What Bridesmaid Dress Shopping Looks Like in 2023
Bridesmaid dress shopping has come a long way over the years. For starters, the internet has made it so much easier to shop for and order bridesmaid dresses from the comfort of your own home. Styles have evolved beyond the standard matchy-matchy bridesmaid dresses, and many brides today embrace a mismatched bridal party look. In fact, as more and more couples use their weddings to express their personal style, it's no surprise that the top trends for 2023 bridesmaid dresses run the gamut from understated neutrals all the way to convertible dress styles. There are also more options out there in terms of style and price range than ever before. In addition to the traditional bridal salon route of ordering bridesmaid dresses, many brides today are opting for off-the-rack options for their bridal party, which opens the door to countless stunning dresses that aren't necessarily marketed as "bridesmaid dresses." Another thought? Rental dresses also prove to be a popular and cost-effective option for rocking designer styles on a budget.
The biggest factors that come into play when first considering your bridesmaid dress style are color and seasonality. First and foremost, you'll want to select a color that matches your venue and overall color scheme for the day. Next, be sure to consider the season of your wedding — spring bridesmaid dresses will look very different than winter ones in terms of silhouette, color and fabric. In this same vein, your wedding dress doesn't have to match your bridesmaids exactly, but should generally go with the overall style, whether you lean more boho, modern or edgy.
While thoughts of bridesmaid dress shopping may conjure up images from 27 Dresses, you'll be happy to learn that we've taken all of the guesswork out of the process to ensure you have a smooth experience. Below, we've answered all of your bridesmaid dress shopping questions, from when to order bridesmaid dresses, to where to buy bridesmaid dresses—and everything in between.
In this article:
- When to Order Bridesmaid Dresses
- Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses
- Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses Online
- Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses Near Me
- Average Bridesmaid Dress Cost
- Should Bridesmaids Wear the Same Dress?
- How to Coordinate Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses
When to Order Bridesmaid Dresses
You should order bridesmaid dresses about six months before the wedding. Dresses can take up to three months to arrive and you want to allot extra time for any alterations your bridesmaids may need. Of course, custom dresses take longer to arrive than if you order straight off the rack, but it's always best to give yourself a cushion of more time than needed, in case of any unexpected changes.
Bella Bridesmaids recommends gathering your bridesmaid dress inspiration and narrowing down styles about eight months prior to the wedding so that you have ample time to make the final decision. Look through your favorite magazines and comb through Pinterest for inspiration. Pro tip: Order all of the bridesmaid dresses at the same time to ensure that the color is an exact match. Take it from us, the same exact dress can vary slightly in color depending on the dye lot it comes from.
Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses
Not sure where to start your search? We've got you covered. Below, we weigh the pros and cons of shopping online versus IRL. Plus, how to find bridesmaid dresses near you.
Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses Online
Lucky for you, in 2023 buying bridesmaid dresses can be as simple as pressing a button from the comfort of your own home. There's no need to bring a large group into a store and have clashing opinions (cue the scene from Bridesmaids). Our editors here at The Knot have searched far and wide and narrowed down the best places to buy bridesmaid dresses online, including BHLDN, Lulus and more!
While the ease of ordering bridesmaid dresses online is a major pro, there are a few cons you'll want to consider. Color and fabric are the biggest factors here, as it can be difficult to know how something will look in person versus on your screen. If you're worried about what a dress will look like in person, see if the site offers fabric swatches so you can evaluate before you buy. If not, try to order your dresses a little earlier than you need to in case you change your mind after seeing them in person.
Also, be sure to consider sizing when ordering bridesmaid dresses online. If you are ordering off the rack, you will most likely need to plan for some alterations to get the fit just right. It could be worth suggesting your bridesmaids order two sizes to try on and return one. Some online retailers, like Azazie, even provide custom sizing to help you get the perfect fit without the need for alterations.
