Thursday, July 21, 2011

MOTB Dress -- Worth Waiting For?

Glancing at my stats for search words today, I was amused and a bit guilty to see that one or two folks are coming here looking for something about "Mother of the Bride dress." Those searchers would do much better to trot over to East Side Bride where Lisa from Amid Privilege is guest-posting on precisely this topic.
After all, it's almost a month after the wedding, yet I haven't yet delivered the promised MotherOfTheBride post. Feast your eyes on these photos and you will see why. Not flattering, are they? Not flattering at all, but they are the only photos with me in them of almost a hundred digital shots taken with my camera. I have high hopes that the professional photographer has a few decent ones, but I wonder if he will be as shoe-focussed as you, my readers.
Here's the thing, you see. Nobody so much cares, when they're aiming a camera around at a wedding, about the MOTB's outfit. They're aiming it at the bride or at the cute little girl in the coral dress or that gorgeous young blonde woman or even the splendid aura of white hair around the richly-wrinkled visage of the bride and groom's grandparents.
And, you know, just as well, because until I looked at these photos, I felt fabulous in this comfortable, beautifully-cut, well-made, expressive MaxMara dress. I'd thrown it on after a busy morning -- had walked down to have breakfast with my daughter, the bride, and her two good friends whom I've known almost 20 years. Walked home and had a nap in anticipation of a long evening ahead. Then pinned my hair up, wetted it down (to reactivate the frizz-controlling product), threw on the dress, the long-planned accessories, fixed makeup, and headed out. At the club, my focus was on taking photos of bride and sisters and friends as they got dressed -- and I helped Nola move from post-nap reserve into wedding readiness.

Not 'til I looked in a bathroom mirror hours later did I realize that I'd never picked the volume back into my hair after the wetting-down. Nor remember that I hadn't threaded bra straps through those cunning little loops expressly provided for that purpose in the dress's shoulders.
So I'm here to admit that when I first looked over the photos and realized that -- while Paul had thoughtfully grabbed the camera to make sure my presence was recorded on this important day -- all the pictures of me made me wish I'd taken much more care, and many made me wish he'd done the same in clicking the shutter.

I'll even admit I started to wallow a bit in some of that self-loathing we can do (Oh, you don't? Lucky!), my emotions perhaps already fragile the day after the wedding, the lost sleep possibly contributing to a bout of weepiness.
But even as Paul was protesting that he'd taken these shots to capture a tenderness he saw between Nana and Nola, even as he was arguing that my outfit looked great, I was already moving to the perspective that works for me: The day wasn't about me. Yes, perhaps I should have taken more care with the polish, but I had a lovely time, and my daughter looked luminous, marvelously happy. Her family and friends were gorgeous and relaxed and celebratory all at once. And my dress, wrinkled from cuddling Nola throughout the ceremony, was perfect for moving easily with a little girl in my arms, for bending over to talk to her, for dancing exuberantly. Besides, look how superbly it blends with coral (the magenta and coral was a pairing accidentally repeated among the guests, almost a theme). . .
That's my mom, above and below. She was much more careful in her preparations and looks quite lovely, I think, for 80 -- she was wearing a beautifully knife-pleated below-the-knee silk skirt (from Aritzia) -- and she swirled it a bit when we talked her onto the dance floor for a few minutes.

So you still haven't seen my MOTB dress, accessorized, and unless that pro photographer comes through, you may not. At least, not until I put the whole outfit together again for some other fun event, perhaps the opera, perhaps dinner out with friends. Because I agree with Lisa that one ought to be able to choose a dress that's both suitable for such an occasion, yet that's not limited to it. In fact, as I hope you can detect, I'm generally using the MOTB label with my tongue firmly in my cheek.

Still, with two more possibilities for such occasions, I may have learned a lesson or two here for better photo-readiness next time round. But really, if I'm to judge by the overall quality of the day, I wouldn't change a thing.


  1. That color is fabulous on you! It's a gorgeous, elegant-but-not-stuffy piece that I'm sure you'll find excuses to wear for years to come.

    Nola is so precious! And yes, the fuchsia and coral complement each other brilliantly.

  2. What a fabulous color and it looks like a wonderful time, with all the family there.

    But I sure empathize with the sensation of feeling good until seeing the pix!

  3. It's completely obvs that the dress is great - super cut, super colour. (And one that you'll actually wear chicly again and again). I loathe it when the photos capture neither my feelings nor the way I actually look. And I know that the professional photog is going to come through splendidly.

