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!
As weddings become less traditional and more personalized, some couples are opting for destination weddings; which brings about the inevitable question: "As a mother, what should I wear?"
What to Wear
Obviously, a wedding in an Irish Castle will be quite different than a wedding on a beach in Belize. While the venue should obviously be taken into consideration, the most telling indicator is that of what the wedding party will be wearing.
If the wedding is on a beach and the men are wearing tuxedos, a mother should obviously be dressed more formally. If however, the wedding is on a beach and the guys are in shorts and flips-flops, then it's up to the mother to find the degree of formality (somewhere between what the bride is wearing and what the rest of the wedding party is wearing) that suits her style and sensibilities.
I strongly urge mothers to remember that while a destination wedding isn't as rigid as a traditional wedding, it isn't a destination "party" either. It's their child's wedding. As long as the bride is wearing a full-length gown (which by rule of etiquette is considered formal) mothers should select a dress or gown that honours their status at the wedding and will also photograph well next to the bride.
Colours and Fabrics
If the destination is in a warm or tropical location, consideration must be given to the weight of the fabric. Most mothers tend to be very warm-natured. A bulky, stiff, structured outfit will not only be uncomfortable to wear, it will look out of place.
The location of the wedding will also affect the colours mothers should wear. Tropical venues naturally lend themselves to brighter, lighter colours such a turquoise, hibiscus, fuchsia, purple, as well as some floral prints. This would hold true for weddings in vineyards and botanical gardens as well.
For weddings held during the winter in northern locations, such as a ski lodge or a city like Paris, heavier fabrics and richer colours such as teal, sapphire, and aubergine would be a great choice.
Something to keep in mind is that certain fabrics pack better than others. Fabrics that tend to pack extremely well are jersey, stretch net, chiffon and crepe.
I always recommend packing a good hand steamer to touch up the wedding party's attire as well as the mothers' dresses before the ceremony. It's a great investment as it can be used at home after the wedding. No more ironing!
It is imperative that all of the alterations for a mother's dress be double checked before leaving for the wedding as fit problems could prove to be difficult to fix at the point of destination.
For outdoor weddings, careful attention should be paid to determining the hemline of gowns. Sand, water, and dirt can easily destroy certain fabrics. The only way to salvage a gown that has been damaged in this way is to hem it and convert it to a short dress.
An emergency kit with sewing supplies and dress tape is advised, not just for mothers but for bridesmaids as well.
Shoes for outdoor events should always have a slightly chunkier heel to give stability on uneven or soft surfaces. Cobblestones, gravel and other types of walkways can damage the heels of shoes as well, proving dangerous for both the stiletto heel and the wearer.
A destination wedding can be the best of both worlds; a vacation and a wedding all rolled into one! With a bit of planning and preparation it can be easy for mothers to feel good, look great, and have a wonderful time!
If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, I invite you to tune into my new show Mother of The Bride premiering back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on SliceTM. Visit slice.ca for exclusive blogs, a mother of the bride dress guide, cast bios and full episodes.