There’s a growing trend with weddings today where brides are letting their bridesmaids choose their own dresses. This concept of mixing and matching a bridal party scared me initially, because, as a fashion designer and as someone who helps women look amazing on their big day, I knew that there are a lot of places that this trend could go very wrong for brides.

However, today I’m going to bring you some tips for striking the perfect balance between letting your bridesmaids have the freedom they deserve (after all, they’re paying for the dress!) and making sure the women you’re surrounded with on your big day look great at the altar and in your pictures.

Always have at least one unifying factor.

If you’re allowing your bridal party to pick out their own dresses, make sure there is at least one element in common between every dress. This could be a color, a style, a neckline, a length, a theme, or a fabric, but there must be at least one of these in common, or you will run the risk of having one or more dresses stand out and distract from your gown.

Some ways you can accomplish this cohesiveness include:

  • Having all the dresses in the same cut but in different fabrics.
  • Having all the dresses in a certain theme, like 1920s flapper or 1950s pinup.
  • Having all the dresses feature a textile like lace or chiffon, or a certain embellishment.

Have all your bridesmaids order from the same retailer.

Sending all your bridesmaids to the same retailer will ensure a similar feel to each dress. However, there is an even better alternative to this, as retailers may not have enough continuity, or they may not carry the inventory that you and your maids all agree on.

Consider sending your bridesmaids to one fashion designer, such as my custom design brand, Hannah Caroline Couture. Working with me allows you as the bride to set parameters for your bridesmaids, such as colors, styles, and materials, and allows me to work with each of your bridesmaids individually to find the differentiating factors in her dress that will work best for her body type, budget, and personal style.

This is a great new option for brides that have bridesmaids with different body shapes, styles, and budgets. Combining each maid’s factors with the parameters that you give me allows me to guide her into a dress that satisfies her taste and yours, and fits seamlessly with the rest of the bridal party. This is a great way to maintain some control while still giving your bridesmaids fool-proof options. They’ll love their dresses, and you’ll love how it all comes together on your big day!

Going this non-traditional route with your bridesmaids’ dresses ensures that each bridesmaid will wear something that you approve of. All decisions about the dresses will go through both your expertise about what you want your wedding to look like, as well as my design expertise about the shapes, colors, and other elements that affect how a dress will look on each bridesmaid in pictures, in person, and in the group of other bridesmaids’ dresses. Everything is subject to your approval and you get to decide how much control you want to retain.

So, what does this process look like in action? 

First, I’ll have a free consultation with you about the timeline, theme, bridesmaids’ price range(s), and what styles, colors and other elements that are acceptable to offer to the bridesmaids. You can either start this process by sending me an e-mail or by filling out this form.

Next, I’ll meet with each bridesmaid individually via e-mail, phone, or Skype. I’ll explain the basic parameters and offer suggestions for different elements like necklines, lengths, pockets, and special elements like belts and embellishments. I’ll collect a small deposit to cover the purchase of materials, which is usually around 25% of the dress price.

I’ll compile all the designs to make sure they’ll work together and contact you for approval. Then, I’ll gather fabric swatches and confirm the materials that will be used and get started on producing these dresses by hand.

As the bride, you can be as involved as you want. Do you want photos of each stage of the production process, or do you just want to see the completed dresses together? That involvement is up to you because only you can find your balance between handling your wedding planning to-do lists and retaining control over what your bridal party looks like.

Once the dresses are finished and approved by you, I’ll either hold fittings with each bridesmaid (if they’re in the Omaha area or are willing to travel here) or ship each dress out to its owner. Once my alterations are made, if any, the bridesmaids simply pay their remaining balance and get back to helping you get ready for your big day.

After the wedding, bridesmaids can choose to have their dress altered by me into something they will be able to wear many times in the future. Bridesmaids can receive a low rate on things like hemming and other small alterations to their Hannah Caroline Couture bridesmaid’s dress.

Another benefit of working with a single designer to coordinate your bridal party is that the coordination doesn’t have to stop at the bridesmaids’ dresses. From vests and bow ties that match each groomsman to their bridesmaid, to flower-girl dresses and mother-of-the-bride attire, funneling these attire decisions through a single designer ensures that all the parts of your wedding will work together seamlessly and you’ll have as little attire-related stress as possible.

If this sounds like the solution to your wedding attire needs, please reach out to me!

To read more about mixing and matching bridesmaids’ dresses, check out our reference article here.

To view Hannah Caroline Couture’s profile on MyWedding.com profile, click here.

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