NEW YORK – No one should upstage a bride at a wedding, not her mother, not her sisters – and not his mother, either. That doesn’t mean, though, that the wedding party has to be dressed purposely dowdy or dull.

The book “The Mother of the Groom: Everything You Need To Know To Enjoy the Best Wedding Ever” (Citadel Press) by Sharon Naylor offers advice on choosing a wedding-day wardrobe that will complement the bride and look flattering in all those photographs.

While these words of wisdom are intended for the groom’s mother, they really apply to everyone in the bridal party:

• The bride gets a major say in what you will wear. This is purely to coordinate you more closely with everyone else, match the formality and the style of the wedding itself.

• Speak up in a diplomatic way if you don’t like the choice. While it’s one thing to accept the bride’s wishes for you to wear teal, it’s another thing to be a doormat and accept a dress color that makes you look washed out or frumpy. You have the right of refusal if you’re unhappy with the choice. Simply go with a shade that’s close to the one she wants, with her approval.

• Search for and order your dress early, so that you’ll have time for any needed alterations.

If a wedding is ultraformal (black or white tie), then a full-length ballgown with elbow-length gloves is considered the appropriate dress.

A full-length gown is also right for a formal wedding, but you could also wear a cocktail-length gown.

Cocktail-length gowns are also appropriate for semiformal affairs, as are knee-length gowns and dressy pantsuits; informal weddings mean knee-length dresses or pantsuits; and sundresses and knee-length dresses are OK for casual weddings.

One rule is non-negotiable, according to Naylor: Mothers of the bride and groom shouldn’t wear white. That’s the bride’s domain for the day.


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