14 Etiquette Rules to Follow When Picking Out Bridesmaid Dresses

Selecting the perfect look for your bridesmaids is just one of the many to-dos before the big day. While it’s easy to get caught up in what you want, there are definitely a handful of etiquette rules to keep in mind—and not just for you. Fortunately, Jess Levin of Carats & Cake asked a few of the wedding industry’s most stylish experts for their insights on cues for brides and bridesmaids to take into consideration. Ready for a refresher on the rules and to learn what’s new?

Read what these 14 experts had to say below.

“Don’t wait until the last minute to get your bridal party look together. I recommend that bridal parties get their attire sorted out between eight and six months prior to the wedding date to ensure that everything comes in on time and any necessary alterations can be made.”  — Ashley Culicchia Cash, planner and designer, The Graceful Host

“Being a bridesmaid is an honor but can become time-consuming and costly. Make sure you do not assume your girls have an open budget when it comes to the dresses you wish them to purchase.” — Alise Davis, owner and principal designer, Olive Willow Designs

“Select a fabric, length, and color and let your bridesmaids do the rest! Choosing dresses that come in different neckline options gives your maids an opportunity to choose a style that fits their body type best and allows them a chance to pick a style they love!” — Erin McLean, owner, Erin McLean Events

“When picking bridesmaids’ attire, think about all that you’re asking of your friends and family, from the bachelorette to your bridal shower to the day-of. As much as it’s your day, it’s okay to be a little flexible whether that means on price, color, or style.” — Jennifer Zabinski, founder and president, Jennifer Zabinski Events

“There really isn’t such a thing as ‘universally flattering’ in either color or shape, so let your girls have a bit of choice.” — Calder Clark, owner and creative director, Calder Clark

“A lot of times brides can’t cover the cost of the bridesmaid dresses, but a nice add-on is taking care of the hair or makeup on the big day.” — Mila Skidelsky, executive assistant and event coordinator, Face Time Beauty

“Always take into consideration life events and what your bridesmaids may be going through, from potential pregnancies to crazy work schedules. Even though you may have time to work out or schedule a tan, before picking a dress or making everyone fit a mold, take a moment to think about the dress or style you’re picking and how this will make your friends feel.” — Caitlin Campbell, senior event coordinator and designer, True Event

“It’s not just about how the dresses will look in person—you also need to think about how they will photograph.” — Heather KingenSmith, owner, KingenSmith

“Whether it’s how to accessorize or making sure you show up with your bridesmaid dress steamed and pressed at the wedding destination, follow instructions. The bride has enough to worry about the day of!” — Virginia Edelson, founder and owner, Bluebird Productions

“Whether it’s with length or fit, be mindful of the alternations you make to your bridesmaid dress. Minor adjustments are great, but adjusting too much can create an entirely different look than the bride was intending.” — Lynn Easton, owner, Easton Events

“If the bride gives you options, like a few different bridesmaid dresses to choose from in the same color palette, be quick to respond to your friend and let her know your choice. Creating this kind of flexibility requires managing a lot of moving parts. The more responsive you are, the easier it is on your friend!” — Elizabeth McKellar Lewis, owner, The Nouveau Romantics

“If you are given the ability to choose a dress within a certain color or to pick your own dress within limitations, don’t take it too far. For example, if everyone is asked to wear metallics, make sure you choose a dress that blends and isn’t in a fabric that shines brighter than everyone else’s. The goal is for you to feel part of a collective group and not to stand out on your own. That’s the bride’s job on her wedding day.” — Renny Pedersen, owner and creative director, Bliss Weddings & Events

“In the event you are given complete and total free rein to wear whatever you want, make sure you run your choice by the bride, even if she says that’s not necessary. No matter how cool or relaxed your friend may be when it comes to bridesmaid attire, give her final approval or ask her to take a quick look at the dress before the big day, just in case!” — Frances Liu, creative director, Charmed Events Group

“No matter what dress your friend chooses, remember it’s her day to look fabulous and not yours. Be supportive even if this means wearing a dress you wouldn’t normally have chosen for yourself.” — Emily Blake, owner and photographer, Emily Blake Photography

Have you ever been a bridesmaid? Did you get to choose your dress? Tell us about your experience!

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