Set your assorted bridesmaid looks up for success.

This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published June 2019.

The evolution of bridal party style started with variations on the one-bridesmaid-dress-for-all tradition. Brides began incorporating different dress cuts, creating a look that’s more custom than uniform. Now, bridal boutique owners are offering it all: varied styles, fabrics, textures, colors and even prints. Today’s brides-to-be have seemingly endless options when it comes to crafting bridal party looks, so we asked the professionals how to navigate bridesmaid styling.

Your Vision
The first piece of advice boutique owner Laura Wingfield gives brides is to stay true to their vision. Wingfield often sees brides concerned with making their ’maids happy through dress choices. While it’s a wonderful consideration, trying to please everyone can pile on the pressure. “We have heard [shopping for] bridesmaid dresses can be more stressful than [a bride’s] actual gown,” says Wingfield, owner of Twirl Bridal & Prom Boutique in Kenton.

Color Coordination
If you plan to match bridesmaid dress colors to a palette used throughout the wedding, start building the palette with the gowns. “People sometimes come in, and they’re like, ‘Well, that [dress] doesn’t match my tablecloth,’ ” Wingfield says. “But you’re not going to have a picture of your tablecloth on your mantel.” Heather DiMasi, owner of White of Dublin and Off White of Dublin, notes that some bridal designers now offer matching men’s accessories, seamlessly tying together bridal parties.

Rainbow of Options
How many colors is too many? “I don’t think there can be too many, as long as they coordinate,” DiMasi says. She and Wingfield have seen an array of combos, from one color in different shades to a mix of complementary colors. For fall and winter weddings, gold, burgundy and dark green are trending; shades of black or navy remain timeless.

Prints, on the other hand, are easy to overdo, DiMasi says. Picking a pattern can be a fun way to highlight maids of honor, she says, but putting all the bridesmaids in different prints can be visually overwhelming.

The Toolkit
If you’re giving your bridesmaids dress options, be specific. “It’s actually harder when the bride doesn’t give [the bridesmaids] direction,” says Ashley Gammon, bridal manager at Twirl. Having the bride at the boutique for dress shopping eliminates the guesswork but isn’t always logistically possible. Gammon recommends brides send their ’maids pictures and details, including dislikes. Think: “A floor-length dress made of lace, mesh or a combination of the two and in the shade called wine—no long sleeves,” as opposed to, “A long, burgundy dress.” If you want a variety of shades, call out specifics, like navy, royal blue and periwinkle. This approach, she says, equips bridesmaids with the tools they need to choose a dress you’ll both love.