(credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride was the bittersweet theme of the 2008 romantic comedy, “27 Dresses,” starring Katherine Heigl. In spite of the movie’s unlikely story line, bridesmaid dresses had a starring role. If you’re having more than one bridesmaid (but fewer than 27), you’ll be thinking about the best places for bridesmaid dresses for every budget in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Here are some great places to start looking.

J’aime Bridal
719 Main St.
Pleasanton, CA 94566
(925) 846-8459

With about 700 sample designer bridesmaid dresses, both long and short in sizes 6-24, the selection is one of the biggest anywhere and does include some size 14 samples. All sizes are catered for, with special order from 0-30. Color-wise, blush is trending, often with lace accents to coordinate with the bride, and navy and black are still popular. Expect to see a few designer prints for 2015, as some brides are interested in this look. Price tags generally start at $150, with a sweet spot of around $175-$200 for many bridal parties. Enjoy a 20-percent discount for brides when they purchase a bridal gown here. Appointments are always a good idea for the best personal attention.

Flares Bridal and Formal
1700 N. Broadway, Suite 100
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
(925) 939-3306

We hear that features such as illusion necklines, dainty lace trim and wide straps are as popular with bridesmaids as they are with brides. Vintage and country rustic looks are in vogue, as is the shade of pearl; could it be that “Downton Abbey” continues to influence into season five? Think about your theme and venue, as most dresses here are available in many colors. Do plan ahead, ladies, as bridesmaid dresses needing alterations can take four to six months to outfit everyone through the fittings. Discounts are available for group purchases. Appointments are the way to go.

The Wedding Party
2612 Alcatraz Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 420-1338

Call ahead for an appointment, in fact, two appointments if you’re looking at bridal gowns as well. In Rockridge, bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns enjoy a comfortable loft-like space on the second and third floor of a 1920s building. You wouldn’t stumble upon this well-regarded studio while window shopping. The shop was conceived with sophisticated and modern weddings in mind, so dresses will shy away from frills and embellishments. Among the designers for bridesmaid dresses are Watters, Siri, Lynn Lugo, Watters and WToo for creating personal style and fit with variations on necklines and fabrics.

BB Bridal
5164 Moorpark Ave., Suite 60
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 996-1806

By appointment only, come see Soni for personal attention. It’s always good to have a perfectionist in your corner. Twenty years of experience has earned Soni a lot of fans, grateful for her gracious help leading up to the big day. If the bridesmaids represent completely different body types, Soni is in her element, suggesting the right dresses that will work well for everyone, and complement the bride’s dress. The website has no photos, but the Yelp page has plenty of pictures posted by happy customers.

Novella Bridal
557 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 981-9373
www.novella bridal.com

Novella’s bridesmaid dress collections are from Watters & Watters and Jasmine, generally in the range of $200-$400. Known as superb tailors, willing to work on dresses purchased elsewhere or from their own shop, or to custom design from scratch, Novella has been known to save the day on plenty of occasions. A word to the wise — timing matters. Bridesmaids dresses usually take from two to three months from time of ordering, plus three weeks for fittings. Rush orders are usually possible for an additional charge.

Bridal Image
515 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 861-4696

Bridesmaids and flower girls get plenty of attention at one of San Francisco’s most popular wedding dress shops. The consultants suggest a separate appointment, preferably on a different day from the bride’s appointment, so that all the necessary time and care can go into the wedding party’s attire. Brides and bridesmaids can book an appointment online, where video testimonials from past customers are posted. Alternations can be done onsite, also by appointment.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.