirely, you could instead opt for different accessories or hairstyles between your girls. For example, if everyone is in the same dress, let them each pick out a different statement necklace to express their own style.
– You could also choose to have only your Maid of Honor in a different dress. If you choose to go this route, try not to change her by more than one or two things. For example, it could be the same dress but in a different color. This way she can stand out but still be visually associated with your bridal party.
– Another option is to have the same dress with different necklines. Plenty of designers are offering this, so it’s not as hard to find as it sounds. This way everyone will be in the same fabric, length, and color, but your friends can still choose between straps or not.
Here’s also a great post about deciding color schemes for mismatched bridesmaid dresses from a fellow WordPresser.
Decisions You’ll Have To Make
– What do you want your group pictures to look like? Are you concerned about a timeless look? Letting friends choose their own dresses may result in here-today-gone-tomorrow trends.
On the other hand, will bridesmaid dresses ever look good in pictures 20 years down the road?
– Also, you may not feel that OCD about the appearance now, but will you once you see the photos from your wedding? Luckily there’s an easy fix – look at photos from other people’s wedding! And I’m not talking about Pinterest posts. Searching Pinterest will result in all the times it turned out right (think PinterestFail.com). I mean find some wedding on a photographer’s site and look through all the pictures from the night – Like this adorable couple! UPDATE: Here are the photos from my own wedding with mismatched gray dresses.
– You’ll also have to decide if you’re ok not doing the shopping (which may be some brides’ favorite part). Sure you may join a few of your bridesmaids when they’re browsing, but if you’re a busy person you may not be able to do that for everyone (or anyone!).
– If you won’t be shopping with all of your bridesmaids, you’ll have to decide on an approval process. Do you need to see it in person, can they send you a link, or will they need to send you a pic from when they tried it on? Decide which is the most efficient for you. But definitely set an approval process – you won’t want someone picking a dress that looks like their boobs or butt are going to pop out.
Make It Happen!
You’ve decided to do it – congratulations! Here are some of my suggestions to making sure it all goes smoothly:
– Provide a list of some online and offline stores. Some of your girls may do all their shopping online, and others may not trust a dress they can’t try on first. They may also not know where to start! A list of shops will help them figure out where to look. Give them some department stores (like JCPenney and Macy’s), some trendy stores (like Forever 21 or Windsor), boutiques (check your/their local area), and online-only (like Etsy and ModCloth). You can look internationally too! For anyone that shops online, you can look at popular stores only found elsewhere (like New Look from England).
– Provide some parameters. Give them a color, length, and any other specifics you do or don’t want. For my bridesmaids, I’m asking that they wear: Grey (any shade), short (above the knee, below the fingertips), any fabric, no high/low dresses, no bandage dresses, and commit to no tanlines for the neckline you choose.
Side note: I’ve noticed for myself while searching for grey dresses that any search should be done twice – once spelling it as “grey” and a second as “gray.” Let your bridesmaids know of any quirks like this.
– If you’ve got some spare time to look around yourself, make a Pinterest board (or other online list) of some dresses you already approve of. This way they can get a sense for what you like visually, and you can also point out a dress or two that you really want someone to wear. You can see my Pinterest board for my bridesmaids here. I’ve made sure that each pin description lists the store and the price, marking a “+” next to any I didn’t already add shipping to.
I hope this list has helped you with your decision! Please share any of your own thoughts on other pros and cons, and follow my blog if you’ve enjoyed this post!