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Inspiration » Wedding Planning » Your No-Stress Guide to Bridesmaid Dresses

Your No-Stress Guide to Bridesmaid Dresses

by Allison Hata
Your No-Stress Guide to Bridesmaid Dresses


Once you’ve selected the members of your wedding party (and let them know about it), they’ll want to know what they can do to prepare for the big day. The members of your bridal party will be especially curious about one question in particular: What will we wear? Bridesmaid dresses are another one of those things that are wrapped up in tradition and expectations.  As with other traditions, there are some good reasons for going with the tried-and-true single-color matching dresses. But you really don’t have to go with traditional matching dresses if that doesn’t seem like the best option for your and your bridesmaids. Whether you are going with the traditional route, mismatched dresses, or something in between you have plenty of options. Here’s our guide to sorting it all out!

Traditional bridesmaid dresses

The first thing you should know about bridesmaid dresses is that they can be relatively expensive. You will find a ton of variety when shopping for them, but the actual dresses your bridesmaids wear will most likely be made to order. They will also almost certainly need lots of alterations, as well. These factors lead to a cost that is higher than what you (or your bridesmaids) might expect. You may worry that your bridesmaid my fell put out by having to buy an expensive dress that they probably won’t wear again. But ordering bridesmaid dresses the traditional way is still convenient, and the members of your bridal party probably won’t mind buying their dresses if that’s the option you’re set on. Just be sure to discuss it with them. As with so many other things with wedding planning, communication is key!

Options for buying

You may have your heart set on a certain dress you’ve found or on ordering from a certain place. In this case, the important thing is getting your bridesmaids the info they need. On the other hand, you may decide to discuss it with your bridesmaids and go with whatever option works best for them. In that case, it’s also important that you know what your options are! Decide what style works best for your bridesmaids,  then check out some of these common places to find bridesmaid dresses.

Bridal salon

If you’re getting your wedding dress from a bridal salon, it makes a lot of sense to check out their bridesmaid dress options as well. They will likely have a large selection to choose from. Just remember that these dresses will be made to order and can take a while to make. And be sure to factor in time and money for alterations as well! Even if you and your bridesmaids are spread out in different locations, a salon will probably be happy to work with them remotely to make everything work.

Chain wedding store

A chain wedding store (like David’s Bridal) can cost less than a bridal salon and you’ll usually get your dresses quicker. This option can also be convenient if your bridesmaids are in different places. If you find a dress at a wedding store with lots of locations nationwide, your bridesmaids may be able to find it and try it on at their nearest location.


Options for buying dresses online are improving, and you can find lots of great dresses to try. Just be sure to check reviews of any site you’re thinking of buying from to see if customers have been satisfied with the quality of the dresses. If your bridesmaids live far away, you can get your bridesmaids’ measurements and order for them, and they can have alterations done locally when they get the dress. Check out our guide to buying bridesmaid dresses online for more tips!

Less traditional (but equally awesome) options


Making mismatched outfits work can work out fabulously, but can also require a lot of communication and collaboration with your bridal party. Your bridesmaids will likely appreciate some guidance to start off. You should decide if you want dresses that are

  • Of the same style but different colors
  • In the same color but different styles
  • In different styles and different colors (but with at least some sort of guidance as far as color palette, type of dress, or theme)

Once you’ve given your bridesmaids some ideas, they may run with it, or they may need more guidance. When it comes to your bridal party, you’ll probably have some idea of who will need what kind of help, so plan accordingly!

You may also want to consider having a way to tie the look together, such as with accessories or carefully picking out matching bouquets to complement all of the dresses.

Off the rack

If you’re happy to have non-traditional bridesmaid dresses, you may be able to find a dress at a major retailer in all of the sizes you need for your bridesmaids. Going this route opens up a lot of options. Having your bridal party wear dresses with a matching pattern, for example, is a great twist on the traditional formula. If this is what you and your bridesmaids fancy, there’s really no reason not to go with it! If you’re going with off-the-rack dresses, just remember that a retailer may not keep it in stock forever. Have all of your bridesmaids buy theirs at the same time!


This can be convenient for your bridesmaids, since a skirt and shirt combination is something they may be more likely to wear again in different outfits. Wedding stores and major retailers now offer great options to choose from!

Rental dresses

If you want traditional dresses but don’t want your bridesmaids to have to pay to own dresses they’ll never wear again, rental dresses may be the right choice for you. There are more and more options for dress rentals and you can probably find great designer dresses to rent that look amazing!

Show your appreciation

Your bridal party will play a big part in making your wedding day awesome. They are doing it because they love you, of course, but you’ll also want to put some thought into a gift to show your appreciation. The gift you give your bridesmaids could even be an accessory to wear during the wedding. Just let them know ahead of time, so they don’t buy it themselves! Also check out these tips for buying bridesmaid gifts if you need some ideas.

Get Started – Wedding Party

Show your appreciation for the members of your wedding party by featuring them on your Joy wedding site! It’s a fun way to feature the friends and family who will be standing with you during the ceremony!

Add your wedding party to your Joy wedding site:

  • First navigate to “Party” in the Wedding Pages section of your dashboard.

dashboard wedding party

  • From this page you can add the members of your wedding part to the “Party” section of your wedding site and app.

wedding party page

  • By clicking the plus sign at the bottom, you can add members of your wedding party. Just enter the first name, last name, and title (i.e., Best Man) for each member. If you want to invite the party member to Joy or they have already joined, you can add their email as well.
  • You can also add fun facts or a story about the party member in the info section!

enter wedding party member info

  • To upload a photo of a party member, just click on “Upload Photo” in the top left corner.

wedding party page with photos

  • Your wedding party members will show up on your wedding site and app as soon as you add them. You can see a preview of the app on the right side of the page!

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