Buying bridesmaid dresses can be one of the most fun parts of planning your wedding. It can also be one of the most stressful. Traditionally, the bride will pick out the color, and the girls will decide and agree on the style. The only exception being that the necklines of the bridesmaids dresses should be similar to the neckline of the bridal gowns.
When it comes to color, the most common practice is to pick one solid color, such as blue or teal for example. All the girls wear the same color and the same dress. This includes the maid of honor.
The bride may also decide on one color for all the bridesmaids but select a different color, or shade of the color (lighter or darker) for the maid of honor. The rainbow wedding is another option. This is where each girl wears her own color, but the same style dress. These colors are usually pastel, but darker colors can work just as well. A fun variation on the rainbow wedding color scheme is selecting two colors, such as pink and purple, and using lighter and darker shades of those colors. For example, for six girls you may have two in light purple, two in dark purple, the maid of honor in dark pink and junior bridesmaid dresses or flower girl dresses in light pink. Just be sure the two colors you pick will compliment each other. A newer idea that works really well is that the bridesmaids all wear dresses with the same color, the same neckline, and similar sleeves, but the dresses themselves are different styles. You would want to give each girl a swatch of the fabric and color so that they can come as close as possible to matching each other. The maid of honor can still have a different color or shade if you wish.
Since not all women are the same size and body type, some styles will work well with some of your bridesmaids but maybe not with all. They will all want to look their best for the wedding day, so some conflict could arise unless the bride intervenes.
In this case, the bride should get a bridal magazine and clip out pictures of cheap bridesmaid dresses that she likes. If you have six girls, select six different wedding dresses for them to choose from. This will give the girls options, but not too many as to confuse things further.
Show each girl the pictures of the dresses and ask them to rate them from one to six. One being their favorite and six the least favorite, in that order. You should also ask if there is one dress that they would defiantly not wear.
Once you have done this with all the girls, you can see which dresses were more popular than others. Any dresses that were flatly refused can get tossed right away.

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This system is not fool proof and may not work for everyone, but if it does you will end up with maybe two or three styles. When you and the girls go to the bridal shop you can show them those pictures and see those or similar styles right away.