Welcome to Bridesmaids Week!

Bridesmaids can get the shaft here are Manolo for the Brides on occasion, simply because there are so many other things to talk about, from the wedding dress (of course) to the linens to wedding favors, aisle runners, whether or not to have a reception photo booth, and so on. But we love our bridesmaidy readers as much as we love our brides! Sure, we may direct a lot of what we say to the bride herself, but only because she is usually the one with the final say when it comes to bridesmaids dresses and accessories. Easygoing brides may let their ladies loose on the shops with a color in mind or wear something they already own, but that style of wedding planning isn’t the norm. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to, for one week only, speak directly to bridesmaids. Welcome to Bridesmaids Week!

The first topic I wanted to address is the true re-wearability of bridesmaids’ dresses. To start, I created a little poll because I know that a lot of you out there, while not bridesmaids at the moment, have been bridesmaids in the past and may take on that role again in the future. In my case, I’ve had two bridesmaids’ dresses that I’ve worn again. One was a blue satin number created for me when I was just a girl by my grandmother, and I sure did have fun finding opportunities to put it on after the wedding, even if I was just wearing it to dance around my house. The second was a purple dress that I still own chosen by yours truly to wear in the wedding of one of those aforementioned easygoing brides. It’s a great dress, and it looked boss in the photos (maybe I can find one to scan). Now it’s your turn:

When it came time for me to direct my own bridesmaids toward dress choices, I tried to be a semi-easygoing bride by asking them to simply choose any non-strapless brown, mocha, chocolate, or espresso dress from Aria because I thought that would give them the best chance of being able to wear their dresses again. You know, because they’d like their choices. *sigh* In the end, one got something from David’s and one bought something from who knows where that looked more like a prom dress than something for a bridesmaid. I have no idea if either of them has re-worn her dress, and I really don’t want to know. Moving on…

What does re-wearability really mean when it comes to bridesmaids dresses? Since so many of the bargain frocks are made from bleah materials that are almost always only appropriate for weddings, does it mean wearing the dress in another wedding? To a fancy event? And how many of us honestly can say that we have somewhere to wear a full-length silk shantung column gown? Because I certainly don’t! What I’d love to hear about is bridesmaids dress hacks – have any of you shortened or dyed old bridesmaids dresses? Or used them as costumes? That could be one way to re-wear a bridesmaids dress!

18 Responses to “Welcome to Bridesmaids Week!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I had a dark blue silk column dress, very elegant, which I was able to shorten and add a slight kick in dark blue lace to make it earier to walk in – perfect for theatre trips and for fancy dinners with my OH’s parent

  2. Jane Canuck says:

    One of my cousin’s plays on a rec league rugby team. Every year they have a “bridesmaid’s ball” game, wherein every girl digs out a bridesmaid’s dress from her closet or finds an old one at a thrift shop for the match. I’ve never watched her play but it sounds hilarious, especially if the field is really muddy. I imagine they’d get some great pictures out of it too.

    ~ Jane

  3. Sarah C. says:

    I have one that I could wear again – it’s espresso colored, grecian style, tea length, and gorgeous – except I REALLY would have to do something about the neckline. It’s so low that I spent the wedding slowly creeping my bouquet up to cover it.

    Then I’d need somewhere to wear it, but I have to get a decently matching panel or something into that neckline first.

  4. @Anon Awesome! Wish I had somewhere to wear my fancy frocks.

    @Jane Canuck Your story reminds me of this post: http://manolobrides.com/2008/01/14/think-about-it-will-you-really-ever-wear-it-again/

    @Sarah C. I sympathize – yesterday before going out with The Beard’s family, the baby and I were in the sewing room while I did some quick neckline alterations on a dress. Forget strapless! I feel like there is an epidemic of dresses that have neckline dips that drop so low you need one of these

  5. Sarah J says:

    For my sisters wedding I made the dresses (finding bridesmaid dresses with sleeves that aren’t made of crappy fabric and cost less than $100 is nearly impossible), but fitting me into a pattern size doesn’t work, and the alterations I made to the pattern were less than stellar, so after the wedding I removed the bodice and now have a robin’s egg blue gored skirt in a flow-y fabric that I wear to church regularly. It’s a rayon poly blend, so it has good flow while being inexpensive (we did the entire wedding for under $6,000, including 6 bridesmaid dresses and two bridesmaid skirts for the preggos)

  6. Melissa B. says:

    I have a spaghetti-strapped espresso chiffon bridesmaids’ dress that looks really good on me, and I’d love to wear it again, but it’s just a hair too formal for most weddings. I was all set to wear it to the opera one night, but an unseasonable cold snap put me in dress pants instead! Still waiting for an occasion to get my lovely dress out of the closet, alas.

    I hope my bridesmaids may be able to wear their dresses again — I chose a navy J. Crew, and one of our guests actually showed up wearing the same dress in another color! I felt very happy to see I’d picked something that someone else might actually wear by choice.

  7. Voted…but will keep it my embarrassing little secret. :p (‘K, I’m sure you guessed by now.)

    I totally agree with showing a little bridesmaid love once in a while. Thanks for the great post.


  8. Sid says:

    Two times a bridesmaid, two wholly different dress experiences.

    #1 – A strapless monstrosity I refer to as the Lavender Polyester Ovenmitt of Death. Never. Worn. Again.

