The tradition of identical dresses for bridesmaids is taking a backseat to the now popular trend of mismatched bridesmaid dresses. Rather than a not so stylish, cookie cutter dress that looks like every other wedding, brides are giving their girls the flexibility and freedom to pick a unique, mix and match dress (usually based on a set of criteria) that actually looks good on each and every person!
How to Pick Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses
The idea of letting your bridesmaids run wild and pick out whatever dress they want might sound a bit scary. After all, it’s still your wedding, and you want your overall vision to come to life (which is totally fair, btw!). Here are 13 simple tips for how to pick bridesmaids dresses that will set your ladies up for success as they pick out their outfits to ensure they’re all looking cohesive and chic!
1. Pick Your Wedding Dress First
At first, it might not seem like your dress would impact what dresses your bridesmaids select, but it can make a HUGE difference.
If you’re planning on wanting your dress to have a distinguishing feature (like a unique neckline), but don’t have your dress chosen, it can be hard to tell bridesmaids what they should avoid getting. Pick your dress first before giving your girls specific dress criteria!
2. Give Guidelines
You might think you’re doing your girls a favor by letting them pick out ANY dress they want (or any dress within a specific color palette). But, from personally being a bridesmaid where we had mismatched dresses, I’m letting you know that you’re not doing them a favor!
Having complete freedom leads to confusion and doubt as to whether or not the dress you want is something that would actually look good and work with the overall wedding theme.
Give your bridesmaids a set of guidelines! Even if it’s basic, it’s better than nothing – floor length dresses, pastel colors, no lace. This gives them something to go off of.
3. Agree on a Length
This is a personal pet peeve of mine. When letting everyone pick their own dresses, be sure to agree on a length! Having some girls in floor length dresses, a few in tea length, and others with hemlines above the knee just looks disorganized. Pick a length and have everyone stick to it!
4. Discuss Necklines
There can be more flexibility with the neckline style that everyone individually chooses, but if there is a neckline you don’t want anyone to use, be sure to clarify that. For example, if your wedding dress is a high neck, you might not want your bridesmaids to pick that same neckline.
5. Determine Fabrics
Even if everyone has the same color, dresses can still have the potential to look “off” if the fabrics are not cohesive. As a general guideline, try pairing fabrics like lace and chiffon together, and have fabrics like satin and silk paired up.
Additionally, think about the location you’re getting married in and how the fabrics might come into play with that. For example, if you’re having a beach wedding off the shores of La Jolla, a light, flowy fabric like chiffon might work better than a heavy material.
6. Limit the Number of Unique Features
Between colors, hemlines, necklines, fabrics, textures, and prints, there are a lot of features to consider when picking dresses. To help simplify it for your bridesmaids, limit how many unique features they can pick for their dress. Again, guidelines are good! As an example, perhaps they can pick any floor length, blush pink dress from a certain designer.
7. Select the Color Scheme
When giving a specific color, don’t just say “blue” and leave it at that. Do you want navy blue? Powder blue? Blue with a hint of purple? You get the idea.
When allowing some creative freedom with dress colors, stick to a similar palette. What I mean by this is to decide if you want muted tones, pastels, bold, or bright colors. This way, even if all the dresses are different colors, they will still look cohesive.
8. Stick to Your Vision
This is a big one, especially if you have a lot of bridesmaids! There will likely be a lot of volunteered opinions about what could look good and what overall look you should go with.
While your bridesmaids might just be trying to help, if you green light everyone’s opinions, the final look is probably going to be pretty different than what you originally envisioned. Remember that this is YOUR wedding, and ultimately, you should stick to the vision you have. If you want your
9. Be Careful with Prints
Prints can look great, but they’re also super easy to put you in a “mismatched bridesmaid dresses gone wrong” type of scenario. If you do decide to go with prints, determine the type of print you’re envisioning, how busy and bold you want it, the main color of the dress, and if there are any underlying colors you want to avoid.
As another option, instead of incorporating printed dresses into your wedding, wear a printed dress for your engagement shoot. In San Diego, there are so many places to take pictures, so it’s pretty easy to find a location with a subtle background that won’t clash with a printed dress.
10. Use One Designer
If possible, try sticking to one designer for a cohesive look. This will help to give your bridesmaids clear guidelines as to the overall look you are going for. Also, it will ensure that they all get the same shade of blue (if you want them to all have the same color dress).
11. Create a Group Chat
We did this for my best friend’s wedding as we were picking out our mismatched dresses, and it was so helpful! Create a group chat (through your phone, FB Messenger, etc) where your bridesmaids can post photos of dresses they’re trying on or getting.
This is a great way to know what dress each girl is getting, and it also ensures that the same dress isn’t picked by multiple bridesmaids! Plus, with the ease of looking up photos of mismatched bridesmaid dresses online, it’s easy to send screenshots of dresses you’re thinking of trying out before actually getting it!
12. Give Final Approval for Each Dress
From the beginning, set clear expectations that you would like to be involved in their dress choices. Openly communicate any thoughts and feedback you have as they send you different dresses they’re thinking about.
Before each bridesmaid purchases her dress, be sure that you give final approval for it. Even though you’re allowing them to pick their own dress, at the end of the day, it’s important that the dress will look cohesive with the rest of the wedding party.
This will also give your bridesmaids a sense of relief, because they’ll know that you’ve seen and approved their dress before the wedding day. The last thing you want is to see their dresses on the morning of your wedding and realize they don’t align with your overall vision!
13. Coordinate Accessories
Tie all of the dresses together with matching accessories for a final way to bring cohesion to all of the looks. Perhaps it’s with a dainty gold necklace, Kendra Scott earrings, or a faux fur wrap for a winter wedding!
To recap, having your bridesmaids wear mix and match dresses for your wedding is totally doable (and can look amazing!). Manage their expectations ahead of time in terms of your vision, and keep the lines of communication open throughout the process!