Choosing Your Bridesmaids Dresses: Colours, Styles & Costs

When it comes to choosing bridesmaid dresses for your wedding, there are often lots of questions around who should choose the style, who should cover costs and how to keep everyone happy. Obviously, you want everyone to have a fantastic time on your big day, meaning selecting bridesmaid dresses presents a careful balancing act between your wedding vision and keeping your best friends happy. High street fashion retailer Oasis have undertaken a survey of 2,269 brides and bridesmaids to uncover how people usually approach these issues.

Choosing Bridesmaid Dresses

Picking the right dress for your bridesmaids can be the difference between them feeling comfortable and confident walking down the aisle, and them feeling awkward and unhappy. Almost all brides (97%) are confident they made the right choice and their bridesmaids are happy with their dresses.

However, bridesmaids have a very different view. One in five (19%) bridesmaids say they were unhappy with what they had to wear. One way to make sure your bridesmaids approve of your choice is to get them involved with the selection process.

Image by Karl Baker Photography


From the Oasis survey it seems that colour is the element of dress design that brides are least likely to give up control over. Just 4% of bridesmaids said they had any say on the colour of dress they wore.

Colour schemes will be one of the major things tying your wedding together, and bridesmaid dresses can be a big part of this, so it’s easy to see why brides might be reluctant to share control of this decision. Just bear in mind that the colour of a dress can impact how it looks on different people.

When picking a colour, consider the complexions and hair colours of your bridesmaids, so no one has a dress colour that washes them out. If you can, get your bridesmaids involved in the wedding planning process early on. That way you can talk to them about wider colour schemes before making decisions on dresses. After all, the main reason you have bridesmaids is to help you plan the perfect day!


Brides are more open to the idea of letting bridesmaids select the style of their dresses. Almost one-third of bridesmaids (32%) got a say on style. This can be a great option to make bridesmaids involved in some aspect of the selection process. It means your friends can select cuts, lengths and necklines that suit their body, while having a colour that matches your theme.

Some retailers now offer bridesmaid dresses that can be easily altered to give different necklines and lengths all in the same colour and material. These can be a great choice to empower your bridesmaids, while retaining a cohesive appearance.

Image courtesy of Johnny Hathway Photography

Give your Bridesmaids a Selection

One way to allow your bridesmaids to pick their dress, while still making sure you keep overall control, is to present them with a shortlist of your own choices. Almost one in five brides (17%) have taken this tack when selecting their bridesmaids’ dresses.

Pick three to five styles that you’d be happy to have in your wedding and let your bridesmaids democratically decide which they prefer.

Who Picks up the Cost?

Who pays for the bridesmaid dresses seems to have become a more common debate. The total cost of kitting out your bridesmaids can be high, so it’s an important thing to think about. Currently, three-quarters of brides believe that they should cover all costs of bridesmaids’ dresses. But this view is only shared by 59% of bridesmaids.

If you do consider sharing dress costs with your bridesmaids, you could see a decent saving. Based on a UK average of three bridesmaids per wedding, dresses will set you back around £342.

Asking bridesmaids to chip in for their dresses will mean relinquishing some control over design choices, however. It’s only fair that they have the power to choose what they’re paying for.

If you’re picking your bridesmaids’ dresses, hopefully this will have given you food for thought. Talk to your bridesmaids about design elements, know what you’re willing to shift on and what you’re not, and be prepared to cover all costs if you’re choosing their dresses.

Image courtesy of Martin Phillips Studio