Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Hard Can it Be? (Part I. - The Search for the Perfect MOB Dress)

The next group of entries probably will seem pretty self-indulgent, and those who know me may be wondering why I obsessed so much about finding the dress that I would wear to my daughter's wedding. I still don't really know why. It is something I had looked forward to for a long time, and I think it IS important for the Bride's mom to look special on the big day. But there are so many considerations involved...formality of the wedding, coordinating with the colors, you don't want to outshine the bride, etc. etc. Basically, I just wanted to get it right.

Maybe it can best be summed up by something funny I read recently. It seems in the last decade or so, the MOB is taking more of a back seat in the wedding planning as the couples tend to want to be in control (and rightfully so), so really the main thing left for the MOB to do is find a killer dress!

After a long hunt I finally settled upon and ordered my dress. This was after 4 months of trying on 30 or so different dresses in local shops and even some stores out of town, and an online search that began soon after the engagement was announced almost 7 prior. As many people have commented, it is often easier selecting the brides' wedding gown than it is for her mother to select her dress, and that certainly was the case for us.

In one of the first bridal shops we went to looking for my daughter's wedding dress, back last summer, I remember the bridal store manager advising me not to wait too long to start looking for my dress, because it will be harder than I think to find it. But like most MOB's I suppose I was hoping to lose a few pounds before starting the hunt, and I thought to myself, "Yeah right. How hard can it be?" You choose a color, you choose a style, what’s so hard about it? After all, I live in a major metropolitan area, so there ought to be plenty of stores and dresses to choose from, right? It's not like I'm back in Kansas again, Toto. (Yes, I used to live in Kansas.)

Besides, I knew I could not really get serious about choosing the dress until after my daughter had chosen her wedding gown and the bridesmaid attire was settled on, because that would tell me the formality, color, and style I would need. I was excited to begin the shopping…but figured it could wait until these things were settled…besides there were other more pressing wedding planning tasks to take care of first.

I did start looking online fairly soon in the process, just to see what was out there on the market. This preliminary online search turned up many options that I thought would look good on me, and you could order them in a rainbow of colors. I just assumed I would be able to easily find these styles and try them on in stores or bridal shops locally. Piece of cake!

Within 2 months of becoming engaged, my D had chosen her princess ballgown, and even though we had not chosen the final design for the bridesmaids, we knew that they would be in floor length dresses, in a light blue color. We also knew this was going to be an early afternoon wedding.

So my challenge was to find an affordable, floor length dress that was special, elegant and fairly formal, but yet not over-the top with bling. I had decided on some shade of medium to dark blue, to complement the wedding color scheme of light blue and ivory. I did not want a low back, halter or strapless, preferring to have my shoulders covered somehow – either with a bolero or at least cap sleeves. And I thought chiffon would be best – lightweight, for this Central Texas wedding in May.

The problem with getting too specific in what you want is that you seldom find it… especially when there are other challenges too. I had a few things working against me:

First, I am not a tall beanpole - you know, the body type that can basically wear anything and look good; the body type that most designers make their clothes for! I am petite and curvy and short-waisted. Try finding a traditional Mother of the Bride dress in petite sizes. Almost impossible. And, I have packed on a few extra pounds in the last few years, especially in the midsection.

The second obstacle was that right now, short MOB dresses are in. There are LOTS of affordable short MOB dresses and suits available in the mainstream department stores. The long, formal gowns, however, are not so plentiful outside of the bridal shops. There are a few long dresses in the department stores and boutiques, but a lot of them have more of the prom/pageant dress feel and show a bit more skin than I would like. The ceremony will be in a Baptist church, after all! On the other hand, most of the long dresses in the Bridal Stores look quite frumpy. Or they have a lot of bling and beading on them. And the bridal stores seem to tack on an extra hundred dollars or two to their already outrageous markups just because it is long.

While researching wedding photographers, I happened upon a Mother of the Bride dress in one of the photo galleries that I thought would be absolutely perfect. A pewter (grayish/blue) chiffon with rouching at the waist, a crisscross bodice and a ¾ sleeve bolero. Just a touch of beading on the edges. The color was a bit lighter than I first imagined myself in, but it would still work with the wedding colors. It was understated and elegant, almost everything that I was looking for.

I must spent hours Googling the description of the dress, and finally found it. Of all places, it came from David's Bridal. Aha! I thought my search was over. I went to our local David's store as quick as I could to try it on.

They did have one shopworn sample (should have been my first clue) in the store in a champagne/ivory color (which was awful) and it was way too big for me. I went to the front desk to inquire whether any other stores in the area carried the style so I could try it on in my color and size. There are several David’s in the DFW metroplex, so I thought it was very do-able.

The clerk looked and looked on her computer. There were no stores in Texas or Oklahoma that had that style in stock. The closest store she found was in Wichita, Kansas. (Kansas?!! -- you've got to be kidding me.) She suggested I look online.  Struck out there, too.  Evidently the dress was being discontinued and all they had left were plus sizes.

Unfortunately, even though I resolved myself that I would not be getting that dress, it was now stuck in my mind, so then everything else I looked at, I began to compare to it. Little did I know that very dress would cross my path again in a most unusual way.

(Continued on Next Post!)

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