Mother of the Groom Dress for Wedding

Dress for son’s wedding

Ask Alison:

Hey Alison! Been keeping up with you, girl! So cool how many people and places you are charming with your sweet self. You are rockin’ it! Way to go. My oldest son is getting married in July, outside at a country club. It is a 4pm ceremony.
As you might recall, the ladies are large! I have dropped from a size 22 down to a 16 since I saw you last, but am still on the heavy side. What would you suggest? And what about a hat? I so appreciate any ideas!

-Becky, Keystone Heights, Fl


Hey Becky,
Outside in July means there will be heat and humidity to deal with, especially if we’re talking about Florida. If indeed the country club is in Florida then I would suggest skipping the hat unless it’s lightweight, medium to wide brimmed raffia in a pale woven color. Then you can add a ribbon or flower of your choice to match with your dress. While we’re still letting thoughts of Kate and William dance in our heads remember that affair was held in a cool interior and most women dressed in conservative suits. The hats were fun, but most of the outfits were a bit dull. Most important is to choose the dress and you can think about a hat later since depending how long the ceremony runs it can lead to a hot, perspiring mess under the hat and flattened hair.

As a mother of the groom you do not and should not feel required to match with the colors of the bridal party. So your first choice is long or cocktail length? Then choose colors that best suit your skin tone. Next, get yourself some good shapewear  from a smooth, but supportive bra and another item to smooth out any lines and lumps from appearing when you slip on the dress. You know it and I know it, no matter what our size, shapewear helps. In fact bring the bra and shapewear with you when you shop or order several dresses via online and get dolled up in your house and see what works best from jewels to heels. While it is the bride’s day to shine you still want photos to remember that you too looked good and to make your son proud.
So here are a few of my top suggestions:
Cocktail Length:
This dress is not white and not close to white, just in case you were concerned. I think the fabric would hug your body nicely and it looks quite chic.
V-neck platinum cocktail dress, $525, but I found it at for $160
A satiny fit-and-fare dress with embellished pockets. Add silver or gunmetal heels.
OC by Oleg Cassini Portrait Collar dress
This dress won’t hug your hips or thighs while still accentuating your waist.
Tadashi Shoji Dance Dress, $415
Ruffles, ruching and pleating.
Adrianna Papell Ruched Dress & Bolero
A strong, but sophisticated deep blue that can be dolled up with accessories.
Cybelle Cocktail Dress, $162
Jewel tone stretch satin v-neck cocktail dress that offers a flattering neckline.
While I am usually not a fan of brown this cut is flattering for the neckline and the room it gives in the waist and hips.
Stretch taffeta cocktail dress
Long versions:
Good color for a summer wedding and should move easily on the dance floor.
David Meister Jersey Cowl Neck Gown, $330
This is one of those dresses with the right accessories like gold strappy sandals and jeweled drop earrings that you could look young and gorgeous.
Celebration Wrap dress in jade., $155
Certainly age appropriate and still stylish for mom of the groom. The ruching and wrapping can help hug your curves.
Tadashi Shoji Asymmetric Drape Gown, $312
Skip how young the model looks and think about your face instead. This could swish and sway around guests and make a lovely, approachable look.
Estrella Hyacinth Violet Gown, $275

June 8th, 2011 by Ali

Getting Mother-In-Law & Sister-In-Law to Have H&M Done for Wedding

Question: How can we tactfully encourage my daughter, Mary’s soon to be FMIL and SIL to have their hair & make-up done for photos & the wedding? They normally like “the natural look”. I have set up hairdresser and make-up to come to the bridal suite to specifically work on the close relatives. Also, how do I approach payment for themselves?
-Donna, NY

Alison: Awkward is right! First let me ease some of your concern by saying that the majority of posed wedding photos with family are full length which means that you won’t be able to see up close whether makeup is good or not. Instead it will just come across whether they are attractive or not.  And that’s for others to judge. Also, when it comes to choosing photos that will be printed larger to be displayed in frames in your daughter’s home with her husband, I guarantee that besides one or two photos with family or bridesmaids/groomsmen the prints that she will choose will be her favorites of just her and her husband.  You may end up choosing a few photos to display in your home as well, but again you’ll choose the prints that have you and your daughter looking best because let’s be honest-that’s what’s most important to you. As for all the photos that end up in the album, you and your daughter will look at it often once it’s completed, but after friends have seen it when they happen to be at the house, the excitement will die down and then it will be brought out just once in a while. Again, it’s the photos that are hung on the walls or in frames on display that will be seen and those will likely be just bride and groom.

