Should I Say Yes To The Dress?

(I apologize to my guy readers in advance, but when a woman needs help she usually turns to her girlfriends.  Although a man’s opinion is always welcome, so please feel free to speak up, if you’re brave enough to do so.)

I need fashion help.

I wasn’t going to write about this but after a third night of not sleeping I decided to turn to the best drug I know: writing.  Have you ever noticed how writing about a problem sometimes helps you find an answer?  Well, I’m taking it a step further – I’m writing this post to reach out to my readers.

Here’s why I need your help:  This summer I will be a Mother of the Bride for the first time in my life.  I haven’t wanted to write about this because I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t write about my kids now that they’re old enough to read what I write and yell at me for writing it.  It’s an exciting, busy, emotional time and it’s been difficult not to write an entire blog series about the event.  I’ve been a good mother, however, and avoided the topic completely here at my blog.  But now my back is up against the wall and there’s no way around this without writing about it.  Here’s my dilemma: The Dress.

Not the bride’s, but mine.

Somewhere between the time it’s taken to find the venue, choose the menu, book the band, and help my daughter find her perfect wedding dress, I overlooked the painful fact that I need to buy myself a dress.  And not just any kind of dress, but a MOTHER OF THE BRIDE DRESS.

Oy, the pressure!

You have to understand one thing about me: I grew up a tomboy.  I was comfortable wearing jeans (for climbing trees) and my Dad’s Army fatigue jacket (cause it was cool).  To me, the perfect outfit is sweatpants and tennis shoes.  My daughter would ban me from her wedding if I showed up in a running outfit.  And unlike her lucky dad or brother who barely have to show up at all (fashionwise), and just have to wear the de rigueur tuxedo, I have to wade through the world of women’s couture to find the ultimate MOTHER OF THE BRIDE DRESS.

My friend Vicki is facing a similar problem but she’s only the mother of the groom, and somehow (we both agreed) nobody really cares what the groom’s mother is wearing.

“I’m going with a pantsuit,” she finally announced to me the other day as we commiserated on the phone.  “Who the hell cares?  The wedding’s out-of-town anyways, and we don’t know a damn person in Detroit.”

I envy the Mother of the Groom.

“I can’t get away with that,” I tell her. “…Can I?” I ask hopefully, like maybe there’s some kind of loophole I don’t know about in the wedding guidebook.

“Nope.  First they look at the bride, and then they’ll be checking out the mother of the bride. You better look good,” she warned me.

Could she be any less reassuring?

“Plus, in your case, you’re really going to need help.”

Yep, I guess she can.

I asked her what she meant.

“You’re not normal!” she tells me, a little too easily.

I’m wondering now: Why is it we’re friends?!

“I just mean you’re creative, and artistic, and well, I don’t think you should wear what everyone else is wearing,” she explains to me with words that make me understand just how much she knows me, and how much I really love her as a friend. “You’re your own person – unique and talented, and you may not see many dresses you really want to wear.”

Vicki was right:  I’d been looking on the internet and all the dresses listed under MOTHER OF THE BRIDE were, in fact, beautiful.

For other women, not for me.

They were vampy or too low cut and my best look is a turtleneck.  They were covered with sequins, beaded, and jeweled and I’m a 100% plain cotton girl.  They were clingy and hip hugging and well, I’m a writer, and my work’s muscles are what I sit on.  Nordstrom would call me a “pear” so no way do I want anything clinging on my Bartlett rear.

Is there any wonder why I’m not sleeping?

I was starting to reconsider my decision about the sweat pants (velour?) and sneakers (brand new Air Jordans?), when I decided to take one more journey into The Wedding Knot website and click on MOTHER OF THE BRIDE.

And there is was:  my dress!

It jumped out at me from my computer screen: perfect color (blue), perfect shape (for a pear) elegant yet simple, and not like any other dress I’d seen.  I clicked my way over to the designer’s website and there was my dress again on the front webpage.  I even loved the name of the dress style:  Beautiful Mothers.

