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Oh, The Dread! Ordering the Bridesmaid Dress

Arguably more than love, support, years of friendship, and holding the tissues for a stressed out bride the night before the big day, nothing has come to represent being a bridesmaid more than the bridesmaid dress. It has become the essential symbol, right?

I have to say that, over the years, the options for bridesmaid dresses have become much more wearable. I have numerous dresses in my closet that I have worn again and again – as opposed to the tacky bow-covered dresses from years past. Sadly, however, as the dresses have gotten nicer – the process for buying the dresses have gotten more and more complicated.

Photo Credit: Rheri Kenney Photography

Helpful Dress Ordering Tips!

1. ALWAYS lie about the date of the wedding to the store you are buying it from. Tell them that the wedding date is at least 2 weeks earlier than it actually is.
This is something that really bothers me about bridesmaid dress manufacturers and retailers. The retailers make the bride crazy – warning her that the wedding is “only 10 months away so you better tell your bridesmaids to order their dresses now!!” So they make you go in to order your dress WAY in advance – but then, they don’t deliver it to you until the last possible second and you have 1 week to get it taken in or hemmed at the tailor. It’s infuriating! Save yourself the crazy rush by getting your dress a few weeks earlier. You’ll thank me.

2. Do you know they only carry one of each dress – one size each?
Ok, that’s not really a tip. But, WTF? It sure is handy information. You should know going in that you will most likely not be trying on the actual dress in the actual size or color that you’re buying. You’ll have to try something on larger (or smaller!) and buy the size based off of measurements… You will also likely have to try a different color (or even style) to what you end up actually ordering.

3. Sizes may not be what you expect.
Also, You don’t have to get measured at the wedding store.
Sure, you can. And that works too. In my experience, some of the bridesmaid dress stores measure you and then make you get a size that is way too large for you and then you have to take it in for a million dollars. I prefer to have a tailor I trust take my measurements. Also note, however, that bridesmaid dresses aren’t always the same size-wise as “regular clothes.” If you’re usually an 8, but the dress lady is telling you to buy a 10, this is common. My opinion? Trust your instincts. For example, I know that A-line dresses look good on me. If they don’t have my size in the correct color or fabric that my bride wants, I’ll try on the same designer’s version of an a-line dress. Chances are, they’ll be pretty similar and I should be safe for ordering.

4. Bring a strapless bra and dress shoes to your fitting.
This is also good (and perhaps obvious) advice for when you bring the dress to the tailor as well, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Also, if you’re like me and hate trying on dresses, it can’t hurt to make your face and hair “presentable” so you feel good about yourself when trying everything on.

Photo Credit: Rheri Kenney Photography

[[Also… ]]
Are you planning to buy a different size – hoping to lose weight in time? Well, if so, remember that at least with buying a larger size – you can always take it in. If something is too small, you might be out of luck. Also – don’t forget that taking things in will add to the overall cost of the dress! Tailoring is pricey!

Should I buy the dress too small knowing I can get down a few lbs? Or, should I buy it large and take it in if necessary?
We asked some of our twitter readers for their feedback on this:
Lynn: @Bridesmaiding Buy larger and have it altered; then you know it’s tailored to fit. Losing weight still won’t fit the dress properly to you.

Laura: @Bridesmaiding Go too big, pressuring yourself to lose weight just adds stress. (Unless it’s winter weight, which DOESN’T COUNT. EVER.)

Thanks, ladies!

Did we forget anything in this article? Please let us know!

One thought on “Oh, The Dread! Ordering the Bridesmaid Dress

  1. Melanie

    Hi Rachel,

    I have read your article and find it quite interesting fact.

    I own an online wedding and evening dresses shop. I understand sometimes it is very frustrating to order bridesmaid dresses 10 months in advance but only deliver to you 2 weeks before the wedding! And it is true that most bridal shops only have 1 size on each design usually it would be largest size.

    Thanks to your comment and it helps me to refocus and revalue our dresses to make every bride and bridesmaid happy bunnies!

    We are now advising our brides to allow at least 30 days before they place order from us as well as we do allow approximate 5cm of seam allowance so that they can enlarge or reduce the dresses. We also do full size customisation too!

    Oh not to mention we do built-in bra on every dress now!

    Thank you so much

    Kind regards
    Melanie from Chi-chi Boutique


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