What the heck is going on with bridesmaid dresses this year? I’m going to have to keep this post short and sweet because I have lots to do for my brides this morning, but I had to take a quick break to write up a little rant about my least favorite piece of clothing!
Four of my May brides are having bridesmaid dress disasters. Now I have to admit that I take some comfort in knowing that this is one part of the wedding I did not plan, but I still have to do my best to help fix it when my brides have problems. I’m not sure what’s going on (full moon, Saturn in retrograde, whatever), but four of my May brides are going to have very naked bridesmaids if they don’t get their problems solved soon.
Interestingly, while everybody has the same dilemma, the problems are different in each case. Let’s review what went wrong and what we might have done to fix the problem before it happened. We’ll go in the order that the weddings are taking place:
Bride #1 — She ordered her wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses and her mom’s dress from a designer in New York that somebody she knew recommended. They chose the dresses from sketches. The wedding is in two weeks, but the dresses weren’t finished til last week. Guess what? The dress doesn’t even begin to fit the maid of honor and even if it were altered, it would be very, very unflattering. Plus neither bridesmaid has hours to waste standing around the designers studio while she makes emergency alterations.
The quick solution: She ordered new dressed for both girls online, and on sale. This may work out okay because she has so few bridesmaids, but then again, we still don’t have the dresses and we don’t know how those are going to look.
Assessment of the big picture: Don’t choose dresses from a sketch unless you’re the one who designed and will create the dress. An artistic rendering will not show you how the dress will look on your size 10 bridesmaid. Also, tell the designer that you need the dresses six weeks before your wedding (minimum) so there is ample time to make whatever changes are necessary.
Bride #2 — She did everything right and her girls got their measurements and deposits into the bridal shop on time. There were two styles of dress to choose from because she has bridesmaids from size 2 to 20 (big wedding party). The dresses arrived — but they’re all the same style, and it’s the style that is flattering on the size 2, not the size 20.
The quick solution: The bridal shop has re-ordered the dresses on a rush and will have them in one week before her wedding. They’ve promised to make all necessary alterations on the spot.
Assessment of the big picture: Those dresses should have been ordered earlier (not sure if that’s the bride’s fault or the shop’s fault) for delivery no less than six weeks prior to the wedding so they’d have time to fix these problems. We still don’t know what’s going to happen when those dresses arrive the week before her wedding.
Bride #3 — She chose her dresses months ago and told her bridesmaids to order them. One of them forgot to do it. When she finally remembered, they were out of the dress in her size. The bride chose another dress and ordered it, but when it arrived, it was several sizes too small for the same bridesmaid. Turns out she didn’t measure. The second dress is not available in the larger size.
The quick solution: The bride has chosen a third dress and it has been ordered. Fingers are crossed to see what happens when it arrives. She went up two sizes for the bridesmaid who couldn’t zip the last one. She’s lining up a seamstress to make last-minute alterations if this one is too big.
Assessment of the big picture: Brides need to stay on top of the dress ordering thing with their attendants. You need to remind your girls over and over again until the dress shop confirms that everybody has ordered and put down a deposit. You should tell the girls to measure boobs, waist and hips and compare them to the designer’s size chart before ordering. Wedding attire sizing is screwy and it can bite you in the butt if you guess.
Bride #4 — This bride is a super-organized chick who used to work in a bridal shop. She got a little over-confident and let the time slip away from her without ordering the dresses she wanted. She’s got a variety of different size girls and she needs something that comes in a wide range of sizes, so she can’t jump on the J. Crew website and place a fast last-minute order.
The quick solution: She found a dress she could “live with” online at Nordstrom’s and ordered it for everybody. Fingers crossed that she likes when it arrives.
Assessment of the big pictures: Don’t procrastinate!!! Order your bridesmaid dresses at least six months before your wedding to avoid this kind of last minute stress. It’s a shame she can’t have dresses she “loves” instead of dresses she can “live with,” but fortunately, she’s a good sport and she’ll get over it before her destination wedding weekend.
What’s the moral of this blog? ORDER YOUR BRIDESMAID DRESSES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Don’t screw around. Remember, the color is completely up to you. Don’t solicit opinions from anybody but your mom or your groom. Don’t take more than one bridesmaid (preferably your maid of honor) shopping with you or you’ll find yourself getting outvoted and outnumbered about something that is entirely your decision in the end.
How important are the dresses for your bridesmaids? They’re important inasmuch as they carry the color theme of your wedding and will be in all your pictures. But your friends will wear them for one day (let’s not pretend that anybody re-wears a bridesmaid dress — that whole “she can wear it again” line they give you in the bridal shop is bunk). So basically you’re choosing a disposable dress. I used the one I wore in my oldest brother’s wedding to make a big pink satin dog pillow after the wedding — guess you know what I thought about that dress. But my point is that you should make a quick decision about the dresses early in your planning process and get them ordered. They should be ordered together so that they are all cut from the same dye-lot of fabric (some shades vary dramatically from bolt to bolt of cloth).
And finally, a tip for handling a disgruntled bridesmaid who doesn’t love her dress — tell her she can dress you in whatever she wants when it’s her wedding and you won’t complain. That says it all and usually shuts up the whiners.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques!