HOW REAL BRIDES PULLED OFF MISMATCHED BRIDESMAID DRESSES

The first time I saw mismatched bridesmaid dresses was in the Sex and the City movie. Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha all wore saturated floor-length gowns that all seemed to fit together perfectly. It was one of those “Ohhhh,” moments, a moment heard around the world as “Why haven’t we been doing this the whole time?!

Mismatched bridesmaids dresses are no longer an off-the-wall trend; they are gaining in popularity so quickly that they are sure to become the norm in the years to come. The idea of having all different dresses can be intimidating, though, as most brides prefer even the least matching of dresses to flow together and look cohesive (and not everyone has a well-paid costume designer helping them out like Carrie Bradshaw did). Below are some photos from real weddings that pulled off mismatched dresses beautifully, and advice from the brides that made it happen.

Michelle from Lynchburg, Virginia

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Photo credit: Mykkah Photography

“I told [my bridesmaids] to go wild with different textures and cuts, including leather and lace. Whatever suited them.” Michelle was pretty relaxed with her ‘maids, and didn’t go shopping with them. They sent her pictures when they found something they liked.

Michelle knew she wanted a moody wedding with dark colors, but decided on mismatched because “sometimes black in one style looks a little drab.” Additionally, black seemed to be the easiest to find in different shades. She also had them in whatever nude shoes they wanted.

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Photo credit: Mykkah Photography

Her bridesmaids were thrilled at the idea. “Some were initially shocked because I said they could wear a jump suit or a two piece. One of my bridesmaids had a baby two weeks before my wedding, so she was especially thankful that I chose an easy color. She ended up buying her dress a week before my wedding and looked beautiful.”

Kelley from Macon, Georgia

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Photo credit: Caitlin Lee Photographers

Kelley’s reasons for wanting mismatched dresses were more for her bridesmaids’ comfort and convenience. “I’ve always found the whole concept kind of silly—pay for a dress that you are required to wear and be photographed in, but don’t get to pick out style/color/cut wise. I didn’t want to do that to my best friends.” Additionally, her bridesmaids were all in Massachusetts or California, with a Georgia wedding—she didn’t want to add to their already considerable travel expense.

Five of her six bridesmaids got their dresses online (“Who knew Amazon would be so clutch?” Kelley admires), and all for under $125. Her maid of honor splurged and got hers in-store from Free People (and really, who can blame her).

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Kelley sent her bridesmaids a “mood board” (hers is pictured above) to give them an idea of the look she wanted for the dresses. She asked the bridesmaids to send the dress to her before they purchased it for final approval, and then once it was purchased, she sent a picture of that dress to the rest of the bridesmaids to make sure everyone remained on the same page.

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Photo credit: Caitlin Lee Photographers

The gorgeous flowers in her bridesmaid’s hair was an extra effort for cohesiveness. “Since it wasn’t the ‘traditional’ route that made the bridesmaids easily identifiable with the same dress, I was worried that they weren’t going to stand out. So I worked with my florist and arranged to have him provide extra flowers for them to wear in their hair. Although they all wore them differently – some crowns, some single flowers – it was a perfect final touch to bring it all together.”

Jessica from Huntington Beach, CA

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Photo credit: Serena from Ashley Gerritty Photography

Jessica created a Pinterest board to help her bridesmaids choose cohesive dresses. She requested from them something short or cocktail length, nude or champagne colored, and with sparkles if possible.

Jessica chose bridesmaids with very different personalities, looks, and styles, and wanted them to express that. “I picked them as my bridesmaids for who they are, and I wanted them to be able to express that at the wedding too!” She also liked the more laid-back and casual feel of mismatched dresses.

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Photo credit: Serena from Ashley Gerritty Photography

Her groomsmen had different styles as well. “We chose the gray tux for the groomsmen, and then we assigned each groomsman either silver or gold (so they would be alternating when standing in order). Then each groomsman chose his own tie and pocket square based on the assigned color. They also each wore bright socks and chose their own shoes. Same as with the girls, my husband’s friends have great style so we wanted each of them to have some fun with their outfit.”

