Is your mum short of inspiration for her big-day outfit? Nicole Conner hears from seven recent mothers of the bride or groom about their quest for the perfect look
Diane shopped at Catherines of Partick, Glasgow
Long before her daughter Lisa’s wedding in Greece last August, Diane O’Hare had begun searching online for a dress for herself, and quickly came across Catherines of Partick’s website. She made the long journey north from her home in Liverpool to try on frocks at the Glasgow boutique, armed with the idea that traditional ‘below the knee’ designs weren’t what she was wanting. Rather, she had a floor-length frock in mind for the Santorini wedding, and the sales team were happy to oblige. “The one-to-one service I got from the advisor was something else,” smiles Diane. “She really listened to what I wanted and brought me lots of examples to try on.”
Once she saw the reaction of her daughter and husband to her favourite Veni Infantino dress, Diane says she knew it was the one. “To be honest, with the variety of styles and colours available here, it would be impossible not to walk out with your ideal outfit,” she adds. Another standout moment was the advisor bringing her a fascinator and jewellery that complemented the dress so she could envision the complete outfit.
With the wedding taking place abroad, Diane admits she’d been worried about feeling like just another guest rather than the mother of the bride; in fact, her dress made her feel very special on the day. “Heading to Glasgow was the best decision I made,” she says. “It was worth the four-hour trip. I got the perfect dress to wear on Lisa’s wedding day.”
Eleanor shopped at Joyce Young Design Studios, Glasgow
“I promised myself that one day I’d wear a couture outfit designed by Joyce Young – and my son David’s wedding last September was the ideal opportunity to turn that dream into reality,” says Eleanor Knowles with a smile.
She made her way to the Glasgow studio from Northern Ireland four times as her outfit (“longer length, with sleeves”) took shape. Six members of the Joyce Young team were involved in the creation of the burgundy silk taffeta and metallic gold lace gown, and Eleanor agrees that the full flowing skirt and lace top with its little bit of bling suited her personality and made her feel special and confident: “I was wearing much more than a stunning dress, I was carrying every memory of a unique and fun-filled process.”
Despite her experience going smoothly, Eleanor understands that choosing an outfit can be overwhelming. “It’s good to start early, do some online research and have a few ideas about styles that appeal to you,” she says. “You just know when you’ve found the right thing, and that’s a sweet feeling!”
Pauline shopped at Patricia Forbes, Broughty Ferry
Having been recommended Dundee boutique Patricia Forbes by friends who’d already been MOBs and MOGs, Pauline Robertson went into her shopping experience with an open mind. “I knew the dress for my daughter Naomi’s wedding had to be a bit more special, so I wanted to try on lots of different styles,” she says.
Her advice to other mothers is to do likewise – although she admits that putting together an outfit herself would have been a tad overwhelming without the expert advice of the ladies at Patricia Forbes. Thankfully, they were on hand with a glass of fizz and lots of helpful suggestions. “They brought me one last dress to try on – and it was the one I ended up buying!” she smiles. “I knew it was the one as soon as I put it on.”
She also appreciated all their ideas for hats, shoes and accessories to complement the Veni Infantino frock that she’d fallen for. “Whatever you buy, make sure you’re comfortable in it – it’s a long day and you’ll want to be able to dance the night away,” she adds.
“I would advise you not to try on the outfit too often once you’ve taken home. How you feel wearing it in your bedroom compared with actually being at the wedding with your hair and makeup all done is like night and day!”
Deanne shopped at Frox of Falkirk
Following a positive experience of shopping at Frox of Falkirk when she was mother of the groom in 2018, Deanne Ferguson returned to the boutique for an outfit for the wedding of her other son, Stephen, last September. “I had a great time in the store on both occasions,” she says. “I love that you are able to choose a few outfits from the website and the staff have them all ready for when you arrive.”
Deanne’s plan was to browse with an open mind, and she advises other mothers to do likewise. “I wanted to try on a few different looks before I made a decision,” she recalls. It was a strategy that paid off: the dress she ended up buying, by Gill Harvey, was selected by the sales assistant. Deanne looked at it on the hanger and felt sure it would be a bit too much once it was on. “But when I tried it, it felt amazing,” she laughs. “I loved all the detail on it. My friend even cried when I came out with it on!”
Her advice to other mums would be to remain neutral when shopping for your look – you might surprise yourself: “What you end up buying may not be what you had in mind at all.”
Rachael shopped at Catwalk, Falkirk
Rachael Ferguson already followed Catwalk in Falkirk on Facebook, and began seriously browsing the boutique’s photos as soon as her daughter Lisa got engaged. “That’s where I saw my Veni Infantino dress, and I instantly fell in love,” she recalls. “It was very ‘me’, so I called to make an appointment to try it on. I felt Catwalk had a lot of outfits that were very on trend and catered to all ages, unlike a lot of other suppliers.”
With Covid disrupting many things, Rachael worried her experience of shopping for the perfect dress with her daughter would be spoiled, but she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed it.
“Rona, who helped me, could not have been nicer,” she says. “She took her time and listened to what I was looking for, and quickly pulled together a selection of dresses to my taste and shape. I tried on about five in total but of course came back to the first one which my heart had been set on from the word go!”
Although Rachael admits she went in with a preconceived idea of what she wanted, she advises other mothers to try on a variety of different styles and to listen to the experts’ ideas. “Rona showed me several dresses I really liked that I wouldn’t have considered had she not suggested them.”
Karyn shopped at Sheila Conn Ladies Fashions, Biggar
When she set out to find an outfit for her daughter’s wedding, Karyn had a clear idea of what she wanted: an elegant mid-length dress that was free-flowing and comfortable enough to allow her to hit the dancefloor.
She also wanted to support a local business, so she headed for Sheila Conn Ladies Fashion in Biggar. Once there, she was impressed by how honest the sales advisors were. “I tried on one particular dress and Shona, who was helping me, had no hesitation in telling me the colour didn’t suit me,” she laughs.
When she finally tried on the dress she would go on to buy, a gorgeous Veni Infantino design, she felt wonderful in it: “Everyone loved it and so did I! I felt very special in it.”Shona suggested adding a blue trim around the edge of Karyn’s hat to lift the outfit further – a clever idea that really made a difference.
“My advice is to research ideas online before you go shopping so you have a clearer idea of what you want,” says Karyn. “And don’t visit too many shops. You’ll know as soon as you try the right outfit on.”
Jean shopped at Serendipity, Kilmarnock
Every time Jean Leitch walked past Serendipity in Kilmarnock she would take a moment to admire the stylish outfits in the window, so it’s no surprise that’s where she went when her son Jason announced he’d be getting married in September 2021.
She wanted something with a vintage look, and had her heart set on a Couture Club dress that Serendipity had in stock. “I loved that it was different and made me feel special, and I felt comfortable and confident in myself,” says Jean. “The fact the dress had pockets was a huge bonus – I wanted to be able to carry a handkerchief for all the tears of joy!”
She returned to the boutique to complete her look, with the staff helping her find shoes, a handbag and a hatinator in the exact shade she needed to match her dress.
Steer clear of outfits you believe mums should wear, is Jean’s top tip: “Instead, choose something that goes with your own style and personality and you’ll feel beautiful and confident all day long.”