  4. I think the problem is that we are so used to seeing clothes photographed statically - even when there is supposed to be 'movement' in a picture, it's not real. So we want to be seen standing just right, with the outfit perfectly ironed, the hair exactly as it should be. Fortunately (I think!) life is not like that - you look vibrant and happy and it was a wonderful day for all concerned, and I think the photos capture that.

  5. First: I hate it when people tell me that I look good when I think that it is so completely obvious that I do not - having said that, I was so happy with how you looked at my wedding! I love having such a beautiful, stylish, vibrant mother - I really do think you rocked that dress!
    Second: PHOTO SHOOT!!!! mom, tomorrow we will take a break from studying and get dressed up and take photos. You were so excited to wear that dress,and not as pleased with the outcome at the time....DO OVER!
    You know how much I love to play dress up AND photographer! What do you say? (I get to do your hair btw)
    we could go to the pub after to show off our styles :) fun fun fun

  6. I've looked forward to this post because I have a similar role to play in a wedding soon. I like your dress and that it allows for the freedom of movement you needed not just to be the mother of the bride but grandmother and daughter as well. My daughter's wedding is far more funky than elegant...I've even been thinking a bright red crinoline might be in order for me! Yikes!

  7. The dress is *beautiful* and it performed in real time! Am sure if your hair had looked seriously amiss one of your daughters (or son?) would have intervened. And you're right, a child's wedding day is not wholly about you, it's a family experience. You were wholly involved, looking chic in a marvelous dress, basking in, and returning, love.

    Thank you for the Nola photo, she looks so self-possessed amid all the bustle.

  8. Wonderful outfit - and yes it definitely deserves better shots.

  9. Sue: I do love the dress and anticipate wearing it often. Just wish I'd got a better overall look, photographed, in it.
    Wendy: Thanks, it was a lovely day! And yes, that feeling. Funny how the photographic evidence can trump the experienced reality -- I'm working on that . . .
    Kristin: Perfect thing to say. Thanks. You have much experience with dresses and construction, etc., and I value this opinion.
    Tiffany: You're right. And that's partly why I went ahead and posted the photo. Life is NOT a photoshoot. I was busy living it that day, and that's okay. (altho' still hoping the pro caught me posing)

  10. Meg: Love you, kiddo. And looking forward to playing dress-up.
    Terri: Oh, I love it! The red crinoline would clearly push the funkiness envelope and help set a tone for a truly fun celebration.
    Duchesse: You've reaffirmed exactly the spirit I'm trying to reach/maintain. And I did think of you when I posted the Nola photo. She's not long up from her nap here (clutching Maa), watching the bride get made up before the games began.
    Lesley: Thanks, and I'm hoping I'll get those.

  11. Maybe the photos don't show off the dress - or you in it - to full advantage, but they show that the color is very flattering and pretty on you and the dress looks elegant. I love the first picture of you and your granddaughter: you look glowing and happy, and she looks so pleased that you are there.

  12. Mater, life is for living, not standing like a sad twonk posing for the cameras. I agree with Pater the images are richer for the interaction with Nola. Yet I feel your pain, that sharp stab of ‘would that I had posed and smiled and twisted and shifted my body for one image that matched the memory of the image I saw reflected this morning’. Life sucks and yet you are a million times richer for living it rather than posing in it!

  13. Sorry - I like the first photo too, but it was the third photo where I noticed your grandbaby's happy look.

  14. I think that you are much too critical on your self here mater. You look very lovely, and I think appropriate for the occasion. I see you as a young vibrant MOTB not a dowdy frump by any stretch of the imagination.
    I also think that living a genuine life is what it's all about.

    I had an hour to get ready when we had my son's garden wedding...too many jobs and it took so much longer to accomplish than we had time.

    Nola looks adorable too...what a charmer she is!

  15. I think you look great in that dress, what a wonderful colour to wear for a celebration. Your mother looks fabulous too, and of course Nola is adorable.

    Some people seem to be naturally photogenic, such as the late Princess Diana. Others not so much. I'm in the second catagory which makes me even more uncomfortable around cameras. You were right to enjoy the day and not worry about photo opportunities!

  16. Murphy: Thanks! That's exactly what the well-meaning photographer was focussed on.
    Alison: Exactly. Or "would that someone with Alison's camera skills captured me exactly as I was in that mirror" . . . ;-)
    Hostess: I wish I'd taken an hour . . . but seriously, thanks for the kind words. We do tend to be hard on ourselves, don't we?!
    Northmoon: I really do love the dress. Like you, though, I'm not naturally photogenic. Nola's making up for me -- she seems to do very well in front of the camera.

  17. Well, I can certainly relate to the feeling of disappointment in photos that don't come out well, but based on your daughter's comment, it sounds like you looked wonderful and vibrant and the dress is obviously awesome!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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