I am a strong proponent of the idea that perfection is overrated. As such, I love the trend of just saying no to tradition of matchy-matchy bridesmaid dresses. But with every bridesmaid dressed differently, how do you pull off the look and still have your photos look great? Read on for a few photo tips for mismatched bridesmaid dresses.
Providing your bridesmaids with options in what dress to choose is an act of pure kindness. No one has the same body type, or budget, so having a wealth of choices is great. If you are comfortable in your clothes and feel like you look great, then it will show on camera. On the contrary, if every one of your girls is constantly having to tug on straps or if even one of them feels fat in her dress, then that girl (or girls) is going to hate the portrait process. Do yourself, your girls, and me a favor by giving each bridesmaid a choice of dress.
Choice, however, shouldn’t mean wear whatever you want. To make sure everyone is on the same page, start a visual mood board of what you are going for – Pinterest is a life saver here. Tell your bridesmaids your overall vision and give them the directions needed to make your vision a reality. Concentrate on the level of formality of the dress, the hemline, the neckline, fabric choice, amount of decoration, and, of course, the color. What are you open to changing? If you want everyone to wear floor-length dresses, but are ok if the dresses are in complementary shades of pink, then let it be known. Send links to a few designers and dress sellers who have the type of dress you want. And it goes without saying to always consider your audience, both in terms of what your girls normally wear and what they can afford. To this end, be realistic and know that whatever you inflict upon your bridesmaids will be revisited upon you tenfold when one of them gets married. This is the golden rule of being a bride/bridesmaid.
As far as the mixing up each dress style, I have heard advice from stylists to keep the hem lengths all the same. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. If you want the most cohesive look, then keep your hemlines all the same. But if you are ok with a bit of variety, then I recommend keeping at least one thing consistent in each dress – be it the color, neckline or hem. If all the dresses look a bit different from one another, then no one will stand out. What WILL stand out is the one dress that looks radically different – say, the one girl in a miniskirt when everyone else is wearing ball gowns. To prevent this from happening, make sure you coordinate with your girls before anyone purchases her gown.
From a color perspective, the exact hue you choose isn’t that big a concern to me as a photographer. In general, vibrant colors look best, and dark colors are always slimming. Aside from these rules, the best color choice is one that goes with your skin and hair color. I would recommend that you take into consideration what color looks best on most of your girls and then go with that as a dress color choice.
If you are going to keep everyone in the same color family or are trying for the exact same hue, I recommend strongly that you send everyone a fabric swatch.
Swatch (n.) – A small cutting of fabric or piece of paper used as an example of a color or fabric. Create a swatch by cutting small pieces of fabric in the color you want or find a paint swatch from a hardware store.
Computer monitors (and human eyes) can interpret colors differently. The easiest way to shop for a dress that will either match or complement a specific color is to have a color swatch in hand. Likewise, if you are going for a fabric with a specific texture (silk, taffeta, lace, etc.), then send a swatch of the fabric as well to each bridesmaid. My only advice in terms of the fabric is to watch when picking a very shiny fabric, or a fabric that wrinkles easily. Neither type of fabric does well in front of the camera. Also, remember that colors can look different in daylight, so always look at the color outside in the sun before saying yes to the dress.
Bottom line: variety is the spice of life, but make sure you give lots of direction in terms of the dress look, length, and color. Check in with your girls to make sure everyone is pretty much on the same page so that you don’t have any surprises walking down the aisle.
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photography portfolio, please visit my website – www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com