Roundup: Bridesmaid Dresses You Can Wear As Wedding Dresses

Simple Silhouettes (clockwise from top left): 1. Lela Rose style LX167 available at Joielle ($300) 2. Dessy Collection style 2879 available at Joielle ($220) 3. After Six style 6666 available at Joielle ($190) 4. Dessy Collection style 2885 available at Joielle ($220)

A Little Embellished (clockwise from top left): 1. Alfred Sung style D571 available at Joielle ($195) 2. Wtoo style 226 available at Joielle ($220) 3. Lela Rose style LR182 avaialble at Joielle ($300) 4. Wtoo style 174 available at Joielle ($148)

Short & Sassy (clockwise from top left): 1. Lela Rose style LR136 available at Joielle ($230) 2. Watters Dress Rose style 2594I available at Joielle ($248) 3. Lynnton Dress in Silk Taffeta from J.Crew ($265) 4. Custom Vintage Bridesmaid Dress S332 from Susiewear via Etsy ($199)

This morning we talked about how much it can suck getting caught in the Catch-22 of choosing bridesmaid dresses for your loved ones. (If I pick it out for them, am I being too bossy? If I let them choose, am I asking them to do too much work? HOW DO I WIN?!) But you know what doesn’t suck about bridesmaid dresses? When you save a ton of  money by wearing one as a wedding dress.

When Meg and I were putting together this roundup, we kept coming back to the idea that the best bridesmaid-dresses-turned-wedding-dresses are the ones that leave enough space for you to DIY your wedding style (think: simple base, but amped up with your personal style by way of accessorizing). So that’s what we’ve got for you today today: stylish dresses that cost between $100–$300 that you can either leave simple or dress up with a big piece of statement jewelry or that kickass pair of shoes you told yourself you couldn’t afford (or remember our headpieces from the other week? These dresses are exactly what you’d wear with a crazy big flower headband).

In hindsight? This is probably exactly what I would have done if I’d realized it was an option when planning my own wedding (which, in case you’re noticing the pattern, I never realized the awesome wedding cheats until it was too late).

A small disclaimer: this post was not sponsored in any way by Joielle, but you’ll notice that we’ve linked to them for a bunch of the dresses we chose. It is one of my personal pet peeves that there aren’t even starting prices available on the manufacturer websites for bridesmaid dresses, and when we were rounding these up I was almost afraid we were going to have to show you all these rad dresses and not tell you how much they cost (which I hate). But! Then I realized that our sponsor Joielle has just about every dress from the Dessy Collection available on their site, and all that information is readily available to you. (Also, almost all of these dresses are available from Joielle in plus sizes up to 30W. Rad.). Lazy girl shopping FTW.

As always, these dresses (as well as a few others that didn’t make the final roundup) can also be found on our Indie Wedding Dresses Pinterest board.

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  • The bottom left in the “short” category? With the silvery short-sleeved top? WANT.

  • Amber

    Any dress can be a wedding dress.
    (Says the woman who wore a purple bridesmaids dress that was less than $150 for her wedding)

    • Maddie


  • I’ve been kicking around the idea of a bridesmaid’s dress or a sundress for a while. I’ve been in love with the idea of knee or tea length dresses with chiffon skirts and awesome shoes. It’s something that I already wear (I’m such a sundress-er) but would be kicked up a notch with some nice fabric and possibly a white motif. But I’m a little hesitant.

    Part of me worries that this will be my only time to wear a big floofy princess dress filled with tulle and sparkles. What if I end up regretting skipping the “traditional” ballgown for something short and sweet?

    • LMN

      I love these short & sweet options! So much room for embellishment, as the ladies have already said.

      I’m a practical, short-haired, no-nonsense sort of girl. For months, I wanted a tea-length simple dress..,until I actually went and tried some dresses on. I totally ended up with a princess dress and (this is both embarrassing and empowering to admit) I can’t wait to wear it.

