I’m the Mother of The Groom. Why would the color of my dress be of any consequence what so ever? The Groom is wearing a beige linen three-piece suit, no tie, and leather Panama sandals. He’s sporting a trendy five o’clock shadow and shades. The four Groomsmen and The Best Man are carbon copies. They look like they’ve stepped from the slick pages of GQ.
It’s an outdoor summer wedding in California wine country. Vineyards against the setting sun, white-canvas umbrellas shading every elegant dining table on the lawn, set amidst grape arbors and vivid perennial flower garden — it’s like the set of a movie. Except it’s not. It’s my son’s wedding day. He’s my first born, and at 27 years old, I find myself staring at him and wondering how the years managed to fast-forward so quickly to this special day.
He and his brother are strikingly handsome, standing together side by side. As Best Man, brother is nervous about his toast, and his role as “Master of Ceremony.” But the toast is heartwarming and quippy, all in one. His humor and charm are endearing, and The Groom is visibly moved. My youngest is a bridesmaid. At 21, she is beautiful in her strapless, sateen, lime-green dress. She is slender, graceful and very grown up.
My children amaze me. As I gaze at the three of them, standing under the canopy of a massive oak tree, with acreage of lush vineyards spreading out behind them, I’m weepy. Trying to slow down my breathing, taking in every single moment of this amazing day, it’s surreal that my first born is marrying today. How the hell did I get to be this old?
And who care’s about the color of my dress? The Mother of the Bride, that’s who.
She advised me weeks ago that it was a faux pas to wear black to my son’s wedding. This was based on advice she was given some years back when her oldest was married. Really? I thought. Says WHO? I’d never heard that before, but then again I’d never been “The Mother of Anybody In a Wedding” before.
So, that was the kind of tip I did not appreciate, for several reasons.
One. My best color is black. It’s been black since the year I turned 40. It’s the most flattering, in all styles, fabrics and weather.
Two. I’m not a woman who loves to shop. I’m an anomaly, I know. My husband has NO IDEA how lucky he is, because he’s never been married to anyone but me.
Three. The most recent wedding I attended was my niece’s, in Ithaca, New York, last summer. And I wore black…slacks. I was the only female guest in slacks and felt stupid, but comfortable.
Four. I’ve not worn a dress for seven years, and that one was black, elegant, sleeveless, mandarin collared, and ankle length with a slit to mid-thigh. I wore it to my other niece’s wedding. I felt classy, but not comfortable.
Five. Finding anything “Mother of the Groom”-ish that isn’t cut down to my navel, or otherwise exposing, is like a science project. Neckline is a big deal here. I’m a breast-cancer survivor with bilateral scars, and no reconstruction. And until I became Mother of the Groom, I never once worried about necklines. I never once worried about scars either. Those are preferable to anything manufactured and then positioned permanently inside my body.
I can spend a multitude of hours searching for the right dress, and waste more time than a census worker in Death Valley, and still come up empty. But, I’m not about to explain that to Mother of the Bride.
So, I hit the pavement and drive to all the malls in the county. I scope out all the shops too boutique-y for the malls. I try on dresses in yellow, tan, blue, and every color of the rainbow. I look in the mirror and see someone old trying to look young, with hems too high, fabrics too clingy and necklines too plunging. My quickly fading hair, with white streaks becoming more prominent along my temples, makes me look washed out. I’ve stopped the full highlight treatments because within a week or two, the white re-growth re-appears anyhow, and then I feel like a total fraud. Now I just go for the ‘blended look’ — somewhere between old and menopausal.