Your closest friends have agreed to stand by your side as you walk down the aisle toward marital bliss. Tread carefully, Ms. Bride, you’re entering dangerous waters.

There’s a fine line between a happy bridesmaid and a sour puss. Tell her that you envision her in a cloud of Pepto-Bismol pink tulle and watch her face pucker. You want your pals to speak to you after the wedding, right?

The bridesmaid dress is an area of delicate negotiation. Finding the gown that works for all concerned parties takes some give-and-take from everyone. Try these helpful gown-hunting tips that are sure to keep everyone smiling.

  • DO: Be considerate. While it’s an honor to be asked, being a bridesmaid is also an obligation of several hundred dollars. Talk to your friends about a dress budget and stick to it.
  • DON’T: Try to make your maids look hideous just so you’ll stand out. You want your friends to look stunning in their own way, so you’ll have gorgeous pictures and happy memories.
  • DO: Put yourself in their shoes. While dress shopping, ask yourself: Would I wear this? If the answer is no, put the gown back.
  • DON’T: Think all your bridesmaids must be dressed alike. These days, many brides will pick a color that they would like the gowns to be in and let each bridesmaid pick the style (usually from the same designer) that she wishes to wear. This way, each person is wearing a dress that complements their shape and shows off their best assets.
  • DO: Have a brainstorming session. Let your bridesmaids voice what they will and won’t wear. Look over some bridal magazines to see what styles appeal to them. Then plan a shopping date. Take everyone, if possible. If you have out-of-town maids, make sure they are included by either scanning in dress images you like or finding them on the designer’s Web site and e-mailing them.

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