Believe it or not you can have a gorgeous wedding without forcing everyone to buy expensive bridesmaid gowns. Having all your ladies in the same dress and color is a fine tradition, but imagine if they each had a unique dress. If you use the following guidelines, then you won't even have to sacrifice any of your visions of a classy, romantic wedding and you'll please your bridesmaids beyond belief.
1. Decide about colors. Do you want everyone to pick a dress in the same color, or Justin the same color family? For example, in the first option, you can send each bridesmaid a swatch of a color that you want them to match as closely as possible. In the second option, you can let them know if you want pastels, muted, neutral or bright colored dresses. Direct them to colors you see in catalogues or in stores so that you are all on the same page. Also, if you're choosing a group of colors, then it's nice to let your bridesmaids have a say in which one they get. Remember that you want them to end up with a dress that they enjoy-and maybe can even use again.
2. Decide on a length. Even if you have bridesmaids that vary in height a great deal, having everyone with ankle or knee length dresses will provide uniformity. Along with length, you'll want to let them know how high or low you want shoes to go and whether you want them to all be opened or closed toe.
3. Depending on how detailed you want to be, decide on a style and/or fabric. Do you want v-neck or scoop-neck; short sleeves or long sleeves? Do you want silky satin or breezy linen? Once you get into this territory, it is actually better to have fewer specifics, rather than more. The point is to be unique, right? However, it is probably best that you choose whether it's short or long sleeves to a point, (i.e. avoid having one bridesmaid with sleeveless and another with long billowing ones. Think guidelines, rather than requirements. If you have everyone in the same general color, then you will be able to get away with a little more variation in cut and style. The same is true for fabric.