      Have you tried some dresses yet? I would recommend going to a big box store, trying on lots of different styles and having a girlfriend take lots of photos, then going home. I pondered my trying on experience for a month, and then I went back and got a big dress. I could have just as easily gone back for a sweet tea-length thing (or ordered a cool on on Etsy). But the process of trying on then ruminating made me really confident in my choice…even though I think it’s going to shock everyone at the wedding because it’s the opposite of everyday me. Best of luck figuring out which way you want to go. No regrets either way–you will be beautiful in whatever you’re wearing the day you declare yourself for the one you love!

      • Thanks LMN. I haven’t tried on dresses yet (as I’m still in pre-engaged land. I’m dreaming, but I’m not taking the leap into actually planning anything yet). I’ll definitely have to take your advice on thinking things over for a while. I love the idea of having pictures to look at, and it will definitely make me feel more comfortable about my final decision.

        I’m glad you found your dress and are so excited about it (don’t be embarrassed, stick with empowered :D). You’re totally going to rock the princess vibe!

    • Samantha

      Have you tried dresses on yet? When you try them on you will be able to see what you feel good in. If you feel like YOU in your dress then you will know what kind to wear! :) Plus trying on dresses is FUN, and this is the only time you can try on those big princess dresses if you want :) {Well I guess you can always ditch the wedding ring and look “engaged” and go try on dresses whenever you want to really ;) }

      • Thanks for the reply, Samantha. I’m glad to hear that trying on dresses is FUN (in all caps!) I think I’ve heard too many horror stories about wedding dresses being a chore and disheartening- from sales people asking you about your weight loss plan, to searching in vain for “The Dress,” not to mention the price tags. I haven’t tried on dresses yet (pre-engaged and a little nervous to be stalking the wedding blogs, never mind having one of my own) but your comment gives me hope!

        • LMN

          I’m with Samantha on this one–wedding dress shopping is FUN! It’s the most fun I’ve ever had trying things on. I don’t like clothes shopping (I get overwhelmed and cranky in short order), and I’m a little self conscious about my body, so I was really nervous about dress shopping. It’s fair to say I was close to terrified before I went into the store. But it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the wedding planning process so far.

          I started to write you a list of tips for what helped me have fun with it, but when I hit #5 I realized maybe I should submit my first APW post. So keep your eyes peeled for a list of ways to combat the butterflies and have fun with trying on wedding dresses, if the APW folks find it useful. ;)

          Enjoy pre-engaged land, and thanks for your support of my princess dress! I’ve been looking at headpieces lately, and I finally gave in and got a circlet (not quite a tiara, but pretty close). Why not? As my mom told me over the phone the other night when I asked her if the headpiece would be too much in combo with the dress: “As long as you’re not going into debt for it, this is your day to be as fancy as you want. Knock yourself out.”

          • I’m looking forward to the tips, and if they don’t come out in an APW post, you’ll have to get them to me another way. There’s plenty of time (though I think I’m getting a teensy bit tired of pre-engaged land) so there’s no need to rush- from your comments, I’m sure you’ll come up with something wonderful.

            Also, I think the princess dress and circlet sounds fantastic :)

      • Denzi

        Trufax, I have asked my husband if in four or five years we can ditch the rings for a day and go to a big box wedding gown store and have me try some more wedding dresses on. Because seriously: you shouldn’t only get to try on big poofy white princess dresses once in your life, if you want to try on big poofy princess dresses.

        I haven’t figured out how to do this in a way that isn’t rude to the workers at the store (or maybe I have hate-watched too much “Say Yes to the Dress” and have swallowed the idea that you are only allowed to shop for something if you’re actually planning on buying it?), but damn, I really think trying dresses on would be a: way less stressful when I’m not planning a wedding and b: fun in general.

        • This! Totally this! I did a brief stint in a retail position that was focused on commission, and I feel awful going in without actually planning on buying a gown!

    • meg

      Stop worrying! I say this in the book, but seriously, every single person I know who had this worry and wore the dress they originally were drawn to was SO EFFING HAPPY they did. Whatever dress you wear BECOMES your wedding dress.

      Also, a quick reminder: the wedding industry is built on selling you regret. It’s bullshit. If you do what makes you happy chances are you’re going to regret it. Plus, it’s going to be over and you’ll be married so who cares!

