From the bridesmaids’ dresses and bouquets, to the ushers’ ties and buttonholes, co-ordinating the bridal party on your big day has a fabulously glamorous effect. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by colour schemes and styling choices, try these expert tips for the perfect bridal party design.
(Almost) anything is possible
It’s never been easier to get the look you want for your bridal entourage. “You only have to visit bridal shops to see the wide variety of colours and products,” says Louise Johnson at Alexia Designs. “Some shops even hand make accessories and waistcoats so the bridal party can perfectly match the bride’s dream theme.”
“We offer around 240 colours across our fabrics,” says Vivian Dessy Diamond, creative director at Dessy. “We have core fabrics like chiffon and matte satin that come in the same colours, so you can work across them in many different ways. Your own creativity makes the different elements come together.”
Setting your heart on one colour or style before you hit the shops could mean missing out, warns Vivian:
“The most important thing is to be open-minded. You might find something you hadn’t thought about that’s really quite beautiful.
“Brides usually have their colour selected and then find the bridesmaid dresses – but if they see a style that doesn’t come in that shade, they have to re-think. Ultimately they usually choose the style, which is smart, rather than sticking to the colour.”
Factor in the fabric
Remember that certain materials will affect the way your colours work, but most shops offer fabric swatches to make sure you get the exact effect you want before you make any final decisions.
“What you have in mind for your maids and ushers, and what will work in reality, are two different things,” says Vivian. “Perhaps hot pink is beautiful in satin, but you’re not so crazy about it in chiffon.”
“If you’re getting married abroad in the heat, dresses made with heavy material won’t work,” Louise points out. “You’ll need to look at lighter fabric, which may limit your colour choices.”
You’ll also need to think about the fabric for your best man and ushers as they won’t look stylish if they’re melting in a heavy suit on the beach; consider light cotton suits and linen.
Mix and match
Having a unified colour palette doesn’t mean you have to pick the same style of dress for your bridesmaids, or the same suit for the ushers.
“Years ago it was one style, one colour,” says Vivian. “But now you can go from one collection or style to another in the same palette. Not everything has to match exactly. Work within the theme but branch out a bit as it paints a prettier picture.”
If you’d rather not use a single colour for the bridal party, Louise suggests combining neutrals with one key focal colour. “Use silver or ivory to tone down stronger shades or opt for different tones of one colour,” she suggests. This multi-tonal styling idea can work particularly well for the ushers’ ties or cravats, as well as the bridesmaid dresses.
And while your maids won’t get lots of wear out of their dresses after your big day, their accessories can be mixed and matched with non-wedding outfits; pashminas are versatile, shoes can be dyed, tiaras make a fashion statement and jewellery can work for any occasion.
Think where and when
When you co-ordinate colours, styles and design across the entire wedding your bridal party really will look incredible, so always consider the venue and theme. For example, a vintage-inspired wedding in a stately home calls for elegant accent colours like purple, silver and grey, retro-style bridesmaid bouquets, vintage jewellery and highly tailored suits and dresses.
For a glamorous hotel or historic venue, Louise recommends deep shades such as royal blues and vivid reds, “or pastel colours, petal pinks and sage greens for a garden-themed wedding,” she adds.
You’ll also need to take the time of year into account. “Certain colours like purple and midnight blue are popular year-round,” Vivian says. “Others like yellow and hot pink are more suited to spring and summer.”
Start a scrapbook
If you’re still not sure where to start, collect colour, theme and style ideas to visualise the look you want the bridal party to have. “An inspiration board or scrapbook with cuttings from magazines will help immensely,” Louise says.
If you want to collect ideas online, you can save all your favourite bridal party styles and accessories using your hitched.co.uk personalised scrapbook, before creating your own hitched moodboard. You can then share your ideas with the bridesmaids and ushers, as well as showing your mood board to your dress designer, bridal shop and wedding venue.