Is It OK For Gay Guys To Ask Female Friends To Buy Bridesmaid Dresses?

J.Crew Silk Chiffon Bridesmaid Dresses

Three of the silk chiffon options from J.Crew’s bridesmaid dress collection.

Here’s a question: If you are having women stand up with you at your gay wedding (between two men), is it alright to ask them to buy a bridesmaid’s dress? Considering there’s no… bride?

At first my fiancé and I were planning on just having our brother and sisters stand up with us at our ceremony. We thought it was plain and simple and unfussy, which is what we (at one point) wanted for our whole celebration.

Alas — when you’re planning a wedding, you learn very quickly how easily “plain and simple” goes out the window in favor of “complicated and nautical stripes.”

Anyway, as we tried to figure out how to include the people we care about the most in our big day, it became clear that asking our very best friends to hand out programs, or man the guest book, wasn’t appropriate. (Is Guest Book Duty even a thing? Someone please fact-check Sex and the City, please.) Not only did it feel weird, it wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted them up there, standing alongside our siblings, sharing the event with us. After all, as a needlepointed pillow once told me: “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”

So we created ourselves a little grooms’ party. As with every new wedding choice, it created new problems. Suddenly, instead of having one girl and one guy standing up with us (two men), we had a total of seven male and three female attendants. The men are easy – we’ll just ask them to wear navy blue suits and we’ll get them thematic ties. But what to do about the women?

We didn’t want to ask them to go out and buy a tea length lilac satin number that they’ll never put on again. If you’re a gay man, you’ve heard your lady friends gripe about this for years. There’s even an awesomely bad Katherine Heigl movie about the phenomenon. So I asked my two girlfriends what they wanted to wear. I thought if they could just go through their closet and find a couple of dresses that were similar in some way or another, it would be fine.

The colors of our wedding are basically white and navy blue – nothing bright or floral. This put me in the mind of a printed dress, which I suggested to my lady attendants. They dutifully performed a detailed scan of Pinterest and informed me, and I quote:

“After a careful survey of photos of weddings with bridesmaids wearing prints and stripes I think you will definitely regret it if we don’t wear a solid color.”

In this, I trust the lady’s eye. Once we decided that they would be wearing a solid color, and that the color should be the same across all three girls, we realized we were looking at the same options that most brides end up considering: bridesmaid dresses.

J.Crew has a series of options that are flattering on a lot of different figures, and relatively inexpensive and comfortable. They make it about as convenient as possible – but you still end up having to go to the store and try on things with your bridesmaids if you want to make sure they end up in something flattering. So lo and behold, despite having determined months ago to have a very stripped down, no-frills ceremony and party, there I was a week ago with my two best lady friends on Lower Fifth, weighing our options in silk chiffon.

The gals were very generous and patient, and I think we found dresses that make them look lovely. But it’s true they’ll never wear them again – unless they end up cast as water nymphs in a high school theater production of The Tempest. Sometimes, the traditional things are traditional for a reason – they really are the easiest solution.

One final side note – although we didn’t choose white or off-white in the end, all three of us thought that the ivory or champagne dresses looked very pretty. And if you have no actual bride, I think it’s perfectly alright for female guests to wear white. My friends thought it was sort of thrilling and even transgressive to try it out. But even if there wasn’t a bride to compete with, there was another strict rule to contend against at our September 20 wedding—no one should wear white after Labor Day.


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