Wedding Dresses

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Gowns That Won't Break the Bank
Q: I'm on a limited budget, and I'm looking for a wedding dress that is sleek, not fussy. Any advice?

A: I love Banana Republic's new gown (center) that's reminiscent of the sophisticated Alexander McQueen design Pippa Middleton wore to her sister's royal wedding. With a high waist that makes the legs seem like they go on forever and a beautiful draped neckline that shows off the décolletage, this very flattering gown can be yours for the fairy-tale price of $350. With a bargain like that, you can also snag a second dress for the reception—and still spend less than the average cost of a wedding gown in the United States ($1,290).

Reception Looks:
Left: Lauren by Ralph Lauren, $179;
Right: $298;
Dressy Flats

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Stylish Bridal Flats
I'm always bombarded with requests for comfy shoes for the big day. Try this new line from FS/NY: With soft colors and fancy flourishes, they're great for changing into mid-reception or instead of heels altogether.

$200 to $235;
Mother of the Bride Dresses

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Modern Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses
You don't want to steal the spotlight from your daughter, but you do want to look as great as any guest at the wedding. These fabulous options are beyond chic.

Mikado silk blend and on-trend black lace combine for a perfect cocktail dress: elegant and a bit unexpected.

Originally $495, now $371 with code OPRAH;

This super-flattering navy gown (so pretty in a sea of black!) shows why Oprah loves the coatdress for formal events.

Originally $670, now $503 with code OPRAH;

The bodice of this one-piece offers great arm coverage; the sarong-inspired skirt is subtly sexy.

Tadashi Shoji, $528; 877-823-2744

Wedding ring

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Lasting-Impression Wedding Rings
Sarah Graham crafts these lovely bands (in gold or platinum) from wax molds of a couple's fingerprints.

Sarah Graham Metalsmithing, $2,005 for yellow gold;
Vera Wang engagement ring

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O, What a Buy!
Who doesn't fantasize about wearing Vera Wang? I'm amazed by her new ring line with jewelry chain Zales, which includes exquisite cuts and vintage-inspired settings. Considering what fine jewelers charge, Vera's line (starting at $650) is a marvel.

Vera Wang Love diamond engagement ring, $2,000;
Adam Glassman

Photo: Patrik Andersson

The Guests
What to wear in just about any scenario.

Instead of flip-flops, try sandals or wedges. You may be on sand, but you still want to show respect.

Instead of a strappy sundress, try cap sleeves. This setting isn't an excuse to dress for a barbecue.

Church or Temple
Instead of a pashmina, try a shrug or cashmere cardigan. Who wants to hold a shawl in place?

Instead of tea-length, try to-the-floor, or even a sexy tux look. You want to create a long, elegant silhouette.


Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Mother of the Bride
Q: My daughter is getting married this summer. What kind of dress would be appropriate?

A: The main factors are time and place, though some rules apply universally: White and cream are off-limits, as is anything bright or majorly embellished (it detracts from the bride). You also don't want to clash with—or match—the bridesmaids or the wedding's color scheme. Deep, rich colors and muted metallics are good bets. Because you'll be dancing and getting up and down to greet people, look for resilient fabrics like crepe, lace, organza, or taffeta. Above all, you should feel comfortable. If gowns aren't your thing, you can still be glamorous in a knee-length dress or suit.

Jacket, $195, lace sheath, $645, Love Evening. Taffeta dress, Alex Evenings, $165.
Wedding Dress

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The Bride
Walking down the aisle in a designer dress is becoming more affordable. White by Vera Wang, an exclusive new line at David's Bridal, features 12 styles that resemble the coveted originals, and includes crystal headbands, tulle veils, and ribbon sashes.

Modern Goddess: A one-shoulder chiffon column has a lengthening effect.

Gown, $600, sash, $148, White by Vera Wang
Wedding Dress

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The Bride
You can also now shop bridal sample sales online. Members-only site The Aisle New York averages 50 percent markdowns on designs by the likes of Amsale, Monique Lhuillier, Alberta Ferretti, and Angel Sanchez.

True Romance: You can never go wrong with subtle detailing—like a peek of lace at the pleated bust.

Amsale, originally $4,200, now $1,990
Hair Bow

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Perfect Hair Accessories
This Emi Jay handmade silk comb ($75) is a fresh veil alternative; the hair ties ($18) make sweet bridesmaids gifts.

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