This can be the greatest fun. Having a girly time choosing dresses with your friends or finding the coolest, smartest suits for the men. Once you have set your budget and agreed with your attendants who will pay for what, all you have to do is choose colours and styles and you can get started looking at catalogues, websites and shop windows.

Ladies

Although they say a camel is a horse designed by a committee, you will have to be patient and flexible when agreeing with the bridesmaids what they should wear. The colour theme for the wedding should begin with making choices that flatter your bridesmaids’ skin and hair. There is no sight more ugly than a disgruntled bridesmaid who has been coerced into wearing something she feels frumpy in. It makes sense, then to ask the bridesmaids to agree on a colour that will suit them all, and that you like too. This is not always easy to begin with, but remember, colours are only meaningful in the context of the colours you want to put them with. For example, if someone said ‘grey’, you might think ‘how dull’, but imagine a soft, dove grey matched with rose pink, or lilac, or a warmer grey with gold or bronze, or . . . Then you would have a colour scheme that you could apply to the flowers, to the men’s ties, the table decorations and invitations.

 

Once you’ve agreed on colours, you will need to discuss styles. You may want a particular theme for your wedding: Victorian, Edwardian, pastoral, medieval or even gothic, steampunk, 60’s or something really radical. If you’re well-known for dressing in a particular style, your bridesmaids will be aware of your taste: you’ve chosen them from your friends after all. If they love you, they may already have accepted that they might be required to wear something fairly traditional. Whatever you choose, you’ll need to consider what will be flattering for them. They may have a variety of body shapes. An elegant silk sheath would look lovely on a tall, slim lady, but if one of the bridesmaids is curvy, she’ll feel ridiculous. Don’t assume that they are all going to lose weight for the big day. Start by making the most of the beauty that they already have. If they do lose weight, dresses can be altered, but even if she loses weight, a voluptuous, bosomy lady will still have the same bones and general distribution of curves. None of your friends will thank you for the extra stress of being obliged to lose weight to a deadline in order to wear a dress that still wouldn’t suit them if they became super skinny. Styles that suit most body types include empire line and A-line. Shiny fabrics like satin show every bump, so unless every single bridesmaid is stick-thin, you should use matt, or semi-matt fabrics, and make sure they are suitable for the season. Velvet is lovely for a winter wedding, or a good quality woollen weave.

The men

We tend to assume that men don’t mind what they wear, but they may be dead against wearing a morning suit. If that’s the case, indulge them. Be creative and ready to accept their choices. If they have a traditional family tartan and wish to wear a kilt, you will have to factor the colours of their tartan into the colour choices for the bridesmaids, but they don’t have to match, only complement. If their tartan is dark blue and green, for example, the bridesmaids would look charming in a pastel blue or green.

Above all, be flexible. Try to accommodate everyone’s wishes, but don’t forget that it’s your day and you have the final veto.