6 Unconventional Ways to Dress Your Bridesmaids

You've said yes to your dress, and now it's time to outfit your bridal party in theirs. The traditional plan of attack? Pick out a dress and have your bridesmaids order it — same color, same silhouette, same everything. We get the reasoning: it's certainly easy. You don't have to overthink it once you've made your selection, and it's the most surefire way to get a streamlined look for pictures.

But it also comes with problems. Just ask the bridesmaid who was annoyed about having to hike up her strapless dress all night long or the fair-skinned member of the bridal party who looked washed out in a Champagne-pink gown. In fact, just ask any bridesmaid if she's ever reworn a bridesmaid dress. Chances are, it wasn't one she would have picked for herself.

Luckily for you, we've come up with six unconventional ways to break from the identical bridesmaid dress tradition. Whether it's as simple as letting your ladies choose different necklines or giving them a specific color and having them shop for themselves, these mix-and-match dressing options will help add a personal touch to your wedding and make everyone look their absolute best. Photo by Julie Roberts via Style Me Pretty

Same Dress, Different Necklines

Same Dress, Different Necklines

Why try it: If you want a cohesive look among your bridesmaids but don't want to pigeonhole anyone into a silhouette that isn't flattering to their figure or would make them uncomfortable.

How to make it happen: Pick a specific bridesmaid dress designer, and find a general dress fabric and hemline that you like. Then, check their roster to see what variations they offer. If they have at least one option per every bridesmaid, it's a safe bet.

Let your bridesmaids go through all the variations and pick their favorites. Be warned: they may all settle on the same one or two styles, depending, so if you want all the dresses to be different, consider having them each give you their top two or three choices. Photo by Mary Sylvia Photography via Style Me Pretty

Same Dress, Different Colors

Same Dress, Different Colors

Why try it: If you feel like pictures of bridesmaid dresses all in the exact same shade is a little one-note, but you still want them to look connected and stand out among your other wedding guests.

How to make it happen: Your best bet is to, again, opt for the same dress designer. You can pick the exact same silhouette for all the dresses, or give your bridesmaids the same freedom to pick a shape that works best for them.

Then it's up to you to determine the color scheme. It's fun to envision a rainbow of colors, but we recommend using varying shades of the same general color, like pinks and reds. Feel free to ask them their shade of choice (your more pale pals may opt for the richer hues), but try to disperse them evenly. If you have six bridesmaids, shoot for two or three different colors. Photo by Anna K Photography via Heart Love Weddings

Different Dresses, Same Color

Different Dresses, Same Color

Why try it: If you hate the idea of forcing your bridesmaids to all buy a traditional bridesmaid dress that they won't wear again, but you still love the idea of everyone matching.

How to make it happen: Pick a color, but be aware that perfect matches are going to be hard to find. Just be clear about the general shade, or else you may get variations on blue or beige that you'd never considered before. (Note: the easiest color to get right without having to micromanage with swatches is black.)

Although this is a great opportunity for your bridesmaids to find dresses they actually like, give them some parameters, like with hemline or fabric. If you don't want lace or are hoping for glitzy embellishments, tell them. If satin isn't your thing, let them know up front. If you feel stressed about all that freedom, ask that they send you a photo of the dress they've picked to get your final approval. Photo by Maggie Harkov via Style Me Pretty

Different Dresses, Different Shades of Same Color

Different Dresses, Different Shades of Same Color

Why try it: If you are pretty indifferent about the bridesmaid dresses but have a general color scheme or tone for the wedding that you want to hit.

How to make it happen: This is a slight variation on getting all different dresses in the same color, but with flexibility as to the shade. Again, send off your bridesmaids with guidelines. If you like shades of peach, perhaps send them swatches of different options in that color family. And let them know if you prefer specific hemlines or want to steer clear of strapless dresses, for instance.

Just remember, if you give them freedom up front, don't take it back after they've made their purchases! Photo by Shannon Leigh Anderson via Style Me Pretty

Completely Different Dresses

Completely Different Dresses

Why try it: If you couldn't really care less what your bridesmaids are wearing, as long as they look good!

How to make it happen: You might get some confused responses from your bridesmaids, as this dressing technique is definitely not the norm at weddings. Let them know you want them to pick a dress that they love, and that's that.

However, you might find that your bridesmaids want more guidance. Give them the wedding's dress code up front, and also tell them what the wedding colors are or what the theme is. A whimsical barn wedding is very different from an old Hollywood glammed-up affair. Feel free to also ask that their dress includes, for instance, the color blue to add some level of consistency among the bridal party. Photo by Mademoiselle Fiona via Style Me Pretty

Special Dress For the Maid of Honor

Special Dress For the Maid of Honor

Why try it: If you want the most special member of your bridal party, the maid or matron of honor, to stand out among your bridesmaids.

How to make it happen: You have plenty of options here. Once you determine the look for your bridesmaids — whether it's all in identical dresses or in gowns in the same color — decide how you want to elevate the maid of honor's look.

The easiest way to go is to put her in a dress of a different color or shade, but you can also have her wear a printed dress that combines the wedding colors. Or you can put her in a full-length gown as opposed to your bridesmaids' knee-length frocks. Also consider having her stand out through accessories, like a floral crown, instead of going in a different dress direction. Photo by Amanda Lloyd Photography via Style Me Pretty