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Bridesmaid Dress Redux
It used to be that bridesmaids almost always wore the exact same dress in the exact same shade. These days, though, that's not necessarily the case. Modern brides are starting to think outside the box when it comes to dressing their maids, which means you have a few options if you want to let your bridesmaids pick styles and even colors that work best for them. Let them choose from a range of necklines (strapless, halter, sweetheart), a range of colors, (aqua, olive, turquoise), or ask them to choose their own dress in a specific hue. Many designers have developed dress lines for just this purpose, so you can get many different cuts in exactly the same shade of pink.
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Comfortable BridesmaidsIf the bride does choose the same dress for all, she'll want a silhouette that complements her bridesmaids' bodies. Empire-waist gowns, for example, generally complement thin, boyish figures, while V-neck and A-line dresses are usually more suitable for full-figured women. Many styles that were once considered off-limits for weddings, including strapless bodices and short skirts, are perfectly acceptable today, while black is gaining popularity among bridesmaids -- a welcome trend for those seeking the perfect "little black dress."
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Can She Wear her Bridesmaid Dress Again?
The options for bridesmaids dresses are about as wide-ranging as the options for cocktail dresses, which means not only do you have a lot of different styles to choose from, but bridal designers have caught on that bridesmaids dresses should be beautiful, not hideous. Translation: For the first time in a long time, they're trend-based and style driven. As you start to think about what your maids will wear, keep in mind that the best kind of bridesmaid dress is one that can be worn again...and again, and again.
The unadorned solid-color dress is most likely to scream "bridesmaid," so choosing one with trim, or in a print, might give your friends the best shot at wearing it as a guest to someone else's wedding. The exception: The little black dress, which is always wearable.
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Long Dresses for Bridesmaids: The Short AnswerIt used to be that the dress code of your wedding determined the length of your bridesmaids' dresses. Emphasis on used to be. These days, anything goes: your maids can wear short dresses to a black tie affair, or long ones to a casual outdoor bash. The one thing you do need to consider is the fabric -- does its formality match your location? For example, ankle-grazing taffeta would seem like an off note at a garden ceremony, while long, flowy organza would fit right in. At a formal reception, a short cotton shift would seem out of place, while an embellished satin mini would be completely appropriate.
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White Tie vs. Black Tie for Bridesmaids
A formal floor length evening gown is acceptable for both a white tie and black tie event, however, for a black tie event you also have the option of asking your bridesmaids to wear a short, dressy cocktail dress according to Emily Post.
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Black Tie Optional for Bridesmaids
Anything from a floor length evening gown to a short, dressy cocktail dress will work for bridesmaids at a black tie optional event. For a black tie event, you can feel free to be creative, but make sure to keep your bridal party's comfort in mind when doing so.
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For Casual Affairs
For a beach or garden wedding, you can never go wrong with a sundress. The key when choosing a dress or dresses is to think about the length and the fabric and how both fits with the event you're hosting.
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Groomsmen Accessories: To Match or Not to Match?If the guys at your wedding are all wearing tuxes, there isn't much to match -- they won't have a belt to worry about, and their shoes will come with the tux (assuming they're renting them). If they're planning on wearing black suits, however, things can get a little dicey. Asking them to buy identical shoes and belts is an expensive request, but asking them to wear their own things, with a few caveats that you and your groom determine (ie: shoes should be black leather, or belts should have silver hardware, etc.), is a perfectly acceptable one.
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White Tie vs. Black Tie for the Men
The men, (fortunately or unfortunately) do not have a lot of options. For a white tie event Emily Post suggests a black tailcoat, matching trousers, white pique wing-collared shirt with stiff front, a white vest, white bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black patent shoes and black dress socks. For a black tie event a black tuxedo is appropriate with matching trousers, a formal white shirt, bow tie, cummerbund or vest to match the tie, and black patent shoes and black dress socks.
A white dinner jacket, black trousers, and black tie are acceptable in the summer or on a cruise.
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Black Tie Optional for the MenYou can never go wrong with putting your groomsmen in a black tux -- unless of course you're going to be getting married on the beach. As another option feel free to put your groomsmen in a dark-colored suit with a white shirt and conservative tie.
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For Casual Affairs
Khaki pants and a casual button down shirt always work for a more casual event, but according to Emily Post, khaki shorts or Bermudas are acceptable as well as polo shirts and/or a sweater or sport jacket. Remember, it's your day, just use your best judgement depending on what type of event you're hosting and you'll be fine.