photograph by m three studio

Every bride has her own special way of asking, “Will you be one of my bridesmaids?”

For me it was a personal, individual experience with each of my attendants, and I was so excited to ask those closest to me if they would stand by my side as I walk down the aisle this November. My fiancé, Nick, and I decided to have a smaller bridal party, so I am thrilled to have a  maid of honor (my sister), matron of honor (my best friend) and a bridesmaid (my cousin) in my wedding.

Next step: dress shopping.

The colors of my wedding are navy, ivory and shades of green, so I decided on a classy dark navy for my bridesmaid dress color. I had an idea in mind, but I was not 100-percent sure. I had also found some styles at J.Crew I liked, but wanted to see what was out there as well. We set a date to do some damage—and we did!

We booked two appointments at boutiques in the Third Ward—at Miss Ruby and Bella Bridesmaid—about seven months before my wedding date. (If you are from the Milwaukee area, you’ve most likely heard of these shops. If not, they are great bridal boutiques with fabulous designers that I highly recommend.) My sister was in graduate school at the time we were trying on dresses, so just two of my bridesmaids and I went on our dress adventure. Each of my girls has a different body type, so I was open to the idea of having different styles if it came to that, but I wanted to see what was out there first.

In both stores, we made the experience a fun one. Both girls tried on a ton of dresses—different lengths and styles. Some were very cute and some, well, not so much. We laughed at the horrible-looking dresses, but there were moments of tension regarding what the girls liked—I’m not going to lie. I just kept moving forward and selecting more dresses for them to try on. I did notice, however, that each of my maids liked a different style of dress that fit her body the best. Luck was on our side, and the majority of dresses we liked were by the same designer. That made my final choice easy. We decided each girl could pick her own style, as long as it was knee length and made by the same designer, Alfred Sung, whose styles are classy and fun, with a modern flair. My sister came to visit a few weeks later and selected a style in that line and it all worked out!

To tie the looks together, I decided the girls should wear matching shoes. It only took me about five minutes to find the perfect pair of delicate and timeless gold-fabric Enzo Angiolini pumps at Nordstrom to make the outfits complete! If there is one thing I’m an expert on, it’s finding shoes.

After the dress experience was over, we headed down the street to Café Benelux and downed some much-needed Hoegaarden for our hard work. It was a nice treat following a long day of putting on and taking off bridesmaid dresses. We had a few laughs at the dresses that looked so bad we wanted to cry, and it was a great bonding moment. I will cherish that day for years to come.

So, do I have any tips? Of course!

  • Start looking for dresses about six to seven months in advance, as it could take up to five months for the dresses to be delivered and fitted.
  • Make bridesmaid dress shopping an experience, not just an item on the wedding checklist to cross off.
  • Have an open mind, listen to your maids and try and make them feel comfortable. The last thing you want to do is make them wear a dress that they have no confidence in while walking down the aisle. You want them to be there for you—and to feel fashionable and great in the dress they are wearing.
  • If tension brews between bridesmaids about dress styles, try and keep moving forward with the process. Be sure you’re selecting a variety of dresses, and remember that some look better on than when on the hanger. Eventually, as the bride, you will need to make the final decision, so be prepared for that.
  • Have a budget in mind. If you decide on a very expensive dress, maybe offer to pay for half of it. I’ve been a bridesmaid several times, and the average dress cost has been around $200. If you go over that, consider helping out as part of your gift or as an extra thank-you for their commitment.

I’m interested to hear your bridesmaid dress stories, whether you’re a bride or an attendant—please share!

Find out how Tiffany found her own dress, here.

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Tiffany (7 Posts)

Tiffany, Wed in Milwaukee's bridal blogger, shares her experiences as she plans her wedding in the city. Names have been changed to protect the innocent—and guilty!



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