A mismatch made in wedding-day heaven
More brides leaving matchy-matchy bridal parties behind
NEW YORK — Alison Kelly felt she had enough on her plate dealing with her own wedding gown and all the details of her mountain getaway nuptials without micromanaging how her bridal party would dress.
So instead, she asked her maid of honour — her sister — and the rest of her bridal party to choose natural tones to honour the informal Colorado location that she and her husband had picked for their late summer nuptials, and to wear styles that made them feel good.
“I’m surrounded by women who make their own decisions and are strong and independent. There’s no way I could tell any of them what to wear,” Kelly said with a laugh.
She was thrilled with the results — a soft mix of rose blush, light red, ivory and taupe that proved the perfect complement to her own white gown. The bridesmaids wore matching rings of flowers on their heads. The groom’s party was also not matchy-matchy. He wore light grey, his best man was in black and the other groomsmen were in darker grey. Identical boutonnieres tied their looks together.
While brides have been giving their stand-up loved ones greater freedom from the constraints of more traditional — often hideous — matching confections, they now seem to be taking the mismatch bridesmaid trend a step further. Matching colours in different silhouettes or identical dye lots for different styles of dresses have given way to completely different cuts, textures and colours.
“They did so well,” Kelly said. “They kept showing me the pictures of what they were thinking ... I trusted them, and it ended up being much better than I imagined.”
The trend is well represented on the retail side. David’s Bridal, with more than 330 stores located in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the U.K., has an online section of mismatched bridesmaids options with advice on how to make the concept work, from using the same colour in different styles to choosing wildly different fabrics, lengths, silhouettes, colours, prints and embellishments.
One suggestion from the company: Select different shades of the same colour, but include light, medium and dark shades to allow for an ombre gradation. For large wedding parties, mix in some pale neutrals that will offset the overall palette.
Shelley Brown, fashion and beauty editor for The Knot, said the idea of mismatched bridesmaids dresses is picking up speed as more brides look for ways to personalize their weddings.
Complete freedom of choice can go wrong, so Brown suggests that brides provide some broad guidelines. If it’s a super-formal wedding, for instance, a short dress likely wouldn’t work, Brown said. Nor would a more informal fabric like jersey, she added. Some brides who want to offer choice in colour without losing control altogether may want to offer paint chips as a guide.
“One of my favourite ways to interpret this trend is to pick a really subtle, neutral colour like blush or nude or even a very soft pewter and then let your girls choose what embellishments or silhouettes they like,” Brown said. “They could do rose gold sequins if they want to, maybe someone else has a lace dress and someone has some kind of separates happening. That way your girls get to show some of their personalities.”
Sydney Broadhead of Nashville, Tenn., who got married in May 2016, said she went way out of the box when it came to her bridesmaids’ dresses.
“I had several bridesmaids of varying sizes, different body types, and I wanted dresses that were going to make them feel more comfortable,” she said.
She wanted romantic tones but the overall vibe was eclectic. “I had one girl in gold and another in pink. One was in metallics. My sister was in red. One had a beaded top. It came together very organically,” Broadhead said.
She set few guidelines on styles and fabrics but made it clear she preferred longer dresses. She anchored the bridal party by putting groomsmen in the same suit with matching red ties and boutonnieres to help ground the mismatch on the other side of the aisle.
“The traditional everybody matching idea felt a little uninventive,” Broadhead said. “I was fine with trying something new.”
Alison Reed, centre, of Colorado Springs, Colo., stands with her bridal party in Vail, Colo. Reed chose to allow her bridesemaids leeway in the colours and styles of dresses they wore. Experts say mismatched bridesmaids dresses are a growing trend as more brides personalize their weddings.