I have obviously written the bulk of my material about helping brides shop for wedding gowns. But a major part of my job is to help my brides with the next part of the process: selecting bridesmaid dresses. By the time they are ready to do this, I have already worked with them for a while and have come to like them. I know a lot about their wedding, and know what they like and dislike. And in march the bridesmaids.
Bridesmaid dress shopping used to be very different. It used to be that the bride selected a style for all the girls to wear on her own, and the Maids would order it. Then, things started changing. Brides would shop for dresses and bring their Maid of Honor for her opinion and advice, they would arrive at a decision, and the rest of the maids would fall in line.
Not these days.
Now bridesmaid shopping is a form of torture for many brides. Let's say the average bride has 5 bridesmaids. She will show up for her appointment with 4 of them (because the 5th either lives too far away or had a last minute complication) and I will start by introducing them to the process. We have racks with about 600 different bridesmaid styles from which to choose, and all of the dresses come in a variety of colors, some as many as 60 colors. So the options are many. Obviously, space and pragmatism prevent us from having every available style stocked in every size and in every color, so as you shop, begin by considering style, and we'll consider color options once you have a style or styles selected, and then size will follow. With high hopes, we set forth into the racks. The girls chat and browse, pull some styles they think will work, and we move to the dressing rooms.
Now think about your closest 5 friends. Are they all the same size, age, height, taste? Some brides are lucky, and they have a natural group of friends that look about the same and have similar tastes. But that is not the norm, so that is where my job comes in: to help find a dress that is satisfactory to everyone, and that the BRIDE likes. Although many stories are very similar, I think of one particular group.
It becomes clear as we begin trying on that the group of bridesmaids is quite disparate in their agendas as to what makes a good bridesmaid dress. The cast of characters includes: 1. a young college-age girl with no money that has expressed concern that we only consider dresses that fall into a certain price point, 2. the bride's cousin, who is married to some sort of Pastor, and feels the need to hide her collarbone out of modesty and respect, 3. a plus-sized girl who is quiet and embarrassed, and who carries her weight mostly in her thick middle, 4. an Aunt of the bride who is concerned that she will look ridiculous in a style too young, 5. we are missing a bridesmaid who couldn't make it because of her impending pregnancy and 6. we have the Maid of Honor, a gorgeous, stylish girl who I had met previously during the wedding gown shopping and who I liked and got on with very well.
It is not long before the Bride begins traveling from dressing room to dressing room, attempting to run interference as she tells her girls that they look good in the dresses they are trying on. But after a while of trying dresses on and having the girls all look at each other and saying, "I like that dress because it is a flattering fit," and another girl saying, "I don't like that one because it is too revealing, I like this one because it is more modest," and another girl saying, "but that one is way too much money," the Bride's eyes just about rolled into her head. Remember, all these conversations are made more awkward by the fact that this is the first time that many of these girls had ever even met each other!
Enter me. It occurs to me that I may just have the perfect dress solution for this motley group. It had everything, structure, modesty, age appropriateness, and the price tag. Heck, it even came in several shades of purple the bride liked! I thought we had a home run! One by one, all the bridesmaids tried it on, declared it a winner and me a miracle worker. The relief was palpable in the air. Until the Maid of Honor, the one girl I thought we didn't have to worry about, came out of her dressing room with a bad look on her face.
I mentioned to you that this girl was gorgeous and stylish. She had a petite figure and blond tousled hair she would throw around. Her style was showy, and although she looked great in this dress, apparently it did not rise to her level of fabulous enough and she declared, "I just don't like it."
Are you kidding?!? She looked great, and let's not forget why we are here. It isn't your show, Miss Thing, you don't need to be the most glamorous woman in the room, you just need to be comfortable, reasonably attired, and blend in with the other Maids. Got it? I can't express to you enough my frustration at her selfishness as these other girls struggled with their limitations and the bride jumped through hoops to make everyone comfortable. Couldn't she see the bigger picture?
In the end, a solution was found. I counseled the bride with her options, and she opted to have the Maid of Honor wear a different style dress made by the same company in the same color. It had been the Bride's wish to have all her girls wear the same style, but in the end she decided that the styles were close enough and it wasn't worth the headache.