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You choose your bridesmaids for lots of reasons and using a variety of metrics. Sometimes, they are your actual family, your sisters and cousins. Back in the day, brides were pressured into adding family members to the attendant brigade and girls often resented it. Those were the days of 12 bridesmaids. Now we see Best Woman and Man of Honor along with smaller numbers of attendants and a mix of dearest ones. Bridesmaids are often also longtime childhood friends, coworkers, college roommates, people in your hobby group or others you just love.
But here's the truth:
Whether they are all sorority sisters and share a likeness, or your bridesmaids are a motley crew of pals from different chapters in your life, they all have distinct personalities (and tastes!, and body types!, and preferences!!). Remember that! And apparently, brides are embracing the concept and making a choice to provide leeway for their best girls. If a bridesmaid is willing to pay for her dress, EVEN THOUGH IT IS YOUR DAY, rewarding her with options can be the deeply cool thing to do.
The prevailing wisdom these days is that there are some basic categories and guidelines for mixing it up from the bridesmaids' lane.
1 - Choose the same color, but let style be up for grabs.
2 - Choose the same dress, but let brides choose their color from a limited palette, shades of blue let's say.
3 - Mix colors, shades and style.
4 - Make it a free-for-all within limits.
Brides are cautioned to guide their brides with a set palette, a limited choice of textures, hemlines and fabrics and a gentle reminder that the stand out in a group should still be the bride.
Brides should also tie disparate looks together with consistency elsewhere. Keep the bouquets identical. Have bridesmaids all wear the same accessories. If the feel of the wedding is boho, allow hairstyles to be different but in that theme. No tight, austere buns or architectural hair dos should be found among the loose braids and whimsical waves. This will allow guests to see that there is structure vs. chaos in your day's planning.
Whether you go with a traditional look with all maids wearing identical styles or a complete reversal of The Rules, everyone in your wedding party should be comfortable and feel loved. Ultimately, that's why you chose them in the first place: they're special.