8 Ways to Make a Chief Bridesmaid Dress Different to Standout

The bride chooses her bridesmaids from close friends or sisters, but her best friend or closest sister is the one she crowns chief bridesmaid (a.k.a maid of honour). The role of the chief bridesmaid is special and therefore it is important for her to look the part. If you’re the bride, you have to find a way to make your maid of honour dress different from the other bridesmaids. That way, she will stand out when all bridesmaids line up together or walk down the aisle. The idea is that your wedding guests and people who see your wedding pictures should immediately know, without asking, that ‘this is the chief bridesmaid’. There are many cool ways to make your chief bridesmaid feel extra special and stand out in the bridesmaids-sea-of-sameness on your big day, and they are pretty simple. Read on to find out how.

A different dress can make chief bridesmaid look different

Chief bridesmaid stands out in a blush pink long gown while the other bridesmaids wear a royal blue, long dress. [Image Credit: SC George/ Instagram]

How to Make Your Chief Bridesmaid Stand Out From Other Bridesmaids

Popular ways Nigerian bides are using to set their chief bridesmaids apart include making her dress or hair look different, adding a belt to her dress or making hear wear a unique hairpiece or headpiece that the other ‘maids are not wearing.  While those are not the only ways, there’s a right and wrong way to go about making the maid of honour look different from the other bridesmaids who all wear a similar outfit style and colour.  If you don’t get it right, the colours will not look seamless together or in-sync in group pictures or when all your bridesmaids stand together. Here are the 8 creative ways that work to set your chief bridesmaid apart and also make her feel special on your wedding day:


#1. Different Bouquet Size or Colour for Your Chief Bridesmaid

Here’s another idea to make your maid of honour stand out – have her carry a different flower bouquet that looks different in colour or size.  That way, when she walks down the aisle, together with your girl-squad, guests can easily spot her as the special bridesmaid that she is.  Some ideas include:

  • Make her bouquet fuller by adding more flowers;
  • Make her bouquet colour different. Let your chief bridesmaid carry a bouquet with a brighter colour or bolder shade (compared to the other girls’ bouquets).  For example: if your other girls are carrying a cluster of flowers. Let’s say, the other girls have a cluster of pink roses and your maid of honour has a red roses bouquet, that will make her stand out easily;
  • Mix and match her bouquet flowers. Another way to make your chief bridesmaid’s flower bouquet colour different is to have her carry the same flowers as the rest of the girls, but throw in one or two different flower stems of bolder colour.

#2. Same Style, Different Colour (Chief Bridesmaid Dress)

A very common way Nigerian brides are using to make your chief bridesmaid shine is to pick the same dress style (as the rest of the girls) but in a different colour or complementary shade. It is important that the colour you pick for her is in harmony with the other ‘maids’dress colour when they all stand together.  A popular way we see Nigerian brides using colour to mismatch their chief bridesmaid dress (with the other girls) is choosing a lighter or deeper shade for either party.  Here is an example: picking baby pink chief bridesmaids dress and fuschia pink dress for the rest of the girls.  Another example is: choosing a navy blue colour for the bridesmaids’ gown and cotton blue chief bridesmaid dress.

Illustration: In the blue themed bridal party group picture above, you can see that the other bridesmaids’ dresses are in a blue colour fabric while the chief bridesmaid’s different dress colour (blush pink) immediately makes her stand out. 

the above image, most of the bridesmaids are seen wearing their hair down, but the chief bridesmaid has a noticeably, bold and sparkly hairpiece to make her stand out.

#3. Different Style, Same Colour (Maid of Honour Dress)

Another cool way to set your maid of honour apart is to have her wear a different style of bridesmaid gown (not matching the rest of the girls) but in the same colour. To ensure that her dress colour will be in harmony with the others, pick a colour in a complementary shade or one in the same color scheme.  Every guest that sees your girl-squad together will definitely know that the one wearing a different bridesmaid dress style and design is special, your chief bridesmaid.

Illustration: In the light pink themed bridal party group picture above, all the bridesmaids’ dresses are of the same colout, but the chief bridesmaid’s dress stands out because it’s sewn differently (style and design).

#4. Same (Gown) Style, Different Details (Dress Length, Sleeves or Neckline)

Another way to distinguish your chief bridesmaid (maid of honour) from the rest of your entourage is by having her wear the same style of bridesmaid gown (or same colour) like the other girls, but make hers look slightly different by picking a  different neckline style or varying the cut of the sleeves or straps.  That way, your chief bridesmaid stands out in the midst of similarly-dressed women.

Another way to make your chief bridesmaid stand out is to make her dress longer or shorter (but in same style as the other bridesmaids). That way, your maid of honour will easily stand out – no one needs to ask ‘who is the maid of honour?’

Different flower bouquet to make chief bridesmaid stand out

(Above) The bridal party, with bridesmaids in soft pink dresses and matching bouquet; while the chief bridesmaid stands out in a different style and fabric (lace dress of same colour). She is further set apart by a fuller bouquet (of different flower colour), a different hairstyle and a sparkly hairpiece.

