so, my solution? let them help pick out dresses. don't be so (controlling) concerned...you want people to be looking at you anyway. (which does NOT give you a free pass to make them wear puke brown dresses so they'll blend in with the walls.) (eww.) don't make them spend $200 on a solid color long boring dress. look at BM dresses as a way to add to the decor of the room and the theme of the day. want a retro-feel? let your maids get vintage tea-length dresses that they can dance the night away in. want a girly fun party? go with the polka dotty fun dress! want a sophisticated trendy soiree? how about the shimmery dress (with pockets!!!! AHHH! and i love love love the back) or the belted dress with the funky but awesome ruffly collar? for outdoor weddings with a sunny feel, rock the super-cute yellow dress with flower sash! (and yellow is SO in this season.)
(clockwise from top left: 50's Style Black Satin from Blue Velvet Vintage, $114.99. XOXO Printed Tube Dress from Macy's, on sale for $51.75. BR Monogram silk embroidered dress from Banana Republic, $250.00. Silk Dress with Flower Sash from Ann Taylor, $199.00. Belted Ruffle Dress from Neiman Marcus, $240.00.)
above all, just pick something you know your BM's will look (and feel) good in, respect their monetary issues, and DO NOT under any circumstances make them wear a shapeless solid-color blob that they will never wear again. seriously. yay!