MOTHER OF THE BRIDE.....how to get it absolutely right.
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
FIRST THING FIRST…….
Your son or daughter is getting married and it’s your chance to shine as mother of the bride...or groom but getting it absolutely right can be a fine balancing act and for some, it can be quite daunting….sometimes as stressful as being the bride herself.
Why? Because as a bride you can do exactly what you like, wear what you like and create your dream any way you want it. You call the shots. It’s your gig....and everyone else has to fit in.... and as a dedicated mum, you know this means you too.
You reflect..... of course you want to stand out....but you know you must also fit in. You want to keep everyone happy but understandably, you also want to please yourself. You don’t want to be a frump or get lost in the stereotype .....but just how stylish and true to yourself should you go? It’s not “your” day but it’s a big day none the less, so for you the pressure is very much on to get the tone just right. In the end you just want to look your very best, make them proud and perhaps most importantly, be remembered for all the right reasons.
So where to start?...... The first step and best etiquette, whether it’s your daughter or daughter-in-law to be, is to speak with the bride. She may or may not know the answers to all the following questions and, although you will need to know at some point, you may want to take care It’s always a good idea to check in with the bride before you make a commitment but the more you can clarify from the following list, the better, and although some of these may seem rather prosaic, you would be surprised at how often these rather obvious details are overlooked. So, when the time is right, here are the questions to ask….What is the venue and what sort of day do they have planned? What time of day is the wedding? What is the mood and is there a theme?...relaxed, elegant, black tie...? What is the dress code? ...is it evening? cocktail? If it’s formal daywear, will you need a hat?...or can you opt to not wear one? Is there anything else the bride would like you to consider?
Lastly but very importantly, what colour are the bride and brides maids wearing? You may want to ask the bride for a colour swatch to be sure that you are complimenting, not clashing with the bridal party.
GET INSPIRED……. Luckily these days there’s no shortage of inspiration online and it’s very easy to gather a collection of ideas that might work for you. These can be overall looks, silhouettes or even just details like necklines, sleeves, embellishment or ideas on colours. Take inspiration from anything and everything and maybe look at celebrities on the red carpet…whose dress style do you admire? Use this to guide you.
This type of research is all the more important if you’re having your outfit made, although in our experience, inspiration doesn’t always have to start with the dress.
You can create an entire look around a favourite accessory. ...a fabulous hat or an incredible pair of shoes that you have your heart set on or that you may even already own. This is especially true if you decide to have a dress made as you will have all the more control over your colour choice, giving you the added luxury of easily creating your vision based on something you truly love.
When you're ready, it’s a good idea to take a step back and have a think about whether you want to buy off the peg or, budget allowing, treat yourself to a bespoke outfit, working with a designer or dress maker.
OFF THE PEG….. The best and easiest place to start with off the peg is to consider the brands you already like, trust and that know will suit your body shape. You could also search on line for similar brands to check collections, stockists and availability. This could save you a lot of time, money and unnecessary stress. Before you set off on your shopping trip, you may want to politely ask the bride, particularly if it’s your daughter, if she would like to join you but try not to be offended if she declines. Perhaps, you could see it more as a compliment that she trusts you to make the right choice! If you're happy going on your own, great. If not, you could always ask a friend to join you , but make sure its someone discerning whose opinion ...and intent, you can trust.
Either way, don’t forget your colour swatches or as close as you can get to them - even if itsjust an image on your phone. You may also want to take your inspirational pics with you, as you could share these with a helpful sales assistant or even a personal shopper if one is available. Talking of sales assistants...be very wary of pushy sales staff whose words of flattery may be driven more by commission than honesty. This is especially true if you are on your own.
Once you start trying on, trust yourself and go with you instinct. If it doesn't feel right without someone having to coax you into feeling good, then it probably isn't. If you're really undecided, it may be best to remove yourself from the situation and take time to think. Either buy with the possibility of returning it or you could just take some pictures for reference. Of course, if you try something on and you just “feel” amazing, even though it’s maybe not what you would normally wear .... snap it up! You can always return it later . If however you haven't been able to find anything that feels special enough off the peg or have concerns that someone else might arrive in” your" outfit , you may want something unique made especially for you.
BESPOKE If you’re having something made, the process is slightly different but you will still need to do some research for inspiration so that you have an idea of the feel your'e after, even if it's just a vague notion..Also an important consideration, often overlooked, is budget and it's always wise to check you’re happy with the designer’s price range before you set up a meeting. In terms of finding the right designer/ dress maker... ideally it would be someone you have worked with before or that comes highly recommended, but if that's not possible then it is fine to search online, as long as you can see examples of their work or collections and you’re certain they have good reviews. Hopefully you will find one that feels exactly right, If not, you may need to visit a few. Either way, Don't be afraid to travel a little for the right person.... it will be worth it. What's really important is that you feel comfortable with the person you’re working with. You need to feel they understand you and you can trust them to be honest. This is especially true if it’s something totally bespoke to you and not based on a style that you have tried on.
Good communication is really important. Be mindful of expressing any concerns during your fittings - take real care not to leave it until the end. It’s too late when the dress is finished.
A good professional will always give you the opportunity to speak openly and will know exactly how to reassure you so that you leave feeling every bit as confident as you should.
A WORD ON ACCESSORIES.... Your choice of accessories can make or break your outfit so this definitely deserves some time and consideration and again you may want to make sure you’re very clear on the dress code…Will you require a hat? Is it ok to go without? ... maybe a tiara instead?! :-)
Regarding shoes…of course, go with what makes your heart sing, but remember comfort is important too. Nothing is quite as unflattering as a pinched face to match your pinched shoes! You may even want to consider a second more comfortable pair for the evening.
If you’re on a budget, clever accessorising is a great way of transforming the most unsuspecting outfit into a real show stopper. A well chosen hired hat , for example, can work miracles on a store bought dress and some perfect costume Jewellery or a quirky pair of shoes can bring out your individuality without breaking the bank.
A FEW DO'S AND DONT’S…which are often overlooked….
Remember to check in with with the ‘other mother’ and make sure that you don’t wear the same.
Consider the bridesmaids’ colour and how you could draw inspiration and coordinate with that.
Be as true to yourself as possible. You don’t want to turn up looking like someone else's mother!
Think about your hair and makeup. Will the bride invite you to join in with the bridal party or should you organise something special for yourself?
You really don’t want steal her thunder, so steer well clear of wearing the same colour as the bride. Again, this may seem obvious but believe it or not, you wouldn't be the first.. AND FINALLY….
Being mother of the bride doesn’t mean you have to be "Mother of the Bride".
Yes, consider all the essentials, but don’t forget to stay true to yourself.
If you just wear what makes you feel incredible, you’re more likely to be remembered for all the right reasons.