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Bridesmaids | Manolo for the Brides - Part 5
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Should Bridesmaids Voice an Opinion?

OMG bridesmaids week!

Solids still rule the school when it comes to bridesmaids dresses, but I know there are plenty of bridesmaids out there who look their best in patterns. In fact, I know at least a few gals – can’t speak for the guys – who feel like they’re presenting as a wall of color when they wear, say, all green or all pink. Let’s for a moment, bridesmaids, imagine that you’re one of them. Are you dreading having to wear something that someone with entirely different ideas about what looks good has picked out on your behalf? It is indeed a fearsome prospect.

You’re secretly dreaming of something like this:

Or like this:

But you suspect that the bride is dreaming of something a lot more like this. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) The question, of course, is what do you do? It’s easy to say, oh, wear whatever you’re told to wear unless the bride specifically asks for your input. But as it turns out, there’s a whole secret world of maids-of-honor and bridesmaids collaborating and gently steering the bride toward dress choices that will flatter, if not everyone, more than a few of the female attendants.

How’s that work, you ask? Whether you’re a patterns-over-solids kind of chick or an I-don’t-do-backless kind of chick or something else, you can take a few steps to try to influence the bride’s choices. I’m not saying anything you and your sister ‘maids do will work – especially if the bride happens to adore huge bows and pouf sleeves – but you could try:

  • Getting together with the other bridesmaids or at least those with a strong opinion. Figure out what you like and don’t like. Maybe no strapless, no backless, no scratchy poly stuff, no gold, whatever. Make sure you’re all on the same page or at least close to it, and then approach the bride with your concerns.
  • Going dress shopping with the bride and gush over the dresses you like. If you can’t do that, email her links to lots of suggestions that just happen to reflect both her color choices and your preferences with regard to silhouette, style, and yes, patterns. There’s no guarantee she’ll choose a dress you like, but you def increase your chances of being happy with her choices.
  • Suggesting something close to what the bride wants if you truly cannot stand what she’s chosen. You might say “I love love loooove the color and the cut overall is fab, but do you think you could go for something with sleeves/a contrasting sash/a lower hemline/etc.” You come off as supportive of her preferences instead of bossy or pushy.
  • Really selling the whole bridesmaids choose their own dresses thing. It’s not, as I mentioned, the most popular choice, but considering that bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, I think it’s a good one.
  • Displaying some serious enthusiasm whenever the bride happens to show you a potential bridesmaids’ dress that doesn’t make your eyes bleed. Lay on the praise thickly and the bride will get the gist of what you’re trying to say. Whether she wants to give you the dress you want as opposed to the dress she wants… I guess you’ll find out.

Note that I am NOT suggesting that any bridesmaid try to subvert the bride’s choices when she has something she truly loves in mind or that any bridesmaid make a nuisance of herself by rejecting every dress the bride suggests. But I don’t necessarily think that bridesmaids should absolutely never voice their opinions. What do you think?

(Images via Our Labor of Love Photography and Green Wedding Shoes)

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!

Always a Bridesmaid’s Dress

“You can totally wear it again!”

How many times have bridesmaids been told precisely that as they cringe internally? I was told it about a dusty rose acetate taffeta (with matching polyester lace, no less!) high-necked, long-sleeved, full-skirted, tea length number once.

At least it was cheap. It never saw the light of day again. Then again, nothing in dusty rose ever would from my closet. It’s one of the few colors in the world that I detest and I look as though I’m in the final stages of terminal jaundice in it. I did, however, have better luck with the next two bridesmaids dresses I wore.

This week on Project Runway, Season 8, a group of women who were all told The Lie showed up to have their unfortunate polyester and acetate monstrosities turned into clothes they actually would want to wear again (but wouldn’t be able to after the runway show, because all designs on the show become the property of the show and are auctioned off at the end of the season).
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Something Other Than an Alarmist Headline for the Pregnant Bridesmaid

Seems like people make a lot of fuss over pregnant bridesmaids, and not in a good way. You get posts on blogs and articles with titles like “Dealing With a Pregnant Bridesmaid” (which makes it sound like the bride is looking for a way to rub her out) and “The Pregnant Bridesmaid Dilemma” (translation: can I ask her to get an abortion so she doesn’t ruin myyyy daaayyyyyy?) and “Another Pregnant Bridesmaid?!” (for the couple who’s wondering why those bridesmaids can’t keep their dang legs closed).

With headlines like that, you’d think that women everywhere are all just waiting until they’ve been asked to be in a bridal party to stop taking their birth control. You know, because there’s nothing more awesome when you’re knocked up than finding a non-sucky maternity bridesmaid dress and standing up for a 45 minute long ceremony while someone takes photos of your cankles. That in mind, here’s a treat for the pregnant bridesmaid: a bridesmaid dress from Amsale that will make you feel like a million bucks.

As opposed to, you know, making you feel like a million pounds. And the nice thing about Amsale is that there are various other bridesmaids dresses on offer that look good on the pregnant bridesmaid – see a real live pregnant woman in one here – without specifically being maternity bridesmaids dresses. So you might find a reason to wear it again after the wedding. You know, once that baby in your belly is old enough to be left with a sitter for a night and you actually feel like putting on something other than sweats.

The Way You Wear Your Hat

Veils continue to occupy the number one spot when it comes to bridal accessories, and it’s not hard to see why. It isn’t as if a veil is a veil is a veil – you have your cathedral length veils and your fascinators and birdcage veils and everything in between. While some brides go bareheaded, there are certainly many more who choose to wear *something*, whether it’s a veil or a headband or a… hat?

I’ll admit that when I first started looking for bridal hats, I didn’t like a lot of what I saw, but then I stopped seeing so much of the stuff I didn’t like and started seeing all sorts of things I did like! Bridal hats, you see, come in as many different variates as bridal veils, from tiny little top hats with cherries attached to huge white straw hats just waiting for the right breeze to whisk them into the stratosphere. In conclusion, bridal hats? Yummy.

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Of Love and Flowers

What bridal accessory is currently making my heart go pitter-patter? Hint: It’s not just one thing! I’m liking just about everything at EmersonMade, home of hand-dyed and hand-stitched blooms (perfect for updos and belts) and bridal accessories. There are also adorable boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, itty-bitty flower favors, bridal bouquets, ring pillows (a great Something Blue), corsages, and garlands!

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Inspiration: Skirts!

On the bridesmaid dress re-wearability scale, skirts are right up there with a dress the individual bridesmaid picks out herself. It’s not difficult to see why – with two pieces, a top and a bottom, there’s a much better chance that the bridesmaids will either like one or the other and also have an opportunity to wear the half they like. And putting aside all those poly satin strapless tops with matching long skirts, outfitting your ‘maids in skirts can be a lot of fun! How about fitted tux shirts and pencil skirts? Or poodle skirts! A sash can stand in for a belt or just choose a skirt with a lot of structure and detail.

My guess would be that finding the perfect shirt and skirt combo for bridesmaids might be a bit more difficult than finding a great dress, but the results, I’d say, are worth it. Really. Check out these awesome bridesmaid skirt looks, all of which are sure to inspire:

bridesmaids dresses skirts
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