The big debate: should you dress your wedding party in matching outfits?

This is an interesting debate for me and one that’s particularly poignant for me right now as I’ve been rushing to and from the shops getting everything ready for my own wedding and *gulp* buying accessories for the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

The thing is, if you’d asked me a year ago, I was completely adamant that the bridesmaids and the groomsmen would wear whatever they wanted. I thought it was completely patronising having grown men and women dressed up in the same outfits. After all, they’re not children or accessories – and they deserve to look how they want to look.

A year on and I guess my opinion has evolved somewhat. Or regressed. Either way, I started out convinced I wanted people to wear whatever they liked. Then it evolved to “whatever they like within the colour scheme”. Then “whatever they like but within the same style and colour scheme” and finally “I want all the bridesmaids in different coloured Doris Designs skirts (like the one I’m modelling below) and the groomsmen in linen trousers, braces and ties to match the bridesmaids’ skirts”.

So now I’ve finally decided on a rainbow of beautiful tutu gorgeousness, I feel very happy with my decision! I’m sure it will look amazing with them all lined up in photos especially as the groomsmen will also match to an extent.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a little guide on options for your bridal party. I hope it helps you come to a decision quicker than I did!

Under the Vintage Veil’s guide on how to dress your wedding party

Let everyone wear what they want

On the plus side, everyone will be happy and there will be no complaining or negotiating. On the other hand, apart from the ceremony, nobody will be clear on who your wedding attendants are. In photos it will also look like they’re guests. Well dressed guests, but still not the wedding party. But if that doesn’t matter to you and all you need is for you to know who they are it’s a great money and energy-saving option. It means you don’t have to buy new dresses for everyone and people can either wear something they already own or choose to buy something new for themselves.

Let everyone wear what they want – but dictate a theme

The only problem with this option is it’s so open to interpretation. If your theme is an era, for example, not everyone will be as knowledgeable as you about what people from said era wore. Or if it’s a colour, you may have people turning up in 5 different shades of green – which could look nice if you happen to luck out with a clean colour gradient, but could also look terrible if the colours are all slightly off. It also creates a grey area as to who should pay for their outfits as they may not already own dresses or clothes in the style you want.

Dress everyone the same

This is the most traditional option – bridesmaids wear the same dress in the same colour, regardless of their shape, size and colouring. This is the easiest option if you want to keep everything nice, simple and matching, but personally I always found the concept a bit odd. Different people suit different styles and colours. A size 18 girl won’t feel comfortable in a dress designed for a size 8 girl, and vice versa – unless it’s some sort of universal wonder dress. In this instance I think it’s normally up to the couple to pay for the dresses, particularly if they’ve requested something specific.

Different but matching

There are, thankfully, a few companies that do great “different but matching” options. As I mentioned, each bridesmaid at my wedding will have a different Doris Designs skirt in colours that complement each other. I can see this making for really pretty pictures and it also makes life easy in terms of colour coding a groomsman to a bridesmaid. Or if you have a strict colour scheme, Twobirds Bridesmaid does one dress that wraps differently each time (or you can get it in colours that complement each other too) so each bridesmaid can put their own unique twist on the same outfit.

Image © 2012 Twobirds Bridesmaids

How have you chosen to approach coordinating your wedding party? Do you have more of a laissez-faire attitude? Or would you like to keep everyone matching? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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