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Q. I am the stepmother of the bride. We have a wonderful relationship although her mother does not care for me. Her mother will not pick a color for her gown. The groom’s mother is going with a darker blue than the bridesmaids. The Bride’s bouquet is hot pink, orange, and a blue ribbon – tropical theme. It is a 2:00 church wedding. What color do I get and should it be tea length or long. The bride has stated that she does not care either way or what color I wear. 
-Mrs. Step

A. I’ve said this to many mothers of the bride, mothers of the groom and plenty of others: do not get caught up in matching or accenting your dress color to that of the wedding. Find a great dress in a color that enhances your skin tone and flatters your shape. And most importantly, keep a wonderful smile on your face all day and enjoy the occasion. Don’t let the ex wife make you feel uncomfortable, but do realize that she gets first dibs on photo ops and she has the right to sashay her daughter around to family and friends. This is the bride’s chance to shine as well as the mother’s to beam with happiness.

Q. I am getting married in North Carolina in early October of this year. I am having a formal wedding and I wanted to know what ideas you can share with me for the informal rehearsal dinner the night before?
-Informal for Formal

A. Instead of having the typical dinner at a restaurant, which seems the norm these days, why not go for the fun factor and have a “clambake” in someone’s backyard? You can usually order the clambake “buckets” at gourmet food shops. Grill up corn on the grill and offer beer and wine chilled on ice in big buckets. Fill a backyard with oversized beach blankets, we love the ones at and pile pillows for comfort. Put together a play list of music on your iPod of beach music from old Beach Boys and the Go-Gos to newer tunes. Perhaps even set up a volleyball net and croquet.

Or, skip dinner and have your rehearsal guests join you for afternoon tea. While they serve little sandwiches, no one ever seems to go hungry with the sandwiches, cakes, sweets and more that they pile on those multiple tiered serving dishes. And you can choose hot teas or iced tea.

For another casual, fun party, you could create your own mini Olympics by creating teams, having each guest wear a colored sash for their team and come up with games including baton races, sack races, hula hoop timing, count basketball shots in a minute and have chocolate medallions as prizes to signify gold, silver and bronze.

As a party favor you could offer a retro candy table, check out, and guests can fill up Chinese takeout containers that can be found at party stores with their favorite sweets.

Or, have a wine and cheese tasting party. Contact a good local wine shop or speak to a sommelier at one of your favorite restaurants to set up wine and cheese pairings. You can set up the get together at a happy hour time rather than the usual dinner hours. Have the wine merchant or sommelier guide people through the tastings and have all the accoutrements available like good baguettes, nuts, dried fruits and fruit pastes to work with the cheese.

Q. I’m getting married in October and my bridesmaids dresses are chocolate brown. My dress is an ivory color with Swarovski crystals that are clear and silver. I will be wearing silver jewelry and other items in the wedding are also silver. I have picked out necklaces for my bridesmaids that are copper/gold and the chain is gold. Will the gold clash with the silver that I will be wearing? If so, what color necklace would you suggest?
-Chain Reaction

A. Just because you are wearing silver jewelry and there is silver in your color scheme does not mean that everything has to be matchy-matchy. You don’t want your wedding to look like a group of girl clones that match the silver and candlesticks. I generally am not a fan of having the bridesmaids wear the same exact thing from head to toe-dresses, sure, but it’s nice to have a little change when it comes to the heels or jewelry. Stick with your original choice of the gold for the girls—the color will keep the dress warm in tone.

Dress CopyQ. I recently purchased a Navy Satin Pinstripe dress by Betsy Johnson for a formal evening wedding this July 2007 in downtown New York (which I hope is OK to begin with!) However, I want to add a little spice to the dress and not just buy a black/navy satin shoe since the dress itself is different as far as style. Any advice on how to spice things up a bit!

- Frazzled and Dazzled

A. Metallic or color is the best way to add sass to a navy dress. Here are several options for your feet and to carry.

Franchi Handbags
Pagoda Leather ClutchWhiting & Davis Handbags
Shirred Mesh Long ClutchNina 'Oriana' SandalStuart Weitzman

opt for silver or white accessories, left to right: Franchi Handbags Pagoda Leather Clutch, $158.95 at; Whiting & Davis Handbags Shirred Mesh Long Clutch, $183.95 at; Nina ‘Oriana’ Sandal, $68.95 at; Stuart Weitzman Hotdish, $285 at

MAXSTUDIO 'Savannah' SandalCharles David
CarouseHand-painted laurel garland ring
Patent Bean Clutch

or add red, black and gold, left to right: Maxstudio ‘Savannah’ Sandal, $128.95 at; Charles David Carouse, $170 at; Hand-painted laurel garland ring, $45 at; Jalda Patent Bean Clutch, $265 at

Untitled1Q. I brought this dress to wear to my niece’s wedding in June, it’s a daytime ceremony (3:00 p.m.). It is not formal, but I want to look nice. My question- is this dress too young for me? I am 43, although I’ve been told I don’t look it. Does that make a difference? I absolutely love this dress. I’ve been searching forever for something and, while I don’t want to dress to look like I’m trying to be a twenty something (or even thirty), I don’t want to look like an old woman.
-Feeling Young

A. You love the dress, so go for it! So much of what makes up one’s personal style is attitude and confidence. It’s not mini, it’s not baring your midriff, so it’s just right for your YOUNG age of 43.

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