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As an Olympic National Park and Seattle wedding photographer, a trend I’ve been loving in the last couple years of weddings is having attendants of both genders mixed throughout the bridal party! In addition to bridesmaids, I’ve seen brides-men and men-of-honor, and grooms-maids in addition to groomsmen! Bridesmaids, bridesmen, groomsmen, groomsmaids, men-of-honor and best women. I’ve had a ton of fun coming up with terminology for bridal parties that don’t follow the traditional bridesmaids/groomsmen binary. My favorite term so far is “bridesfolk.” I can’t help but giggle when I say it! The formative friendships that have shaped our lives aren’t limited to being of the same gender— If you’re a bride whose closest friend from childhood, adolescence, or adulthood is a guy, there’s absolutely no reason he can’t be your Man-of-Honor or bridesman. Of course, whether or not he wants to wear a matching dress is up to him!
Caty & Nick’s laughter-filled NatureBridge wedding reflected their personalities and stories to a tee. Caty asked her brother John to be a bridesman, and Nick’s niece Rachael was the lady of honor. The gal’s floor-length gowns were all different, but a similar pattern unified the different necklines to suit each girl. The boys wore pale blue shirts, navy trousers, and red bowties — John was distinguished from the groomsmen with a pale pink bowtie and suspenders. Once the whole group lined up together, the overall effect of blush and navy with pops of red from flowers and bowties was cohesive and stunning! And of course, Caty’s sequin top from BHLDN added the perfect dose of relaxed glamour. Here’s what I love most about this ensemble — The overall effect of the clothing is unified, but each person feels comfortable and unique in a look that suits them. It’s not cookie-cutter, but it’s cohesive, and obviously the overall style reflects the bride and groom’s vision and taste! When everyone feels comfortable and confident in their outfits, then their personalities and emotions become the main focus of the photos.
Jessica & Will’s bridal party is another example of a cohesive bridal party– yet no one is wearing exactly the same thing! Each of the ladies chose their own dress in shades of lavender, and Will’s groomslady Heather is distinguished with an elegant pattern. The groomspeople all wore congac footwear to coordinate with the groom’s dapper outfit (seriously, how stylish is he?!). As for Jessica and her ladies, each gal’s dress is quite different, but together they form an elegant and sophisticated ensemble in shades of lilac and lavender. Jessica’s maid of honor is further distinguished with a longer hemline and intricate cutout detail.
Laura and Scott’s bridal party had even more variation amongst each member. Shades of navy, charcoal, blush, gray, and pale blue all work together beautifully for a sophisticated pallette. Even though there’s less repetition of color or style, similar levels of “dressiness” and a limited color pallette keep everyone looking cohesive. Scott added two groomsladies to his attendants, and Laura included a bridesman along with her maids.
I loved that Tyler included Cate as a groomsmaid in his Olympic Peninsula wedding! And her floor-length ombre gown was a perfect complement to the bridal party colors as a whole, yet distinct from the bridesmaids dresses at the same time. The rest of the gents wore tweedy vests with differently patterned ties. Nicole had her bridesmaids select their own dresses in pale pink with a feminine lacy pattern or detail, and while the bridesmaids didn’t “match” in a literal sense, I love how they coordinated to create a textured and feminine effect. The whole group overall was textural & coordinated, with a balanced blend of masculine and feminine details.
>>> More from Nicole & Tyler’s Olympic Peninsula Forest Wedding
Melisha’s ladies all wore floor-length gowns in purple, plum, lavender, and lilac, while her bridesman added a purple tie and boutonniere to coordinate. Each of the gal’s dresses complemented their figure and style, and together they made a stylish group!
For one of my all-time favorite bridal party looks, Rebecca and Yonah incorporated tweed & plaid for the gent’s ensembles, and glamorous beaded cocktail gowns for the ladies. Rebecca envisioned a dazzling 1920’s style fete under the cedar canopy of the Olympic National Park rainforest near Lake Quinault Lodge. The ladies each chose a different gown, but the intricate detail and sparkle of the beading in a limited palette if ivory, copper, and steel blue kept the whole group looking harmonious. Some of the guys added stylish fedoras to their outfits, and each lady
Sarah’s ladies each chose their own black, knee-length cocktail gown for Sarah & Eric’s garden ceremony in Seattle. Feminine details like lace and pearls kept everything interesting and sophisticated. The lacey details of the bridesmaids’ dresses echoed the subtle lace and tulle of Sarah’s gorgeous gown!
Another example of a lavendar, plum, and lilac palette, each of Trish’s ladies chose their own gown in a variety of shades and styles.
Shannon opted for her maids to all wear the exact same shade of cerulean, but each gal chose a dress in a different cut to suit her personality and style. Together with Brian and the gentlemen, they created a varied palette of shades of azure, navy, and pale blue, accented by cheerful florals. We added the bride and groom’s parents into the full bridal party photo because their outfits in shades of blue and a little patterned detail added beautifully to the overall effect!
If you’ve made it all the way to the end, I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration and ideas from these real-life brides, grooms, and their bridal parties. I love that there is so much freedom in how a couple chooses to include their friends and loved ones in their bridal party, while creating a cohesive and stylish wedding day ensemble that reflects their style and taste.