I’ve done quite a lot of bridesmaids appointments recently. And I’ve been struck. With thoughts of how difficult it is, as a bride and as a bridesmaid, to strike up a good balance when it comes to pleasing everyone. One of the hardest things can be to find a dress that suits all your bridesmaids.
You know how it is – you have three bridesmaids, and they’re all different shapes and sizes. You’re wondering how on earth you’ll find something that they are all happy with. Or you are wondering how on earth you’ll persuade them to wear that particular colour that you love but at least one of them hates…..
You have a few options.
1) You decide what they are wearing. You give them no choice over style or colour, and if they don’t like it, tough. This has the advantage that you don’t have endless trips to endless shops, followed by endless negotiating. However, it has the distinct disadvantage that you may fall out with your bridesmaids, and they may look uncomfortable and unhappy in your wedding photos. Not a great combo.
2) You give them Carte Blanche. Let them choose the style and colour for themselves, and you’ll just go with whatever it is. This might seem like the least bridezilla and most lovely thing for a friend to do. And if you only have one bridesmaid, and you really REALLY don’t mind what she wears, then it’s perfect, and an absolutely lovely thing to do. Your bridesmaid will feel completely comfortable in what she has picked. However, unless your bridesmaids are carbon copies of one another, both size, shape, and taste-wise, you will more than likely run into trouble, possibly treading on eggshells as you carefully negotiate your way through the diplomatic dress crisis.
3) (and this is my favourite) You set fairly strict guidelines. Narrow down the options first, before you involve them. Decide on colour (or at least a possible palette of colour), and certain criteria (e.g. full length, floaty/chiffon, same dress or different dresses etc), and work within those guidelines. Explain these guidelines to your bridesmaids before they even start trying on dresses. Don’t go to too many shops. And then, relax and let the bridesmaids work themselves within these criteria.
Remember that you want the girls to be happy on the day, so they don’t look miserable and uncomfortable in your wedding photos. They are your friends or special to you in some way. And look for the happy medium.
There is always a process of negotiation. But there has to be give on both sides. A Good Bridesmaid will make sure that she always remembers that this is about the bride’s choice and it’s her wedding, and will always try to avoid having foot-stamping, toys-out-the-pram moments. She will also remember the other bridesmaids too, and not make it all about her. But a bride who is a Great Friend will make sure her spider-sense is well sharpened up to whether her bridesmaids are feeling horribly uncomfortable in a particular dress, and be prepared to go with a back up dress instead.
I have been privileged to see moments of real friendship in my shop, where it is clear that the exact positioning of a bow or a pleat, or the shade of colour in question, is far less important than a strong and very real bond of friendship between two people. And it warms the heart.