My daughter Abigail married her handsome husband less than two weeks ago. It was an amazingly lovely day, and the bride looked stunning. But my husband still told me the same thing he frequently whispers into my ear, that I was the most beautiful woman in the room. Of course that always makes me blush, and James has had to patiently repeat himself over and over and over again for over 30 years for me to finally believe that he means it. And truly, on that special day I did feel like a million bucks. And that’s why I thought I’d share a few mother of the bride dress tips with you today.
The rest of the photos I’m sharing with you today (except the very last one) were not taken at the wedding. James and I both put away our phones and he did not carry his camera that day. We wanted to fully engage in the whirlwind celebration and invest in our family and friends who had gathered to share it with us. So we snapped these photos at a nearby office park before James took our wedding clothes to the cleaners the next day. My makeup does not look the same as it did that day either. More on that later.
Tip #1 – Don’t shop for your MOB dress too soon.
The bride absolutely needs to start wedding dress shopping as early as possible, preferably at least 6 months out if she plans to order a gown and possibly have alterations. But mother of the bride dresses are more seasonal and you’ll do best to shop for your dress closer to the date of the wedding. Since Abigail’s wedding was in the middle of May, I wanted a gown that looked festive and elegant, but also very springlike. I didn’t really begin seeing spring dresses until March, and I saw more in April, which is when I purchased my dress.
You should still have plenty of time for alterations if you have your dress in hand at least four weeks before the wedding. I used a local alterations shop and it only took one week for them to hem my skirt and two attached slips.
Tip #2 – Consider the time of the ceremony and reception.
I wanted to wear a long dress for Abigail’s wedding, but since it was a daytime wedding (ceremony at 2:30 and reception ending at 6:30), I preferred for the dress not to have sequins or beading. That was just a personal preference, but I knew I would feel more confident in a dress that fit the time of day. I had a friend who rightly encouraged to wear whatever made me happy since it was a once in a lifetime event. But I do think there’s something to be said for wearing a dress that fits the time of day and venue.
Tip #3 – The mother of the bride does not need to worry about wearing the colors of the wedding.
As it turned out my dress did indeed beautifully reflect the colors Abigail had chosen for her bridesmaids to wear: dusky blue, sage green and forest green. But that was just because I happened to find the dress I loved in those colors. I also looked at pink, blush, gold and navy dresses. In fact, I’ve noticed lots of beautiful mothers of the bride wearing gold or champagne dresses.
Sure enough, other than the photo above where I’m praying with the bridesmaids over Abigail, I don’t think I’m in any photographs with the attendants. The mother of the bride is mostly in photos with just the couple, just the bride or other family members. So wear the color that makes you happy and helps you feel beautiful.
Tip #4 – Look for a silhouette that feels authentic to your style and helps you feel comfortable.
The first dress I purchased was a form fitting long dress with off the shoulder straps. It was an absolutely gorgeous dress. But I never for one minute felt comfortable in it, and I was dreading wearing it. If I’d not come across this sleeveless Adrianna Papell brocade ball gown just weeks before the wedding, I would have worn the other dress and probably would have enjoyed it just fine. But I was actually excited about putting this one on. That’s how you want to feel on this special day. Enthusiastic about getting dressed for the day!
Tip #5 – Select festive but comfortable footwear before your dress fitting for alterations.
I wore the same gold strappy sandals I’d worn in my son’s wedding two and a half years ago, but these Vince Camuto sandals are very similar. I do fine in high heels, but if you would be more comfortable in lower heels or even flats, go that route. Just make sure you have the shoes you’ll be wearing in time to try on your dress for alterations.
Tip #6 – If you have the opportunity to have your makeup done professionally for the big day, do it.
Like I said, in the photo just above I’ve done my own makeup for a photo shoot. That’s the same photo shoot in which we shot some summer work outfits for an upcoming post, so I wasn’t really focusing on creating a soft, wedding day look. Regardless, I’m not sure I would have been able to do my makeup as well as the makeup artist did on the wedding day. Truthfully, I had been hesitant about having her do my makeup. Would this young woman be able to work with my more mature face and all its age-related issues? But of course she’d worked with many other mothers of the bride, so she did a beautiful job. Plus she was able to apply perfectly the false eyelashes that I generally struggle to get just right.
Tip #7 – Make sure you have the undergarments you need for your particular gown.
Because my dress was not form fitting, I was able to enjoy wearing minimal shapewear. I wore these Spanx Skinny Britches Mid-Thigh Shorts, which really just helped prevent chafing. I wear these with all of my casual summer dresses. But if you have a form fitting dress you might prefer something like these Thinstincts® 2.0 High-Waisted Mid-Thigh Shorts or even the Thinstincts® 2.0 Open-Bust Mid-Thigh Bodysuit. And for the ultimate in body sculpting I can recommend the OnCore High-Waisted Mid-Thigh Short or the OnCore Open-Bust Mid-Thigh Bodysuit.
I did wear a strapless bra under my dress on the wedding day. You can see my regular bra poking through the arm holes in the photo above, which I took during our recent photo shoot. This is why I suggest you make sure you have the appropriate undergarments packed in a “wedding day satchel” well in advance. I packed everything I’d need for the day in this pretty pink duffle bag.
Tip #8 – Carry a pretty handkerchief for the day. You’ll need it!
I actually carried the handkerchief that my mother had made for me to use on my own wedding day. It has mine and my husband’s name and our wedding date in filet crochet surrounded by beautiful, lush lace. I can’t find anything like it 34 years later. But I suggest checking out Etsy for some beautiful options if you’d like something special for the your daughter’s and beyond. I think these and these are lovely. My dress had pockets so I actually ended up leaving my beautiful clutch (similar) in the bride’s room and just carrying my reading glasses and handkerchief in my deep pockets. Abigail actually carried a pretty handkerchief with her bouquet, too, just as I had done.
My final tip is simply to enjoy the day. Do whatever it takes to fully engage in this momentous occasion. Put your phone away, hire a wedding coordinator if possible (ours was well worth the cost!), enlist friends to help with day-of details and love on the people who love you. We had the most glorious day and we loved every minute of it. That’s not to say we didn’t have our share of snafus and delays. But rolled with those punches and rejoiced in the goodness of God as we celebrated with our family and friends.
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Blessed for My Day
When we celebrate with someone we honor them. We deliberately put the spotlight on them and enjoy seeing them there. We acknowledge the good thing that God has blessed them with – whether that be a talent, an accomplishment, a life event or a relationship – and we give our hearty approval. We smile upon their “good fortune” and concur that “it is good.”
But we don’t have to wait for such a momentous occasion as a wedding or a new baby to celebrate with our loved ones. We can celebrate the goodness of God in someone’s life through a simple card in the mail or a congratulatory text. We could treat her to coffee or lunch, make him a special dessert or deliver a bouquet of flowers from our garden…for even the smallest celebration. How can you join someone today in celebrating the blessings of God in their life? By doing so you may be the very reminder they need of how much God has truly blessed them. Really, when all is said and done, it’s the people we celebrate with that makes such an event so special. You could be the icing on the cake!
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. ~ Romans 12:10