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by Emma Hla

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Image by O & C Photography.

I have a confession to make…

I have never been a Bridesmaid.

A Bride yes.

But a maid… well, ummmm, no.

However folks, this all changed when my best gal went and got herself engaged to a fine young man last month!

Hurrah!

It will be an honour to assist my gorgeous girlie down the aisle with her two beautiful sisters… It will also be, without doubt, one of the proudest days of my life…

So, when it comes to the topic of Bridesmaid dresses I have now been on both sides of that fashion coin – A Bride looking for the perfect dress to make her maids look and feel HOT, and on the other side, a Bridesmaid wanting to please and assist whilst trying to gulp down the fear of puffball sleeves, an ill-placed bow or a taffeta meringue number.

Thankfully, my Bride-to-be has fabulous taste and I will be sauntering down the aisle in a slinky little number and to say I’m happy is an understatement! However, as I feel I am now somewhat of an expert on this subject I am about to impart my own wisdom on Bridesmaid dress shopping… Tips for both the Bride and the Maid!

You might want to grab a cup of tea for this, it’s a long one…

Ready…?

the bride

Coco Wedding Venues - A Guide to Bridesmaid Fashion Part One - Image by Anna Hardy Photography.

Image by Anna Hardy Photography.

Research – Ladies, it is in fact a Bride’s perogative, to spend hours, days, nay weeks pouring over beautiful inspiration and wedding ideas galore… Especially when it comes to such an important decision as your Bridesmaids fashion. I believe, as a Bride, you have a duty of care to ensure your girls look and feel beautiful on your wedding day… After all, a happy Maid makes a relaxed Bride!

For me, I had three main areas of inspiration – Wedding Magazines, Pinterest and, of course, Wedding Blogs!

  • Wedding Magazines are great and most of the big mags will do special features on Maids fashion and allow you to view a mix of names and budgets, from High Street to Bridesmaid specific designers… Whilst all very pretty, the torn pages that littered my lounge started to get a little overwhelming and disorganised, so I turned to the online wedding world.
  • Pinterest is also an amazing source of information (and also slightly addictive!) Why not set up a joint board where you and your girls can pin inspiration… It’s a great way of making them feel part of the journey as well as you giving them an overall feel for your colour choices and styles. The best thing about Pinterest is that your boards can also be secret so you can keep the fashion hush hush until the big reveal!
  • I’m a lover of wedding blogs! Obviously. So my top advice would be to look at featured real weddings for ideas and inspiration on styles, colours, themes etc. It’s the perfect place to see how other Brides have dressed their girls, most blogs will also have a Real Bride category where tips and woes are shared!

What’s your style – Your Bridesmaid dresses will naturally be a reflection of your own dress and style of wedding. Are you going for a romantic lace gown to suit your rustic shindig…? A chic and sleek number for your city do…? Or full on classic princess for your truly elegant affair…? Choose your style of wedding, venue and dress first as this will ultimately influence the wedding party fashion… Including the boys!

Do think about…

  • Colour, if you’re going for a slightly challenging colour scheme do think about what you see your girls wearing. Also, be considerate of palettes…. Just because blush and nude tones are on-trend it doesn’t necessarily make for an easy colour to pull off! Think about skin tones and hair colourings if you have an array of beauties…
  • Season, look to seasonal flowers for wedding colour inspiration. Be open to the option of having a selection of colours from the same spectrum… Variations of berry and purples for example would create a gorgeous picture perfect palette. As well as the time of year, ensure your dress colour and style reflects the time of day you’ll be marrying… A ceremony at dusk followed by an evening of champagne and celebrations might be better suited to a short, sparkly number (as seen in my Embellished Love post!) rather than a floral maxi… You get the idea.
  • Length & Shape, make sure your girls feel comfortable about the length you see them wearing… Me personally, the idea of showcasing the pins on a cold October morning sends shivers down my spine! So I’ll be safely tucked away in a full length gown… But for a Vintage Summer party, a short fitted dress would be perfection! Also be open to the idea of your girls being in different shapes to suit their individual figures, this is 100% guaranteed confidence boost and of course you’ll be bang on-trend with the mismatched maids look!

