Always a Bridesmaid (& Also a Bride)

This is the fourth article in my series: BankerGirl Plans a Wedding - a honest account of my wedding decisions and related expenses as they occur.  New readers can click here to start the series from the beginning. 

Few wedding-related topics get a woman a fired up as a discussion about bridesmaids’ dresses.   They are typically expensive, unflattering, and often impossible to wear again - regardless of what the most well-meaning bride tells you.

Goodness knows, I’ve had to purchase my share of doozies.  In order to protect the guilty,  I won’t specifically describe any of the gowns that I’ve had the “opportunity” to wear, but let’s just say that I’ve had to adorn myself more than one dress that didn’t quite fit.  Flat-chested brides just don’t understand the plight of the big-busted girl, and nothing illustrates this better than a bridal party.  Check it out next time you’re at a wedding - there is at least one attendant in every wedding party that is excruciatingly uncomfortable in her dress, and it’s not always the fat girl.

A fresh approach 

I’ll be standing up for a dear friend who is getting married this August - she’s taking a pretty cool approach that I am duplicating in my own wedding.  She’s going with a black-and-white theme and all of her bridesmaids have been directed to choose a black, knee-to-tea length dress to wear to the ceremony.  The only rules:  no sequins, no lace, control the cleavage. 

Simple, right?  

Within the next week, nearly every LBD (little black dress) without sequins or lace that’s available for purchase online will arrive at my door.  Prices vary from $20.95 (on sale!) to $90 - I’m hopeful that at least one fits.  Otherwise I’m going to my back-up dress (I could get years of mileage out of this Nicole Miller number - I love everything about it except the price!)

My decision 

As for my maids, they have been instructed to wear a LBD (little brown dress) as well.  I don’t care about cut, shade, print, or fabric - the only condition is that it has to be a dress that they will absolutely wear again.   

But really, how many women seek out a brown dress?  I’m guessing very few.  So my attendants will be stuck with a dress that they would never pick out on their own - but at least they can wear something that they feel good in.

Final thoughts 

Dressing the female members in a bridal party is a tricky business.  Letting them choose their own attire is risky - give a girl too much leeway, and she may disappoint with a cut-down-to there v-neck or opt for something with a strange silhouette.  Dictate a dress for everyone and live with the resulting complaints. 

What’s a bride to do?

Related links:

Weddings and the Psychology of Spending

Would You Hire this Woman to Cater Your Wedding?

Stumble it!

22 Responses to “Always a Bridesmaid (& Also a Bride)”

  1. Becky@FamilyandFinances Says:

    On behalf of bridesmaids everywhere, I thank you!

    I have yet to stand up in a wedding where I could pick my own dress (and, therefore, the pricetag). I would be ETERNALLY grateful to any bride who would allow me that opportunity.

    You rock!

  2. R.A. Says:

    Three things:

    1. I just wrote a post with a very similar title for today!
    2. As a bridesmaid with more experience do you have any suggestions as I try and budget for my friend’s wedding. I’ve been a bride and I was a bridesmaid when I was young, but I have no real clue as to true costs.
    3. Even though I picked out the dresses for my bridesmaids (two different times!) I a) was willing to pay for the change in dresses since it was my decision and b) wish I had let them pick them out themselves…and I’m trying to convince my friend of that too!

  3. Dan Says:

    Oh come on. You are the bride, for goodness sakes. Tell them what to wear, make sure it includes a beanie or a beret or a gigantic bow on the backside and don’t forget the shoulderpads. Then tell them they ought to be thank you for not cutting their tongues out of their whiny little heads.

    Ingrates.

    They should be honored to pay $400 to stand in public in an ugly dress for you. You need to upgrade your friends.

  4. Betsy Says:

    I, too, have my fair share of dresses I will never wear again! When it was my turn to get married, my bridesmaids wore rented dresses. They were (mostly) flattering, cheap enough that I could split the cost with them, and I never once worried about whether my friends would be able to wear the dress again!

  5. Sara Says:

    Yep, I went the LBD route with absolutely no caveats. All four ended up looking fab, and most of all, looking like the ladies I love, not some weird clones. The pics looked fab, they were comfortable, and it was a total non-issue, which is the best kind issue of all when it comes to planning a wedding.

    It was really hard to convince them that I really didn’t care what they wore, though. Women are conditioned to expect crazy demands. Even though I’m really laidback, I think they were all a bit afraid they’d pick something “wrong” and I’d freak out.

    Love the LBrD idea. I’m sure it will look great!

  6. Debbie M Says:

    My plan is to have only one bridesmaid. So I don’t have to worry about matching. She and I will go shopping together (first in her closet).

    But yours is a great plan for more than one bridesmaid. I will certainly keep it in mind in case I decide I really want more than one bridesmaid.

    Dan, you crack me up.

  7. Kristen Says:

    I did pick the same dress for all of my girls. Fortunately they are all the same size and build, and they say they love the dress. (Maybe they’re just good friends and lying for my sake!) I found dresses that were on clearance and very simple style-wise. They are picking their own shoes. I’ve worn worse shoes than dresses in my many bridesmaid adventures.

    I do have to say, in all honesty, if I have a fancy occasion in the future, there is a good chance I will borrow the dress I chose from one of my bridesmaids.

  8. RacerX Says:

    Wow!~

    Guys have it easy…Tell the boys to rent a Tux…30-mins worst case, back over to finish watching the game :)

  9. Bonnie Says:

    I just bought a lovely brown dress (Mossimo brand) at Target. Tell them to look there. :)

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