Both sets of parents are letting me tell them what to wear, they expect it, and don't mind a bit. My question is, would it be completely inappropriate to ask our grandparents to dress as formal and let me help pick out new stuff? I'm just trying to set the stage here, and frankly I'm afraid these important people will show up in cotton florals, plaid shirts, and blue slacks. I'm perfectly comfortable being utterly honest with everyone and everyone is used to it, but I don't want people to think I'm being too over the top. Does anyone have this problem and if so, what are you doing?
Well I think the first thing is to be sure they can afford something new. Many older people have very tight budgets so you may want to talk to your parents about this first.
And if you do want to help them pick something out I would try telling them that you are helping your parents pick out their outfits and you would like the whole family rather dressed up since it's so rare to have formal occasions together and they will be in lots of pictures. Then if you tell them you would love to get to spend some time with them and help them choose something for the wedding maybe they would be more open to it.
Honestly, I think it may sound mean to tell them what to wear. I guess it depends on how you phrase it. My grandma doesn't have a lot of money nor does she really wear clothes that fit her. She's very skinny, probably size 0 or 2 and I know she wears size 12 jeans. That's just what she buys. I asked my mom to take her out and buy her a new outfit to wear (i'm paying). My mom said that my grandma would love to spend time with her going shopping and I know my mom will point her in the right direction. Maybe you could suggest having your mom take your grandparents out shopping. Maybe it will seem less harsh and more that they are trying to coordinate styles?
If they're in the procession, then usually the bride will offer some guidance, so they "blend," if not match with the rest of the party. If not and they are just seated, then you can be somewhat looser about what they wear. In any case, why not leave the clothing issue to their children (your parents) to deal with--if you wish to contribute money, that's fine. I don't think you're being over the top. It's customary for brides to have a say on what members of the wedding party wear.