Bridesmaid Dress Ideas

Strike a modern note at your wedding with your bridesmaids' dresses

By Allison Boyer

Four bridesmaids in yellow dresses
Photo by Steph Fowler PhotographyBookmark and Share

In the past, bridesmaid dresses have been color-coordinated monstrosities, complete with poufy sleeves, big bows and long, full skirts meant to make the bride look beautiful by comparison. Modern bridesmaid dresses are very different, however. There's no reason that your wedding party can't accentuate the bride's beauty without looking pretty themselves. In addition, today's bridesmaid dresses don't have to match or even be the same color.

Little Black Dresses

Every woman could use a little black dress in her closet. Instead of purchasing dresses that your bridesmaids will never wear again, consider going the simple route. Black dresses don't have to be drab, especially with jewelry and other accessories, and they match absolutely any wedding color you choose. Black is an especially good choice for a formal evening wedding. If you'd prefer a certain dress length, be sure to express that.

Same Color, Different Dresses

Most brides choose a single dress for all of their bridesmaids to wear, but this can hard on attendants. You'll likely have bridesmaids of various body types, and some women may be more modest than others, making it difficult to find a dress cut that's comfortable for everyone. An alternative is to choose a color and allow your bridesmaids to pick any dress in that hue. You can set limits (for example, no dresses above the knee or no strapless dresses), or you can ask your bridesmaids to have you approve their selections before they order. Some brides name a brand that has different dress options in a single color to set parameters. This way, you can still have control over your wedding, but your bridesmaids can all feel comfortable standing before a crowd in dresses that complement their bodies.


There's no rule that says that your bridesmaids have to wear dresses. If you're not a girly-girl, you could choose pants and blouses for your bridesmaids instead. Consider selecting a basic color of pants, such as black, and requesting tops in a specific, solid color -- but expect shades to vary from bridesmaid to bridesmaid.

Short Dresses

Traditionally, both wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses are long, with full skirts. Instead, consider being a bit daring and choosing a shorter dress style. Be aware that some of your bridesmaids may be uncomfortable if their dresses are too short, but dresses that are around knee-length are perfect, because they can often be worn by your bridesmaids during other events.

Ethnic Clothing

If you're having a traditional cultural wedding, consider bridesmaid dresses that are traditional as well. You may have to have the dresses specially ordered, and sometimes it takes some research to find a company that makes and ships certain styles. You can also choose a style that fits your ethnic theme, even if those dresses aren't necessarily traditionally worn at weddings.

Vintage Dresses

If you love vintage style, go shopping for bridesmaid dresses at your favorite vintage shops. Finding a matching set in the sizes you need is next to impossible, so choose a color palette and use the styles of the dresses to create a cohesive look, even if each dress is different.

About the Author

Allison Boyer has been a freelance writer for more than five years, including articles about weddings.

Planning Reminder:

4 bridesmaids figurines

All dressed up

If you're having a formal wedding, you may want to go with the tried-and-true matching bridesmaids dresses. Or opt to give your bridesmaids wiggle room (in more ways than one) but with parameters. Select a color, and bridesmaids can choose or have dresses made to suit their figures.

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Wedding Glossary


A dress style with a narrow fit that is ankle-length and hugs the bust, waist and hips.

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