2010 05/02

It’s All About the Dress – And I’m Not Talking About the Bride

By Elizabeth Zachry

Bridesmaids originated from the Roman law that required ten witnesses at weddings in order to fool evil spirits.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen were dressed identical to the bride and groom, confusing evil spirits and keeping them from  haunting the happy couple.  That tradition is now gone, and instead of dressing like the bride, the bride chooses bridesmaid dresses based on her preferences for style and color.

I recently entered into the realm of bridesmaid dresses, trying to appreciate different fabrics, slightly varied shades of color, and the numerous designers out there.  Every designer and dress teasing me with the promise of being a dress I can wear again

So far we have been to one store to try on dresses.  I was shocked to find out that the “cheap” dresses were $180, with prices increasing to nearly $500.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my friend and am happy to take part in her wedding, but what really is an appropriate price for a dress?  According to etiquette expert Judith Martin in her book Miss Manners on Weddings, “Contrary to rumor, bridesmaids are not obliged to entertain in honor of the bride, nor to wear dresses they cannot afford.”

I was also surprised by the lack of samples to try.  The dresses all came in only one size (4, 8, or 10) and one color.  I consider myself to be an average sized woman, and had trouble fitting in at least half of the samples.  Does this seem reasonable?  Shouldn’t dresses come in a variety of sizes and colors so you can really tell what you’re paying a few hundred dollars for?

I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions!


  • Yes, they should. When I was a bridesmaid the bride just took my measurements and ordered the dress for me. So i didn’t try it on or even see it until 2 weeks before the wedding. I am not a sample size, thats for sure. Thanks for the dress blog!

  • I’m all for the recent trend of picking a color family or general style and letting the bridesmaids choose from there…

  • Funny I just read this as I’m in the midst of bridesmaid dress shopping for TWO weddings I’m in. Being the Bay Area guide I guess I’m surprised with your shock on the prices. I’m pretty sure I can’t find dresses for anything in this area for under $150, unless it’s from Forever 21 – and while I love that store, let’s face it – beach and “a night out” apparel is all you’ll find there! I know it seems like a lot, but I disagree with the quote from Miss Manners. Every time I’ve said yes, I’ve known that while it’ll be a big financial commitment in so many ways, it’s always something I wouldn’t miss for the world.

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