Bridesmaid Dress Shopping 101

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Ok guys, say what you will, but this summer I will be a bridesmaid for the 3rd time. Personally, I love planning events, so being involved in this process is fun for me. The rush of getting everything together, dressing up, browsing through Pinterest for ideas, being there for my friends… I enjoy it all. But like any big event, it can also be stressful, so with all the experience I’ve had, I thought I’d share some advice when shopping for bridesmaid dresses:

  • Start ahead of time. I mean REALLY ahead. 4-6 months at least. Just in case there are any curveballs thrown your way.
  • On shopping days, each bridesmaid should bring with them: a strapless bra that matches their skintone, nude underwear, a pair of generic heels that match with everything, and a pair of nylons just in case.
  • Prep yourself so you feel comfortable: you are going to be looking at yourself in front of a mirror for the next few hours, so you want to feel confident. Whether that means putting on some makeup, shaving, or simply getting enough sleep the night before, do what makes you feel your best so that you aren’t dreading the sight of your reflection.
    Nautical bridesmaids yellow dresses
    Photo credit: WonderPhotography by Malgorzata Babiarz

    Nautical bridesmaids yellow dresses
    Photo credit: WonderPhotography by Malgorzata Babiarz
  • If you are getting something custom-made, take down your measurements in your phone. This may come in handy later on the off-chance that any mistakes are made.
  • Take account of each other’s body types and be realistic. Petites, plus sizes, long torsos… keep in mind that the more variety you have in your group, the more you might have to look around for something that fits and flatters everyone.
  • Ask around about a good affordable seamstress, just in case. The store usually charges something crazy for last-minute hems.

    mint and lace bridesmaids dresses
    Photo credit: Simon Nomis
  • Wear a dress or a skirt on shopping day. It’ll make the changing process a lot easier and faster.
  • Call stores beforehand to ask if they allow customers to take photos (warning: most places don’t!)
  • Privately discuss budget with the bride beforehand. This is a hard topic to bring up, but it’s best not to avoid it. Find out what is expected of you financially and communicate what you are comfortable with.
  • Look elsewhere other than bridal stores. Surprisingly, we once found the best dresses at RW&Co (a Canadian clothing chain).
  • Make it fun! Try to laugh, share some champagne, play “who wore it best”, and remember that in the end, it’s just one day in your life.

    Keeping it fun while trying on dresses at Boutique J'adore
    Setting the mood while trying on dresses at Boutique J’adore

**If you live in the Montreal area, I really recommend Boutique J’adore in Pointe-Claire Village. It’s cozy, private, and the staff really take the time to listen to you.