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A Bridesmaid's Guide to Jewelry

Check out Zola’s bridesmaid’s guide to jewelry for inspiration as you pick the pieces that will accent your dress best.

By Allison Cullman

hands with multiple rings
Photo by Unsplash

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is an exciting honor. A lot comes with the title, such as bachelorette planning, posing for photos, and assisting the bride in whatever she needs on her wedding day. Fortunately, among the flurry of wedding details is the allure of a new outfit, complete with the best-matched jewelry on the big day. While the bride may give you a special piece to wear, she’ll likely leave the rest up to you.

As you’re deciding what coordinates best with your bridesmaid dress, consider the cut and style of the dress, the color scheme of the wedding, and general do’s and don’ts for choosing the right special occasion jewelry. Our helpful guide will lead you in the right direction and provide inspiration along the way as you carefully select the jewelry you want to wear come the wedding day.

Factor in Dress Style

The cut and style of the dress make a difference when deciding what jewelry to wear. It’ll help you decide whether to go for subtle or statement pieces. Having an at-home dress rehearsal well in advance of the celebration will allow you to visualize different combinations of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to see what complements your bridesmaid’s dress best.

Strapless Gown

Wearing a strapless gown leaves an open space where a statement necklace is appropriate. An eye-catching piece with large gems, a multi-strand necklace, or even layered necklaces are all possibilities. With a statement necklace and strapless gown, it’s best to keep earrings refined with either classic studs or small hoops.

An alternative option is to leave the neckline bare and highlight an updo hairstyle with dramatic drop earrings. The rule of thumb is to balance what you wear on your neckline and what you wear on your ears. Also, coordinate your pieces to have a common thread, if it’s not already a matching set. For example, if you wear pearl earrings, you want to have pearls in your necklace. It’s about highlighting the dress, not detracting from it with jewelry.

A Bridesmaids Guide to Jewelry Photo Credit // Unsplash

Sweetheart Scoop

A pretty scoop neckline, such as a sweetheart neckline or v-neck, has a feminine appeal that pairs well with delicate jewelry. A single pendant necklace or multiple, thin necklace strands accentuate this cut without making it look cluttered. Consider this type of neckline an accessory to the dress itself, and minimize jewelry around the neck. However, you can use it as an opportunity to go big with the earrings and possibly match with a bracelet or cuff.

You’ll want to keep the look classic and elegant with Swarovski crystals and pearls, or similar-colored gems that match the wedding colors with a silver, gold, or rose gold base. Additionally, consider the length of the dress to maintain balance for the entire look. A tea-length dress leaves room to accessorize with sparkly or colorful heels. In this case, keep the rest of the look minimal to not overwhelm or clash with the other bridesmaids or the general wedding aesthetic.

Halter Neckline

A halter neckline accentuates the shoulders and pairs best with a sweeping updo or a sleek pony or braid. A necklace of any kind only clutters the look, so opt for dangly earrings, instead. Consider adding a crystal hairpin or a bracelet for extra sparkle. Or, opt for wearing a statement cocktail ring. Just don’t wear all of these accessories at once.

Try different pieces together and settle on a look that highlights the dress without feeling overdone. As a support to the bride, you want to look your best without becoming the focal point. Finally, think about the style of the wedding as you determine which jewelry fits best. A formal affair calls for lots of crystals and pearl accents, while a more casual setting is a place for unconventional or vintage pieces to complete the look.

Spaghetti Straps

The delicate nature of spaghetti straps works well with equally feminine and elegant jewelry. A strand of pearls or a teardrop necklace on a thin chain is a lovely pairing. A larger necklace will look imbalanced and take away from the design of the dress. The same applies to a one-shoulder dress, which doesn’t require a necklace at all.

Adding a necklace to the dramatic appeal of a one-shoulder bridesmaid gown only clutters up the neckline. Keep it simple with large studs or shoulder-sweeping earrings, instead. If the look calls for it, add a bracelet or a stack of rings, too. With spaghetti straps, less is more, as not to weigh down the look with jewelry.

