All the Dresses You Need to Be a Bridesmaid

rehearsal dinner in Virginia Beach

As a bridesmaid, you don’t usually need to choose what you’re wearing to the actual wedding, but you do need to plan outfits for all the events before the wedding! This post is about what I wore for the events leading up to my cousin’s wedding this past summer in Virginia Beach and tips for what to wear to each event.

My cousin’s wedding was only my second time being a bridesmaid, but I remembered from the first time that there were a lot of events to attend before the actual wedding (AKA a lot of outfits to plan!). All the pre-wedding parties were in Virginia Beach, so I needed to find a succession of dresses that would be beach-appropriate, not too revealing, and not black or white.

Bridal Shower:

Dinner in Barbados

The first event was a bridal shower on a sunny Saturday in May in Virginia Beach. In a wild bid to avoid traffic, I left DC at 5:30 Saturday morning and got to Virginia Beach at 9:00. I got a Starbucks, stopped in at a nearby salon for a quick manicure, and then headed over to my cousin’s future mother-in-law’s house to help the maid of honor decorate for the shower.

I had planned on wearing a flowy top with jeans, but at the last minute I decided to wear this blue-and-white striped off-the-shoulder dress (that I also wore in Barbados) with strappy leather sandals. Everyone else was wearing casual day dresses too, and I was way more comfortable than I would have been in jeans, especially for our impromptu boardwalk visit that night! For non-dress options, you could always wear a romper or a cute top and jeans to a casual bridal shower, or a jumpsuit or blouse and skirt to a fancier event.

The Bachelorette Party:

bachelorette party in Virginia Beach

Since my cousin already lives in Virginia Beach, her bachelorette party was dinner on the beach at a place called Chix on the Beach, which is famous for its crush drinks. I left DC an hour later than I should have, then spent an extra hour and a half sitting in traffic, so I met everyone at the restaurant and changed into my bachelorette party outfit there: this sweet strapless coral dress with neutral wedge heels. Conveniently, I had gotten my hair cut earlier that day and was still sporting a perfect stylist blowout.

What you wear for the bachelorette party depends totally on the venue—you might all be going to a lakeside cabin for the weekend and be living in shorts and t-shirts, or you could be out on the town in Charlotte or Nashville and wear a fun going-out dress and heels. It’s also more acceptable to wear black for a bachelorette party than for any of the other pre-wedding events.

The Rehearsal Dinner:

rehearsal dinner in Virginia Beach

I was running late to the rehearsal (traffic, again) so I was still in the clothes I had worn in the car: a comfortable navy-and-white striped t-shirt dress and gold sandals. Before the rehearsal dinner at a nearby steakhouse, I had time to change into this long gingham dress and the same neutral wedges I had worn for the bachelorette party. If I hadn’t been a bridesmaid, I would have worn this dress to the wedding—it’s the perfect mix of formal and casual for a late afternoon beach wedding. I was a tad overdressed for the rehearsal dinner, though, as I could tell from the “So, that’s what you’re wearing?” from my mom.

The Getting Ready Outfit:

I knew I needed something to wear while we got ready the day of the wedding, since I couldn’t get from the salon to the venue in just a robe! I wore a denim shirt and white shorts, so I was comfortable while the stylists worked on my hair and makeup, I didn’t mind if I got sprinkled with foundation or hairspray, and I could change into my dress without having to pull a shirt over my head. The photographer showed up to take pictures of all of us getting ready, so I was glad I was wearing something cute.

The Wedding:

bridesmaid dress in Virginia Beach

This was the one outfit I didn’t have to choose—the bride picked out our long bright blue dresses, silver strappy sandals, and sea star necklaces. The maid of honor had the same dress, but in coral, and our bright dresses popped against the white porch for the ceremony. I haven’t been in a wedding where the bride had us choose our own dresses, and I think I would be totally overwhelmed! I have enough dresses to choose for myself between the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and rehearsal.

What is your favorite dress to wear to a wedding or pre-wedding event? Have you ever chosen your own bridesmaid dress? Let me know in the comments!

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