May 18, 2012 at 7:37 AM ET
The rehearsal dinner is often the first time family and friends lay eyes on the bride. Pressure much? Don’t stress. Getting decked for the night before your wedding is almost as fun as dressing up for the big day. Check out these real-bride tips on what to wear to a rehearsal dinner and wow your guests with a fabulous look.
Step Outside Your Style Comfort Zone
Steer clear of your fashion safety net: the little black dress. It’s a great go-to for date night and other people’s weddings, but you don’t want to be one of twenty women rocking the LBD at your own party.
Bride-to-be Jennifer Baum explains, “I always gravitate toward black dresses, but I don't want to wear black during the wedding weekend. That was the only rule I made for myself: don't buy black!”
Follow Baum’s lead and choose a vibrant color or fun print to take things up a notch.
Avoid Anything Too Trendy
While you want your style to look fresh and chic, avoid trends that could lead to a post-wedding “OMG what was I thinking?!” panic attack. (Sure, we love our little ankle booties now, but we’ll probably look back and wonder why we dressed like the Keebler Elves.) Incorporate seasonal trends in subtle ways to look stylish, without going overboard. When in doubt, keep it classic.
Get Two Looks for the Price of One
From Louboutins to Jimmy Choos, many brides spend big bucks on shoes that only the wedding photographer sees. Instead of a gown getting in the way of your heels' big debut, why not take them out for a pre-wedding spin by wearing them to the rehearsal dinner? Especially since wedding shoes don’t have to be white, you can splurge on a pair of fun metallic or bold colored heels you’ll want to wear well beyond your wedding weekend.
“I wore nude peep toe Stuart Weitzman shoes to my rehearsal dinner. And now I wear them to everything – work, nights out, weddings. Definitely buy something you will want to wear again. It will always remind you of that special day,” says newlywed Franny Mulberg.
Whether you go for sexy stilettos or sky high sandals, just make sure you can walk in them! Your feet need to be in tiptop shape for dancing the next day.
Beautiful bling always takes a look to its highest potential. Make a statement with a stunning necklace, cuff bracelet or chandelier earrings. But don’t do it all at once. Pick one showstopping piece and keep other accessories simple. Now’s the time to ask mom or grandma to borrow those gorgeous family jewels you always admired as a kid!
Enlist the Experts
From welcoming guests to running last minute errands, you’ll be dealing with a hectic, packed schedule the day of your rehearsal dinner. The last thing you’ll have the energy to do is attempt a perfect blow-out and makeover on your own. In that case, you may want to leave hair and makeup to the pros so you can unwind and recharge while they create a picture-perfect look. Book a primp session at a local salon or with the experts who will be working their magic on you for the big day. Or head to your favorite makeup counter at the mall. For the price of a new eye shadow, you can get a pro makeover!
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.