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Janelle from Wilmington, North Carolina

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Photo credit: KMI Photography

Janelle’s wedding dress was from BHLDN (Anthropologie’s wedding line), and she landed on having the bridesmaids dresses come from BHLDN as well. “I was concerned that they may clash,” she said. She let a BHLDN stylist do the work for her. “I contacted a BHLDN stylist online and let her know which dress I chose, what my colors were, and what my bouquets would look like. She put together several swatches suggesting multiple dress pairings, and I then sent these to my girls and they selected the combination they liked best.”

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Photo Credit: KMI Photography

The stylist sent Janelle about fifteen different combinations, with a variety of short and long dresses, and different colors and styles. “I had mix and match in mind but was nervous that it may look strange, but the stylist really calmed my nerves. To be able to see the swatches was so helpful.”

Kayla from Sarasota, FL

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Photo credit: Jen Godshall Photography

Kayla had a whimsical tea party wedding, with plenty of mismatched elements already. Mismatched dresses seemed like an obvious choice.

She also thought it would be easier to coordinate and easier on her bridesmaids all around. “With eight bridesmaids, and three from out of state, the thought of trying to coordinate a time we could all go dress shopping or trying to find just one dress that fit everyone just seemed very daunting, so letting them pick their own dresses saved me many, many headaches. In the end, I wanted them to be comfortable.”

She gave her officiant (pictured left of the bride) no guidance on the dress, and the beautiful pastel blue she is wearing seems like the perfect complement to the soft palette on her bridesmaids.

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Photo credit: Jen Godshall Photography

She had to change up her first direction to the girls as she realized her initial request—dusty rose, mulberry, aubergine, mink, and tan—was a little too specific, so she asked them for “pinks/pinky-purples/tans/champagnes.” That simplified the search, when it was a more manageable scope of colors. She also welcomed different patterns and fabrics, and didn’t give too much guidance beyond a few suggestions from Pinterest. It worked out so that it ended up being about two of each color. “I was very laid-back about the whole thing—or at least I would like to think I was!—so I honestly welcomed whatever suggestions and variations they needed to be comfortable.”

Jaclyn from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Photo credit: Eric Stenberg of heart&wild

Jaclyn had the girls choose dresses from her favorite store, Blame Betty. She gave them little direction beyond that. “I told them I wanted some patterns, and I wanted pin up style/vintage, but most of all I wanted them to like the dresses. I asked them to go through the entire store, pick what they wanted to try on and we’d go from there. I reserved final veto power, but that wasn’t necessary as each girl has exquisite taste!”

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She knew she wanted mismatched dresses as she had never been a big wedding person. “I never dreamed of having a wedding when I was younger and I would’ve just as happily eloped in the woods. However, the wedding was incredibly important to my husband so I agreed to do it. Part of my resistance towards weddings in the first place was that I’ve always felt they can be devoid of personality…so if I was going to do this wedding thing, I was going to bring as much color and personality to it as possible! The mismatched bridesmaids dresses were a big part of my push to breathe life and individuality into the entire process.”

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Photo credit: Eric Stenberg of heart&wild

As the girls chose their dresses, they realized that they were trending towards blue. That became Jaclyn’s unofficial wedding color and they all encouraged themselves and each other towards blue dresses—a happy accident. “The end result was magic,” Jaclyn said.

Advice?

“Trust your friends and their choices. They all want to look their best for you on your big day and they know their body type and what looks most flattering on it. Trust your friends, they love you!” —Jaclyn

“Really be sure you feel 100% comfortable with giving free range to their bridesmaids, make sure you are okay speaking up if you don’t like something that a bridesmaid chooses (and that doing so won’t cause any unnecessary drama). Lastly, check with your bridesmaids to make sure they feel comfortable making the decision.” —Kelley

“Seek assistance from a stylist, or make swatches yourself that show your dress and bouquet choices along with your bridesmaid dress choices so you can visualize.” —Janelle

“Try to step back and trust your friends especially if they dress well—but ask to see it before they purchase it. I sent my friends a vision board of different dresses, so they had an idea of what I was looking for!” —Michelle

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