I was close to crying.

True, it was a little pricey, but I figured with more than one kid I could always wear it again when the next one of our progeny took the matrimonial leap. And besides, I’d pay the price gladly just to be able to stop looking.  So, I quickly did a search to find out where I could buy my beautiful dress. I figured they wouldn’t have it here in our little California suburb; I’d probably have to go to L.A. or maybe San Diego.  But I could get my husband to drive, and we’d make it a weekend out of it.  It would be fun!  I quickly entered my zip code and the website gave me the closest store where I could buy it.


Okay, now I was crying.

I’m not even sure I know where Yucaipa is located, but it just sounds FAR.  Not as far, however, as Tucson, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas; or Caspar Wyoming, where the only other stores that carry my dress are located.

Do I do a road trip?!  Seriously, this is what I’m asking: Is it worth all the trouble (and expense) to go on a scavenger hunt for this dress?  I’ll let you, my dear readers, help me make this decision.  Here’s a photo of the dress, and you tell me what you think:

Mother of the Bride Dress at Marys

Do I call the designer (Mary’s), order my size, pay for it, and pray it fits or at least looks somewhat good on me?  It looks wonderful on the model in the photo (probably a size 2), but it’s liable to look like yesterday’s garbage when I’m wearing it (never in my dreams a size 2).  And if I’ve already paid for it and hate it, then what do I do?

Do you think I should say yes to this dress?

Or do I just take my dad’s Army fatigue jacket out of mothballs?

What do you think I should do?!

(The quest for the elusive dress continues at Saying Yes To The Dress (UPDATE)…)

79 thoughts on “Should I Say Yes To The Dress?

  1. That is a beautiful dress! I say look at the website’s return policy and order it if you can return it if you don’t like it/it doesn’t fit. If they don’t have a return policy I think the road trip is safer because there is nothing worst than trying on a dress you love in a picture and it looks nothing like that when it’s on you.


      • There are many ‘ifs’. Do you have a nice throat and neck? Your photos look as if you do so there’s one tick. The flowing skirt would cover any lower imperfections so there’s another tick. I myself am out of shape so I would be too afraid to buy anything without first trying it on. The dept. stores accept returns on clothing with tags attached. Best check on store policy.
        Just have fun – I know you will look beautiful.
        PS. Re clothes; I have children from four different countries and I travel a lot – I love ethnic clothes and I usually wear them. My favorite is a long, narrow striped dress from Morroco. I feel wonderful in it. Wear what you feel wonderful in. Ignore protocol but maybe don’t go as far as sweats.


      • June, I trust your fashion sense implicitly. I’ve always had a nice throat and neck, but you know how it goes as we age. Guess I’ll have to really look in the mirror and not with my eyes half closed to see.


  2. The dress is beautiful and you know what this means, right??? The next time we see a pic of this dress, it will be on you! We want a full update…hair, earrings, the nines. Perhaps if you inquire, a local dress shop could get a hold of it?


    • Well, I don’t know about posting any photos. But I love your idea about inquiring at a local dress shop. I had this image in my head of me going from shop to shop showing a photo of the dress and saying, “Have you seen this dress?” I’d probably sound like I was on CSI.


  3. Dar, when you see it you know it. This happened with my wedding dress. It turned out to be the first one I tried on, but to please my father I tried on more. The one I WANTED was $300.00. At the time he said it was too expensive. Granted it was 1980 and $300.00 was alot of money back then. But when I walked down the isle in that dress I felt like a princess.

    You my friend will look like a queen in the dress. It’s lovely just like you.

    About wearing it to your sons wedding……it’ll never happen. I promised I’d wear the top of my wedding dress (it was a two piece beauty) for special occasions. Guess what…never happened.

    The trip to Yucipa will be worth it and if when you try it on it doesn’t work, well back to the drawing board. Maybe have a good seamtress make what you truly want. BE THE DIRECTOR!!!!


