For many generations, it was an unwritten rule for a bride to be preceded down the aisle by a crew of bridesmaids dressed identically from head to toe: from their jewelry down to their dyed-to-match shoes. These ladies could only hope for the bride to pick a dress that would somehow flatter all shapes, sizes, and colorings. The fact is, women all have such wonderfully different figures that finding one ideal dress is close to impossible.

These days, a bridal party that matches completely is far from expectation. Brides are much more sensitive to their bridesmaids’ styles and what would suit them well. If you’re not planning on buying all of your bridesmaids’ dresses, allowing them to have some control over the decision is a courteous move. Odds are, your bridesmaids are all shaped differently, so maybe it’s best to allow them to find their element (within reason, of course).

Depending on your style and the type of wedding you’re having, it could be appropriate for all of your bridesmaids to wear the same dress. For example, having a matching bridal party tends to work well for more traditional, formal weddings. However, there are lots of ways to explore the idea of “matching without matching”.

One easy way to do this is to select a particular color and fabric, and then give your bridesmaids a chance to try out different dress silhouettes. Everybody has a different shape, so having your bridesmaids pick out their own specific dress cut and style is a great way for them to find a figure-flattering dress. Your bridal party will have a very cohesive look, while also flourishing in their own way.

You could also flip it around: select one particular dress and have your bridesmaids each pick a different color –perhaps from the same color family, or maybe you want them to each be unique. Just be cautious that the colors don’t clash, or that you aren’t mixing bright, drastic colors with more subtle or classic ones.

Another fun way to achieve a unified yet unique look is to select dresses that all incorporate one particular element. Lace and sparkles are two great examples, but you could really take any specific detail, theme, or style and let your bridesmaids run with it.

If you tend to like “matchy”, but you’re open to exploring the idea of “non-matchy”, one suggestion is to have your bridesmaids wear the same dress, but give them each one small, individualized accessory – different shawls or coverups, belts, jewelry or hair pieces, different colors of shoes, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Brides, it’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety of wedding planning. Don’t let wardrobe decisions be a major stressor during a time filled with such happiness and anticipation. Ultimately, the opinion that carries the most weight is the opinion formed by you and your future spouse. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like something, but in the same regard, don’t be afraid to open your mind up to different possibilities. Happy planning!

Pure7 believes in capturing your most beautiful moments without being obtrusive. Creating tangible memories of your big day is our specialty and passion. We photograph weddings from Destin to 30A and everything in between. Contact with questions or for booking information.