Mother of the Bride: Don’t Stand Out
By Jacey Eckhart
DON’T STAND OUT. If you are going to be the mother of the bride or the mother of the groom this year, be prepared to hear the same message I did: Don’t stand out, sweetie.
Rest assured, I don’t think you are hoping to wear a long white dress to match your daughter so you can be a living Dorian Gray and drive everyone at the reception to drink themselves under the table. I trust you not to wear a two-piece, spangled, banana-colored jumpsuit to upstage your daughter-in-law in all your stretch-marked glory. I don’t think you want to be the center of attention (even though you are still such a hottie).
I’m betting you are like me and you want to look, well, happy. And maybe 10 pounds thinner.
I was surprised to find out that “happy” is not a word that goes with mother of the bride or groom. Instead, the world thinks we ought to be elegant. Stately. Grand.
Which is why we should not let the world be the Boss of Us anymore.
The world thinks shopping for a MOB or MOG dress is the perfect opportunity to tell women of a certain age to step aside. To hold back. To be prepared to find their AARP card in the mail and get downsized at work. Have a kid old enough to get married and you are old, mom. You are 50 and now you are officially old. You might be able to do a headstand in your yoga class. You might even be able to do the splits, given enough time (and wine). Now is the time to turn down the volume, shut off the energy, and turn into a woman encrusted in lace, enshrouded by pewter or black or navy peau de soie. This is how society does its work.
My mom knows what I mean. “The old rule for mothers of the groom was, ‘Shut up and wear beige,’” she said with a twitch in her eye. My mom is going to be 80 this year. She can rock peau de soie. She can wear beige.
I don’t want to wear peau de soie anything yet. I cannot wear beige or taupe or sand. I put on a neutral-colored dress and I end up looking like a very large, very lumpy, very moist oatmeal cookie with two big brown raisins for eyes. I cannot wear black because even though it achieves the ten pounds thinner goal, it drains my face until I look like I lost the ten pounds by gaining a tapeworm.
Both of my grandmothers lived into their 90s. If I promise to wear beige when I am the grandmother of the groom, can I please wear something cheery now?
My daughter thought I was being silly. “You aren’t wearing black to my wedding. We will go shopping. We will find something happy.”
But she had not been out there in the world where they look at me and see an end to the story. An ending that is supposed to go on for the next 40 years.
Luckily, the world did not count on my daughter. She dragged me into a changing room with dresses in every color. Red and orange and peacock blue. Dragon green. A purple jumpsuit so bad that we laughed until we cried and the saleslady wondered if we needed a drink of water.
Finally, we picked out a navy-blue gown with a fluffy skirt littered with huge pink flowers. It did not make me look ten pounds thinner. It made me look happy. It made me look like I wanted to dance. It made me look like my child’s wedding marked the moment where all the work of family made sense and the happiest part of my life was just beginning. Because it is.