I am headed to a bridal show this weekend and since mother of the bride dresses are one of my specialties, I thought I would share my thoughts. I was both mother of the bride and mother of the groom (and a bride too) in 2009. It was a very busy summer!
The engagement of your son or daughter is filled with emotions, especially if it is your first. The important thing to realize here is that your son or daughter is all grown up and wanting to be treated and recognized as such. These strange, new feelings, good or bad, will probably continue for up to a year as you come to grips and your daughter grows and becomes more adept at being an independent, married woman. Nevertheless, it can be an awesome and forever special time for you both if you let it. In my opinion, communication is the key to this. Planning a wedding big or small can be both challenging and stressful. You and your daughter may become overwhelmed with all of the things that need to be done. You will want everything to be perfect for your child, naturally, but you have to be careful. Remember that this is not your wedding; it is hers and her fiancé’s. You must, at all costs refrain from making this a re-do of your wedding or trying to make it your perfect day. Communication right from the start will make all of this smoother and easier. Get together with the happy couple and discuss when, where, how big and who is paying for what. Give your suggestions, if asked, but don’t push. Trust your daughter’s good judgment. Today’s weddings are often a joint effort involving input and financial help from the bride, groom and both sets of parents. Communicate!
Difficult as it may be, never offer advice, unless you are asked. Comparing your daughter’s wedding to that of relative or friend, will sound more like criticism than assistance. If you are asked, it is certainly appropriate to point out positive things which occurred at other people’s weddings, but be wary of saying: “when your father and I got married…”
The Internet can prove to be an enormously helpful resource for pre-screening reception sites, availability, prices, accommodations, dresses, DJs and more. Assuming that your daughter has Internet access, sending her the URL’s of several Web sites or of internal pages may be a great time saver for her.
Be as supportive as you can be. The time before your daughter’s wedding will be extremely stressful for her. Compliment her all you can, she’ll need to be reassured. If you can keep focused on her needs, as opposed to your own you will be giving her the greatest gift.
Keep in mind the very special touches which you can add to the wedding day itself. It’s the little things like hair and makeup touch-ups, hugs and kisses, giggles and laughs which your daughter will remember when all is said and done.
After your daughter chooses her colors, it is important for you to pick out your dress. You need to stay with the “theme” of the wedding and choose a color that compliments the wedding party. Traditionally you should stay away from white, cream and red. Although you may want to be the fancy proud mom, don’t outshine the bride. Leave yourself plenty of time to order something in the right color and size for you. Don’t assume it will be on the rack at the store and give yourself allowance for returns if you order a dress online.
The time and style of the wedding will dictate the dress etiquette. For example, an afternoon wedding may be followed by an evening wedding reception or party. Summer weddings may call for shorter dress styles, with traditional cocktail or party dresses being worn. An evening wedding reception at a large hotel would probably call for more formal wear than a smaller wedding held in a small restaurant or one that is held outdoors. However, it’s really the bride and groom’s day, so it’s important to consult them as to how formal or informal they want it and to ensure that the wedding guests know what to expect.
Once you’ve chosen your outfit, inform the mother of the groom – she’s waiting. If you can, send her a swatch of fabric and a picture of your dress. Next, you’ll want to address the accessories. Adding shoes is probably the next step – finding something that matches but make sure that they are comfortable enough to stand in for several hours. If you can, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure in preparation for your special mom day.
In winter, you may want to consider silk under-clothing or a wrap or shawl to ensure that you keep warm enough! SPANX work too, and they keep things all tucked in nicely. Don’t forget to consider what jewelry you’ll be wearing – particularly earrings, necklace, watch and bracelets.
The mother of the groom needs to stay with the theme as well. Compliment the mother of the bride, and the style should not clash either. If she wears short, you should wear short. If she chooses a long style, you should do the same.
Both moms need to help with the guest list to ensure no one is left out, although again, the bride and groom should have the final word. Arrangements for where people from out-of-town will stay are usually up to the mother of the bride to arrange.
Both sets of parents should meet and communicate as well. The budget should be discussed and duties decided, with the bride’s consent of course. Again, go to the internet for a checklist of what traditionally happens and break it down into one that you can all work with. For a big wedding, sometimes a professional planner is the best way to go. It’s what they do!
Both sets of parents should strive to put aside their own personal agendas and combine to make this special day one that their children will remember forever.
Make happy memories together!