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Q. I am getting married in November (Australia) so it will be coming into summer there. I have 3 bridesmaids and want them to look and feel beautiful on the day, but I am unsure what style dress I can get to suit all of them. Bridesmaid #1 is 5’2, medium-large bust, curvy, with a defined waist and a big bum. Bridesmaid #2 is 5’2, small busted, slim athletic build with a bit of a bum. And my 3rd bridesmaid is average height (5’ 7), large busted, defined waist and a big bum. They all have nice shapely calves and I was wondering if a tea length dress would suit them, or would it cut them off? Am I better off with a full-length dress for them? I am in a full-length gown, which is quite formal and elegant. Will tea length dresses clash with me?
-Bridesmaid Dress Dilemma

A. I hope to help you and other brides-to-be with dress shopping, as well as help the girls you choose to be in your bridal party.  I can’t make this clear enough to brides-to-be: your bridesmaids don’t have to wear the same exact dress to look good on your wedding day. Choosing the same color, fabric and length with just slight variations in the dress style can be the right combination to make everyone happy and allow them to look their best.

For busty girls,  look for halter styles or wider straps to hold up and cover a bra better. For “big bum” girls, look for the skirt portion of the dress to be an A-line cut which will help define the waist and hide the bum and thighs. Cocktail or tea length gives girls the best chance of possibly wearing the dress again and makes it easier to hit the dance floor.

Other tips:

• Please, no shades of color (each girl wearing a different color dress-I’ve never seen it work).

• If you choose a black cocktail length dress that is simple and chic, your bridesmaids will have a better chance of wearing it again rather than tossing it in the “I can’t believe she made me wear this” donation pile.

• Choose a dress style that works best for most body shapes. Don’t make a curvy girl wear a column style. A-line dress styles are most flattering. Empire dresses are sweet on slender or proportioned girls, but can make petite girls look too young and other girls look pregnant.

• No dyeable shoes. Consider giving a shoe color choice to your bridesmaids and let them buy their own. Some girls can’t wear a really high heel while others wouldn’t attend a party without them. They may already have that color in their wardrobe and it will lessen the burden on their bank account.

• You can make suggestions of jewelry, but unless you’re giving the girls a gift of jewelry to wear with their dresses, don’t expect them to buy accessories as well. If you do give your bridesmaids gifts, please try to mix it up by choosing various colors or slightly different gifts so they all don’t feel or look like clones.

• Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune on the dress. Every girl doesn’t have a bundle to pay for a dress, heels, gifts galore, bridal shower, bachelorette party and perhaps travel costs. Be kind to their cash flow.

• Don’t ask every girl you think is your good friend to be a bridesmaid.  Many hope to just come to your wedding and have a good time in their own dress choice without additional responsibilities.

Q. I am so excited that I found your website.  My dilemma is that my daughter is getting married this June, she has chosen black and ivory as the colors.  I am typically a very plain jeans and t-shirt person so this is extremely difficult.  When we go out, I usually wear my basic black slacks. The wedding reception will be an elegant and intimate (150 guests) affair. Our church wedding is at noon and the reception is at our country club at 5 pm.  My problem is that I am having a hard time deciding what is appropriate to wear.  I am 48, petite (but busty) and weigh 105.  My church dress idea so far is a straight cut sleeveless black dress, nude hose and pumps.  My reception dress idea is just below the knee black with maybe a little sparkle.   I had considered a full length but am fearful I will look 2 ft. tall.
-Black Back to Back

A. The colors of the wedding don’t have to apply to your dress choices.  You can opt for color if you wish, but it seems you’d rather be subdued and comfortable.  Since you are the mother of the bride, you need to be equal or above the elegance factor of the bridal party attire. If you choose two black dresses to wear for the wedding day, then be sure that they are different in style enough to notice.  And be sure they are dressy enough for a wedding and not just a cocktail party.  Add great accessories to liven up the look of the dresses and wear great heels.  And don’t hesitate to embrace a little sparkle in your dress.

Q. I am getting married in June of this year and I have no idea  what color dress to wear to the rehearsal dinner.  Should I wear white since I’m the bride or should I match my dress to the colors of the wedding and bridesmaid dresses?  Is there any color you are not supposed to wear?? 
-Bride to be Best Dressed 

A. Don’t fret over matching your dress colors to the colors chosen for the tablecloths and flowers. And skip the idea that you need to wear white two days in a row, unless you find a darling white eyelet dress that you will adore wearing throughout the summer, since I would expect you to wear the rehearsal dress many times in the future. Shop for a spring dress that you adore, fits your body well and don’t worry if it’s a bit dressy, since you are the bride.  Here are a few suggestions, that I would wear myself:

Catherine Malandrino
Square Neck Dress with Tulip SkirtBeth Bowley Eyelet DressDallin Chase
Silk Lurex Joe DressCoral Eyelet Strapless Dresses from Tibi

Donna Morgan Empire Waist SundressEliza J Dot Jersey Dressj crew Solid Felice garden dressCalvin Klein Cowl Neck Knit Dress

left to right: Catherine Malandrino Square Neck Dress with Tulip Skirt, $425 at shopbop.com; Beth Bowley Eyelet Dress, $220 at nordstrom.com; Dallin Chase Silk Lurex Joe Dress, $320 at  shopbop.com; Coral Eyelet Strapless Dresses from Tibi, $378 at edressme.com; Donna Morgan Empire Waist Sundress, $98 at nordstrom.com; Eliza J Dot Jersey Dress, $98 at nordstrom.com; Solid Felice garden dress, $125 at jcrew.com; Calvin Klein Cowl Neck Knit Dress, $138 at nordstrom.com

Q. What do I wear for an evening wedding in Battery Park in March?
-NYC by Water 

A. I assume the wedding will be indoors, so the invite—black tie or not — will determine your clothing.  I always wear a dress to a wedding.  I’m a fan of dressy cocktail length dresses, they work for all occasions. And please choose a color.  I am just as much a victim of owning multiple little black dresses, but I know that when I wear color to events, I always snag more compliments and suddenly walk a little taller. I know the Battery Park area in NYC quite well- it will likely be a bit windy and chilly by the water so bring a wrap and spritz on hairspray to avoid the windblown effect.

Q. I am having a major problem looking for wedding shoes. HELP ME, I only have a budget of  $110.00 and I want a pair of low-heeled (kitten heel) shoes, light ivory or cream with a round closed toe. I don’t want an open back shoe, but I do want something stylish and definitely comfy, it can even be dyeable. 
-Help me, Help me 

A.  You’ve given yourself quite a list of restrictions for a day that is about love and merriment.  Perhaps you spent all your dough on the dress? Tsk, tsk young lady, you need the whole look to be fabulous!  Alas, I have found a few options that fit into your price, height, style and color requirements. Generally, I loathe dyeable shoes since there is rarely a need to match your shoe color perfectly to a dress, however, this seems to be your best option in your price range. Have a glorious wedding!

Touch Ups Breeze, $54.95Touch Ups Ginger, $54.95Dyeables Darling, $54.95


left to right, from onlineshoes.com: Touch Ups Breeze, $54.95; Touch Ups Ginger, $54.95; Dyeables Darling, $54.95

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