  4. I faced the same thing – my children insisted I wear a dress. I did, and now they wish they hadn’t insisted. It doesn’t look like me, and they’ll never see me looking like that again. But then… if I’d had the dress you are looking at, I just may have started wearing dresses again 🙂 The dress is gorgeous! No doubt about that. If it is too far to drive for a fitting, and you really want that dress, take a chance. There will be an alteration place close to you somewhere.


  5. Darlene with the dilemma! How I can relate…out of four kids, I contended with Mother of the Bride twice and I dared not wear the same dress. Each daughter has totally different tastes and of course, color choices…thus periwinkle blue for one and champagne for the other. Go figure, you would think champagne would have worked for both! There were actually three girls but one eloped…God bless her!

    The dress is absolutely beautiful. I can definitely see why this one caught your eye right away. You did not mention the wedding date so hopefully you still have an ample amount of time remaining. Before ordering, check with the designer about a return policy. If you have not bought a dress in awhile, go to a nearby store, preferably one of quality, not a Walmart (hey, no offense but I do not know your shopping habits) and try on dresses. Styles change and so do sizes. A size 7 a few years ago might be a size 2 in today’s market. Plus, from brand to brand, sizes are never consistent.

    I also have no clue where Yucaipa is located relative to where you live. If not too far, you might seriously just want to make a day trip but call first to be sure they have several sizes in stock. I made that mistake one time finding the perfect dress online and a store within a reasonable distance. Little did I know until I got there they did not stock that particular item. It had to be ordered upon request. C’est la vie!

    Good luck! Hopefully others will comment and someone might just have the perfect solution!


    • The wedding is in July so I have a little time, I think. I like your idea about trying on a dress at a shop to lock in my size. And I bravely (gulp) took my measurements this morning and they weren’t as bad as I had imagined. So that really made my day. That, and all the helpful suggestions people are giving me. Thank you so much for yours!


  6. After 36 years I don’t recall what the mother of my bride wore, I just know the love she shares with her family. However, I do recall what the mother of the groom wore! She found the “perfect” dress. There was a slight problem. Two other women at the reception had found the same perfection. There’s a picture of my dad dancing with all three and everyone had a great time. My point being, wear what makes your feel good. What’s more important is your attitude and love for your expanding family.


    • What a great story about your dad! There’s always that fear that maybe some other woman might be wearing the same dress. But not when you can only buy it in Yucaipa. And yes, attitude IS everything, isn’t it?


  7. How long is the drive to Yucaipa? If it seems too far to drive, I agree you should try to order it – call the shop and give them the size you normally wear, and maybe your measurements as well, in case the dress runs small or large. It is a beauty!

    I had a similar dilemma when attending my boyfriend’s son’s wedding. What does the girlfriend of the father of the groom wear? Although it was not my child getting married, I was meeting his ex for the first time as well! My dress was the same color as yours, but a different style.


  8. It looks like you have gotten enough advice – and it all sounds good. I’m just going to tell you that I love the dress and I think that it is worth going after, whatever it takes. But this is also why my mantra to my kids is “elope, elope, elope”.


  9. Ask if you can return it if it is unsuitable. I can’t imagine anyone saying no nowadays. Then order it. It is beautiful. Don’t travel to a store. They may not have your size. I bought the first one I tried on. I did that with my wedding dress also. Be sure to share photos with us.


  10. wow – just got home and can’t believe how many comments and opinions you’ve gotten on this dress issue already and its only 8PM!! I agree with your friends, it’s indeed lovely and I can already see it on you with your lovely silvery hair!! As for fittings, Darlene, I’m afraid you really do need to make a road trip out of this — but first call and see if they have a variety of sizes. If they do, then it’s road trip time – I’d offer to drive you but I DON’T DO LA FREEWAYS!!! LOL!. However, if you do go and find it in your size and it needs only minor adjustments, I have 2 people I can recommend – one is a “professional” tailor who has his labourers do immaculate work and he charges a fortune (he’s also located in your safe area for driving), another is the mother of a good friend (also within your driving limits) – she doesn’t speak English well, charges you way too little and does wonderful work. She’s done alterations for my girls on homecoming, prom, bridesmaid dresses and $400 designer jeans!! …funny story about that one, I’ll have to relate it in a less public forum.

