The Ultimate Guide to Bridesmaid Dresses: Picking The Right Ones For Your Girls And Wedding

Photo credit: Shepel Nikolay/

When it comes to planning a Caribbean destination wedding, there’s a lot to tackle on the wedding checklist — from travel arrangements and wedding venues to food and beverage selections and seating charts. Add color schemes and bridesmaid dresses to the mix, and it’ll seem like your to-do list is ever-growing!

To help keep you organized, we’ve covered the dos, don’ts, and common questions Sandals® Resorts brides have asked us about bridesmaid dresses.

Let’s dive in!

Choosing the right style for beach bridesmaid dresses

One of the best parts about any destination wedding is having those closest to you be a part of your special day, especially those in your bridal party!

From Jamaica to Turks & Caicos to Saint Lucia and beyond, you can take advantage of many beautiful outdoor ceremony locations. With quiet gardens, pristine beaches, and spectacular Over-the-Water Serenity Wedding Chapels to choose from, your bridesmaid dresses should always keep two things in mind — comfort and climate.

Celebrating your nuptials in paradise means plenty of sunshine, sand, and sea. Therefore, it probably goes without saying that your bridesmaids won’t be wearing long sleeves, so look for breathable style options to beat the heat. Classic styles like spaghetti straps, off-the-shoulder, or strapless are among the most popular looks for destination wedding bridesmaid dresses. A-line dresses never fail either with their high neckline, cinched waist, and wide-hemmed skirt. Plus, they’re known for being flattering on different body types!

If your “I dos” are taking place on the sand, dress length is another factor to consider. Mid-length dresses are a perfect fit for seaside weddings because they reduce the chance of sand or water damaging the fabric. As for fabric options, opt for flowy gowns in lightweight materials like chiffon, organza, and tulle to keep your bridal party cool and comfortable throughout the day.


Photo credit: Natthawon Chaosakun/

Picture: One tip for choosing your destination wedding bridesmaid dresses: pick a style that aligns with your backdrop. For a beach wedding (pictured above), a light fabric will play off of the natural beauty of the tropics and keep your bridesmaids cool in the Caribbean sun. If your nuptials are in a garden gazebo nuptials or Over-the-Water Serenity Chapel, think a bit outside of the box! We’re talking chic jumpsuits and intricate lace designs that will catch everyone's eye.

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: Don’t forget that one style does not fit all. Giving your girls an array of cuts to choose from will ensure everyone has a say and feels confident and comfortable! Azazie is one online shop that offers a unique showroom feature where you can give your bridesmaids various styles to view and vote on.

How to choose your bridesmaid dress color

With the ocean and lush tropical landscapes as your backdrop, there are a few limitations when it comes to choosing a gown color. Whether you want the dresses to match the scenery or add contrast to your beach wedding, here are popular color ideas that destination wedding brides love.

● Peach, Blush, and Rose: Soft and delicate, these pinkish tones add a subtle contrast against the bright blues of the Caribbean Sea.

● Sage Green, Taupe, and Light Gray: Want to let the background speak for itself? Keep it neutral with earthy tones that will make a subtle impact.

● Light Blue vs. Marine Blue: Start singing the blues — ocean blues that is. Whether you choose a calm color or jewel-tone shade, a blue color scheme always aligns with a Caribbean destination wedding.

● Yellow, Orange, and Red: Hello Sunshine! If you’re looking for a bold showstopper, these are your go-to palettes.

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: One color we recommend straying from, in addition to white, of course, is black. Whether it’s lengthy outdoor photoshoots or a ceremony on the sand, the shade will likely be minimal. Avoiding black or very dark-colored bridesmaid dresses is a great way to minimize overheating while out in the sun.

Does the bride pay for the bridesmaid dresses?

While the occasional bride may choose to cover the costs for her bridesmaids, the common expectation is that the bridesmaids cover their dress costs. With that in mind, try to offer a range of options that are affordable for all. If the desired dress is particularly costly, some brides offer to pay for a portion.

While we’re on the topic of spending … here’s how much bridesmaid dresses can cost

Bridesmaids' dresses can range anywhere from $90 to $350+, which makes it difficult to determine an average cost. If you’re not sure what is appropriate to ask your bridesmaids to spend, keep in mind the master list of expenses they are taking on.

For example, if you plan on having a destination bachelorette party, the costs for flights, accommodations, food, drinks, and other expenses can add up quickly. Not to mention some bridesmaids may be in other weddings they need to budget for. If this is the case, consider cost-friendly options that won’t break the bank! This lower price range typically falls between $90 and $130.

In some scenarios, your bridal party might be okay to splurge on dresses. The best rule of thumb: ask them! By giving them an opportunity to share their thoughts, you can better determine a price range everyone will be comfortable with.

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: While the listed price is one thing, don’t forget about factoring in taxes, shipping, and alterations. These added fees can really add up!

How to save money on bridesmaid dresses

Chances are, your bridal party is made up of girlfriends who are all in different stages of their life. This can mean different incomes, spending habits, costs of living, or family scenarios. If the cost of bridesmaid dresses is something that they might be concerned with, consider budget-friendly alternatives like renting or mismatched dresses — in your preferred color palette, of course!

What if a bridesmaid can’t afford the dress?

Between the bachelorette party, dress, hair and makeup, flights, accommodations, and the wedding gift, bridesmaids often spend a lot. Plan on giving your bridesmaids a list of future financial responsibilities up front. This will give everyone time to plan, budget, and let you know whether or not their duties as a bridesmaid are feasible. As much as your best friend may want to be a part of your big day, sometimes financial obligations get in the way.

