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Do you have a particular theme in mind? For instance, if you had a nautical theme for your wedding as a whole, you might want to have special sailor-style dresses for your bridesmaids.
Likewise, an Irish theme wedding might have bridesmaids in traditional Celtic apparel. A casual beach wedding calls for sundresses in a fun print or perhaps a solid linen to match your flowers.
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You should select bridesmaid dresses that are not only complementary to your wedding dress and overall wedding theme, but you also need to consider whether your choice of dress is also affordable for your bridesmaids, who often don't have the same budget as you do for your dress.
If your bridesmaids cannot afford a fancy dress, you should pay for them yourself rather than force them to forfeit their role in your wedding. More than one wedding has been ruined because of hurt feelings, and it's easy to overcome them if you show a little sensitivity to your bridesmaids' needs.
Bridesmaid dresses for a large wedding?
If you have a large wedding party, you might want to select different dresses for your attendants other than the maid/matron of honor. Then you can come up with a special dress for your maid of honor that has extra-special touches to let her shine.
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Pardon the pun in that subhead, but sometimes your bridesmaids have figure problems that you don't. In those cases, you should try to ensure that they look their best in the bridesmaid dresses you choose for your bridal attendants.
Slightly overweight bridesmaids will feel uncomfortable in tight bridesmaid dresses that don't complement their figures -- and your tomboyish friends won't want to wear lilac ruffles and frills.
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On the one hand, you want all of your bridesmaids to dress similarly to create an overall image for your wedding. But shoes are a very personal thing. What one person is comfortable wearing might cause tremendous pain to another bridesmaid.
As a result, your bridesmaids' shoes should be selected based on their style and comfort level. To make things simpler and ensure that your bridesmaids' tootsies are comfy enough to dance all night at your reception, you can ask them to choose shoes to suit their tastes in an appropriate color if you'd like -- taking the pressure off of you to choose for them in the process.
Shopping tip: You can find a wide range of bridesmaid dresses online, but I recommend that all shoe purchases are made in person by the bridesmaids themselves.