So I hope that helps diminish some of the wedding stress.

Next is the phone call or face to face with the in-law members you’d like to get H & M done.  The best way to approach these women is to join them in on the excitement of the wedding preparations.  Example:  “Hi Jane, we’re so excited about Mary’s upcoming wedding so she and I wanted to join you and your mom in on the beauty of that day. She and the bridesmaids are getting their H & M done and we were able to get a great deal on all of us getting similar treatment. I don’t know about you, but I’m no pro with a makeup brush so when they offered a deal to help us look good in the photos I thought it was a great idea. And I know Mary wants us all to join in on the glamour part of the day. The H & M team quoted me a price of $$ per person. I wish I could pay for all of us and I know that H & M can be pricey, but we’d love for you to be with us when we’re all getting ready. A true girl, ok some of older broads, bonding experience. I’ll bring the champagne and we can sip the bubbly while we get ready.

Donna, while you want everyone to look fabulous, this invite you offer to the in-law ladies should focus on the bonding time while prepping and the glamour that we all don’t get a chance to partake in regularly.  If they say yes, you must include them in the group experience or else you face backlash of the having them feel like the ugly stepsister.

So what happens if they balk at the price? You’re next step is with grace and tact to let them know you’d like to pay half the price to have them be a part of it. (And that means more money out of your pocket.) You can’t pressure them to pay or get H & M done if they don’t want to do it. And nobody wants an uncomfortable wedding day. And while you may not care what they say behind your back it will be tense if you pressure them.  So if they say no, then with a smile say, “We’ll miss you and your mom behind the scenes, but look forward to us all looking fabulous for the photos.” I’m sure they’ll get the hint and hopefully take a little more time getting ready for Mary’s wedding.

February 3rd, 2011 by Ali

Can My Bridesmaid Wear Her Dress Before the Wedding?

Q. I am getting married in six months and I have picked out a nice dress that my bridesmaids will be able to get plenty of wear out of. The problem is, one of my girls likes it so much she wants to go ahead and wear it to an event next month. I will not be able to attend, but she, her husband, and my fiance will be going. Is it tacky for me to ask her not to wear the dress until after she has worn it in my wedding? I picked this dress specifically because I thought it was classy and could be worn again, but not before the wedding! Am I being ridiculous?
-To Wait or Not To Wait

Alison: Call your girlfriend and request that she hold off on wearing the dress until your wedding day. Not only does it seem to pull away some of the initial glory from your special day, but what if the unforeseen mishap occurs like spilled wine, food stains or a ripped seam? Tell her that, while you understand the expense involved in buying the dress and your purpose was to make sure that the dress has an afterlife, you’d like it to occur after the wedding and to please respect your wishes.

June 18th, 2010 by Ali

Bridesmaid Gifts That Bring Smiles

Q. I’m getting married on July 1st and uncertain what to give my four bridesmaids as gifts. I’d like to stick to a budget of $100 for each friend. Help, I don’t want to disappoint them.
-Giddy about Getting Married

Alison: Don’t over think your gift giving. Remember that this is your wedding and a focused, prepared gift can be easily achieved and loved by all your friends without blowing your budget. Also, don’t assume the gift has to be a part of or worn on the wedding day.

Since your wedding is in July, I have two suggestions: one that focuses on summer fun and one that is truly indicative of their styles.

1-Purchase canvas tote bags like the much loved ones from Lands’ End and have them monogrammed for each of your bridesmaids. Then fill each with a big over sized beach towel , a cute photo album (include a special photo of you and your friend on the first page), flip flops and an inexpensive sunless tanner . All together these items should total about $100 spent for each girl.

2-Give a piece of jewelry that will be treasured and fits each girl’s style. Choose a pretty necklace, a beaded bracelet or dangly earrings that will dazzle with many outfits in your friend’s wardrobe. When buying jewelry for about $100 or less for each bridesmaid, don’t fret if one item is $99 and another is $60. The point is that you’re giving a gift that you believe they’ll enjoy.

May 28th, 2010 by Ali

What Should Men Wear To A Beach Wedding?