Planning – It’s a difficult task organising a group of girls to be free on the exact same date at the exact same time. Trust me, I know, and I only had two Bridesmaids! Try to plan in advance to ensure you can go en-masse but be prepared for the odd separate trip and don’t be disheartened or upset…

Other things to consider…

  • Make sure you book appointments with your chosen boutiques in advance as weekends will prove popular, especially in the run up to Summer!
  • If you’re going High Street, make sure you think about what will be in stock at certain times of the year. For example; In February you might be hard pushed to find a suitable seasonal frock for an August wedding! But if you have time on your side shopping the High Street can prove to be an easier, cheaper and a more fashion forward option.
  • Also, whilst not quite on the same level of lead time as a wedding dress, there will be a sizeable waiting time for your bespoke, or made-to-measure dress. Approx 6 – 12 weeks is a pretty good guide but the designer or boutique will inform you of ordering times.

Budget – Have a good, clear indication of your budget before you hit the shops… If you are visiting a Bridal boutique or Bridesmaid specific designer, a realistic budget to have in mind would be £200 – £300. But do think about other factors such as does the price include alterations and if you will be buying shoes and accessories to finish the look. It’s ok to ask your girls to contribute, but make sure you have this conversation early on. If the High Street is your friend get creative, this beautiful wedding featured on Love My Dress saw the Bridesmaids in Zara and they looked oh-so stylish in their simple white dresses, coral jackets and super pretty floral crowns!

Make a day of it! Whether it’s an organised group outing, or a one lady at a time mission, do make the trip special. Yes, this might be another big tick on your to-do list but this is also a beautiful rite-of-passage you take with your friends… Enjoy it, have lunch, grab a coffee, discuss the options over a cocktail but most of all just enjoy that time you have with your closest friends.

The Bridesmaid

Coco Wedding Venues - A Guide to Bridesmaid Fashion Part One - Image by O & C Photography.

Image by O & C Photography.

So over to you my friend, the Bridesmaid…

I am standing in this corner right now and I had my first (and probably last) Bridesmaid shopping experience just two weeks ago… So I’m pretty hot on this subject! Whilst the Bride-to-be has all of the above to consider, my  advice for the Bridesmaid is short, sweet and to the point…

Make an effort – This may sound silly to some but do make an effort with your appearance the day you are trying on dresses! Freshly washed hair and a sweep of makeup really will make all the difference, for both the Bride picturing you on the day and for your overall opinion on what suits you!

Be on time – Most appointments are usually for one hour slots so be on time for your Bride! Plan ahead, print off directions, addresses and telephone numbers of the boutique or have them stored on your device (should your blessed internet connection let you down!)

Be flexible but honest – You’ll know your Bride’s own style so assume that the wedding, theme and dresses will all be a reflection of her personal taste. Be open and try on as many styles, shapes and colours as she so desires! Ultimately it’s the Brides decision but it’s important you’re completely honest about how you feel in the dresses. Hate your arms…? Then don’t be forced into a strapless number. Want to cover your tummy…? Then suggest a style that will flatter your curves.

Come prepared – If you know you’ll be wearing heels on the day then bring a pair along to the fitting to add a little height and sass! Also, if you have any undergarments such as strapless or multi-way bras (or indeed a special pair of knickers *ahem*!) then ensure these are packed and ready to go! It’s amazing what good structure can do for a form-fitting dress.

Be supportive – Lastly be there. It can be a little overwhelming organising a wedding and tempers can flare under the strain. Remember that as a Bridesmaid, part of your role is to help ease some of that pressure.

Coco Wedding Venues - A Guide to Bridesmaid Fashion Part One - Image by James Melia.

Image by James Melia.

So that’s it… My little guide to the world of Bridesmaid dress shopping.

Are you just starting this wedding day task…?

Are you the Bride or the Bridesmaid…?

Oh and what’s your style darlings…?

In part two I’ll look at Maiden inspiration for each of the six Coco Style Categories!

Get excited.

Lots of love…

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