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What's Up Weddings

Mix It Up: Getting Creative with Your Bridesmaid Dresses

Mar 16, 2012 05:25PM ● By Anonymous

Carol Hannah Whitfield, Season 6 Project Runway finalist and bridal designer, admits that choosing bridesmaid dresses is challenging for designers as well as brides. “It's always a hard decision because you’re dealing with different girls who have different sizes, and you want to pick styles that are flattering on everybody, so there’s a lot of areas where things could go wrong,” she says. “It’s one of the harder styling issues that people have to deal with.”


The good news is that designers such as Carol Hannah have started taking these concerns into account when picking colors, fabrics, and styles for their designs. There are also some things you can do, as a bride, to keep everyone smiling. Instead of thinking of the process as a nightmare (as many brides do), think of it as an opportunity to express yourself and incorporate the personalities of your entourage. Here are some ways to get creative.


Rob Korb for JPG Photography

Pick a Color, Any Color

It’s a good idea to keep in mind when and where you'll be having your wedding, because these things will influence your color choices. Colors vary depending on season. For example, winter colors tend to be darker, more somber shades, whereas spring and summer weddings allow for brighter hues.

Many brides are opting for “rainbow dresses,” outfitting their bridesmaids in a selection of complimentary hues, or shades within the same palette. Annapolis bride Sarah Digby, who got married in April 2010, chose dresses in clover (green) and sweet guava (pink). For Digby, the colors the ’maids wore indicated their status in the wedding: bridesmaids wore green, and usherettes (chosen because there were a number of younger girls that wanted to be included in the bridal party) wore pink. But colors can be randomly assigned, at the discretion of the bride.

Another way brides are reinventing the traditional monochromatic look is by asking their bridesmaids to purchase their own dresses independently, within a set color range. This works best for a small number of bridesmaids, and the end effect is a subtle array of colors in the same family (espresso, taupe, and chocolate brown, for example).

In the end, it's all about what colors you like. If you like turquoise, you can still use that color even if your wedding is in the winter, perhaps pairing it with black. Salisbury, Md., bride Laura Benedict chose a certain shade of green because it had personal significance to her. “The color green is similar to peridot, birthstone for both my fiancé and me. Our birthdays are four days apart,” she says.


Rob Korb Photography


Accessories are a fun way to add a pop of color, a bit of bling, or a sense of uniformity, depending on your preference. Accessories can include everything from the traditional jewelry pieces (necklace, earrings, bracelet) and shoes, to feather headbands, colorful pashmina wraps, and brooches. If you’re letting your bridesmaids pick their own dresses, consider purchasing matching accessories and including them as part of their bridesmaid gifts. Conversely, if your bridesmaids will be wearing similar dresses, it might be fun to let them provide their own accessories (just specify a color) to add personality.

Adding Flair with Flowers


Another way to add personality is with your bouquet choices. Carrying identical bouquets can bring a cohesive look to maids wearing different colored dresses. If you like the look of matching dresses, but you want a little bit of variety, give the bridesmaids each a unique bouquet to carry. They could each carry a different shade of roses or a different flower altogether. Each flower has a meaning—ask each girl to find a flower that symbolizes her wish for you. For example, a white Chrysanthemum means “truth,” so a bridesmaid that chooses that flower to carry wishes you and your new spouse to have a truthful marriage. One who chooses Gardenias wishes you a joyful marriage, while a bouquet of yellow tulips sends the message for you two to be always hopelessly in love.



Hamilton Photography


It’s a good idea to listen to your bridesmaids, but don’t let your overall vision become compromised by their ideas. Never forget that this is your wedding, and that your personality and desires should come first and foremost. “So many things about weddings feel like they revolve around rules,” Hannah says. “People feel like they have to follow these arbitrary rules, and you really don’t have to. It’s your vision, it’s your wedding, your aesthetic, and it’s really about whatever you find appropriate. It’s up to you.”