Making sure your 'maids have a painless dress-shopping experience

In the midst of the decision-making flood that is wedding planning, no two decisions are likely equal. Choosing which flavor of wedding cake you prefer, for example, is perhaps more enjoyable than determining who sits next to whom at the reception. But when it comes to deciding who stands next to you and your spouse-to-be when you dedicate your love and life to each other, you may already know who those very special people are.

And because these are your nearest and dearest, you'll want them to look and feel just as good as you (OK, almost as good) on your special day. But how do you ensure that no one is left feeling uncomfortable—either in a tight dress or on a tight budget? We spoke with local brides and wedding experts to give you the best advice when it comes to dressing your lovely ladies.

To start, a bride should know what she wants for her 'maids before any shopping begins, says Diane Bond, owner of White of Dublin.

“It's just thinking it through beforehand,” says Bond. “Do you have a set color, or colors? Do you want everyone to wear the same dress, or do you want them to pick their own dress with a similar color?”

For the unsure brides, it's best to look online and in stores with a maid of honor or another trusted adviser to make some decisions before shopping with the whole group. A minimum of six months prior to the wedding is an ideal time to begin looking, and dresses should be ordered at least four months out. The average price point to consider for dresses in Central Ohio is about $200, though it's easy to get creative and find options under $100.

When it comes to selecting dresses for a bridal party with different body types, most brides are very conscientious of how their girls will feel, Bond says.

“When there's a wide variation in sizes and shapes, a bride will typically say they want a certain color, and then we'll go with that color and designer and the bridesmaids can pick whatever style they feel comfortable in,” she explains.

Such was the case for Kristen Ross, who had six bridesmaids for her April 2017 wedding to Ryan Ross. Two of her bridesmaids had had babies within four months of the wedding. Not only were they uncertain of what size they would be post-baby, but the other bridesmaids varied in size as well. The solution? Ross got lucky in her search when she found a department store dress that she loved—and the girls loved, too. They were able to order multiple sizes of the dress and return what didn't work.

“It was only about $80, and it still looked nice. Only one of them needed it hemmed a little bit, but it worked out for everyone,” Kristen says. “Everyone loved it, and everyone felt good.”

Local bride Lauren Suter had four bridesmaids who all ended up picking and liking the same navy dress from Twirl, a boutique in Kenton, when she wed Blair Suter on New Year's Eve 2016. She credits the fantastic selection and staff at the boutique, but recognizes that being open-minded also helped the process.

“There's just so many other things going on, that [the bridesmaid dress] is the least you need to worry about,” says Lauren. “Everything will be perfect; what your girls are wearing that day is not what you're going to be remembering. So as long as you can get everyone to look good … then you're good.”