Muted colors work well together.
The easiest way to create this mix and match selection is to go with shades of nude, off-white, and blush. Above, this group of ladies are all wearing long, flowy dresses in these colors and that's where the similarities end. Some are sheer, others have lace. If you have a light color palette, or have a bridal party that is scattered across the country, light shades are definitely the simplest way to go.
A no-brainer technique is to have your bridesmaids all shop through the same retailer and pick a different color in several different styles (below). If you want more continuity in a larger bridal party, select three different styles (and remember to account for body type preferences) in 2-5 colors. You'll have some variety, but not so much that it won''t look traditional.
Glam it up with sparkle.
Brides who are featuring lots of metallics, sparkle, or sequins in their wedding, may want all that glitter to extend to their bridal party. If you are having a blush and silver wedding, for example, have bridesmaids seek out blush dresses (and send them photos so they can have a visual example of what you mean by "blush"), and mention that sparkle is optional. You'll end up with a mix of recycled (why let that cute bridesmaid dress go to waste?), solid color, and beaded dresses (below).
You can focus less on color and more on your theme.
Some wedding themes naturally dictate a bridal party's style. Add dazzle to your Art Deco event by encouraging your friends to find 1920's inspired dresses, with intricate beading or sheer panels in neutral shades. Even if some dresses are deep silver and others are pale peach, they will all naturally coordinate because of their shared style (below).
Likewise, for themes like retro and vintage consider using floral prints. Although the dresses below are all the same dress, the different fabrics will make the bridesmaids look completely unfussy and just plain adorable!
Adding texture can make blending the same color more aesthetically pleasing.
Some colors are going to be difficult to mix and match with your bridesmaid dresses. Red is a particularly problematic color to play with because of all of the different undertones and depths that are available. Unlike blues that are more calming to the eye, mismatched reds can be jarring and easily clash. However, if you are using a color that isn't that dramatic, adding texture can help overcome any obvious mismatching in shade. With the off-white dresses below this bridal party ran the risk of the darker dresses looking dirty against the whiter shades. But because they used all different kinds of lace and ribbons, the texture made them complement each other.
And texture isn't just a great tool for light shades. This bridal party below used beading, lace, and pleats to coordinate their different shades of navy.
Drooling over the photos of mix and match bridesmaid dresses in your latest wedding magazine? Understand that a large part of why you connect with those photos is how they are arranged. For example, this green bridal party (below, left) featured so many different shades that some wouldn't have looked "right" next to others. Arranging the order of how bridesmaids stand in photos and your ceremony lineup can transform the overall look of your bridal party. If you want a cornucopia of colors be especially aware of this. Below (right), this hanging rack of dresses features pink, coral, orchid, and red. If the red and orchid were right next together, nothankyouverymuch. But the coral and pink filling in the space in between makes the whole party look cheerful and lively.
When in doubt, rely on a color wheel.
Want spectacularly bold color? Use a color wheel to find colors that look great together. Below, this primary colored bridal party is exhibiting some next level mismatching. You can achieve similar looks with secondary and tertiary colors. Also appealing to the eye is using two complementary colors (the colors that are across from each other on the wheel).
A few parting tips to help you mix and match your bridesmaid dresses:
1. Always show your bridal party examples of what you mean by a certain color. Colors like coral and navy have a lot of variances, so don't be afraid to create a pin board or send out messages with real life examples.
2. Use plenty of descriptive words and examples about the style of dress. In general, there does need to be a common thread tying mismatched bridesmaid dresses together. Maybe it is the silhouette (long and flowy, short and fitted, high-low hemline, etc.), or perhaps the vibe (edgy, modern, romantic), but make sure you have communicated the vine you are trying to achieve.
3. Ask your bridesmaids to send each other photos of dresses they are considering. This will prevent two women buying the same dress, or one that clashes with the rest.
Credits: Andrew Allen Morton | Chelsea Bock Photography | Kelly Kollar | Kelly Maughan | Naughty Shorts | Rad + In Love Photography | Ryan Ray Photography | 3 Deseos y Medio | Lauren Goldenberger Photography | Red, White & Green Photography