5 Bridesmaids' Retailers Outside the Bridal Salon Box

There is something radiantly, visibly evident and set apart at the nuptial Mass of a holy, pure-hearted couple, one who understands and embraces taking up the crosses and sweetnesses of marriage. Authentic love has the power to render wedding guests speechless and full of true joy.

When you’ve chosen women of faith and selflessness to stand beside you at the altar, you can be sure their spiritual intercession and ability to enter into your joy will bless your marriage. Being able to share in a friend’s emotional state so deeply is a mark of real friendship and intimacy that tangibly enhances the beauty of a couple’s wedding day.

It follows that when it comes to your bridesmaids’ attire, you’ll most likely desire an outward look that magnifies and highlights each woman’s inner beauty. If you’re beginning your search for dresses, we’d like to suggest a few paths less traveled.

Here’s a semi-secret of the wedding industry: bridesmaids’ dresses get a significant markup at bridal shops. Fortunately, alternatives to traditional bridal retailers not only offer an opportunity to save your best ladies some cash, but one to find attire that truly suits your style.  Here, five non-bridal brands with wide and beautiful selections, with plenty under $100:

For everyone: Nordstrom Juniors

As a department store, Nordstrom naturally has pieces to suit any taste, including youthful, elegant Juniors’ formal wear, as well as simpler day and evening dresses, at far lower prices than the designer-heavy Women’s department, and in a wide range of sizes.

If your style is bohemian: Francesca’s Collections

Maybe you’ve shopped here before or have browsed Francesca’s at the mall. The feminine, delicate styles here would fit right in at a casually romantic daytime wedding: lace, embroidery, and a selection of soft colors. They also carry gorgeous jewelry and accessories for your bridesmaids...and for you, the bride!

If you love styles with a nod to the past: Shabby Apple

Featuring different collections that each invoke a particular time and place--Old Hollywood, for instance, or tailored Mad Men-style silhouettes--Shabby Apple’s beautiful dresses have a vintage sensibility that’s never costumey or overdone, just pretty. The company recently expanded from its origins as a small business, maintaining along the way its inspiring mission to dress women with feminine strength “Because they are beautiful. Because they are powerful. Because they have unique distinctions. Because they can use that power and beauty to shape and change the world in individual ways. Because they have always contributed.”

If you like the classics: Dorothy Perkins

The Dorothy Perkins brand might best be described as Red-era Taylor Swift : a little bit classic, a little bit preppy, lots of florals, looks good with red lips. This online retailer offers dozens of styles with one of the widest size ranges available and also offers maternity versions of their popular dresses, both of which get our applause.

If you’re a minimalist: Zara

You’ve probably shopped here, too. Zara’s neutral palette and elegant, spare silhouettes are worth a look if you’ve chosen dark wedding colors (particularly black) and are drawn to a clean, simple aesthetic. Alternatively, their distinctively bold, bright floral patterns would be well-suited to a daytime celebration.

If your wedding is months away, consider shopping for dresses during or right after the season in which your big day will take place. That is, look around for summer wedding dresses in the summer, and winter wedding dresses in the winter; since most non-bridal retailers don’t offer the same selections or types of clothes year-round, it’s smart to plan ahead. Consider these suggestions a starting point for venturing beyond the bridal salon, and if you’ve found beautiful wedding party attire from a less conventional retailer, be sure to share it with our community in the comments or on our social media!