      PS Going tea length, which is my real life style? One of the best wedding choices I made. I’m sure I would have been happy in other things, but I loved it feeling like ME.

      • Thanks for the reply, Meg. I’ll try to take your advice to heart (including staying true to myself). It seems like such a big decision sometimes that it’s hard not to stress over it.

        You always sound so confident and comfortable with yourself. I need to start tapping into my inner-Meg and stop second-guessing myself.

        • meg

          Eh. Sort of. My husband likes to joke that “confidence is not your problem.” But in reality, I agonized over these decisions like everyone else. I just wrote about it here, which turned into thinking about it often, and writing a book. So now it’s easy to sound EXTRA confident.

          But seriously. Try on the ballgowns, stay true to whatever you feel like you really want to do. No regrets! (PS I feel like 90% of married women I talk to say if they were to do it over they’d wear something short/ simple/ sassy/ colored/ non-traditional. So there you have it.)

      • Yvi

        “Plus, it’s going to be over and you’ll be married so who cares!”

        So true. I wasn’t in love with my dress. It wasn’t totally “me”, it wasn’t “the dress”. It was what I wore to my wedding, and that’s that.

    • Laura

      Hey Sonrisa!
      I just wanted to shout out an idea re: your worry about maybe regretting passing up a big floofy wedding dress. If you happen to live anywhere near a Renaissance festival, and in case you also happen to have any interest in sewing, your wedding is not necessarily your one-and-only chance to wear a big ball gown! It’s possible to make an appropriately floofy dress for a RenFest without too much expense. (Patterns are available for free online… and a big hoop skirt is especially easy to make. All you need is an old bedsheet, a sturdy drawstring, some wide bias tape, and either metal lumber strapping or long pieces of flexible plastic). I had a summer job at a RenFest in high school, and I can attest that having to wear my big floofy princess dress every day in the hot sun cured me of ever wanting to wear a big ball gown at my wedding! ;-) But it was definitely fun at first, and I would put it out there as a great alternative means of fulfilling one’s big-poofy-dress fantasy :)

      • Thanks for the reply, Laura. I actually do costume design for ren-fairs. Since I’m usually judged by the costumes I wear (I have done a few commissions) I tend to be fairly traditional when I dress in costume- which means I don’t get to wear ballgowns with floaty fabric (organza or chiffon) overlays! The allure of a ballgown wedding dress is partially the luxury fabrics, the more modern neckline and not being strapped into a corset (Though I do love my corsets!) I’m still on the fence, but I’m sure I’ll find something! Thanks again for the advice! :)

  • Miranda VanZ

    My mom wore a light pink, lace bridesmaid dress when she got married (it cost $50 at the end of season sale)

  • fermi

    I was just talking about this with my friend yesterday and searched Joielle’s website, but you certainly narrowed choices down for me!

  • Ellen

    I am definitely leaning toward the bridesmaid dress as wedding dress route, so this post is incredibly timely! Thank you thank you THANK YOU.

    Why would I buy a wedding dress if I hate trains and bustles and strapless??????

  • emmer

    In looking for a wedding dress, I found luck in browsing through daily deal shopping type sites, like ideeli. They often have white fancy dresses (short & long) that could totally be co-opted for a wedding. My dress was $260 on ideeli, when it was originally priced at $600+. And they often have an option where you can return the dress if it doesn’t work.

  • Kara

    I shopped at many different stores, ranging from boutiques, to big name stores, to department stores, and this helped me narrow down what I wanted to wear – a trumpet style gown, satin, strapless, sweetheart neckline, and maybe some buttons down the back.

    While searching for this exact style of wedding dress, I only found wedding dresses for $1,000 – $3,500. Since I wasn’t willing to spend that kind of money on my dress, I started looking at bridesmaid’s dresses (which have improved greatly, even in the last few years!).

    My wedding dress was a white bridesmaid’s dress that even had a small train–odd, I know. I received many crazy looks when I tried on my dress because the store only had a sample in bright, pumpkin orange. Oh, and trust me, I strutted around in that orange dress with a cathedral length veil on my head.

