You know that greeting card line that uses awkward family photos as an instant laugh? Here’s another idea – upsetting bridesmaids dresses. No one is sure how the bride’s attendants can look like pained prom dates from the 1990s, but there you have it. Unless, of course, you have a open-minded, creative friend who is getting married and meets you and the rest of the party at any of these fab dress shops. See some local picks from a few years ago here.

Victoria Sdoukos Couture Bridal
924 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-9880
www.victoriasdoukoscouture.com

Christina Currie of Christina Currie Events has planned and implemented over 500 celebrations and relies on Victoria Sdoukos Couture Bridal to make everyone gleeful. “Once my brides make their final decision about their wedding dress, it’s time to conquer the bridesmaids dresses,” she says. “Without a doubt in my mind, I look to Victoria Sdoukos Courture Bridal, in Chicago. Designer Victoria hand makes all of her dresses with the best fabric and lots of love. Victoria is truly the only boutique I refer to my clients, because I know for a fact they will be walking down the aisle feeling fabulous and with a smile on their face.”

A Joyful Occasion
1504 N. Naper Blvd., Suite 116
Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 245-8500
www.ajoyfuloccasionbridal.com

The day may be joyous, but the details leading up to it may not be very joyful and that’s where this Naperville shop comes in. A Joyful Occasion stocks DaVinci bridesmaids dresses – the entire collection – so you needn’t look up a particular dress and call in to ask if the shop has it. It gets all of ’em. The shop prefers this line because the apparel is of good quality, the range of colors is wide, the prices are decent and the fabric is perfect for a wedding: chiffon, taffeta and satin. The staff here is particularly and sincerely helpful.

Wolsfelt’s Bridal and Tuxedos
1025 S. Lincoln Ave.
Aurora, IL 60505
(630) 896-7166
www.wolsfelts.com

Chances are that if your family ties are bound to the area, a handful of relatives shopped Wolsfelt’s for their wedding day since the family-owned business has been dressing brides, grooms and attendants for nearly 40 years. That experience translates into efficiency (like you need another wedding headache), a wide selection and a staff that is sweeter than your mother-in-law-to-be on your first meeting. You might not want to think of “one-stop shopping” in terms of your wedding, but if everyone from the bride and groom, bridesmaids, flower girls and moms can get outfitted happily in one spot, it just makes sense.

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Dimitra’s Bridal Couture
1009 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-0920
www.dimitrasbridal.com

In addition to designer bridal gowns by Matthew Christopher, Era Atelier, Francesca Miranda, Alvina Valenta, Ysa Makino and many others, Dimitra’s Bridal Couture offers stylish and on-trend frocks that bridesmaids will love to wear again because they can be glamorous or simply elegant. The Gold Coast shop is a favorite among brides and friends and family members who stand up for a number of reasons not the least of which is a patient and expert staff, a gorgeous space and an extremely relaxed atmosphere, which is exactly what the bridal doctor ordered.

Eva’s Bridal of Oak Lawn
5269 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
(708) 422-5599
www.evasbridalofoaklawn.com

Not all roads lead to the Gold Coast and case in point is Eva’s Bridal of Oak Lawn which has gathered all kinds of awards over its multi-generational life in the biz. You’ll find tons of designers and all the big names in bridesmaids dresses here from Bill Levkoff and Allure to DaVinci and Impressions, and there are usually samples which might work for a small wedding party.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.