Ask the Experts: Deciding on Bridesmaides Gowns

Q: Every time my attendants and I look at gowns, black clouds gather. One thinks the sheath-style dress I like makes her look fat. Another says she wants to go strapless. How much input should the bridesmaids have in choosing their gowns?

A: As attendants are responsible for paying for their own attire, a bride should consider both flattery and cost when choosing dresses. “Attendants come in various shapes and sizes, and a bride should be aware of dress styles that may best suit the individual attendant,” says Ashley Albrecht of A Little Etiquette in Lansdale. “Many times, brides will allow attendants to wear different dress styles while keeping the color consistent in order to flatter body types.”

One way to approach a discrepancy in taste is to suggest another gown instead of lamenting the dress under consideration. For example, the bride who balks at canary yellow should refrain from references to Big Bird and note that a different color might be more flattering to the complexion.

The final call belongs to the bride, Albrecht says. When all is said and done, she’s the one who will be flipping through the wedding album time and time again. —Eileen Smith