Bridesmaid dress recap

26 April 2012

Here it is, the post you’ve all (maybe?) been waiting for: my recap of our own personal bridesmaid dress drama. It’s over, it’s finished: we have placed the order, and there’s no going back now. Deep breaths.

A brief aside: I have heard a lot of brides complain about shopping for bridesmaid dresses. And honestly? I didn’t really get it. It’s not that hard, little old me thought. You just pick a dress that’s in the right price range, and place the order. Done and done.


Perhaps it was that easy for someone out there, but it certainly wasn’t for me. Here are just a few of the things that made bridesmaid dress shopping a challenge for me and my crew:

1. It’s very difficult to compare pricing, as prices are set individually by salons – so, a Bill Levkoff gown that costs $220 at one salon might cost $245 at another. For someone like me, who was desperate to get the best price, this made research a never ending nightmare.

2. It’s hard to gather feedback when you and your bridesmaids live in five different cities. If we all wanted to look at a dress in person, we had to make five different appointments, wait until everyone had fit a trip into their schedule, and then discuss over email. That is a long process.

3. It’s a strange and uncomfortable position to be in, dictating what someone will wear and how much they’ll spend. As nice as my bridesmaids are, I still cringed every time I emailed them a new set of dresses I wanted them to see in person, or asked whether a certain price would be palatable. I feel like I was more distraught over spending their money and time than I would have been over my own.

4. It’s rare that four gals will like the same dress from four different options. And then how do you choose??

5. Even once you’ve chosen a dress, there’s anxiety about ordering the correct size. At least there was for us. Not one of my bridesmaid’s measurements aligned perfectly with the sizing chart, and so we felt a bit like we were taking a stab in the dark when we chose sizes for each.

So yes, it was a long and difficult process, stretching from approximately October to April. But we’re done! Here’s how it ended:

Back in October, I told you that we would likely be making a decision on bridesmaid dresses in November. Ha! Not even close. Then in January, I told you we’d narrowed it down to three options. The gals tried on as many of the three as they could, and we decided that Bill Levkoff 537 was the group pick. I decided to order a swatch of our color – pewter – just to make sure I liked it. It was almost an afterthought, but I’m glad I did, because once I saw it in person, I immediately saw that it was much more of a lavender gray than a true charcoal gray. I think this photo, which is of 537, demonstrates it well:

Lauren Brooks via Style Me Pretty

Unfortunately, we were looking for something more along the lines of this:

Stephen DeVries

So, in despair (yes, despair), I headed back to the drawing board. My first stop was at Dessy, because I knew they were a large chain and it would probably be easy for my ladies to find a store near them should they choose to try the new crop on. Yes, this time I didn’t even expect them to visit the choices in person, though I gave them the option of doing so. Due to schedules, two ended up trying on the four new potentials – 2846, 2834, 2859, and After Six 6639 — and two did not. Of course, the feedback was across the board, although no one liked 2859 much, 6639 looked awful on one gal, and everyone generally liked 2846 and 2834. In the end, I made an executive decision, and we went with 2834 in charcoal gray, a color I saw in person and liked.

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that somewhere in there I went on a short-lived but crazy tangent (egged on by my younger sister) and briefly considered the J. Crew Arabelle in dusty shale. I went back to the straight and narrow gray path pretty quickly, but photos like these still make my heart skip a beat:

yazyjo via Style Me Pretty

After that, we rounded up everyone’s measurements, and did our best to fit them into the Dessy sizing chart (a process that involved much consultation and many back-and-forth emails). The final price ended up being $187 per dress from RK Bridal, which is a bit more than I wanted to spend, but not bad considering it’s a floor-length gown. Mostly, I was just happy to be finished, as I’m sure my gals were, too. The delivery is scheduled for July 14, which should give us plenty of time for any necessary alterations.

There’s no way alterations could be as painful as this, right? Right?!


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April 26, 2012 9:47 am

Picking out bridesmaid dresses was definitely one of the hardest things to check off the to-do list!! Looks like you ended up with a great dress though.

April 26, 2012 10:41 am

Bridesmaid dress shopping, I imagine, could be so challenging with what you were faced with, especially with your girls in different locations. I opted to pay for my BM’s dresses and gave a smaller BM gift because of this. I love the color you have chosen!

April 26, 2012 11:30 am

I got married this past December and my bridesmaids wore the Dessy 2834! We got more compliments on those dresses than almost anything else in the wedding. I, too, was anxious to see them when they came in, but you will LOVE them. They looked great on each girl (sizes 0 to 12), alterations were painless (but necessary), and all were gorgeous!

November 12, 2012 11:22 pm

I am looking for charcoal gray bridesmaid dresses and stumbled across your site. I’ve really enjoyed it. I am definitely going to look into the choices that you looked into. Did you ever find out where the dresses in the Stephen DeVries’ picture came from?

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abbi strickland
November 18, 2014 7:09 pm

HA! I thought picking dresses was hard, but for us alterations was a complete nightmare!! The sizing chart was way off, almost every girls’ dress was about two sizes too big. We got floor length bill levkoff gowns, and one of my girls spent more on alterations than she did on the gown. It makes me want to throw up just thinking about it!