    For $200 I had the dress I wanted, and those people could s*ck it. (Is it okay to say that on APW?)

    Another great advantage of buying a bridesmaid dress–alterations are typically much cheaper! If a tailor doesn’t need to move intricate detailing or lace, it’s quicker and cheaper.

  • Pinned simple styles 2 and 4 for future military balls. My wedding dress is a similar silhouette and I was hoping to dye it to wear to a ball, but unfortunately I can’t and I suppose it would be too obviously wedding. It makes me sort of wish I’d gone with a colored dress to make it easier to wear again. On the other hand, this way I get to buy more pretty dresses! Thanks for the roundup!

  • Sam

    I’m surprised there were no modcloth dresses in here, I’ve been drooling over lots of those lately. Though they are much more limited in the plus sized category, for sure.

    • meg

      Well this was specifically a bridesmaid dress as wedding dress roundup, so no Modcloth! We were shopping bridesmaids sites. Modcloth is obviously a great option though.

  • Ah! The silvery bodice & chiffon skirt dress WITH THE LONG VEIL. I love it!

  • This is so timely! Over lunch today, I went to try on a bridesmaid dress to wear as a wedding dress and kind of BS-d the woman on the phone when I made the appointment because I didn’t want her to know I was trying it on for me. (I don’t know why, I just felt like she wouldn’t want to waste her time if she knew I was only in the market for one dress.) But when I did tell her in person, she loved the idea. Also, the dress was awesome and way cheaper than any wedding dress I’d seen thus far.

    Side note: bridesmaids dresses make awesome guest dresses for weddings you are not in! If you don’t know what to wear to someone else’s wedding, definitely check out bridesmaids dress sites!

  • pixie_moxie

    Truth, my wedding dress was a Bill Lebkov bridesmaid dress in Champagne. I loved it! We even ended up altering it into a tea length dress when the wedding I bought it for didn’t happen. It was exactly what it needed to be and gave great bonding time with my mom as we altered it.

    It was amazing to me when I went into the dress shops and said I want a simple satin gown they only existed in bridesmaid. (My experience in a small town) It worked out awesome in the money category, my dress was less than my husbands suit :)

  • I’m going with a David’s Bridal bridesmaid’s dress, in champagne:

    I started out by trying on Wedding Dresses, but none of them were that flattering on me — mostly, they were way too much dress. This dress really suits my style, makes me feel beautiful, and means not having to deal with a train or huge skirts. I think I’m going to be comfortable and feel good in this dress all day, and be able to dance up a storm. And it was only $100! I was really afraid I woudn’t be able to find anything that made me truly happy that fit in my budget — I’m really glad I thought to look beyond the rows of white :)

  • Shannon

    This is a wonderful idea. The practical side of me was having conniptions about spending over $1000 on a dress that I would only wear one day! Now no offense to those ladies that have found their dream bridal gown. But I also have been thrown off by all the white. So this post makes me feel not so crazy! :) I have been working on ways to add in some color but still look like a bride. Again great post!! Very timely. Thank you!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Thank you for the reminder I need to pick up my wedding dress ($350, custom-made) from the cleaners. It’s been there over a month. I guess that’s evidence you won’t care about your dress after the wedding. I keep forgetting about it entirely.

  • Rachel

    Wow! Both these posts could be exactly from my wedding a few months ago. :) I actually planned a lot of my wedding while I was living in Uganda. Talk about long-distance planning! But knew I only wanted a very simple dress for my wedding and I also wasn’t going to have much time between returning to the States and my wedding, so I was looking for something easy. Thanks to APW, I discovered Joielle online while I was still overseas and ordered a long bridesmaid dress from their site that fell right into the ‘simple but elegant’ look I wanted. I loved it! With a few alterations it was definitely still under $300…I was happy to have dress that didn’t cost thousands of dollars (living and working in Uganda didn’t exactly make me rich) and one that was one I was super comfortable wearing. I loved Joielle and my dress so much that I sent them pictures…they’re up on the ‘Real Weddings’/Blog part of their website. Not trying to brag about that…I just was so, so happy with how that part of the wedding went (and thought I’d mention it in case anyone wants to see a bridesmaid-as-bridal-gown ‘in action’). One of the few things that was easy and worked out smoothly. :)

    • Riah

      That’s so good to hear! I’m planning my wedding from Tanzania right now, and I’m definitely looking at buying a white bridesmaids dress for myself. I originally wanted a knee length sweetheart cap sleeve chiffon dress that was actually a wedding dress, but it’s been discontinued and everything else similar I find is made for bridesmaids. The only downside is that I can’t find what I’m looking for in silk. But the upside is that poly chiffon is about a hundred dollars cheaper.

