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Dressing the Wedding Party

After choosing a bridal gown, it's time to pay attention to the attendants

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A wedding is all about the bride and groom, but it wouldn't be possible without attendants — the favor-assembling, invitation-addressing, party-planning, speech-delivering, ring-bearing, petal-tossing team that works before, during and after the wedding to ensure everything runs smoothly. When it's time to choose each party member's wedding day ensemble, a bride-to-be should put the members' feelings ahead of her own.

  "Don't lose sight of the fact that you are dressing your very best friends and family members for the first day of your new life," says Amy Casbarian, owner of Wedding Belles (3632 Magazine St., 891-1005; www.weddingbellesstationer.com). While friends and family will most likely find standing in your wedding a memorable honor, it's also an enormous commitment, especially regarding finances: A 2010 Real Weddings study by WeddingChannel.com surveyed more than 20,000 brides nationwide and concluded that on average, being a bridesmaid costs $1,695. "Your bridal party need not be costumed," Casbarian says. "Be considerate of quality, style and price when making your choice and your friends will thank you."

  It can be challenging to pick bridesmaid gowns, especially when accommodating varying body shapes and personal styles. To increase the chances of being able to wear a bridesmaid dress again, Casbarian says to stick with the classics. "Modern versions of classic silhouettes will always look chic and elegant," she says. Cocktail-length dresses with detailed necklines and color-blocking were paraded down runways at this spring's bridal fashion shows.

  In the past, mothers of the bride and groom were often subjected to matronly sheaths with dowdy jackets. Now we're seeing Mom shine in full-length gowns with intricate details like beading, lace-covered brocade and floral appliques. If matching two different moms with the rest of the party proves problematic, consider this: "When choosing colors for your bridal party, remember that all of the colors do not need to match, but rather complement each other," Casbarian says. "Then tie it all together with the flowers and ribbons of the bouquets."

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