Matching vs. Custom Fitting Bridesmaid Dresses

Custom Fitting Bridesmaid Dresses

Keeping everybody happy when choosing bridesmaid dresses can be a challenge. In this podcast, Maureen Goodman and Norman Lemcke of The Essex Room give insight on how a bride can keep all of her bridesmaids happy with her decision.

John: Hi I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Maureen Goodman and Norman Lemcke, wedding planners and coordinators for on and off-site catered events at the Essex Room, in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about matching versus custom fitting bridesmaid dresses. Welcome, Maureen and Norman.

Maureen: Hi John. Thanks for having me today.

Norman: Hi John.

Difference between matching and custom fitting bridesmaid dresses

John: Guys, what are we talking about when we say matching bridesmaids dresses, what do you mean by that?

Maureen: Basically we’re talking about everybody being in the same color, the same style, the same length, same fabric. Very traditional, classic, more team, everyone’s kind of your servant, going back to what really like a bridesmaid was. The bridesmaid was there to help the bride. If they’re in some kind of a uniform being the same you knew when you were at the wedding exactly who they were.

John: Norman, what are custom fitting bridesmaid dresses?

Norman:  Custom fitting bridesmaid dresses are the dresses that are unique to each bridesmaid. They are usually the same color but the style is different.

John: The same color, the same fabric. What are some of the differences?

Norman: One could have like a halter top. One might have an athletic top, a square top, it can be anything. It’s up to them because they’re very functional.

John: Go ahead, Maureen. What are the things to think about?

Maureen: Where Norman is going there, depending on the size of the girl or the shape of the girl or if she’s more of a shoulder type or a smaller shoulder or more hippy. Whatever happens, there’s v-neck, there’s scoop neck, there’s athletic cut. There are all these things that are more flattering. Almost like what you would pick yourself if you were buying a dress to go to the wedding. You end up having one that’s more fit to you instead of having to wear the same thing.

How to choose between matching and custom fitting bridesmaid dresses

John: Right, so your bridesmaids might have some preferences depending on what they think that they look good in. Maybe they have a scar on their shoulder or something from a surgery, and they don’t want to show that off with a sleeveless dress or something along those lines. That’s maybe one of the reasons to go ahead and do custom fitting bridesmaids dresses. Maureen what’s your opinion? What do you think that people should do, or what do you like?

Maureen: I mean myself, I still like go back to old school. I like it when everybody looks the same but I feel that if these bridesmaids are not comfortable with anything be it their shoes, or their dress, or their neckline, or their bust line, or their hips, whatever it is it’s going to affect their day. I think sometimes it comes down and they take it out on the bride in the end. I think it’s good to take your girls, let them go to the store try on a lot of stuff, figure out what you can get where they’re going to be happy, because in the end, they get to wear for seven hours and it’s stuck in their closet afterward. They might as well like it.

John: So it’s your opinion that maybe you should try to have matching dresses if possible, if your bridesmaids can agree on something.

Maureen: I think so, and I think if you don’t necessarily match the dress then you should match the jewelry. Something should match, whether they all wear their hair up, they all wear their hair down, and then you could get away with different color palettes, different necklines, floral versus sequins, whatever ends up happening.

John: Norman, what’s your opinion on this?

Norman: I’m more of the opinion that everyone should express their own uniqueness. I think every woman is different in size, personality, and I think their dresses should express that. I agree with Maureen that it’s always nice to have something matching, but I find that when the bridesmaid’s dresses are all the same it doesn’t really set the bride apart. I find it very team oriented, but not so much expressive for the bridesmaid. There are different body types and different comfort levels. I think that each bridesmaid should be allowed to stay with the color, but choose whatever design they’re more comfortable with.

John: What if the bride just says, “I’ve always envisioned my bridesmaids in this style of dress and I just want everybody in that dress and that’s that.”

Norman: Well, if that’s what the bride says then that’s what the bride wants, and you have to do what the bride wants because it is her day.

John: But you might end up, like Maureen said, with a situation where maybe the bridesmaids aren’t so happy during the day.

Norman:  And comfort too. I mean let’s face it, as Maureen said, you’re wearing this dress for seven hours and you want it to be comfortable.

John: Maureen what’s the end result here, talk to your bridesmaids and figure out what works for them?

Maureen: I think so. I think it’s really important to have a conversation. It’s a lot to be a bridesmaid right now, or a groomsman. I mean what’s going on? These kids are spending tons and tons of money on parties and everything has just gotten gigantic and the expectations are huge. I think if you can take the girls together, maybe you have your first luncheon, or right now they’re doing “inviting you to be a bridesmaid” where people are getting invitations cards, it used to just be: “Hey you want to be a bridesmaid.” Now, they’re sending out formal things. With one of my daughters we let them go by themselves. We said, “You go out, here’s three stores that were close.”

That’s another thing, always you want to get a store that’s close to you because when it comes time to fitting you don’t want to be driving two and a half hours away. Most of the dresses are notorious for being like six inches long. Almost everybody has to get hammed, even if you’re five nine and over. I think it’s really important that the girls go out, but a lot of the girls go back to the bride and say, “No, it’s what you want.” It really does have to do with who you pick.

John:  That’s really great information Maureen and Norman. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Maureen: Thanks John. Thanks for having us.

John: For more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335.