  • Elizabeth

    I have slowly been curating a board of wedding dresses under $1,000 that strike my fancy. This seems like a good opportunity to share it!

  • Emilie

    It’s comforting to know there are such inexpensive options out there, but I have to admit I’ve never had much luck shopping for clothes online. Team Practical, any wisdom?

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  • Robyn

    I wore a Bari Jay bridesmaid dress as my wedding dress. Pretty much everything in the collection is under $300 and can be ordered in white or ivory. The dresses are all soooo pretty too!

  • C R

    I’m doing this, and super excited! I found a bridesmaids dress (Jordan, for $200) with a lace back, so it actually looks quite bridal in the ivory color I ordered it in. Another bonus — shorter ordering time to get the dress into the store, if anyone is in a rush.

    My major suggestion is just to keep an open mind with the samples as you’re trying them on — they likely won’t be in white or ivory as samples, but don’t let that distract you. Have fun with it!

  • Amanda

    I had some specifics in mind when I went to try on wedding dresses: tea length or to the knees, and NOT WHITE. Oh, and also fit me, as a size 16-18 in regular dress sizes. There wasn’t a lot out there that fit my style and budget in wedding dresses. I almost ALMOST bought a great dress from David’s Bridal that was too much money and white, but fit the other two criteria, thinking I could have it dyed. Apparently this is not easy to do if it’s polyester, so I didn’t get that dress.
    I ended up buying a lovely bridesmaids gown from, no try-ons beforehand. It was perfect! A nice plum color, fit me perfectly, and went just to my knees. It was also a fancier brand than I would have bought from David’s (Monique Lhuillier), and it had a lot of really helpful boning that kept the dress up, even though it is strapless and I have an ample chest.
    Here’s a link to the dress if anyone cares:

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  • Hannah

    This pose is exactly why APW rocks.

    First: you guys are AMAZING for this roundup. AMAZING. I love all of these dresses. And the prices?!? Holy crap this must be a dream.

    Second: Thank you for linking to Joielle! If you hadn’t I may never have found that site, and I would have gone through this whole wedding planning process believing that a $1000 dress was the cheapest I could ever find. LIES.

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  • Kat

    I think this might get lost, since the post is a little older now, but I think the new vintage-style bridesmaid dresses from For Her and For Him would be perfect for this post/the Pinterest board (not sure how to add things on pinterest for the APW team to see):


    They do custom color and are mostly under $300 (!!)

    On another note, it’s a little crazy to think that something that has been on the internet for 2 months is “old”, right?

  • Carla

    I’m so glad that someone has done the work of searching for non-traditional wedding dresses – I love the selection! My only issue with buying online is my size. There isn’t much off the rack that can accommodation an hourglass, muscular figure (blame it on the gym!). I see myself spending a lot of money in alterations in in the near future.

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this bridal’s dresses…………….i liked the short dresses most.its really looking very nice………………………….the white color’s combination is really a nice and looks different and pure.i love it…………………..thanks………………

  • Tao Wang

    this is nice collection for wedding dresses because in wedding every one like dark dress, because dress is first way to impressed any person.

  • guess1who

    I went to a fantastic bridal store to pick out my dress, and ended up with a beautiful bridesmaid’s dress in ivory as my wedding dress. I only had 5 months until the date of the wedding, so that ruled out some brands of wedding dresses, and I was trying to be budget-conscious. But the best part was that after trying on dresses that cost upwards of $1000, the one I fell in love with was less than $250. So happy with my decision.