It’s the age-old wedding debate: How do you choose a dress that your bridesmaids will re-wear? Okay, well, maybe it’s not an age-old debate. But it’s certainly something that most couples spend a lot of time thinking about. You want your friends to be comfortable on your wedding day, and you don’t want them buying something they’ll never wear again. (Even if your ‘maids are willing to do that!) But your gal pals may all have different body types, different tastes, and different levels of comfort in a dress.
You can, of course, let your friends choose their own dresses—there are some pros to doing just that. But often times, you have a specific vision for your special day, and you don’t want to leave that vision to chance. What if a bridesmaid gets the wrong color or material, and it totally clashes? That doesn’t happen often, but you might not want to risk it.
These five tips will help you choose a dress (or skirt or pants) that your bridesmaids will re-wear again and again, without compromising your special day. And don’t worry—none of the tips involve shortening the dress and re-wearing it!
Include Multiple Pieces
Traditionally, bridesmaids dresses are formal or semi-formal. That’s great for your formal wedding, but it also means that your friends can only re-wear their dress to another formal event. That’s easy for friends who attend lots of formal events! But if your gal pals don’t often dress formally, then re-wearing even a semi-formal dress can be a challenge.
That’s where a multi-piece “dress” comes in! No, we don’t mean the once-popular two-piece bridesmaid dresses. Instead, we encourage you to consider a shirt-and-skirt combo or even dress pants for your ‘maids. Think about it: Your BFFs are more likely to re-wear a nice shirt to work or for a night out, and the same goes for skirts and dress pants. While they will have more items to shop around for, your bridesmaids will definitely re-wear part (or all!) of their Big Day attire.
Pick Neutral Colors
One easy way to ensure that your bridesmaids will re-wear their dresses (or skirts or pants) is to stick with neutrals. Don’t ask them to wear a brightly colored dress or a patterned skirt. Instead, keep the colors classic with soft pinks, golds, navys, blacks, and grays. That way, the dress is more likely to match something in your ‘maids closets. If they can toss their favorite leather jacket over the dress, they just may wear it again!
If you want a bold color, like deep cranberry for winter, complement it with neutral accessories, shoes, and even jackets if you’ll be outside. And stay clear of the patterns! A little embellishment is one thing, but few people want to re-wear a cranberry polka dot skirt. Try to keep one or two parts of the dress neutral, so your bridesmaid will re-wear it!
Keep it Short
As we already stated, some bridesmaids dresses are only semi-formal. That usually means the dress is a cocktail-hour length—the hem stops around the knee instead of the floor, like a formal dress. Because the shorter dresses are considered less formal, choosing a shorter bridesmaid dress also makes that dress less formal. That means that your gal pals might have a chance to wear it again. Maybe they can re-wear it to another wedding, at a milestone birthday party, or even to a work event. But that only works if the dress is shorter!
In the movie 27 Dresses, the main character jokes multiple times about shortening a bridesmaid dress so you can wear it again. While that might be a little true, it’s easier for your ‘maids (and less expensive!) if you just have them wear a shortened dress to begin with!
Let Them Choose (One Thing)
Maybe you don’t want your friends to entirely choose their dress—but they could choose one element of the dress. For example, you could tell them what skirt to buy, and then ask them all to wear either a maroon or navy shirt. Or, you could pick the color and length, and have them choose the style. If they have control over some element, they’re more likely to re-wear their bridesmaids dresses because they chose something they wanted to wear.
Of course, you’re going to want to see what everyone chooses before the Big Day. For long-distance bridesmaids, we recommend video chatting while they’re shopping. You can also choose a specific color from a nation-wide chain store. That way, the color at each location will be the same. And for local friends, consider a group shopping trip or organize a fashion show where everyone can try their items on together.
Ask Them to Vote
As you’re planning the wedding, are you torn between two colors or three dress styles? Leave the big decision up to them! Ask your ‘maids to vote on their favorite option, and let the best dress win. You can have them vote on anything—really! They can help you pick out the colors, style, material, or strap type. This lets them participate in the decision-making process, so that their dress is a little bit tuned to their own taste. (Which is what will encourage them to re-wear it!)
If the voting is a tie, you may even consider letting the bridesmaids choose either option. For example, if you can decide between three colors and your bridesmaids are split between two colors, make either of those two colors official bridesmaid dress colors! Just make sure to take a peek at everyone’s choices before your wedding day. You wouldn’t want one dress in the first color, and all the rest in the second color!
There are so many ways to give your bridesmaid some choices for their bridesmaid dresses. And the more they get to choose, the more likely they are to like the dress enough to re-wear it. Not only does that mean your ‘maids will be comfortable on their big day, but it also means that they will be happier with their purchase, too.
Have you ever been a bridesmaid before? Have you ever re-worn your dress?