When my daughter was invited recently to be in a wedding, I began my quest for a dress. She’s at that in-between stage where she’s too old-and tall-to be a flower girl, but not mature enough to wear a typical bridesmaid dress. For girls at this in-between phase, finding age-appropriate formal attire can be difficult. But it’s not impossible.
I’ve learned that tweens and young teens are often classified as “junior bridesmaids.” Many companies that make wedding clothing sell dresses for flower girls that coordinate with the bridesmaids’ clothing. Fewer sell dresses made for tweens and young teens to wear.
One way to expand your options for a junior bridesmaid is to pick a dress in a color that coordinates with, but does not exactly match the outfits worn by the other members of the wedding party. This is very much like choosing a dress for the mother of the bride or groom, which is usually not in the same color as the maids’ outfits.
When you’re shopping, be aware that like all wedding attire, dresses made for junior bridesmaids and flower girls are sized smaller than their regular clothing. Thus, your girl may need to order a size or two larger than she otherwise would. Consult size charts carefully, try dresses on if possible, and double-check before ordering. Often, all sales are final.
Nordstrom stores and web sites offer a reasonably good selection of well-made party dresses in a range of colors. Yes, some of them have prints or striped patterns that may not work for a wedding, but there are still plenty of options. Search their web site for dresses sold under the brand US Angels or Blush-many of these are made for weddings or similar formal occasions. While Nordstrom can be expensive, the dresses sold through their web site in general cost no more, and sometimes less than, the junior bridesmaids dresses sold at wedding shops. Some Nordstrom stores only carry dresses up to size 12. If you need a 14 or 16, check the web site.
Neiman Marcus also sells well-made special occasion dresses. Although the web site had promising options by Zoe Ltd. and Blush, a trip to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue store turned up only a small children’s department with casual clothing. Consequently, it’s best to call ahead before you visit with your daughter. Again, prices are high.
If your girl is a size 14 or smaller and on the younger end of the tween/teen spectrum, J. Crew might fit the bill. Their weddings section includes very elegant colored dresses that might work for younger tweens as well as flower girls. One drawback is the price-J. Crew dresses are more expensive than many of the styles sold at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Many styles come in white or ivory, which is probably not a good pick if your daughter is not going to be a flower girl.
Ultimately, I fond my daughter’s dress at David’s Bridal, the chain store specializing in wedding and special-occasion clothing. When I called to make an appointment (generally required at a bridal store), they told me that yes, she sounded like a junior bridesmaid, and yes, they had dresses available. If your bride is ordering her maids’ dresses from there, David’s Bridal is a great option. You’ll probably be able to get an exact color match for the maids’ dresses. Otherwise, the company offers the each style of junior bridesmaids’ dress a range of colors, sometimes as many as 20. Most junior bridesmaids dresses sold there cost about $100. Be aware that you will need to special order your daughter’s dress, and that it can take 6 weeks to a few months to come in.
A final option is to go with an online retailer such as My Girl Dress. This company offers flower girl and junior bridesmaid dresses up to size 16 at low prices. Many selections are well under $100.