While my wedding dress was fun and easy, the bridesmaids dresses potentially could have been a nightmare. I had three bridesmaids, three junior bridesmaids and a flower girl. Of my three bridesmaids, I had one who is fabulous darling, one who is casual and comfortable in her own skin, and one who is undeniably cool. Then I had one sweet, girly 9 year old, one sporty 12 year old who will be wearing jeans and jandals at her wedding, thank you very much, and one stunner of a 14 year old. And, of course, the cutest 6 year old mini-me anyone has ever seen. Trying to find a dress that suited such different personalities, not to mention the range in age and size, was difficult to say the least.
When I was young, I envisioned matching my whole bridal party, even the flower girl. I actually really liked this:
But to be honest, I wasn’t expecting my little sister to be so young when I got married. And when it came to actually planning my wedding, when I had more then just the three bridesmaids and the flower girl that I expected, it suddenly seemed a bit much to try and get the exact same dress for all of them.
So I went the route of finding a dress for my flower girl, a dress for my junior bridesmaids, and a dress for my bridesmaids. I put together several combinations:
And then I found this at www.missfrilly.co.nz:
and knew it just had to be my flower girl’s dress. It was perfect for her. Thankfully my step mum agreed, and the search was on to find one just like it in England. The search was futile – all that was available at the time was, as my little sister delightfully put it, “very Lady Gaga.” And so began the process of ordering a dress made in New Zealand from England, to be sent to an address in New Zealand. Sian at Miss Frilly was amazing, helping my dad measure my little sister from the other side of the world, and keeping me in the loop as soon as she knew my email address. The dress is even more gorgeous in real life then it was in the picture.
So, having that dress sorted kind of made things a little more complicated. I wanted to get the dresses made, because I could find nothing in the shops in New Zealand that was anything like what I wanted. But then I realised just how much that would cost to do, and so I was completely stuck. Until I came across this beauty:
I’d seen and kind of liked the look of mismatched bridesmaids, but I thought it would look way too messy with so many of them. I didn’t even like the idea of having the same type of dress with different straps, which several people had suggested to me. But then when I saw this picture, with five bridesmaids and a flower girl, I started to think that it might not look so bad after all. One of my bridesmaids had actually done the same for her wedding, and I’ve always loved how relaxed and comfortable her bridesmaids look in the photos. So I started to search for pictures of mismatched bridesmaids to inspire me.
With that decided (it took about a day), I needed to figure how I was going to pull this off. There are several different ways of doing mismatched dresses, including
1) Just telling the girls to go and buy a dress in this colour and/or this length
2) Giving the girls paint samples as a colour range to work within
3) Giving the girls pictures of dresses and letting them pick one
All three of those would have been way easier then what I chose – actually going shopping with all six of my bridesmaids to choose and coordinate the dresses. I thought it would be fun, and I wanted to see it all coming together. And I really did enjoy it. It’s just that we arrived at the mall as the shops were opening and left as they were closing.
The 12 year old was the easiest, because she doesn’t like dresses but was being a good sport. This meant that we could put her in any dress, and when we found the one, we told her it was amazing and she got it. She got a pale peach coloured dress that just looks gorgeous with her tanned skin. I don’t think she realises just how beautiful she is.
At the same time as the 12 year old was trying on her dress, the 9 year old tried on a pale pink dress with chiffon and lace and fake pearls. It was over the top and girly, and so her. We didn’t actually get it for her right away, we just put it on hold because we were in a rush. But she kept talking about it, saying things like “Oh, that will go so well with my dress.” Finally I just said to her “Shall we go back and buy your dress so you can carry it around?” We’d seen her in it alongside the 12 year old in her’s, so we knew they looked cool together. She was all smiles the rest of the day.
We’d planned to do the little girls in the morning and the big girls in the afternoon (‘we’ being my sister-in-law/bridesmaid and I), so it was around this time that my maid of honour arrived. I was fizzled, so we stopped for (my second) lunch while the others kept looking for a dress for the 14 year old who, poor thing, clearly wanted something with a pretty floral pattern and just kept being put in stuff she hated. I took this opportunity to tell my maid of honour that the theme seemed to be very pale, and I wanted to insert a bit of colour into the whole thing. She rose to the occasion with a grape colour dress with caramel detailing.
With purple now in the picture, we set out to find the perfect dress for the 14 year old. We found every single purple and pink floral dress we could in every shop, while my maid of honour went off to help my third bridesmaid find her way there (she was coming from the airport after dropping off a friend, and wasn’t used to the area we were shopping in). When my third bridesmaid arrived, she went into the same shop as my maid of honour had bought her dress from, and straight away tried on a lighter purple dress that looked awesome on her.
It just so happened that as we were buying her dress, the 14 year old tried on a dress she really liked. I actually took my third bridesmaid’s dress out of the shop before she’d even finished paying for it (thank you, kind shop assistant!) and we were so excited when we held all the dresses up next to the 14 year old in her dress, and saw that her dress tied all the others in perfectly.
My sister-in-law had ordered in a dress she liked (that I didn’t actually see because I was eating with my maid of honour, but I trusted her because one of her main jobs was to help me pull this off). So then we had to go and buy shoes. Thanks to my mum working in a shoe chain store, we actually got shoes relatively cheap. We found shoes for the bridesmaids and the 14 year old, and then I called my mum and asked her to find shoes similar for the 9 and 12 year olds.
And we were done. So everyone except my maid of honour and my third bridesmaid went home. In the last half hour that the shops were open, we spent a voucher I’d been given as an engagement present, and then went out for dinner in an effort to unwind.
Huge day, but I got exactly what I wanted – six happy bridesmaids who loved their dresses and felt comfortable in them.