Where to Buy Bridesmaid Dresses Near Me
Shopping in person for your bridesmaid dresses alleviates the stress of not knowing if the dress will live up to your expectations when it arrives in person. Seeing the color and fit of a gown in real life takes away the guesswork that often happens when shopping online. Plus, it can be fun to bring along your maid of honor or a few close friends to shop in person—why not throw in brunch and make a whole day out of it?
That said, don't feel pressured to invite your entire bridal party to shop in person with you, as it can become stressful if everyone voices differing opinions. However, it's recommended that your bridesmaids get their measurements taken professionally by a seamstress so that they all order the correct sizes, as bridesmaid dresses often do not fit the same as street sizes.
If you're planning to shop in person for your bridesmaid dresses, you can browse our The Knot-approved bridal salons in your area. In addition to these specialty bridal salons, remember that department stores like Nordstrom, Macy's and Saks as well as big bridal companies like Anthropologie and David's Bridal carry dresses in-store too.
Average Bridesmaid Dress Cost
Based on some The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study, bridesmaid dresses cost $130 per person on average. While this number represents survey results from an internal study, remember that this cost varies by region and, of course, by the individual. What you are comfortable spending may vary from what your best friend is comfortable spending.
Money can be a sensitive subject, but it is an important one to discuss with your bridesmaids to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Typically, bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dress, accessories and alterations, but, you can always offer to help pay for some of these costs if your budget allows and you feel comfortable doing so.
There are plenty of cost-effective ways to go about bridesmaid dress shopping. Mismatched dresses can allow each bridesmaid to choose a dress within her own personal budget. Rental is also a great option to save money. Sites like Rent the Runway will give your bridesmaids designer styles at a fraction of the cost of buying. They even have a page dedicated to bridesmaid dresses, with gowns from designers such as Jay Godfrey, Saloni and Monique Lhuillier. Be sure to plan ahead if you are renting so that you can reserve the dresses ahead of time.
There are also plenty of stunning affordable bridesmaid dresses under $100 to choose from. By looking at a variety of dresses beyond just those labeled as "bridesmaid dresses" you will open up a world of gorgeous, unique dresses you may not have considered before. Just keep in mind that any off-the-rack dresses will likely incur some necessary alteration costs to get the perfect fit.
Should Bridesmaids Wear the Same Dress?
Gone is the old rule that all bridesmaids must match exactly. While many brides love the uniform, elegant look of having their crew all in the same dress, others like to embrace a more nuanced approach to their bridesmaid dresses by allowing for mismatched styles in the same color or fabric. While choosing one bridesmaid dress may seem the most straightforward, it does require the most planning from the bride to narrow down to a single dress. Allowing for mismatched dresses in some capacity lets you sit back while your bridesmaids pick their own dresses. Plus, it's definitely the trend-forward choice, if your vibe is more nontraditional.
If you can't make up your mind, scroll through Pinterest and Instagram to see examples of matching and mismatched bridal parties, and ask yourself: Which photos feel more like me? There's something to be said about both matching and mismatched dresses, and there's definitely a bride for each. If you're still not sure which look you prefer, don't be afraid to ask your other married friends what they chose and why. Sometimes it can be helpful to get first-hand feedback from someone who's been there already.
How to Coordinate Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses
When executed right, mismatched bridesmaid dresses are incredibly fashion-forward. While the end result will look effortless, it does require a bit of effort on your part. In recent years the bridal industry has been leaning into a mismatched bridesmaid look, although the definition of "mismatched" may vary by bride. Some brides select the color and each bridesmaid is welcome to choose any dress silhouette in the chosen shade (sites like Azazie are great for this). Others have a looser view of mismatching and offer a color range for bridesmaids to choose from without dictating a specific shade. We've even seen some incredible mismatched floral bridesmaid dresses that give a super whimsical vibe.
No matter your mismatch preference, this option is great for ensuring your bridesmaids feel comfortable. This route allows each bridesmaid to express her personal style and select a dress that makes her feel best. Not every silhouette or color is going to suit everyone, so it's great to give your bridesmaids some flexibility—especially if your crew has a diverse range of sizes and body types. While it is your big day, you want to make sure the friends standing beside you look—and feel—amazing too.