If this happens, there are a few options to consider. First, ask her what she feels most comfortable with and be understanding of her position — your bridesmaids are your closest friends after all! Next, offer to contact the dress store about payment plans to minimize up-front costs. Lastly, if she decides she cannot be a bridesmaid, include her in other ways! From setting up decor at the bridal shower to giving a reading during the ceremony, there are plenty of options to make her feel valued!

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: If you want to splurge on your bridesmaids and eliminate one cost from their plate, consider treating them to hair and makeup! Destination wedding parties at Sandals Resorts have a team of top-notch hairstylists and makeup artists onsite at the Red Lane® Spa.


Photo credit: Fizkes/

Picture: Beyond wedding makeup and destination wedding hairstyles, consider inviting your bridesmaids to the Red Lane® Spa for some well-deserved TLC! Nothing says destination wedding-ready like luxurious, tropical-infused add-on treatments. From a Tropical Glow Facial to a Slow Beauty Pedicure, every Red Lane® Spa treatment is designed to refresh and reset.

Where to shop online for bridesmaid dresses

Living in the digital era means we can browse and order a variety of bridesmaid dresses for a Caribbean wedding from the comfort of our own home! For hassle-free bridesmaid dress shopping and a vast selection to choose from, consider these online shops:

David’s Bridal: With a guaranteed in-stock section, your bridesmaids can find your preferred style in their perfect size and ready-to-ship.

Azazie: Extra helpful features include an online showroom, at-home try on, 24-hour shipping (on select color swatches), and a virtual dressing room.

BHLDN: Your go-to for intricate patterns and infinitely chic looks.

Birdy Grey: Enjoy three free sample swatches, plus a complimentary palette if you prefer to mix and match dress colors and styles!

Bridesmaid dress alterations

Even after those beachy bridesmaid dresses are signed, sealed, and delivered, there are still hemmings and alterations to consider. To get a proper hem or alteration to the straps, your bridesmaids should bring their wedding day shoes with them. Whether they’re wearing heels, wedges, or traditional sandals, having their shoes on will ensure the dress is altered to the proper length.

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: Remind your bride tribe about alterations before they order their bridesmaid dresses online. This will help them place the online orders accordingly, so they won’t rush to squeeze in a trip to the tailor right before the big day!

Ready to jet-set? Let’s talk about transporting the bridesmaid dresses

Although you’ll likely be steaming the dresses before the ceremony, limiting the amount of travel-induced wrinkle is never a bad idea! Many online stores send a garment bag with the bridesmaid dresses, so your bride tribe can easily store and carry their dresses on the plane.

Before flying, remind your bridesmaids to check with their airline as some flights offer hanging closet space — a great way to avoid cramming their dress into the shared overhead bin!


Photo credit: Africa Studio/

Picture: Let’s talk about florals for a minute. While you’ll want your arrangements to match the dresses, it’s always good to keep the current season in mind. For example, a summer destination wedding pairs well with a warm color palette and bright birds of paradise that add dimension. In contrast, reds, golden yellows, and touches of greenery are a perfect combination for a fall wedding.

Put your best foot forward: Shoes that pair perfectly with beachy bridesmaid dresses

All the celebrating, photo ops, and mingling means your bridesmaids will be on their feet most of the wedding day. Keeping this in mind, we recommend making comfort and functionality your top priorities for bridesmaid shoes. Here are some top picks from Sandals brides:

● Head over heel-less: Sticking to a lower heel height or flat soles will minimize discomfort and make walking around the resort all day a breeze.

● Toes in the sand: Sometimes it’s best to ditch the shoes altogether and go barefoot — you are in paradise after all!

● Woven or braided sandals: These trendy sandals styles are what we call the “epitome of beach chic.” They also come in a variety of colors, which makes matching with the bridesmaid dresses easy!

● Time to kick it: Nobody ever said sneakers weren’t allowed! The ultimate beach-worthy option to consider: espadrilles. Typically made from canvas or cotton, espadrilles are great for breathability and maximum comfort.

WEDDING INSIDER TIP: Keep your shoe color options minimal. Brown, nude, silver, gold, and even white are elegant and go with just about everything!

A “thank you” goes a long way

Your bridesmaids traveled all this way and have been by your side through all the months of wedding planning and prep. To thank them for helping make your day so special, it’s always a sweet gesture to give a heartfelt gift. Here are a few favorites from destination brides:

● Jewelry: Dainty pearls, a little bit of sparkle, or a personalized necklace are perfect accessories for the wedding weekend and to have as keepsakes for years to come.

● Personalized travel essentials: Keep your bride tribe organized with custom makeup bags or jewelry organizers. Plus, each bridesmaid will be able to easily spot theirs while getting ready in the bridal suite.

● Getting ready gear: The wedding day usually calls for an early morning and hours of hair and makeup. To keep your girls comfy while getting ready, a robe and slippers make great gifts.


Photo credit: Anastasiia Chepinska/

Picture: When it comes to bridesmaids' gifts, jewelry is always a great route. For a classic look, dainty pearl earrings and a pearl necklace are the way to go. For flashier embellishments, opt for a sparkling pendant necklace with teardrop earrings.

If you want additional inspiration for bridesmaid dresses, social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are a great place to start! We recommend searching for wedding photographers, relevant hashtags, or wedding-themed Pinterest boards.

Interested in planning a Caribbean destination wedding at Sandals Resorts? Visit to learn more!

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Gianna Nolte

About Gianna Nolte

Gianna is a University of Miami alumna and professional copywriter with a passion for words, photography, travel and the ocean, all of which shape her as an individual, storyteller and creative.