<i>Always a Bridesmaid; Never a Bride?</i>
<i>Always a Bridesmaid; Never a Bride?</i>
By JENNIFER THOMPSON
Bridesmaids’ dresses are probably one of the hardest apparel items to choose. You thought it was a challenge to find a wedding gown, trying to accentuate all your best features and minimize body parts you don’t like. Well try finding a gown for all your friends’ different shapes and sizes, when one’s short, one’s tall, one’s large, and one’s small.
And when looking for a dress, keep in mind one thing: they are not going to wear it again! All brides insist the dress they picked can be worn again….not! The only dress that can ever be worn again is a simple black dress…maybe? Just having the label of bridesmaid dress makes it unappealing, except of course in the movie “27 Dresses.” Don’t pick it because you want your girls to wear it again, just pick what you like, and what looks good on.
Most bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes. If your wedding party looks like they stepped off the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, they will look good in everything. In reality, most wedding parties have girls that are different: tall girls, petite girls, thin girls and plus size. Some girls will be bigger up top and not want to show it, and some need help to enhance their top. The best thing to do is take a few girls with you to the bridal shop to see what they have available in the styles and colors you like. Please do not take a random piece of fabric with you of a color you love; this can become a problem because all designers have certain colors available every season and your random fabric may not be among the season’s color swatches. This time is usually pretty stressful with many decisions about other facets of the wedding, so make it as easy on you as possible. How sad it would be to have your heart set on a certain color that is not out there.
When you find a gown that your bridesmaids agree on, look at the swatch card available at the bridal shop you choose. If you want to simplify things, it is wise to choose bridesmaids at the bridal shop where you found your gown, to compare them next to your gown.
One stop shopping is key for a busy bride. Some brides do choose to let the bridesmaids pick different styles in the same fabric and color so all the girls look nice in a style that suits them; that is great for girls of different sizing, but just stick to the same length. Current styles come in knee length, tea length, and long of course. Now that you have found the style and color, the girls do need to be measured.
Remember similar to the gown experience, the bridesmaids will need to have professional measurements. If any are out of town, have them measured at a bridal shop and then send the measurements to the shop from where you are ordering. There is a rule when ordering bridesmaids’ dresses: they have to be ordered from one shop to get them from the same dye lot which comes from the same bolt of material, so the colors don’t vary. The usual measurements that are needed are the bust, waist, hip, and height. These gowns are not custom made so if your girls do not fit exactly into the manufacturers size chart, they will need alterations.
Most dresses come in a standard length, so if they are not tall they will need a hem. Bridesmaid dresses also come in extra length for girls 5’8” and over, and plus sizes; these can be ordered at an additional cost.
Now do explain the sizing you experienced with your gown to the bridesmaids that have not been in a previous wedding or they will become unglued when the bridal consultant tells them what size will need to be ordered. Most dresses will be ordered based on their measurements. Manufacturers typically do not make the gowns exactly to one’s measurements, but produce them based on a size chart. Bridal attire runs extremely small, and this will make girls extremely mad, but try to ignore the number when the consultant tells them what size they are ordering. The size ordered will be larger than their normal clothing size. (I contribute that to men running the bridal industry who do not understand how women love vanity sizing!)
Consultants take your measurements and determine by the chart what size would come closest to fitting one’s shape. Bridesmaid dresses come in standard lengths, so petite brides will need a hem. Some bridesmaids have bra cups sewn into the gown to so they do not need to wear undergarments.
Full service bridal salons should have a seamstress who can fit the dresses; these alterations will always be additional. One afternoon with your girls should be all you need to find your bridesmaid dresses, but make sure to order them about four months before to have plenty of time for fittings and alterations. Usually all bridesmaids become future brides and not as the old saying goes, “…Always a bridesmaid.”