This blog was written by Sonia Dong
I remember both the excitement and the apprehension I felt when I started talking to my bridesmaids about bridesmaids dress shopping. I was excited about seeing my sister and friends - hanging out together, catching up, and trying on dresses! But I knew that they all had different styles and were unique in their own ways, and I'd heard from other brides that choosing bridesmaids dresses could be a long and drawn out process, especially if there is disagreement about styles, sizing availability and ordering timelines.
What ended up happening was major juggling of schedules to meet up and lots of time driving around to stores to find a dress that everyone liked and could afford - not to mention additional visits to the store we ended up going with to get alterations done after waiting months for our custom orders to come through.
Looking back, I wish the process could've been simpler, and that we had more time to actually hang out like I originally intended instead of getting stressed about things that didn't fit quite right, having to potentially "settle" on a dress that wasn't going to be worn again, and feeling the pressure of having to fit into a tailored dress.
So how do I make the whole process of bridesmaid dress shopping less stressful?
Here are 5 Tips and examples of how Henkaa's dresses help make bridesmaids dress shopping easier:
Before you step foot into a store or get your bridesmaids to look at options online, make sure you let them know what you're looking for. What is an absolute must (e.g. needs to be a colour in the wedding palette) and what is nice to have? If your bridesmaids are buying their own dresses make sure you know what their budget is. Understand what their preferences are - some people don't want to show their arms, or don't like high neck halters. Communicating in advance helps reduce the time needed to look and also helps to avoid disagreements or unhappy bridesmaids (or bride)!
In my case, I didn't know that some bridesmaids were very set against certain styles. In the end, we came to a compromise (after shopping around A LOT).
2. Be Flexible
It's your wedding, so you have ultimate say in what the bridesmaids will wear, but for me looking back, I realize that I could've eased up a bit on trying to make everything perfect. Because ultimately what I remember is that everyone had fun and we were together with our loved ones. I was pretty set on the bridesmaids dresses being the same and didn't even consider that they could have had the same colour but different styles. I got married before Henkaa existed, so my eyes just weren't open to this, and I didn't have the option of choosing a convertible bridesmaid dress that everyone could look uniform in AND showcase their own personal style by wrapping the dresses differently! Bridesmaids can either all get the Sakura Convertible Infinity Dress and wrap differently, or if your bridesmaids have budgetary constraints or some want bare arms while others want to have more coverage, they can also choose a different convertible dress and wear the same colour! (The bridesmaids in the picture shown at the top of this blog features the Sakura on 3 bridesmaids and the bridesmaid second from the left is wearing the Ivy Convertible Spaghetti Strap Dress.)
3. Shipping & Return Policy
When is the right time to buy a bridesmaids dress? Many traditional bridesmaids dresses must be ordered several months in advance and from there, you're following up and getting stressed about whether they'll arrive on time and if you have time for alterations. Cut out worry by buying dresses that are in stock and get the satisfaction of crossing off bridesmaids dresses so you can focus on the many other things on your Wedding To-Do List!
Take it from us, Henkaa had Made to Order dresses for a time, and it created stress for our customers so we stopped doing it! Unless you want something very specific like a slit or a certain hemline length, everything is off the rack. We strive to keep our dresses in stock and they take 5-10 days to get you. We also have reasonable pre-order timelines for restocking (pandemics notwithstanding)! Plus, we have a generous 30 day return policy on all regular items purchased online, which is not the case with many bridal stores and bridesmaids dresses.
Our recommendation is to order early so you can check it off the list, and avoid waiting for a potential restock. Getting dresses from a store that has a return policy also means if plans change, you're not stuck. However, we also recommend having a back-up plan too.
Having a back-up plan ties into being flexible, especially if you are on a tight timeline for your wedding, or you've chosen a really hot trending colour for your big day. You've got your wedding colour palette, so use that for inspiration! Get colour fabric swatches so you can figure out what your first and secondary choices are. If your top colour is not available, choose your secondary colour, or choose two different colours or an ombre effect which will create interest and beauty to your wedding too. Having a back-up plan means you're prepared and set up expectations for yourself so you won't be caught off guard - just like you'd have a back-up plan for your photoshoot or outdoor ceremony if the weather decides to change!
4. Minimal to No Alterations
Choosing a dress that requires little to no alterations saves time and money. Oftentimes we forget to add in the cost of alterations when considering the price of the dress itself, and by the time you've settled on something, it might be too late to back out.
Traditional bridesmaids dresses are purchased months away from the wedding but don't arrive until a month or two prior to the event - during those months, your bridesmaids might worry about whether the size they bought will still fit when they get it, or they bought a size up so they could get it taken in. A month away from the wedding, all the alterations are done and there's talk about whether the dresses will fit come the big day. Traditional dress sizing creates stress that can be helped by getting a size flexible dress like Henkaa's convertible dresses that don't require alterations to the body/torso and maybe just a quick hem on the bottom. Because we believe that you shouldn't change yourself to fit into a dress - it should change to fit you. Plus, that way everyone can take the time that's spent going to multiple fittings and paying for alterations and go do something fun together instead, like brunch or a movie!
5. Size Range
Look out for stores and companies that have dresses that fit women of different shapes and sizes. For instance, Henkaa offers flexible size ranges from 0-24. Ordering online becomes much easier with size ranges rather than rigid traditional dress sizing - especially if you have bridesmaids scattered across the country. Also keep in mind that some stores still charge more for plus size bridesmaids dresses - which is not fair. We introduced pricing equality for our full size range years ago so that plus size dresses cost the same as other dresses.
Size inclusive stores also tend to have staff who are experienced with fitting women of different shapes and sizes. Some of the stores we visited during my wedding planning were not exactly unkind to my friend who has a bigger bust, they were just not very accommodating and didn't have many options for her, which was frustrating. And when I was a bridesmaid for a friend's wedding, there were two of us who were pregnant. We had no idea what size we'd be when the wedding came around, and in my case, the wedding was around my baby's due date so I didn't know if she would be born yet or not. The store clerks were mostly unhelpful, telling us to just buy several sizes up "just in case" and that it was a given that we'd have to alter the dresses. In the end, we had to swap sizes and get alterations last minute - on top of trying to figure out motherhood (my baby was 6 days old for this wedding)! Henkaa's size flexible ranges would have really helped in this situation too!
I hope these tips help to make shopping for bridesmaids dresses an easier process! If you like our content or would like to learn more about how we help you stress less and celebrate more with Henkaa dresses, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd be happy to help!
Interested in seeing and feeling the Henkaa difference? Start by ordering colour fabric swatches!