Q. What should my 26 year old son wear to a beach wedding in San Diego?

-Beach Boy

Alison– Beach weddings are generally a more casual, colorful affair and men should avoid dark colors. Best looks are khaki, cream or tan lightweight dress pants or linen pants worn with a colorful button down shirt. He can wear a full light colored lightweight suit or linen sport coat with a colorful shirt and tie (or no tie), but he may be hot at the beach. And consider wearing nice leather thong sandals to maneuver through the sand. If the reception heads indoors, then have a pair of dress shoes to change into.

May 20th, 2010 by Ali

Bridal fashion sizing

Q. I am going to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding this fall. She is letting us choose the style of the dress but she chose the color. Cool, I thought. The problem is that my size is not my size. Ok, I wear a 6 or 8 in all my pants, jeans, suits and dresses whether it’s Joe’s Jeans, Moschino, Gap, BCBG, or Cynthia Vincent, etc. BUT the dress people at David’s Bridal told me my size is a 14! I’m flipping out. I could never fit into a 14. I’m 137 pounds. So tell me, what is with these gown companies?
-Schizophrenic Sizing

Alison: Ouch! You’re not the first to have that “sticker shock” when reading the size label on the dresses or have the bridal salesperson looking at your body and suddenly claim a size horrifically larger than you’ve ever seen grace your curves. It seems cruel. BUT, don’t get hung up on the size of your dress. Do you think you’re going to get a shake down at the wedding and someone’s going to scream out the size on the label? Most bridal designers offer their dresses in larger sizes with the assumption that the dresses for both bride and bridesmaid will be tailored to specifically fit her body shape, whether it be to hold and support larger breasts and a slim waist or fit a girl with a small bust, but with curvy hips and thighs. So stop flipping out and know that you won’t get the pat down and be forced to divulge the size to your friends and, perhaps, beau.

May 20th, 2010 by Ali

Bare Legs For A Dressy Affair?

Q. I’m attending an evening wedding in May, I have been a “Mom” for the past 5 1/2 years so I have been out of the fashion world and have not been to many events. The dress is black with an ivory modern spiral scribble print, scooped neckline and tank straps, pleated bodice, inset waist panel and full, softly pleated skirt. My shoes are an open-toe pump in black patent leather.

In my day…I’m 40 years old…sheer black pantyhose would be worn with a black cocktail dress. I’ve noticed in catalogs and online shopping sites it looks like no pantyhose is in. So my question is should I wear pantyhose with my dress, and if yes what color?
-In My Day

Alison: Long question with a short answer: go bare legged. You’re only 40 and that’s not old! Feel free to use “in my day” when you hit 75.

May 18th, 2010 by Ali

Bridesmaid Dresses Decoded-A Must Read For Brides-To-Be

Q. I am getting married in November (Australia) so it will be coming into summer there. I have 3 bridesmaids and want them to look and feel beautiful on the day, but I am unsure what style dress I can get to suit all of them. Bridesmaid #1 is 5’2, medium-large bust, curvy, with a defined waist and a big bum. Bridesmaid #2 is 5’2, small busted, slim athletic build with a bit of a bum. And my 3rd bridesmaid is average height (5′ 7), large busted, defined waist and a big bum. They all have nice shapely calves and I was wondering if a tea length dress would suit them, or would it cut them off? Am I better off with a full-length dress for them? I am in a full-length gown, which is quite formal and elegant. Will tea length dresses clash with me?
-Bridesmaid Dress Dilemma

Alison: I hope to help you and other brides-to-be with dress shopping, as well as help the girls you choose to be in your bridal party. I can’t make this clear enough to brides-to-be: your bridesmaids don’t have to wear the same exact dress to look good on your wedding day. Choosing the same color, fabric and length with just slight variations in the dress style can be the right combination to make everyone happy and allow them to look their best.

For busty girls, look for halter styles or wider straps to hold up and cover a bra better. For “big bum” girls, look for the skirt portion of the dress to be an A-line cut which will help define the waist and hide the bum and thighs. Cocktail or tea length gives girls the best chance of possibly wearing the dress again and makes it easier to hit the dance floor.

Other tips:

• Please, no shades of color (each girl wearing a different color dress-I’ve never seen it work).

• If you choose a black cocktail length dress that is simple and chic, your bridesmaids will have a better chance of wearing it again rather than tossing it in the “I can’t believe she made me wear this” donation pile.

• Choose a dress style that works best for most body shapes. Don’t make a curvy girl wear a column style. A-line dress styles are most flattering. Empire dresses are sweet on slender or proportioned girls, but can make petite girls look too young and other girls look pregnant.

