They should look great - but should not steal the limelight away from the bride
Today's bridesmaids have less cause to worry about being squeezed into unattractive dresses that do nothing for their figure or colouring. Elegant, modern brides want equally elegant bridesmaids.
'Bridesmaid's dresses nowadays are very stylish and modern and would be perfect cocktail dresses for other occasions too,' according to Elmis Chiu from White Bridal Couture.
'This way, not only are the bridesmaids happier with their dresses, it's also much more economical.'
Carolyn Chow, at Central Weddings, says the bride needs to stand out, so stay away from bridesmaid's dresses that resemble the bride's gown too closely. Instead, choose classic, unfussy styles, such as an empire line dress with a simple neckline.
'There is usually more than one bridesmaid, and the same dress won't suit them all; not everyone can wear a deep v-neck, for example. If the bride is open to the idea, consider different dresses in the same fabric; the bridesmaids can then wear something that suits them, but they won't steal the limelight from the bride.'
Ms Chiu suggests using matching fabrics for bridesmaid's dresses. 'If the bride is wearing a light fabric such as organza, the bridesmaids may consider wearing net and chiffon, instead of satin, which is more solid. Colours can be flexible. For example, bridesmaids can consider wearing a colour that matches the theme-colour of the whole wedding.'
Ms Chow says that shorter dresses are more practical on the day of the event. 'Bridesmaids are typically running around, doing errands for the bride and a tea-length dress means there is less chance of tripping.'
As for the tricky question of who should pay for the bridesmaid's dress, tradition (in the United States and Britain) dictates that bridesmaids are required to pay for their own. But Ms Chiu says things are changing. 'There is a growing trend that the bride pays for the bridesmaid's dresses if she wants them to wear something similar or identical. This is also like a small gift to the bridesmaids for their time and care.'