    Anyhow, I think that dress is most definitely you – or as close to you as a dress is going to get (I know how you like to dress – very much like me – LOL) –it looks like it might even be COMFORTABLE!! The colour is great. I can’t tell about the length- that’s something you need to check out — you don’t need a dress that cuts your legs at an unflattering height (again something that can be handled by a good seamstress).

    If that store, doesn’t have your size, ask if they can get it in a variety of sizes so that you can come and try it on. I’ve found that in this day of highly competitive markets and a slow economy, small stores are usually more accommodating than larger stores.

    Another suggestion? take a woman with you when you try it on!! Phil is lovely and so sweet that even if it looked terrible (which it won’t), I don’t think he could tell you why it was wrong for you. Perhaps don’t take Kate with you — but have her on alert so that if you find it in your size and still like it, you can snap photos with your iPhone and send them to her!!

    Gosh, Mother of the Bride!! I’m not there yet — and actually can quite happily wait on that part!! I hate dress shopping — strange how things that looked so good on me even 20 years ago, just don’t cut it today!!

    Good luck!! Let me know if I can help!!


  11. “I’d offer to drive you but I DON’T DO LA FREEWAYS!!!” Boy, can I relate! We’re not the only ones, Lynne – My mother would never take the freeway, even here in town. She’d always take the side streets. Everyone else would take ten minutes to get somewhere in SB, but my mom would take half an hour. To each his own, I say. Thanks for all your well-thought-out answers, all very helpful. You are like the Wikipedia for fashion advice. 😉


  12. Darlene,
    I have learned that seeing the dress and trying it on are two different things. I have been disappointed more than once. A road trip for a dress that disappoints is risky. If you know a seamstress that could duplicate the dress is a thought. Also try looking at evening wear not specifically for weddings. Once you put a tag on it,Mother of the Bride, the price goes up. You probably won’t get to wear the dress for another wedding as styles change and so does our body shape. If it were me I’d follow the suggestion of seeing if a local dress shop can order it or the return policy on the website. I’d also see what it would cost to get it altered if that would be faster than returning it for a different size. If it were me I’d be looking for evening dress with a jacket. I’m a turtleneck kind of gal too.


    • I had to go to the Emmys once and I actually had a seamstress make a dress for me. I wanted a Laura Ashley green taffeta dress that I had seen in a catalogue, but it was out of stock, and out of season. Someone suggested a seamstress and I found one who made me a beautiful dress. I still have it – my daughter used to play dress up in it. I’d squeeze myself into that one but I don’t think my daughter would appreciate her mom wearing her old hand-me-down dress up costume. I also have one other long gown and it DOES have a little sparkly-mesh see-through jacket. But it’s the wrong color – a khaki green (very reminiscent of Dad’s fatigue jacket) and every time there’s been an event (three times) I’ve worn it. It doesn’t feel right to wear it for my only daughter’s wedding so I’m retiring it to my closet.


  13. I would take the road trip. It just always seems like when you order something, it never is as good as the picture, although it could be a risk worth taking if a decent back-up can also be in place. Funny thing is though, that I got married in Vegas in cargo pants and a Grand Canyon t-shirt. I say no to all dresses!


  14. Am pretty clueless about dresses, but hey! ‘Alf mabrook’—a thousand congratulations! (In my part of the world we congratulate both families celebrating a wedding, not just the lucky chap.) May it be a truly splendid occasion and may the couple live happily ever after.