• No dyeable shoes. Consider giving a shoe color choice to your bridesmaids and let them buy their own. Some girls can’t wear a really high heel while others wouldn’t attend a party without them. They may already have that color in their wardrobe and it will lessen the burden on their bank account.

• You can make suggestions of jewelry, but unless you’re giving the girls a gift of jewelry to wear with their dresses, don’t expect them to buy accessories as well. If you do give your bridesmaids gifts, please try to mix it up by choosing various colors or slightly different gifts so they all don’t feel or look like clones.

• Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune on the dress. Every girl doesn’t have a bundle to pay for a dress, heels, gifts galore, bridal shower, bachelorette party and perhaps travel costs. Be kind to their cash flow.

• Don’t ask every girl you think is your good friend to be a bridesmaid. Many hope to just come to your wedding and have a good time in their own dress choice without additional responsibilities.

May 5th, 2010 by Ali

Creative Informal Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Q. I am getting married in North Carolina in early October of this year. I am having a formal wedding and I wanted to know what ideas you can share with me for the informal rehearsal dinner the night before?

-Informal for Formal

Alison: Instead of having the typical dinner at a restaurant, which seems the norm these days, why not go for the fun factor and have a “clambake” in someone’s backyard? You can usually order the clambake “buckets” at gourmet food shops. Grill up corn on the grill and offer beer and wine chilled on ice in big buckets. Fill a backyard with oversized beach blankets, we love the ones at and pile pillows for comfort. Put together a play list of music on your iPod of beach music from old Beach Boys and the Go-Gos to newer tunes. Perhaps even set up a volleyball net and croquet.

Or, skip dinner and have your rehearsal guests join you for afternoon tea. While they serve little sandwiches, no one ever seems to go hungry with the sandwiches, cakes, sweets and more that they pile on those multiple tiered serving dishes. And you can choose hot teas or iced tea.

For another casual, fun party, you could create your own mini Olympics by creating teams, having each guest wear a colored sash for their team and come up with games including baton races, sack races, hula hoop timing, count basketball shots in a minute and have chocolate medallions as prizes to signify gold, silver and bronze.

As a party favor you could offer a retro candy table, check out , and guests can fill up Chinese takeout containers that can be found at party stores with their favorite sweets.

Or, have a wine and cheese tasting party. Contact a good local wine shop or speak to a sommelier at one of your favorite restaurants to set up wine and cheese pairings. You can set up the get together at a happy hour time rather than the usual dinner hours. Have the wine merchant or sommelier guide people through the tastings and have all the accoutrements available like good baguettes, nuts, dried fruits and fruit pastes to work with the cheese.

May 3rd, 2010 by Ali

Ranch Wedding Dress Code on Invites

Q. Thanks for this great site! We are hosting a wedding at our ranch this summer. Although it will be an elegant catered event, it is still on a ranch. We are planning to mow a wonderful path to the ceremony site at the top of a pasture. Seating will be on hay bales. I am concerned that people might not dress appropriately for the walk to the ceremony site or to sit on hay. What wording could you suggest for an invitation that would alert the guests? The wedding couple does not seem to think this will be a problem, but will take advice.
-Ranch Hands

Alison: Best laid plans can sometimes go awry when suddenly a guest sinks their Jimmy Choos into the dirt or a piece of hay gets stuck in a sheer bit of dress fabric. Always better to prepare guests ahead of time rather than surprise them. My suggestion is to add something about the ranch wedding with hay bales and outdoor grounds on the invitation itself. A good spot would be on the directions to the ranch included with the invite. A simple line can be added that while the wedding will be “black tie” or “festive”, guests will enjoy an authentic ranch environment with seating on hay bales for the ceremony. I would suggest that the hay bales have blankets or thin cushion coverings – unless the guests wear jeans (which I’m assuming is not what you have in mind), sitting directly on the hay may pose a problem for anyone wearing silk, chiffon or delicate fabrics.

If the wedding couple has set up a website, which seems to be the norm these days, they could include a description of the upcoming wedding day along with tips for guests like, “you may wish to bring along a low heeled shoe for a walk on the grounds” or “guests will enjoy a genuine ranch environment for the ceremony with seating on hay bales.” If the couple does not wish to consider these suggestions then they should certainly ask the groomsmen and bridesmaids to spread the word.

May 3rd, 2010 by Ali