When your son or daughter announces their engagement, it’s a special moment that you’ll want to revel in. Before long, though, it’ll be time for the wedding planning to begin and the whole bridal party will be busily researching suppliers, sourcing the best deals and getting those all-important details in place for the big day’s celebration.
As the mother of the bride or groom, you’ll be on hand to help and provide much-needed support in the run-up to the wedding, but the one element you’ll be solely in charge of is your own outfit, so don’t forget to set aside some crucial shopping time.
We live in a far less formal world than our mothers and grandmothers did, and many of us have got out of the habit of dressing up. So finding the right mix of glamour, smartness and style can be a tricky task. If you don’t know where to begin, an online browse is a good way to get started, as is asking advice from stylish friends – find out which boutiques they would recommend. Pauline Speirs, owner of Catwalk boutique, agrees: “Start by looking through wedding magazines and websites to try to find a style or designer that appeals to you.” This will help to narrow down the styles you prefer so that, when you do eventually hit the shops, you won’t be spending hours trying on hundreds of different looks.
It’s worth paying particular attention to colour, as Marina Garrity, owner of Lady G, explains: “Speak to the bride about what colour the bridesmaid dresses are going to be, as you definitely don’t want to clash with them – or, worse, look as if you’re one of them! Pick a colour that suits your skin tone – if you look good in it, you’ll feel confident wearing it,” she says.
Fiona Wilson, owner of Frox of Falkirk, adds: “Take swatches of the bridesmaids’ and groom’s colours with you and try to stay within this spectrum without being a perfect match. Mixing and matching can be ultra-stylish.”
Hitting the shops
Start on the high street by all means and see what’s available, but finding an outfit for such an important date may mean you’ll need to talk to the experts. “Wedding guests in the main buy from high-street shops, but you as mother of the bride or groom should stand out from the rest – that’s where a specialist wedding shop will help,” points out Fiona Wilson.
Pick a day when you’re in the mood for it – there’s nothing worse than traipsing round the shops when you don’t feel like trying anything on. “You need to be in the right frame of mind, feeling confident with your shape,” explains Marina Garrity.
While it’s good to have some ideas in mind, don’t rule out any outfit before trying it on, especially if the sales assistant particularly recommends it for you. “She will have seen the style being worn and not just on the hanger, and will have an idea of what would suit your body shape,” advises Pauline Spiers. “Be opened-minded and give things a try – the sales assistant really is there to help.”
Give us a twirl
There are a few key points to bear in mind that will help make your shopping expedition a success. First off, make sure you’re wearing some good foundation garments – they will guarantee a smooth, slick look which in turn will make you feel confident and glamorous when you look in the mirror. And be selective about who you ask to accompany you. It’s nice to be surrounded by all your best pals, but in practice this rarely produces results. “Don’t take an entourage – too many different opinions will lead to confusion,” says Fiona Wilson. Marina Garrity adds, “Bring the bride but that’s all. Otherwise, you’ll never make a decision.”
Take your pick
So you’ve found a dress you love. It’s the right colour and the right size and it makes you look a million dollars. Do you buy it now or do you check out a few more shops? What if you get it home and you change your mind? Our experts all reckon that if you’ve found an outfit you love and look good in, one that isn’t an impulse buy or a rushed decision, you should snap it up. “It’s hard to find something that flatters your figure, makes you feel good and has the wow factor,” says Pauline Spiers. “If you’ve found a dress that does all that, buy it!”
Giving yourself plenty of time is key to making a wise decision – a last-minute bargain is unlikely to be the best you could have got. “Start shopping as early as possible to get the pick of the sizes and styles – specialist shops often carry outfits in just one of each size, and during peak buying periods the most popular ones sell out quickly,” explains Fiona Wilson. If your chosen outfit needs altering, a boutique with an in-house seamstress is a great bonus. “Our seamstress works seven days a week, so you can get your outfit altered whenever it suits you,” says Marina Garrity. Remember to bring to the fitting the underwear and shoes you plan to wear at the wedding – that will guarantee your outfit fits like a glove and sits at the right length. “Give yourself six to eight weeks prior to the wedding for alterations,” recommends Pauline Spiers.
For something that is meant to be a happy occasion, a wedding can generate a lot of unnecessary stress. Bear that in mind when you’re on the hunt for your outfit – it’s supposed to be fun! Picking out a dress to wear as mother of the bride or groom is for many women a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so remind yourself to enjoy it – it should feel like a pleasure, not a duty. Pauline Spiers has a final piece of advice: “If you find something you love, get it. If not, leave it. You always know yourself whether it’s really the right one for you!”