#5. Sparkling Accessory to Differentiate Your Chief Bridesmaid

Dressing the maid honour different from the other bridesmaids is one of the most popular ways Nigerian brides are choosing to set their chief bridesmaid apart.  Adding a few subtle, sparkly accessory to her dress or hair is a simple but effective way to bring some attention to your right-hand-woman. Here’s how to go about it: if you have the other girls wearing the same bridesmaid dress style and colour, you can differentiate your chief bridesmaid with a sparkling hair or dress accessory that the others do not have. Some cool ways to do this include having your maid of honour wear a shiny belt on her dress; or a sparkly headpiece or hairpiece with studs, or even a simple necklace with subtle bling.  Some brides gift this accessory as a ‘bridesmaid gift’ to their maid of honour, to make her feel extra special.

Illustration: In the above image, the chief bridesmaid has a noticeably bold and sparkly hairpiece to make her stand out.

#6. Different Hairstyle (for the Chief Bridesmaid)

Outfits are not the only elements used to set a chief bridesmaid apart.  Some brides make them not wear a matching hairstyle and/ or makeup with the other ‘maids. Set your chief bridesmaid apart by making her wear a different hairstyle from the other bridesmaids. Another option to set her looks apart is to have your maid of honour wear a headpiece or hairpiece while the other girls do not wear any, especially if all bridesmaids have the same hairstyle. If your bridesmaids are having a headpiece or hairpiece, you can make the maid of honour’s own different or sparkly.

For example: if the other bridesmaids are wearing their hair up in the same style, you could have your maid of honour wear her own hair up (updo). Another example is to have all the bridesmaids, including your maid of honour, wear the same hairstyle but make the chief bridesmaid add a sparkling, metallic hairpiece so that she looks different.

Illustration: In the two bridal party group pictures above, both chief bridesmaids’ hairstyles are different,  is swept up and also accessorized with a sparkly hairpiece; while the other bridesmaids are seen wearing their hair down.  That small detail is noticeable and gives her a different look to the maids of honour, making her stand out.

RELATED: Wedding Updo Hairstyles Perfect for the Bridal Party or Bride

#7. Sparkly Chief Bridesmaid Dress

Another effective way to make your chief bridesmaid easily shine and stand out is by having her dressing in a sparkly dress, such as a sequin dress or metallic coloured gown or an embellished dress.  You can have her wear a metallic or sequined, or embellished dress in a colour that is different from the other girls’ gown. For example: have your chief dress in a champagne sequin bridesmaid dress and let the other bridesmaids wear satin red dress.

A different way of making your chief bridesmaid’s dress sparkle and shine is to have her wear a sparkly, metallic dress in the same shade as the other bridesmaids’dress colour.  For example::  if all your bridesmaids are dressed in a long purple gown, your chief bridesmaid could wear a shiny and sparkling purple dress in the same style and design.

Style your chief bridesmaid in any of the above ways and she will shine through without outshining you, the bride.

ALSO: Colour Combination Guides for Nigerian Wedding

#8. Textured, Print or Patterned Chief Bridesmaid Dress

In the above sections, I talked about using colours. However, fabric patterns are also used to differentiate the chief bridesmaid.  For a while, brides have been shifting away from the unwritten rule of making bridesmaids gowns in satin fabric and solid (unpatterned) fabrics.

We are seeing a lot of Nigerian brides having their chief bridesmaid wear a dress made out of textured fabric (such as lace), unlike the traditional satin-smooth fabric associated with bridesmaids dresses.  Illustration: In the above picture of the bride and her entourage, the chief bridesmaid is made to stand out by having her outfit in lace fabric while the rest of the girls are dressed in a satin-smooth fabric.

Talking about print and patterned fabric for the bridesmaids, who says it has to only be satin?  Where is the rule that says your girls cannot wear ankara bridesmaids dresses or have their outfits sewn with adire/ tie-and-dye fabric?  Here’s how to use a wax print or patterned fabric to make your maid of honour stand out: have all the girls wear the same dress design and fabric. Let the other bridesmaids’ dresses be in a solid design, but your chief bridesmaid dresses in a patterned dress to make her stand out.

Finally, if you ensure that the patterned fabric for the chief bridesmaid is in the same colour scheme as the other bridesmaids’ gowns. That will ensure that every girl’s dress will look beautiful together, and not harsh to the eyes.

Action Items: Making Your Chief Bridesmaid Stand Out

As the bride, you expect your beautiful wedding gown to be the center of attraction and don’t want any of your bridesmaids to steal your shine. You should also give them an opportunity to get their own shine. Usually, a coordinated bridesmaids dress is chosen to make your girl-squad stand out from the guests, and that makes it harder to impossible to distinguish the chief bridesmaid from the other girls.

Some Nigerian brides, in trying to create a different look for their maid of honour, end up choosing a dress colour or pattern or texture that does not look in-sync when all the bridesmaids are standing together or in a group picture they all appeared. I wrote this post for you, so you can choose the right dress and accessories that will make your chief bridesmaid stand out, without looking colour-riot in a group picture.

So, let’s have a recap: effective ways to make your chief bridesmaid stand out include having her wear a different dress, making her flower bouquet fuller, adding a sparkly accessory to her outfit or hair. If you follow the above tips to set your maid of honour apart, you should be okay.

Thanks for reading, and please help somebody else out there find this post by sharing it on social media. Simply hit the share button below.  I hope you enjoyed reading and look forward to hearing how the tips in this article work out for you.

That’s all on this post. Now, I want you to tell me – what are you doing (or will do) to make your chief bridesmaid look different and stand out from the other bridesmaids on your wedding day? Also, are there other ways I forgot to mention here, that you’ve seen brides in Nigeria or elsewhere use to set their maid of honour apart? If so, tell me in the comment section below and let’s get the discussion kicking.

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About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.

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