Consider the Color Scheme

After you’ve considered the dress style, note that certain materials pair better with certain colors. For example, cool tones marry well with sterling silver accents, and warmer tones pair better with rose gold or gold. That’s not to say that these are tried-and-true rules, but it can help narrow down your choices when considering what jewelry to wear.

While the bride may give you free rein over your selection, be cognizant of the wedding style and chosen colors, so as not to take away from the bride’s vision.

Black and White

This classic color scheme calls for elegant, simplistic pieces. Unless specified by the bride, leave the addition of bright colors to the flower bouquets and other wedding touches. Pearls and diamonds are the go-to options to uphold a classy appeal.

With black and white as your base, you can get creative with jewelry style and shape, instead. A geometric necklace or a crystal cuff with an artistic design are ways to play up your jewelry, while still accommodating the simplistic elegance of this timeless color combination.

Colorful Prints

A wedding with pops of color calls for equally fun jewelry to spice up your overall look. Depending on the dress's chosen color, the bride may have specific requests as to the color of the jewelry to wear. Rather than the traditional diamonds and pearls, the bride may have turquoise, emeralds, or sapphires in mind, instead.

Rather than going the standard necklace route, the bride may choose flower crowns as the main accessory. If this is the case, keep the rest of your jewelry to a minimum.

Bridesmaids’ Choice

Many brides allow their bridesmaids to pick from their chosen color in whatever shade they want. For example, if the main color is blue, the bride may be open to varying shades, such as navy and sky blue. The result is an ombre effect with some bridesmaids opting for darker hues and others preferring lighter shades.

The same choice may apply to the style of dress. This allows each bridesmaid to show her own style and personality with the dress and jewelry choice. Everything should still share a cohesive look. Talk with the other bridesmaids and decide together which material or color to follow before making the look too uniquely yours. The freedom to pair what works best with your dress cut, hairstyle, and personal preference still needs to be aligned with others in the wedding party.

Bridesmaid’s Jewelry Do’s and Don’ts

Wedding styles range from black-tie formalities to low-key backyard celebrations. When selecting the jewelry that’s right for your dress, consider all details of the wedding before you proceed. Even with the most casual ceremonies, it’s best to err on the dressier side to embrace the specialness of the day.

In addition to factoring in your bridesmaid dress style and the color scheme of the wedding, here are a few general do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you search for the right jewelry pairing.

Do Consult the Bride

When in doubt, ask. Jewelry that the bride may give the green light to for a night out or another special occasion may not be what’s acceptable for her wedding. Rather than assume, make sure to check first, especially if you’re thinking about wearing a trendier piece. Additionally, make sure to check-in with the other members of the wedding party for advice or ideas of what they’re wearing.

Don’t Go Overboard

If you already have the statement necklace, you don’t need a large cuff or dangly earrings. If you’re wearing a special flower crown or hairpiece, keep the rest of your jewelry minimal. It may feel decadent to keep adding on the jewels, but let the dress shine and keep the accessories classy and supporting.

Do Embrace Your Own Personal Style

There are ways to maintain the formality of a wedding ceremony and the bride's preferences while also incorporating your style. If you’re not an earrings person, opt for a bracelet, instead. If you aren’t into statement necklaces, consider a vintage hair clip as an alternative. Not everyone has the same style. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the jewelry you select, so that you can appear confident on the day of the wedding.

A Bridesmaids Guide to Jewelry Photo Credit // Unsplash

Don’t Overthink It

Being a bridesmaid should feel fun and exciting, and that includes getting ready, too. The dress itself will feel special paired with your favorite pair of dancing shoes. Plus, you’ll be carrying a bouquet, which means jewelry is that last touch that pulls the whole look together. Whether you go simple or statement, neutral or colorful, all that matters is that you feel beautiful standing next to the bride on her big day.

For more helpful information on planning your wedding, see our expert guides below:

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