If you’ve not already read our Bridesmaid Dresses Guide, we strongly recommend doing so before this post. In this ultimate guide to bridesmaid dress shopping, we’ll be talking about the shopping process, when it should happen and where you can find something all your ladies will love.
Designer vs. High Street
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you’re going to opt for a designer dress, or head to the high street. This has an impact on the rest of your bridesmaid dress shopping decisions.
A few years ago, shopping at a bridal boutique or dedicated bridesmaid shop was the most popular choice. In 2020, online shopping took over and more couples were finding their bridesmaid outfits from high street websites. With this online surge, more high street shops began to open bridesmaid ranges. So with all this choice, where do you go? Here are the facts.
Designer Dresses: Pros
Designer dresses come in a boat load of colours.
Each dress is made to order, so will fit each of your bridesmaids well.
Alterations from a dedicated boutique will be done to a high standard, and the dresses are designed so they can be altered easily.
There are options to choose different styles in the same colour.
Because they’re made to order, stock levels are never an issue.
It’s simple to find a similar style appropriate for younger bridesmaids.
You know you’ll be getting an amazing quality dress.
Designer Dresses: Cons
Designer dresses can be slightly more expensive than the high street.
You’ll need to arrange for your ladies to get to a boutique to try on and have fittings for the dresses.
High Street Dresses: Pros
High street dresses can cost less.
Dresses can be ordered and sent to each bridesmaid individually, so you don’t need to meet up.
Alterations may not be needed.
Simple for your bridesmaids to purchase their own dress – just send a link.
Usually come with suggestions for matching accessories.
High Street Dresses: Cons
They may not be suitable for alterations.
You’ll be relying on the high street size guide, and the store having all sizes in stock.
It can be a longer process, especially if your bridesmaids don’t all suit the same style.
Finding perfectly matched colours can be difficult.
When To Shop
We suggest starting the search for your bridesmaid outfits no later than 6 months prior to the wedding date. The lead time for designer dresses is usually around 16 – 20 weeks plus alteration time, so this will give you plenty of opportunity to book your appointments and find the perfect dress.
If you’ve chosen to shop on the high street, you may need to start a little further in advance. Not only will you need time to order and return dresses, but the high street fashions change with the seasons. It’s not often you’ll find a dress perfect for a winter wedding in the middle of summer.
What To Budget
Your budget will depend on who is paying for the dresses, and where you decide to shop. As a rule, bridesmaid dresses can cost anything between £50 and £400 including alterations. Whoever is paying, make sure the budget is decided upfront to avoid any awkward conversations later.
Where To Go
Here we have a list of all the places our past couples and friends have purchased their bridesmaid dresses from. It’s separated into designer and high street, and everything is in alphabetical order. Happy shopping!