As if finding your own dress to wear on your big day wasn’t challenging enough, the task of finding the perfect bridesmaids dress is an equally stressful but much less talked-about topic. Not to mention, the task becomes even more difficult when you take into account the fact that you are dressing a group of women, each with a separate personal style and shape. The fact that these women are your closest friends and family only adds extra pressure to find the perfect option.
While bridesmaids’ dresses are undeniable overshadowed by the bridal gown, they do play in important part in creating an overall atmosphere and aesthetic for the wedding. Thankfully, we were able to get some inside information from Stylist Caitlin Pope, co-creator of the Melbourne-based The Bridesmaid Studio. Specialising in made-to-order bridesmaids dresses, the studio takes the stress out of shopping for a range of sizes and styles and has a keen awareness of what does and doesn’t work. Keep reading for Caitlin’s tips on bridesmaids dress shopping and current dress trends.
WHO WHAT WEAR: What are the biggest trends for bridesmaids dresses now?
CAITLIN POPE: We are seeing a lot of people choosing to highlight their maid of honour with a different dress than the rest of the group of bridesmaids. Often people have chosen a sequin or a printed dress for the maid of honour and then a complimentary tone such as blush or burgundy for the rest of the bridesmaids. It works really nicely. We are also noticing brides aren't set on just one colour for everyone. A group of complementary tones is often chosen.
WWW: Why do you think made-to-order is preferable to brides buying from typical retailers?
CP: The made-to-order system provides a number of additional benefits to bridal parties that cannot be achieved from typical retailers. Firstly, our brands offer sizing options that range from US 0-32. There's nowhere else in the bridesmaid market that can cater to that many sizes. Made-to-order also provides a huge range of choices on styles, colour, and fabrications in an easy one-hour visit. I remember when looking for dresses in the past with friends, we would have to call many stores and visit more than one for the different sizes we needed if they weren't all in stock in one location. Thankfully, that can now be a thing of the past.
WWW: Do you ever mix dresses from different designers for the same wedding?
CP: Some people have done this, yes, although it usually means different delivery times; so if a wedding is sooner rather than later, we encourage people to order from the same designer to keep everything streamlined.
WWW: How much thought and effort typically goes into bridesmaids dress shopping? How do you streamline that process to make it easier for brides?
CP: I think in the past it has been a huge amount of effort to cater to everyone in the bridesmaid party's wishes, schedules, budgets, and body types. We streamline it by having a huge choice available in a range of price points. The visit usually entails them trying on a lot of dresses and narrowing down to a few. We then follow up via email with images, prices, and the timing in which they would need to place their orders. We work really closely with them to make sure the process is streamlined. It's full service.
WWW: How do you compromise between what a bride wants and what a bridesmaid wants in terms of fit, colour, shape, style etc.?
CP: The bride may have an idea in mind, but in reality it's hard to make this work with a group of women who all have different tastes and shapes. We usually ask if they have a colour in mind first. Then we can narrow down a fabric and most of the time then the bridesmaid chooses the dress style that suits her best. That way everyone is happy!
WWW: What is the number one mistake people make that gives bridesmaids dresses a bad reputation?
CP: The number one mistake is forcing people to wear dresses that don't suit their figure.
WWW: How should brides match bridesmaids dresses with other thematic elements of the wedding?
CP: Matching the bridesmaid dresses with the wedding theme can be much as you would like. For my wedding, the gowns were plum and I picked up on this colour only in the flowers which worked really nicely. Others have a set colour theme throughout the styling such as matching the bridesmaid dresses, table decorations, and stationery. We try to help educate our clients on all aspects of this through our blog where we regularly interview industry experts. Our “Wedding Insider Series” recently featured celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney and the incredible florist My Violet, just to name a few. Our clients love to get the insider tips and advice.
WWW: What is the most challenging part of buying bridesmaids dresses?
CP: The most challenging part of the bridesmaid dress process is keeping everyone in the bridesmaid party happy so that they feel comfortable on the day. They will be helping so much throughout the planning process that being disappointed in a dress can make the wedding feel more like a chore for them. We enable them to all find a happy solution in one place.