  15. Darlene, that dress is gorgeous! I say go for it!! I also say get your dad’s jacket out of mothballs because, seriously, everybody needs a fatigue jacket. I’ve been searching for the perfect olive drab jacket for ages–the prices online are insane. Anyway, as one who is in two weddings this year and had to go through a formal *fitting* for the first time in my life, I can confidently say if you love it, get it. If it makes you feel like a million bucks, get it now!


  16. I just feel so relieved to have sons. But the sweats and tennis shoes seem soooo inviting!
    I will say this—What an exciting time in your lives to see your daughter get married. Congrats.


    • Thanks! But I must tell you – I LOVE having a daughter. She’s taught me a few things about dolls and dress up, along with how to pitch a wicked fast ball, and how to scramble and fight for the ball. Plus, I’m lucky to have a son too! I’m sure I’ll be just as nervous and fashion-challenged when it’s my time to be Mother of the Groom. 😉


  17. Okay, here we go with what I think: Take the road trip. You would have driven to San Diego for this dress, right? You can drive to Yucaipa, which a little outside San Bernadino. I’m sure you’d be enjoying the drive as well and the alone time with your husband.
    Go for the dress, ok? If it fits, feel beautiful in it and enjoy being the queen of the night… (I know, that’s normally the bride, but she’ll be princess of the night anyway. 🙂 – )
    I’m so sure it will look beautiful on you!
    Besides: They have THIS lovely dress, if you don’t like it on you, I’m pretty sure they’ll have a choice of others as well, and it’s more comfortable when you’re there already for the fitting instead of sending packages forward and back.
    Good Luck and I’d love to hear about it, ok?


    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Raani. However…(you always know you’re in trouble when there’s a “however” involved) the store in Yucaipa where this dress is supposed to be located isn’t a Macy’s, or your typical bridal shop. I’ll fill you in on all the details in a day or two when I post about it here on the blog.


      • Darlene, I’m awaiting your new blog on this but keep in mind, I’ve found some of my favorite dresses at little “hole-in-the-wall” shops in back alleys (in Victoria of course) so you never know. If need be, take a translator with you – I’m guessing maybe this is one of those ethnic shops run by a non-English speaker?


      • I don’t mean to be harsh but even when I was nominated for an Emmy I had to buy my own dress. Now maybe if I was a star, I’d have a designer in my hip pocket. But yeah, that’s not happening.


  18. You know what! Your friend Vicki is right. You are a creative person so maybe you should think creatively about this. Don’t get stuck in the box of being the ‘mother of the bride’ and what other people, albeit great designers, think the mother of a bride should wear. How about ‘dreaming back’ to past lives and what you wore then, or imagining what you would have worn, on great occasions in the Forbidden City, or Yildiz Palace, or Schonbrunn, or wherever, and then comparing it to the dress you have in mind, or some other modern creations. You can get virtual tours of some of these places on-line. Hope this doesn’t sound too way out for you.


    • You and I think very much alike, Yaseen. One of the reasons I think I like the dress so much (the one in this post) is because it doesn’t look like the other dresses I’ve seen for a Mother of the Bride. There’s something about it that reminds me of the first play I ever acted in – ANTIGONE by Jean Anouilh. I played Antigone and this dress reminds me of that character: noble, honest, and regal.


  19. If I may pose a general question on this forum; when a gal dresses up whom does she wants to get noticed by? Popular wisdom says that seek the preference of your audience.
    Well in your case it’s your daughter that matter the most, so yeah a woman can offer better guidance from a daughter’s perspective. Hope you have a great event.


    • Yes, you are absolutely correct – my daughter’s opinion does matter the most. I showed her the photo of the dress first, and she loved it. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying so hard to find this particular dress. Unfortunately, the fates may not be cooperating with me. I’ll write more about this later. In the meantime, thanks for your comment, and for your well wishes on the wedding.


  20. Pingback: Saying Yes To The Dress (UPDATE) | Darlene Craviotto

  21. Pingback: It’s Hard Work Being Mother Of The Bride | Darlene Craviotto

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