If you think that the only thing to think about with bridesmaids' dresses is making sure they don't upstage the bride you are very much mistaken.
Your wedding's colour scheme, theme and your own wedding dress need to be taken into account when selecting the outfits for the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys.
If you are marrying in ivory or white then you can dress the bridesmaids in dresses that are styled similarly to yours and in colours that match your colour scheme. You can allow your bridesmaids to choose their own dresses and just give them a colour to stick to. If you have 3 bridesmaids all in different shades of green and different styles you will be surprised at how well they complement each other and the rest of the decor. You could also specify the dress style and allow the bridesmaids to pick the colour.
If one of your bridesmaids announces she is pregnant and you are using a seamstress to make your bridesmaids' dresses you can get them to make the pregnant bridesmaid's dress last to guarantee it will fit. Separates are becoming very popular. These flatter all body shapes and consist of a bodice and a separate long skirt, possibly with train.
If you are hiring your bridesmaids' dresses or having them made then you will need a fitting. It is best to get all your bridesmaids together at once for the fitting as it keeps things simple and will also save you money. It is also a great fun way of getting together and having a girly day.
Your youngest bridesmaids are called Flower Girls. Many department stores sell affordable little dresses for them and you may even want to dress them in fairy costumes which can look very cute. The flower girl accessories depend very much on the dress but can include a wreath of flowers, pretty hairclips and even a veil. A new trend in the USA is to dress the flowergirls as mini-brides in a white dress and veil. This may not catch on in the UK, but you could be one of the first to try it.
You may also want to have pageboys at your wedding. They are usually aged between 5 and 10 and traditionally walk behind the bride with the rings on a cushion, or carrying the bride's train for her.
You can dress the pageboys in mini versions of the morning suits or tail coats worn by the groomsmen, or alternatively in cute sailor outfits.
With both the flower girls and the page boys it's important to remember that kids grow at an alarming rate and you shouldn't buy their outfits more than a couple of months in advance of the big day. This is probably the only thing to do with your wedding that shouldn't be bought as early as possible! It is also worth thinking seriously about whether you want flower girls or page boys at all, as their behaviour on the day can never be guaranteed to be perfect.