The MOB Scene

Having gotten engaged recently, I am starting to take a more than passing interest in weddings, and I am getting quite an education.  For a few years in my late twenties and early thirties my calendar was completely full of wedding-related activities for my friends so I am by no means new to this, but things have definitely changed! There are complete websites and countless blogs dedicated to weddings and special concerns – maternity bridal gowns, dual-culture ceremonies, etc…  

Some of the changes and current trends aren’t all for the better, though.  Now admittedly, I am much older than the average first time bride so my point of view is decidedly different than a fresh-faced twenty-something girl; indeed I am now closer to the age my parents were when my sister and girlfriends got married.  But the wedding fashions have left me a bit flummoxed.  First of all, nearly every wedding gown is strapless.  As are bridesmaid dresses.  When did everyone start showing so much skin?  And presumably much of it will be shown in church? Really?!  But the biggest surprise of all is that mother-of-the-bride (MOB for the wedding cognoscenti) ensembles have gotten, well, a whole lot more sexy than I recall.  

This first caught my notice as I perused the wedding sections of my favorite sites (ah, the mighty “N’s” – Neiman’s, Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter).  I saw a more than generous sprinkling of very low cut necklines, very short skirts, body hugging numbers and quite a few strapless looks.  Wow!  While some of these outfits are gorgeous, I somehow can’t quite imagine a MOB of my acquaintance wearing ANY of those looks.  At least not to a wedding…Las Vegas, maybe…but definitely not a wedding…in a church…with family, children and clergy present… 

I can’t help but envision the gaping stares of an elderly pastor as he tries not to look down a plunging neckline or the embarrassed snickers of the groomsmen at the prominently displayed physical attributes of a woman the same age as *their* mothers.  Imagine the distasteful conjecture in some peoples’ minds about why a woman would wear something like that – insecurities, competition, midlife crisis?  All in all it would be, as my fiancé’s daughter would say, awkward.   

Now I am all for feeling and looking fabulous and even sexy at any age.  MOB’s certainly don’t need to be Queen Mum frumpy, but tasteful is always good and there is a level of appropriateness that should be in play.  I am pretty certain wearing something super revealing at your own child’s wedding pretty much crosses that line.  To me that seems about as creepy as those toddler pageants where the little girls look like television stars from the eighties.   

To be sure I hadn’t just forgotten, I looked at all of my friends’ wedding pics and checked back with my girl buddies on what *their* mothers wore to their weddings.  Here is what I found:

  •  Several jacket and dress suits – day and evening versions with knee and floor length skirts  – very Jackie-O, timeless and chic
  • A floaty pastel floral printed sleeveless dress with a matching chiffon jacket – pretty and tasteful
  • Several below the knee dresses in solids or prints that coordinated with the brides’ color schemes  – classic
  • A pink silky dress with lace overlay and long lace sleeves – sweet and traditional
  • A long silver sleeveless sheath dress with matching bolero – glamorous, but not overly racy
  • A St John knit suit with a long skirt, in navy and navy shot through with silver thread – absolutely stunning and my personal favorite
  • Lots and lots of pearls – necklaces, earrings and even bracelets – classic

No, my memory hadn’t failed me.  Even with all the varying moms’ ages, brides’ wedding styles and budgets, as well as the trends of the different times, there were no unfortunate surprises.  No strapless gowns.  No mini dresses.  And not a single plunging neckline.  Every mom looked lovely and special.  Every outfit was age and occasion appropriate.  There are no regrettable ensembles dotting my girlfriends’ wedding pictures leaving “what was your mother wearing?!” questions to be asked for years to come. 

Thankfully our parents are well into elderly now, so there will be no hoochy mamma concerns at my own wedding.  Still, I can’t help but wonder and feel bad for those young brides out there as their mothers eye the options and try on those revealing outfits that no amount of bolero or wrap are going to mitigate.  Who wants their mom to look like one of the Housewives of Wherever at their own wedding?!   

Fortunately there are still many great options out there.  In fact our moms’ classics are all still good choices.   All of them are pretty, complimentary and special enough for a daughter or son’s wedding.  With the recent Royal Wedding sleeves are even making a comeback – hurrah for Kate! 

PS – Here is a special thanks to the girl-buddies – they shared not only what their moms wore, but some truly sweet and special memories, too.   As always women, you are simply the best.  And I will keep that in mind before I decide to make you all forty-something bridesmaids in turquoise satin strapless mini dresses.

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