Traditionally, bridesmaids were plucked from a bride's most eligible, unmarried family and friends in a bid to bring them to the attention of the groomsmen and members of the wedding party who were also not attached or promised to anyone. It was effectively an open auction and bathing-beauty style parade of women dressed to ensure that while they didn't out-do the bride in beauty, it was a near miss.
Not that much has changed except for the fact that most female relationships have evolved with the times, and the statistics that show that a bride is now on average 30 years old when she marries - this will naturally mean her bridesmaids will be of a similar age. And no 30 year-old would want to make her friends stroll up the aisle in anything that didn't make them feel pretty and womanly. The only thing that perhaps has not altered is that many bridesmaids dresses remain staid and stuck in some nineteen-nineties timewarp - criminally expensive gowns in ill-fitting, shiny satin colours such as coffee, wine and violet. Whilst my four bridesmaids are my dearest girls, and I want them to garner the wolf-whistles and admiring glances they deserve, I am not a confident enough bride to risk a repeat of the Royal Wedding's 'Bottomgate' and the focus on Pippa Middleton's rear which nearly upstaged Catherine's beautiful Sarah Burton number.
Thank goodness then for Maids to Measure. Newly launched by London-based sisters Sinclair and India Sellars, with backgrounds in many turns as a bridesmaid and working as part of Vera Wang's team respectively. Both shared the frustrations of shopping for bridesmaids dresses that bridged the gap between wow-factor style and design, and affordable options for the modern bride who would no doubt still be paying for them. Hitherto the preserve of the lucky few, they struck on the idea of couture bridesmaids dresses - offering an online design process whereby you simply input your measurements under their expert guidance, your colour, style and fabric choice, and you are good to go. Alternatively, you could attend their Fulham atelier and enjoy some Champagne and cake whilst bridesmaids put their personal touches on their gowns.
At the launch party on Tuesday of last week, studded with some of the wedding world's star players such as the Conde Nast Brides Magazine team and OK! magazine's wedding editor, all were struck by the dresses shown in refined silk chiffon layers that would cling in all the right places and move beautifully, and cocktail numbers in colour-pop pink or sorbet yellow. They presented lovely options for the modern bridesmaid. What's more, I'd be proud to wear these as a bridesmaid - I think we might even have another hunt ticked off the list.
All photos from the launch kind courtesy of Emma at Smartography (www.smartography.com)
The Conde Nast Brides girls
Emma at OK! magazine
The lovely Festival Brides gang
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