Etiquette for Bridesmaids

You feel honoured to be a bridesmaid. You might have dreamed of floating down the aisle in a gorgeous gown with all eyes on you (and the bride, obviously!)  You’re thrilled she has found the love of her life and perhaps you’d hoped that, all dressed up, you might even meet the man of your dreams, and then… She shows you the hideous dress she wants you to wear and you start to wonder if she really likes you at all!  It’s your worst nightmare and reveals all the bits you usually hide. So how do you tell the bride you love her but you hate the dress she wants you to wear? Here’s how to tell her, wear the dress of your dreams and still stay friends.



Image from Joanna and Tristan’s real wedding where the bride and her bridesmaids all look gorgeous.

Communication and compromise

The first thing to remember is your friend/sister/cousin, the bride, is probably quite stressed out with all the wedding planning. She’s busy trying to do a hundred things at once, while holding down a job and/or looking after children or whatever else she has on her plate. The bridesmaids dresses may not be that important to her in the scheme of things, which can work in your favour. If she has shown you a photo or taken you to see the actual gown she would like you to wear and you are frankly horrified, take a deep breath and:

  • Be diplomatic. If you think it’s hideous and say so then you are implying that she has poor taste and she might be upset or angry by your reaction. Gently explain why you feel you can’t wear a certain style of dress because you will feel too self-conscious or you know it just won’t suit you then, if she is a friend who cares about you, she should understand.
  • She might have searched for a long time to find the dress you hate and be disappointed that you don’t like it. Try to be helpful by suggesting other styles in the same colour rather than simply stating that you hate the one she has chosen and refuse to wear it.
  • If you are one of several bridesmaids and you all feel the same then again this could work in your favour. There is strength in numbers but don’t all gang up on her so she feels like a mutiny is starting!  Be supportive to her and get together to help find a suitable alternative to the ghastly gown. A girls’ night in with wine, wedding magazines, the hilarious Bridesmaids DVD on the box and Confetti on the laptop could be the perfect opportunity to discuss and find a suitable compromise that ensures everyone is happy.
  • If all the bridesmaids have very different figures then it might be worth suggesting you all choose a different gown in the same colour. Mix ‘n’ match bridesmaids dresses look very chic and modern and this idea works especially well if you all live a long way apart. It will also make life easier for the bride who will simply need to provide the material so each of you have your agreed style of dress made in the same fabric, which is the way bridesmaids’ outfits were traditionally made. Just make sure you agree the style with the bride before you get the dress made! She won’t thank you for turning up in an 80s jumpsuit when all the other bridesmaids are in demure gowns.

Finally, remember what an honour it is to be chosen to be a bridesmaid and all it entails both in the lead up to the wedding and on the big day itself. Make it special for the bride and groom and enjoy it. Who knows, maybe you will catch the bouquet and meet the man of your dreams that day!

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