    #2 – A delightful knee-length raw silk black dress with cap sleeves. I’ve worn it as a cocktail dress, with a cardigan and tights to work, and could make it work for a funeral, too.

    As I’m a soon-to-be-bride myself, I made sure my bridesmaids had a choice of many dresses, all of which were chosen with re-wearability in mind. They all loved the same dress (HOORAY!) so making do on anyone’s account was unnecessary. I am a lucky, lucky lady.

  9. Twistie says:

    Three bridesmaids dresses, one that I actually wore again.

    Dress #1: dusty rose acetate taffeta and matching polyester lace. Big sash. So not my style. Made me look like I was on the verge from keeling over of jaundice. Never saw the light of day again.

    Dress #2: gorgeous hand dyed soft blue silk dress that really made my eyes shine. Simple lines, long sleeves, cool triangle-shaped cut out on the back. I wore it to the opera twice after the wedding, and to several parties before I put on too much weight to wear it anymore. Simple pumps and a great pair of earrings were all it needed.

    Dress #3: forest green velvet bodice with matching taffeta skirt and butt bow. Long sleeves, moderately low back (not too low, it was a Catholic/Baptist wedding!). Pretty enough for the day, not expensive, but I was never tempted to wear it again.

    I did blouses and skirts for my bridesmaids. Bonus: one of my bridesmaids had already made the blouse for herself in a close enough shade of white that I told her to go ahead and wear the one she already had. A couple of the girls wore their blouses again that I saw, and at least two of them dyed the skirts and continued wearing them. I consider that a victory.

    @Sid: I nominate ‘Lavender Polyester Ovenmitt of Death’ for Coolest Phrase Ever.

  10. Blossom says:

    i just have my bridesmaids a colour and length and told them whatever. Funily enough they ended up choosing the same thing which was very pretty and on the expensive side, but i’m a nice sister and gave them $300 between them to put towards their dress’s.

  11. Jen says:

    I had a red satin David’s a-line bridesmaid’s dress that I shortened to cocktail length. It came out very Catherine Zeta-Jones. Another good friend had a fall wedding and asked me to be like a very special guest and help out with general things, be behind the scenes, etc. The bridesmaids wore tan-yellow satin and I wore my red satin and I blended without being indistinguishable. Perfect!

  12. Kate says:

    I wore a knee-length, cap-sleeved orange satin dress in a wedding yesterday – am currently trying to figure out whether it might be church or out-to-dinner appropriate if dressed down with a brown cardigan, tights and flats.

  13. kate says:

    Well, I was once the “best person of honor” at a backyard wedding (well, the wedding was in a JP’s office, and i honestly don’t remember what i wore to the ceremony itself, but the party was a backyard BBQ), and I’ve certainly worn that outfit again. It was green pants I sewed myself and a black top. (It looked better than that sounds, but it *was* 1996.) I think I’ve only been a bridesmaid twice, and while i would consider wearing the second dress again, it’s never fit when i had the opportunity. The first dress, oh dear god no. I love my sister, but Oh was it Unfortunate.

  14. Toni says:

    BM Dress #1: A lovely dress where the bride only specified the color. The only reason I haven’t worn it again is because 1. it’s so fancy and 2. I tend to prefer shorter dresses. I’m hanging onto it just in case I ever need a more formal, classic gown. The Dress. (I’m the one next to the bride.) This is the only photo I can find of the back, which was my favorite part.

    BM Dress #2: The bride told us BM’s to go to David’s, try some stuff on, and then tell her what we liked so she could take that into consideration. However, she was leaning towards a certain color. It’s never a good sign when the saleslady asks you what color the Bride specified, and then makes a face at your answer. The main result of the shopping expedition was us begging to NOT be put in Victorian Gold, which, of course, what exactly what we ended up with. The only reason I still have this dress is in case I ever need to wear it ironically.

    Interesting enough, Bride #1 is still my BFF, and we talk regularly, while the two of us had a falling out with Bride #2, who (surprise!) turned out to be annoyingly self-centered.

    While I think it fits this post well-enough, I’ll refrain from re-posting my wedding dress transformation saga, since long-time readers are probably tired of it by now.

  15. Fabrisse says:

    I just keep thinking how terrible I look in brown….

    I didn’t particularly care for the cut of the one bridesmaid dress I had, but the fabric was good, the color was flattering and, since it was made to my measurements, it was more flattering than not. Sadly, the buttons wouldn’t stay done up. I barely made it through the wedding service without it coming undone. Dancing at the reception got a little scary — a groomsman twirled me and I nearly left the dress behind. All of which is a long way of saying, no, I didn’t wear it again.

  16. Lavender at three weddings. The worst color in the world for me. Teal at another in a dress that might have been wearable but no occasion to wear it.

    The only time I have ever worn the dress again was when I bought a Vera Wang bridesmaid dress at the Memphis Junior League Thrift shop (in lavender, of course) and wore it to a Halloween party. As a bridesmaid wearing the dress again.

  17. Sofia says:

    For bridesmaids I like something formal “all black” it is very elegant looking and decent.

  18. AnthroK8 says:

    I wore a teal strapless gown as Miss Wasilla for halloween a few years ago. I am saving that dress for making pretty dress up outfits for any future daughters or nieces.

    My brother’s now-wife let us pick an LBD, and I have since worn my knee-length Talbots silk shantung dress to a funeral, to a work meeting, and to teach. Cardigans are the great informalizer.