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by She She Me
June 6, 2008

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The Look: What to Wear to a Wedding

Katherine Heigl must be out of her mind. Well, not Katherine Heigl per se, but her character, Jane, in 27 Dresses—that girl is completely bonkers! One must assume such is the case when a girl not only consents to being a bridesmaid 27 times but actually enjoys it! You would think that if a girl were as obsessively intrigued and enthralled with all things bridal, she would perhaps become a professional wedding planner? Or a floral designer, wedding cake artisan or creator of gorgeous bridal gowns? I mean, it's only common sense that if one must go through the pain, trauma and turmoil involved in a full scale Bridezilla-fest one should at least receive monetary compensation, no?

And for that matter, how on earth does a girl count in double digits (let alone 27) the number of nearest and dearest friends to be even considered as bridesmaids? (One does not call upon random people to serve as bridesmaids! It smacks of pretentious false-popularity.) I suppose one might be called on to serve as bridesmaid if, say, one's brother or sister were getting married. But one would need to have at least 20 siblings and 7 best friends to justify having 27 dresses in one's closet, and that would mean the possibility of belonging to scary polygamist sect, which would mean not only the likelihood of marrying one's own uncle or brother, but the very real probability of exceedingly homely bridesmaid dress! But I digress...

Anyhoo, it was along these lines that my mind wandered as I stood in my skivvies in the dressing room at a local tailoring shoppe having bits and pieces of a truly hideous bridesmaid dress pinned and fitted while the bride looked on with her hands clasped in glee. (At least I had remembered to wear my new La Perla! The only thing worse than being fitted for a truly hideous bridesmaid dress is being fitted for a truly hideous bridesmaid dress while wearing ratty undies.) Again I digress...

It seems I have been wrangled into being a "filler" bridesmaid. This is what happens when an official bridesmaid (read: actual nearest and dearest friend of the bride) hits a pothole while riding in a bike race the weekend before the wedding and breaks her collarbone, rendering her unable to wear said truly hideous bridesmaid dress because of cumbersome arm sling. (Not to mention road rash on forehead and missing front teeth, which has tendency to ruin wedding photos.) Ergo, the bride asks someone, anyone, even a mere co-worker (me) with similar proportions to said disabled bridesmaid to fill in, because everyone knows that the wedding party, at all costs, must not be lopsided! But lest you think me too kind-hearted or too much of a pushover, I agreed to be the wedding savior on one condition: the bride has to pay for the shoes of my choice to wear to the wedding! Truly a win/win situation, no?

Anyhoo, all this wedding business has got me to thinking. Why is it that a perfectly normal girl turns into a complete lunatic over a wedding? One minute she is negotiating a multi-million contract and the next she is falling to pieces over smeared nail polish? (I have the perfect solution to that by the way! Nails Alive 6 Second Aromatherapy Polish Dryer! Dries fast, smells fabulous and moisturizes cuticles to boot!) Anyhoo, don't you think there should be some universal rules that all parties should follow, as far as weddings go. For instance:

RULE #1: No matchy-matchy bridesmaid dresses!

No one wants to wear the same dress as the other girl! We girls go to great lengths to make certain we never show up to an event in the same dress as another girl. (Especially if that girl looks better in said dress.) And, honestly, that old notion about making certain that no one outshines the bride? Poppycock! Face it, it's her day—everyone is going to be looking at her dress and her veil and her ring, and no one is going to outshine her anyway (and no bride wants to be remembered for having poor taste in bridesmaid dresses), therefore the bridesmaids should all be allowed to choose their own dress. (Especially if they are paying for it out of their own pocket!) Just give them a few guidelines (i.e. nothing risqué) and color selections and let them choose the style that looks best on them. For instance, a strapless or one-shoulder gown looks fabulous on the bridesmaid with toned arms and great shoulders. Another bridesmaid might choose a lovely halter-style gown to flatter her curvy figure. And another bridesmaid might choose an elegant empire style to mask her pregnant or post-baby tummy. All three look gorgeous, all three coordinate and complement each other and all three will not only be thrilled to be in the wedding party, but will actually be able to wear their dresses again (without having to shorten them!)

RULE #2: No theme weddings!

Face it. Absolutely no one wants to relive Gone With the Wind, no matter how much we adore the movie. Corsets are impossibly uncomfortable and hoop skirts are impossible to dance in! Ditto for the Great Gatsby, Cinderella or Midsummer Night's Dream. (I promise you, there will be ultimate payback for making the groom wear tights!)

This isn't to say you can't use a few theme inspired ideas. A floaty dress and a bouquet of wildflowers tied with a ribbon is ideal for a romantic beach wedding. Or a gorgeous floral motif dress for a garden wedding. Just remember to keep everything in good taste and you can't go wrong.

RULE #3: No Soliciting!

Girly told me that she attended a wedding recently where there was a large acrylic box with a padlocked lid at the guest book table. On this box was a hand calligraphied card that said, "Honeymoon Fund" and the guests were expected to empty their pockets and wallets of change to finance the couple's honeymoon! Tacky beyond belief. You just gave them a Le Creuset casserole from their registry list for heaven's sake, the groom can shell out a few bucks for a honeymoon! (If money truly is an issue, the couple can cash in a few of their duplicate wedding gifts and get a great package deal to Vegas!)

Now that I've gotten that out of my system and my pet peeves have been covered, let's get to the good stuff! Here is what the stylish girls will be wearing to weddings this summer:

Daytime or Outdoor Wedding

Take a cue from nature! Gorgeous floral dresses and gowns in scrumptious colors are ideal for the more informal aspect of an afternoon or outdoor wedding. Since these weddings usually take place in warmer weather and climates, keep your makeup light (you'll melt and look like a clown otherwise), get a spray tan so you don't have to wear hosiery, and leave the chunky jewelry at home. Keep it chic and simple. Watch the footwear too—outdoors usually means unstable surfaces like gravel and grass, so go with a wedge heel or a chic flat sandal. Finish off with a sleek little bag to tote your lipgloss, credit card and keys in and you are good to go!

Evening Wedding

A cocktail dress that swishes when you dance. (I just love a swishy dress!) Keep it in good taste— nothing too bare or revealing. Also, you may want to have a wrap or scarf to wear over your shoulders if there is a church service. Another option is a very feminine skirt and top. Go with colors that are a little richer and more sophisticated, or with a bit of sparkle. This is the occasion for your perfect little black dress, if you so choose. As for footwear, a pair of dressy sandals, pumps or sling backs is ideal, so long as they are great for dancing. No one wants to miss out on the fun because of uncomfortable shoes. Finish off with a great little evening bag and colorful bit of sparkly bling.

Black Tie or Formal Wedding

A formal dress, usually to the floor; however, a tea length, asymmetrical or handkerchief hem is also great. This is also the time for sequins and beading, in either your gown, handbag or shoes, as well as fancy wraps and more substantial jewelry. Since black tie weddings almost always feature dancing, be sure to wear your dancing shoes!

Wedding Don'ts

  • Don't upstage the bride. It's her day, let her wear the white or ivory dress!
  • Do not wear black to a daytime wedding.
  • No jeans. Ever. In fact, I am against any sort of trousers for weddings, because I adore any excuse to wear a girly dress!
  • Nothing too sexy or revealing.
  • Do not go sleeveless or strapless to a religious service. Wear a wrap or cover till you get to the reception.


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