Bridesmaid 101: Lessons learnt

In my post Brighton and Bridesmaid Dresses, myself and the other 5 bridesmaids for my friend Clare’s wedding had our final fitting and got to see our dresses in the flesh for the first time. It was a LOVELY day, and the dresses are gorgeous. However, I do feel that we were all taken for a bit of a ride by the dress shop, so wanted to share this experience with you all so you don’t make the same mistakes we did!

I have been a bridesmaid a few times before for family members, and this was my first time being on a bridal party for a friend. To relieve some of the financial pressure from the bride – and as there were so many of us – we offered to contribute towards our dresses if needed.

We all popped to Ozone Brighton last November to choose our dresses. We opted for the Dessy collection, as we could all choose different styles which would then be dyed the same colour for uniformity. All of the sample dresses were huge, but we were pinned in to see what would look like, and then our measurements were taken for our dresses to be made.

Our measurements were matched to sizes on the chart, but the fitter suggested we all order a size or two bigger, as it would be easier to take in a dress that was too big than to squeeze into a dress that is too small. This should have been my first warning…our exact measurements had been taken, so why would the dresses not fit? To be ‘safe’, we all agreed to ordering a size or two larger than we were measured.

The fitter then also recommended that we order dresses with extra length, as again if a dress is too long it can be taken up, but nothing can be done about a dress is too short. Despite drowning in the sample dresses, the fact that most of us are petite anyway and the fact that we would all be wearing flats, we agreed that this too would be a good idea and all ordered extra long, large dresses.

When it came to the final fitting this month, I was so excited to try on the finished article. I popped the dress over my head, did up the zip and let go of the bodice. The whole dress dropped down to my waist. It wasn’t just slightly on the large size; it was HUGE.

I had to hold the dress in place to maintain some degree of decency, and shuffled out of the changing room (hindered even more by the reams of excess fabric at the bottom of the dress). I was then pinned into what should’ve been the final product to make it fit, and needless to say the extra length was also totally unnecessary.

To adjust the dress back to the size I was measured at cost me a further £60 on top of what I had already contributed towards the dress. And it wasn’t just me; every single one of the 6 bridesmaids needed their dresses adjusting, so Ozone made an absolute steal that morning!

I am so angry with myself for letting myself be talked into ordering totally the wrong size. I feel like fitter and shop assistants did play on our insecurities a little bit – ‘What if you gain a bit of weight between now and the wedding?!’ – and I should have just stuck by my guns and ordered the size I actually AM.

Obviously if you buy your bridesmaid or occasion dresses from a high street store or chain, you can return and swap your purchase for the appropriate size. But in made-to-measure or bridal shops, this is not the case. My size does not fluctuate, I always prefer dresses to be a little tighter as opposed to too loose (not being able to breathe is definitely preferable to a dress that falls down!) and I am small, so have never needed an extra-long anything in my life!

If you are unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution – but adjustments will come at a price. If, like me, you know your body and know that your size is not going to change a great deal, do not make the same mistake as we did. Stand your ground, order the size your measurements fit, and don’t be coerced into parting with yet more cash for unnecessary adjustments.

If you’ve had a similar experience let me know, it would be interesting to see if this kind of thing is commonplace or we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time…

And the ordeal has only dampened the bridesmaid experience slightly. The dresses are beautiful (and will be even more so when they actually fit!) and we still have plenty more excitement leading up to the big day…not least the first instalment of Hen Do action next week!

Katie Scarlett xx

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