We went bridesmaid dress shopping back in mid-March. We went to two shops. One was Columbia Bridal Boutique, and one was Betsy Robinson's.
When we showed up at Columbia Bridal Boutique, the shop girl immediately began to pepper me with questions. Like "what style do you want?" "what are your colors?" "what length were you thinking?" Beginning with "what style do you want?" when I have already told you that this is our first stop on the Bridesmaid Express Train will get me wanting to punch you. I very tensely told the girl that I didn't know what style we wanted and that's why we were here and she should talk to my girls while I sat over in that chair. Bridal Shopgirl pushed me to go look at the dresses and pick out ones I liked. I dragged my girls along, feeling irritable. I'm not sure if this particular shopgirl is just very bad at her job, or what, but another girl whose appointment was late jumped in and helped us out as we stood there, surrounded by taffeta and looking clueless.
"How about I just pull some that are kind of universally flattering that everybody likes?" She suggested. I felt immediately relieved. This is how the conversation should have started when I said "I have no idea what we want." We then pulled some more, and once everybody had 4-5 dresses, they started trying on. The great thing about CBB is they let you take pictures, but out of respect for my unshowered friends who were willing to drive 2 hours to meet us at the bridal shop at 10:00am, I'm not going to show any of them.
It is not entirely the shopgirl's fault that I didn't know what I was doing as far as "how to speak bridesmaid dress shopping". It had been awhile since I'd gone on an intentional bridesmaid dress shopping trip (as opposed to playing with the bridesmaid dresses while we waited for my sister to try on dresses). So I present to you Ellie's Guide To Bridesmaid Dress Shopping:
1.) Have an idea of style in mind. Here, let me give you the key words, "I think we're looking for something long, preferably A-line, and not too formal, in navy or cranberry, preferably under or around $200."
2.) Pull a bunch of dresses. Anything that suits your fancy. You have no idea what will or won't look good, so just grab a lot.
3.) Once your girls have tried on dresses, and all tried on the same ones that look good, you need to know two more key phrases, "do you have the swatch-card for this dress?" and once you have found the color you like, ask if they have a full length dress in that color - swatches are very hard to tell what the dress will really look like.
4.) Once you have found a dress that works for some of your girls, ask the salespeople to pull other dresses from that same line that will come in the same material and color and have the other girls try them on.
I really thought we could go in there and I could say "I think I want them to wear all different dresses by the same designer in the same fabric." That so did not work. I tried to express that and the salesgirl just looked at me blankly, and it worked much better to find a dress that looked good on 1-2 girls and then look for dresses from that same line.
Did anybody else have the problem that bridesmaids shopgirls do not, apparently, read wedding blogs and understand that non-matching dresses are de rigeur these days?
[ed note: I went to Bella Bridesmaid in Federal Hill and had a much less overwhelming experience. It was nice. Highly recommend.]