Liking the tights idea! I think, however, that I would do the tights in a lighter color than the dress. Perhaps light grey with a charcoal shift dress? Or-- GASP!-- light grey with mimosa short dresses? Could be cool! Your maids would be a walking version of your color scheme! Wouldn't it be pretty if they carried white/ivory flowers? mmmm.
Speaking of bridesmaid dresses, I came across the following book yesterday in the Kailua Public Library-- You Can Wear It Again: A Celebration of Bridesmaid Dresses. Fairly hilarious. It basically features some pretty hein frocks of the past few decades. I would recommend bringing the book along before unveiling your bmaid dress...just for some comic relief. It might also help them to remember that even if they don't love it, it could be A LOT worse.