Top Pic:Charmingly Mismatched Bridesmaids Dresses

how to have mismatching bridesmaids dresses

First off, doesn’t everyone here look great? The dresses fit all the girls just right; they go together without being matchy-matchy; they each have a bouquet in a single color different from the other bridesmaids; and the guys are wearing a green tie of their choice. Also, they’re in mid-laugh.

It’s kind of perfect.

But this Top Pic brings up something I’ve been wondering about: What sort of guidelines, if any, do brides give bridesmaids when they’re allowed to choose their dresses?

As a wedding blogger, I regularly see photos of mismatched bridesmaid dresses that look adorable together, but is this normal, or do I see the ones that work because that’s what gets posted on wedding blogs? Are there instances when everybody does their own thing and they look ridiculous together?

I assume the bride often provides parameters, such as in the instance above when solid green dresses were likely requested, but the cut and exact green were left up to the bridesmaids.

But couldn’t this go awry? For example, what if those instructions were given and three bridesmaids showed up in lime green, one in forest green and another decided that blue-green is close enough? I don’t think that would make for fantastic photos.

Maybe some brides request that bridesmaids send images of the dresses to make sure all the dresses will look good together. Or does that seem too heavy-handed?

If you’re tackling this issue and or have details about someone else who has, I’d love to hear your tips/warnings/stories in the comments!

For other approaches to bridesmaid dresses, check out our video on “How to Choose a Bridesmaid Dress.”

Photo by James Christianson

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  1. My brother got married a year ago in NY and my sister-in-Law did something similar. Everyone wore “a shade of” fuschia — but she delineated the length of the dress. And we all had matching bouquets. She kept the guidelines simple — and it all worked out!

  2. I think if you keep the color simple then you’re on the right track. “Everyone pick out their own yellow dress” might get a little tricky.

  3. Good points! Fuschia is very specific, so the shades couldn’t be that off from each other. Yellow may be a little to open to interpretation, but pale yellow wouldn’t.

    My friend let us choose our own dresses and sent us a picture of her bouquet and basically said: Try not to clash with this. I was amazed how well it worked out!

    However, one word of warning: The Knotty Bride told me she’s seen it not work out before. She saw bridesmaids dresses that were prints mixed with different styles mixed with different shades. It was too much.

  4. I think that asking to see the dress before hand or giving everyone an idea of what shades of the color you’re looking for is fine. I think it’s less heavy handed than making everyone where the same dress in the same cut, color etc. or even having the bridesmaids wear matching shoes or hairstyles!

  5. I decided to have mismatched bridesmaids for my wedding next year and I’m worried about being “heavy-handed.” I picked a store (J.Crew), a color (grey) and length. I set an appointment for all of us to go to a fitting together so I could see all of the dresses on each girl in person and asked the girls to hold off on purchasing anything until then. The four bridesmaids are all very different women and I wasn’t sure they would all be on the same page with “grey, knee-length dresses.” Hopefully it’s making things easier for the ladies rather than seeming heavy-handed!

  6. Good point, @Rebecca — giving guidelines but letting bridesmaids choose their dresses still gives them more freedom than they had in the past.

    @Wedding Photography — “Cheerful” is the perfect word for this shot!

    @Chanda — I hope it all worked out! I find most bridesmaids want to make sure their on the same page as the bride, so they appreciate the guidance.

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