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Terrie Tibbetts Martin

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Mother of The Bride Dresses: You Don't Need to Match the Napkins

Posted: 02/22/2013 5:28 pm

As a co-owner and dress consultant at T. Carolyn Fashions, I navigate the front lines of family conflict -- helping moms look great and satisfying the bride's often strident opinions. Even with 21 years in the business and 100,000 dresses sold, dressing a mother of the bride can be more challenging than dressing the actual bride!

Just say "No" to Swatches

All day, everyday, I have brides (and mothers by extension) walk through the door with fabric swatches in their hands. The swatches are the colour of the bridesmaid's dresses, flowers, tablecloths, ribbons and even carpeting! The end goal is to have a stunningly beautiful wedding in which everyone matches. The problem with this approach is that at it's most fundamental level it doesn't work.

Interior designers are known for their colour and design boards. This approach works well for their discipline. Swatches are fine if we're talking about carpet, curtains, and decorative pillows. Putting colour on real people is an entirely different matter. The problem for mothers is that no matter how beautiful the colour of the dress, and no matter what it matches, if it doesn't look good on the mother, she will ultimately look terrible walking down the aisle.

After her own wedding gown, a mother of the bride (or groom) dress is the next most important dress a mother will ever wear; and after her own wedding, it's the next most photographed event in her life. The importance of selecting the right colour for a mother's dress cannot be overstated.

How to Look Fabulous

It may sound overly simplistic, but looking great begins with a colour that looks great on you.

Colours to Avoid

Champagne, peach, mauve and other similar colours are far more challenging to wear and look best on dark skinned women. Lighter coloured fabrics themselves don't photograph as well and any special detailing such as beading, ruching, or embroidery will be lost in the pictures.

Platinum, silver and grey look best on women with silver hair, salt and pepper hair and occasionally jet-black hair. Anyone wanting to wear this colour should proceed with caution. These extremely cool colours are difficult to wear for warm toned women such as blondes and those with auburn hair. Certain shades of grey, with heavy blue under-tones, can sometimes be worn by blondes and those with blue eyes.

Colours to Look for

Jewel tone colours, such as teal green, teal blue, purple, turquoise, periwinkle, fuchsia and sapphire are youthful, flattering colours that always photograph well. These colours work well for Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women. These deeper colours also look fabulous next to black tuxedos.

The Take Away

Leave the swatches to the interior designers and find a colour that looks stunning on you. No one is going to remember that you matched the napkins; they're only going to remember how you looked walking down the aisle!

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, tune into Mother of The Bride airing back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Slice.


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  • The editors at Brides just love these romantic wedding details of pale pink and hints of gold.

  • The Dress

    Blush organza fit-and-flare wedding dress with a draped bodice and hand-cut bias flange skirt, White by Vera Wang, available at David's Bridal. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-dresses-style/photos/pink?primaryfacet=color" target="blank">Browse more pink wedding dresses.</a>

  • The Bouquet

    Wedding bouquet of jasmine, garden roses, ranunculus, andromedas, and Blushing Bride proteas, Peartree. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-flowers/photos?flower-type=bouquets" target="blank">Browse more wedding bouquets.</a>

  • The Cake

    Fondant wedding cake with ruffles, Maggie Austin Cake; "Golden Grosgrain" cake stand, Vera Wang Wedgwood. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-cakes/photos/pink?primaryfacet=color" target="blank">Browse more pink wedding cakes.</a>

  • The Invitation

    Ivory and gold wedding invitation, Bella Figura. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-invitations-stationery/photos/invitations?style=classic&primaryfacet=invitation-type" target="blank">Browse more classic wedding invitations.</a>

  • The Ring

    Light pink diamond engagement ring set in platinum, Neil Lane. <a href="http://www.brides.com/engagement-rings/photos" target="blank">Browse more wedding rings.</a>

  • The Headpiece

    Gold nature-inspired headband, Twigs & Honey. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-accessories/photos/headpieces-and-veils?primaryfacet=accessory-type" target="blank">Browse more wedding headpieces and veils.</a>

  • The Shoes

    Embroidered booties with sculptural heel, Chanel. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-accessories/photos/shoes?primaryfacet=accessory-type" target="blank">Browse more wedding shoes.</a>

  • The Bag

    Beaded clutch, KC Malhan. <a href="http://www.brides.com/wedding-accessories/photos/bags?primaryfacet=accessory-type" target="blank">Browse more wedding clutches.</a>

  • The Makeup

    Pure Finish Mineral Bronzing Powder in Soft Radiance, Elizabeth Arden.

  • The Bridesmaids

    Embroidered net bridesmaids dress with organza and sequins, Ivy & Aster. <a href="http://www.brides.com/bridesmaid-dresses/photos/strapless?primaryfacet=neckline" target="blank">Browse more strapless bridesmaids dresses.</a>

  • The Fragrance

    Rose Essentielle eau de toilette spray, Bulgari.

  • The Lingerie

    Embroidered bra and briefs, La Perla.

 

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