How many old bridesmaid dresses are hanging in your closet? While Katherine Heigl likely takes the cake with twenty-seven, we’d bet you have at least one or two old dresses lying around. 

As hard as brides try to choose a dress their maids can rewear, it’s easier said than done. Bridesmaid dresses are notoriously expensive, formal, and often match the bride’s personal style more than the women wearing it. 

Recently, we’ve noticed a rise in mismatched bridal party looks. This non-traditional approach allows bridesmaids to choose their own outfits (within reason) and showcase their personal styles. Keep reading to learn why some brides are loosening the reins and prioritizing coordinated attire over identical outfits.

Photo by Joeyy Lee

The History Behind Matching Bridal Party Looks

Matching bridal party looks date back to the fifteenth century. Legend has it that bridesmaids and groomsmen dressed identical so as to confuse evil spirits or jealous suitors and prevent them from interfering with the wedding.

These days, engaged couples are less concerned with warding off evil spirits and more concerned with making their friends feel comfortable on their big day.

The Benefits of Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

The shift from matching dresses to coordinated looks is not just aesthetic — in fact, it is largely value-driven. Today’s brides want their wedding party to feel celebrated and comfortable, not stuck in a potentially unflattering (and expensive) dress. By allowing your bridesmaids to choose their own dresses, you’re empowering them to look and feel their best. After all, they’re standing at the end of the aisle, too! 

Many couples are also interested in hosting sustainable celebrations. A bridesmaid dress that is worn once and forgotten about is the antithesis of sustainability. If you allow your bridesmaids to choose their own dresses, they are more likely to purchase something that they love and are excited to wear again and again. They might even already have something in their closet that fits your wedding day vibe.

A mismatched bridal party also adds a unique element to your wedding day that will withstand the test of time and trends.

Photo by TVBEATS

How to Coordinate Mismatched Looks

Before you let your bridal party go rogue with their wedding day attire, consider these approaches to mismatched looks: 

  • Different colors, same styles: Choose a silhouette and allow each bridesmaid to choose their dress color. You can give them a color swatch if you have specific colors in mind, or let them choose a color on their own.  
  • Different styles, same colors: Give each bridesmaid a color swatch and let them choose a dress that both fits and flatters. 
  • Pattern play: Love a bold look? Ask your bridesmaids to dress in a specific pattern, like floral or sequins, for a fun twist. You could alternate the pattern among your bridal party or ask everyone to incorporate it into their outfits.

Tips for Styling Your Bridal Party

Love the mismatched approach but worried about losing control? Consider setting a few simple boundaries to keep everyone in check.

Ask for pictures of each bridesmaid’s dress. This will help you make sure nothing clashes too badly – or that no one matches too well! If you’re going for a mismatched look, the last thing you want is two bridesmaids wearing the same dress. 

Coordinate dresses and ties. Let your bridesmaids choose their outfits first, then use the respective colors or patterns to decide what ties your groomsmen will wear. You could match each tie to each dress, or find a tie that complements each dress and ties it all together (no pun intended). 

Use accessories and bouquets to create consistency. If everyone is wearing a different color, ask them to wear a neutral colored shoe for a cohesive touch. For flowers, incorporate the various colors from your bridesmaid dresses into each bouquet to nod at the full lineup. 

As you decide what outfits your bridal party will wear, we hope these tips help you experiment with something new!

Rachel Kauffman is a Detroit-based content writer, bookworm, and cat mom to two feisty felines.