Bridesmaid dresses: They're the 'can't live with them, can't live without them' of the wedding party. And the "bad bridesmaid dress" is such a cliche that it isn't even worth trotting out all the bad jokes about them. But for the conscientious bride (anyone who doesn't want to saddle their friends with a several hundred-dollar dress that can only be worn once), finding dresses that look good on everyone and stay under budget is possibly the tallest task of all.
Luckily, you don't have to relegate yourself to the uniform strapless chiffon dress at bridal salons across the country. Here are a few ways to think outside the norm⎯and the options are still totally stunning.
01. Step Away from the Bridal Section
By perusing the formal wear section in department stores like Macy's,Nordstrom, andBloomingdale's, you'll be amazed at the variety of gorgeous gowns that won't look quite so bridesmaid-y. The best part is there are more unique options to choose from, and department stores often have incredible sales and coupons so the final price can be a fraction of the cost.
If you didn't notice, we've heard that navy blue is the formal wear color of the year. These are our favorite gowns from department stores:
02. Put the Power in Your Girls' Hands.
Give your maids a color swatch and let them pick whatever dress they want that falls in that color range. Remember to give any instruction on fabric type and sleeve preference. And, in the end, you have to let go of some of your control and just be happy to have the dear women in your life witnessing your big day.
Not sure where to start for a color scheme palette? Design Seedsis a stellar site to help find the right combo of colors to suit your taste.
03. Rent, Don't Buy.
One of the hardest parts about wedding party planning is the expectation for your friends and family to spend a lot of money on the dress. Not to mention bridal showers, bachelorette parties, wedding travel expenses⎯it adds up. Sites like Little Borrowed Dressand Rent the Runway give you options to rent, not buy, for up to half or a third of the original price. It's much friendlier on your girlfriends' budgets and they'll love your thoughtfulness.
Photos via Little Borrowed Dress