Make the day fun and productive with these ideas.
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Shopping for bridesmaids' dresses should be a fun bonding experience, but finding the perfect gown for several women is bound to cause stress. Here are eight tips to ensure your shopping spree goes down without a hitch.

Think about your requirements.

Bridesmaids traditionally wear matching dresses in the same style and color, but more and more brides are choosing to be more easygoing with their attendant's ensembles; some give the ladies free reign to pick a gown in a designated color, while others let them choose between a handful of options. This flexibility allows each bridesmaid to choose a dress they feel comfortable in-possibly warding off conflict and feelings of resentment. Before you go shopping, decide which camp you fall into and then ask your crew to try on dresses that fit the bill.

Encourage your 'maids to research beforehand.

If you're letting your bridesmaids pick their own gowns, understand that there will be a huge number of available options. Trying on styles can be overwhelming when the dress appointment is only an hour long. Encourage your bridesmaid to research the store's dress selection beforehand and compile a shortlist of ones they like. This saves precious time they would otherwise spend combing through the racks. Similarly, if you're the one choosing, you should have an idea of what you'd like to see your group try on.

Be open about the budget.

Let's face it: Weddings are expensive, and this is true whether you're the bride and groom or their attendants. You certainly don't want your ladies balking at the high price of gowns in the shop, so always be upfront about your expected budget and ask everyone for a max cost before shopping. Don't forget to factor in the cost of alterations, which can add anywhere from $25 to $100 to the overall cost.

Have a reasonable timeline.

After choosing a gown, the bridesmaids must wait for delivery and then have alterations made. The entire process takes time, so it's smart to start shopping eight months before the big day.

Schedule an appointment.

Some bridal salons accept walk-in clients, but consider booking an appointment in advance. Since scheduling a time for all bridesmaids to meet will likely be difficult, you don't want plans spoiled if the store ends up being full for the day. Plus, if you give specifics about your desired dress styles and colors when booking, the store can better prepare for your appointment.

Research group discounts.

If you're looking to cut costs for your bridesmaids, research sales and discounts before you start shopping. Some stores offer a decreased rate if you're buying a certain number of dresses, while others throw in coupons for shoes and accessories. You may also want to look into trunk shows, which may introduce you to more options from a particular designer at a discounted price.

Have fun with it.

A controlling bridezilla will quickly spoil the fun of dress shopping, so focus on making sure your group is happy, comfortable, and confident. You may even want to celebrate finding your bridesmaids' dresses with a post-shopping breakfast or brunch, which will make everyone feel appreciated.


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