The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: Unique Bridesmaid Dresses On A Budget

I am getting married this October and am on the hunt for six unique bridesmaids dresses. (On a budget of course.) My inspiration is Molly Sims' wedding and bridesmaids. Would you be able to help? —Olivia M.

I'll offer my two cents and then open this conversation up to my readers who I'm sure will have some great advice! Love your inspiration, by the way.

My first suggestion: Use Pinterest. When I was planning my wedding last fall, Pinterest was just kinda starting to go mainstream. My sister and maid-of-honor was already an avid Pinterest user, then I made the other members of my bridal party sign up so we could easily share ideas. This was especially helpful because we live in different parts of the country.

My second suggestion: Let each bridesmaid pick her own dress. I didn't have a traditional wedding party, but rather asked a few close friends and family to wear certain colors to fit my "theme". Yes it was confusing at times, but it all worked out well in the end! I gave each person some guidelines - floor length, silver-gray or blush, for example, and then let them find their own dress within those parameters and within their price range. Miraculously, everyone indulged me (it's great to have such thoughtful friends!) and everyone found a dress they loved.

For example, my sister bought her dress at She sent me the link for "approval" prior to purchasing. She has amazing taste and I instantly loved the dress she had chosen.

My sister-in-law emailed me a couple options that she was considering from Nordstrom, David's Bridal and then we discussed over the phone, and she finally settled on a dress we both loved by Adrianna Pappell. My mother-in-law also ended up with a fabulous dress by this designer; they make great eveningwear that's flattering and relatively affordable.

My mom went shopping in person, then texted me photos from the dressing room. I loved what she picked; it fit the mood of the wedding and the color was just right, too.

So that's what I did: I worked one on one with everyone in my bridal party. Just share your vision as clearly as possible (photos work best, that's why Pinterest is so great), then let your bridesmaids find their own dress.

If you are paying for the dresses and prefer to choose them yourself, you could do that too. I'd pick two to three options per friend, then let her decide which dress she'd prefer.

As far as where to shop, here are some great places to find affordable bridal party dresses:

What advice would you share with Olivia? Let her know in the comments!

Great advice! I'd also suggest J.Crew's bridal/formalwear; the colors and styles are gorgeous and they're sometimes on sale, like right now.
#1 cathy (Homepage) on 2012-05-15 13:04 (Reply)
I agree with Cathy - J.Crew make's simple/chic formalwear. Their sale items are reasonable.
#2 jen_cam on 2012-05-15 13:24 (Reply)
This was great to read, I'm newly engaged and looking for some good dresses that aren't disgustingly shiny like so many bridesmaids dresses are.
#3 Kate on 2012-05-15 17:45 (Reply)
Just putting my two cents in, I really like the unmatched-but-coordinated bridesmaid look. Wish the idea had been around years ago.
#4 alanc230 (Homepage) on 2012-05-15 20:41 (Reply)
I did something similar for my wedding which was featured in Style Me Pretty. I had 5 bridesmaids: 2 matched, 2 matched, and my maid of honor was different. Every pair had a different style and color dress that complimented my wedding colors. Take a look!
#5 jackie (Homepage) on 2012-05-15 23:53 (Reply)
Wow! Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing! I love the color story you told with the bridesmaid dresses. How did you find those dresses? I didn't see them listed in the credits...
#5.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-05-16 12:17 (Reply)
Very pretty bridesmaid dresses, but even prettier bride! You look stunning!
#5.2 Joanna (Homepage) on 2012-05-16 18:20 (Reply)
Oh, but also to touch on the affordable dresses part...I would suggest allowing your bridesmaids to pick their own dress. Give them paint swatches of what colors they are allowed to choose from and length requirements. This allows them to spend what they can and you get a beautiful array of patterns and styles like the Molly Sims' inspiration wedding.
#6 jackie (Homepage) on 2012-05-16 00:04 (Reply)
I think if you're going for that mismatched look, stick with a specific color palette and length of the dress and go shopping with your girls. Any department store or a bridal store like Davids would work. I picked a specific color for my girls and they all picked a different dress that came in that color from the bridal store. But if you really love that mis-matched look like Molly Sims wedding, stick to a neutral palette and let your girls find a dress in those colors on their own. Just get together with all the girls to make sure it's somewhat coordinated!
#7 Kristin (Homepage) on 2012-05-16 09:26 (Reply)
I would say select either a matte or shiny fabric, whichever you prefer and then give them a color palette; shades of gray would be pretty. I think the key is to specify the sheen and material if possible. Some satiny/shiny and some jersey/crepe and matte (like what I see in Molly Sim's wedding party) would not look good.
#8 Joanna (Homepage) on 2012-05-16 18:32 (Reply)
Just wanted to add one more spot that sells affordable bridesmaid dresses, Target!
#8.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-05-17 10:01 (Reply)
My maid (I just had one) got her dress at H&M. My wedding was in January so we went around Christmas when they had lot's of festive holiday dresses and found a lovely silvery gray dress for $30.
#9 PDXGirl on 2012-05-24 18:43 (Reply)
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