Bridesmaids Tell All

We asked some veteran bridesmaids how they really feel about weddings, the dress, the rest of the party, everything. Here's what they had to say.

And About Those Dresses…

Ah, yes, the dresses. First of all, if you have six bridesmaids with different tastes who are supposed to agree on one gown, look out! "When the bride lets you pick the dress, you have to make a decision by committee," says Julia. "It's always slightly awkward to be part of a group like that."

At one wedding, Julia and four other bridesmaids went to try on dresses. Four agreed on one dress — and one insisted on another. "Because no one really had the final decision-making authority and we weren't all close friends, it became very strained. For a good while, the lone woman stood her ground," says Julia. "Eventually the majority prevailed, but it took some time and negotiation to get there and I think some feelings were hurt."

Nearly every bridesmaid admits that she hasn't always loved the chosen gowns. "The worst part is when you have to walk down the aisle—with a few hundred eyes on you — wearing a dress that you wouldn't have worn in a blackout," says Kris. Jennifer once wore a "bridesmaid-from-hell dress" made from "weird chintz fabric with purple and green flowers—and a green rope choker to match!" And Jessica complains that she now has nine bridesmaid dresses (complete with matching shoes!) in her closet. "I don't like being compelled to spend money on clothes I'm never going to wear again," says Jessica. "That's why when I got married, I let the bridesmaids wear what they wanted. I told them that the dress had to be black, but in whatever style they liked."

Are you listening, brides-to-be? "Try to be as sensitive as you can to the needs, and possibly the physical limitations, of your bridesmaids," advises Leah Ingram, author of Your Wedding, Your Way. "If your maid of honor is a petite size 2, and another bridesmaid is a size 20, choose a dress that will flatter them both—or give them the option of choosing the style and cut of their own dress, with fabric and color as their only absolute guidelines."

Still, most bridesmaids accept that if a bride chooses a certain dress, she probably has her heart set on it. In that case, nearly everyone we talked to would gladly wear it — after all, it's just one. When Debi got married two months ago, she felt she solved the dress dilemma perfectly. "I had my bridesmaids all wear a beautiful pink ballgown skirt and a black silk sweater bought off the rack," says Debi. "It was a very simple outfit, and something that everyone does look good in - and I know they'll be able to wear it again." So take heart, brides: These days, more and more manufacturers are coming up with bridesmaid dresses that fit, flatter and, even if they aren't likely to wear 'em again, at least look good for the day.

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