Maids made easy: Top tips for maids’ dress shopping – the Calm and Sophisticated Way (no really…)
So your maids’ dress shopping day has finally arrived. Everyone has assembled excitedly for brunch somewhere uber chic first (the flower girls and smaller bridesmaids are meeting you later). There’s a free Prosecco fountain in the middle of the restaurant and, obviously, in the background, Bradley Cooper is setting the mood on the harp. You get down to business and brainstorm some dress ideas and are delighted to find your bridesmaids in unanimous agreement on your style of choice… even more surprisingly, they suddenly break into a rousing burst of spontaneous applause. Bradley Cooper is so moved by this show of female solidarity that he sweeps you off your feet and then…
You wake up.
It’s the day of choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses. Your maid of honour calls to say she’s fallen out with the other bridesmaid over hemlines; one of your maids casually lets you know that she can’t possibly wear any shade of pink… or blue; your best friend reveals she’s pregnant and will be eight months’ gone by the time of the wedding, and your flower girl lets you know she’s not coming if you try and put her in a dress. Bradley Cooper is nowhere to be seen.
As unlikely (and borderline depressing) as it may seem ladies, choosing your bridesmaids was the easy bit. Whether you’ve gone big and love the thought of fifteen girls of all ages accompanying you down the aisle, or have chosen an intimate and select group of your very closest two besties, there are still potential minefields to navigate. To help ensure nothing but smooth sailing ahead, read on for top tips for dressing your bridesmaids and be ahead of the game at the planning stage.
Being honest with yourself about what sort of a bride you are and your vision for how the bridal party will ‘look’ is paramount. And this is information that needs to be shared with your bridesmaids from the outset. If it’s important to you that all maids wear a particular and uniform style in a colour that you’ve been dreaming of since you were ten (and there’s nothing wrong with this approach whatsoever; in many ways, it makes life easier!), then tell your maids before you go dress shopping. If they’re worthy of the bridesmaid banner, they’ll respect that this is your day and that your wishes are the only thing that matter.
Again, a frank and candid discussion with your best girls about who you anticipate paying for the dresses is needed at the very beginning of the whole process. Bear in mind the overall expense of your wedding for your bridesmaids, including travel, and accommodation etc. Many brides negotiate this often awkward conversation by offering to pay for the dress but ask their maids to cover the cost of shoes. Do also consider the budget for hair and make-up too… will your bridesmaids get their hair and make-up done with you on the big day?
The measure of the maids
If you see your bridesmaids in styles and colours that are tailored to suit them but loosely co-ordinated under a general theme, approach dress shopping collaboratively. That picture of Prosecco-fuelled fun with all your best girls need not be out of the question (sadly, we fear Bradley Copper’s presence might). We women of the world have some incredible insights; get your maids involved with the process! Consider hosting a ‘Mood Board’ party. Give your best girls some general guidelines then ask them to do their research and bring two or three dress ideas to the party. Put everyone’s ideas up on the wall to pack a visual punch and let the creative juices flow! Out of the mix, a sharper sense of clarity could well emerge, as well as fostering a truly positive dialogue that helps everyone empathise and understand one another’s hopes for, or anxieties about, the big-day look. Plus, this mood board will make an excellent memento for you afterwards!
Perhaps one way to let your best girls nurture a sense of individuality is through their accessories. Let them choose their own shoes, earrings, hairstyles etc and embrace the eclectic sense of style they will bring (we promise you, such an approach will only serve to enhance and add detail to the overall effect in the photographs).
Now is truly a magical time to be a bridesmaid. Gone are the stuffy, traditional bridesmaids’ styles that look like they wandered straight out of the 1980s; in are innovative and imaginative new styles and designs to cater for every single body shape and age. ’Tis truly celebratory stuff and we love how this approach makes women and girls look and feel fabulous. Don’t miss out on any of this joyful zeal on a shopping trip with the girls. Choose boutiques that carry a range of colours, fabrics and lengths and, complementing a well-researched approach, do keep an open mind too; just like your bridal gown, there are bound to be surprise styles that your girls unexpectedly love. Being able to find the playful side of bridesmaids’ dress shopping is crucial. Accept that you may need two or three outings… and see that as a bonus! You get to hang out with an amazing group of girls for longer!
(And about that flower girl conundrum above: it’s tricky but consider – does it really matter if she’s not in a dress? There are some pretty incredible trouser styles for younger ones… just ask Monsoon and Zara!)