Who Says You Can’t Wear Black to Your Son’s Wedding?


I’m 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 gardens….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…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, 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 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.

In panic mode, with weeks ticking by, I begin to drag ‘options’ home.  Still too clingy, too revealing or too short, there are now five dresses hanging on the back of my closet door, four with their tags dangling from the designer labels.

  1. A shimmering midnight blue, sleeveless number
  2. A sleek multi-colored tiered dress in blues, purples, whites and blacks
  3. A conservative black sheath for those properly formal occasions
  4. A shimmering black number with a big fabric rosette on the upper right shoulder (very festive, color aside.)
  5. The dress I wore seven years ago, and haven’t worn since. Hey, it’s ankle length, okay?

I stare at them for several days before I eliminate the black sheath, but hang it in my closet for future options. Along with it, I bury the dress I wore seven years ago. No one likes a re-run.

Some days later I eliminate the black rosette, feeling it’s too Cuba-like, and I return it to Nordstrom.  While at the register, I catch a glimpse of something new on the dress rack…it wasn’t there just a week or so before.  Right away I know it’s a Triple S:  Stylish. Sleek. Slimming.

It’s black.  I bring it home.

I add it to the remaining two dresses hanging on the back of my closet door.

I realize I need to size up, and it has nothing to do with dresses. I call Jeannie, the miracle worker who fits women like me with prosthesis, so the world at large won’t guess that I’m not the real deal. I drag my three options with me.

Jeannie laughs when I tell her about the mission I’m on.  “I can’t wear black to my son’s wedding.  It’s a faux pas”. She’s heard that before.

Still on hangars, Jeannie immediately likes the midnight blue dress….it emphasizes my blue eyes, she says.

Once I’ve transformed to the shapelier me, I try on dresses to see if I’ve sized up enough. The world at large will now wonder when I got my implants…my profile is awesome.  First the shimmering midnight blue… but it’s cut a smidge too low, so I can’t bend over unless I want to freak out the wedding guests.  I could attach a broach, she suggests, to pin the neckline so it wouldn’t be as revealing.  What kind of a pin do you wear to your son’s wedding?  I haven’t worn a pin since I wore blazers to my corporate job, and I haven’t been in my corporate job in over 25 years.  I could wear a cami underneath, to add coverage where cleavage would normally be.  But who makes a midnight blue cami? No one.

I try on the multi-colored dress.  I feel like a sleek jigsaw puzzle.  I think of the wedding photos to come: groomsmen in beige, bridesmaids in lime, and the Mother of the Bride in….I’m not sure.  But whatever it is, I can’t quite configure a photo image with me wearing this jigsaw puzzle, trying to blend in nicely.

Finally, I try on the Triple S. Jeannie goes silent.

“Ohhhh,” she oozes.  “This actually looks fabulous on you!”

Not too short, it’s form flattering in an Audrey Hepburn kind of way, and it sets off my multi-colored hair.  “Look”, she says.  “This is your son’s wedding…a huge day.  If you look fabulous, you’ll feel fabulous”. I raise my eyebrows as I glance at her reflection in the mirror.  Done.

So, I tell myself that if my son, The Groom, is going to be wearing Panama sandals at his own wedding, then for God’s sake, I can wear black.  It’s not a bad omen….it’s a blessing. And not only that, but as I continue to think about it, The Bride is wearing white (but it’s disguised as ‘ecru’…another word for ‘not blinding’), so isn’t THAT a faux pas? She’s been living with him for five years!  And I adore her, so I don’t care what she’s wearing.

Now that I have the Mother of the Groom attire settled, barely two weeks before the big day, I wrack my brain for the Perfect Message that I want to relay to my first born on the occasion of his marriage.  I begin to page through the four large childhood memory albums that I carefully created throughout his youth, and I come across many of his school papers that I’d saved over the years.  An essay catches my eye, and I know I have my Moment.  On the night before the wedding, at Rehearsal Dinner, as the toasts begin, I step up to the microphone and read ‘Time’, which The Groom wrote at the age of twelve:

Time makes absolutely no sense at all.

What is it for?

There are clocks and watches everywhere you go.

Time is nothing but numbers on a clock…so what?

Who cares?  I don’t. You don’t.  Neither does anybody else.

 

A magazine named itself after time.

Time Magazine.

In other words, bathroom reading.

 

To me, time is worthless.

Nobody needs it.

I don’t. You don’t.

Nobody does.

 

Time just makes you late, early, or on time.

Time is used to help track jets. 

Big, fat, hairy deal.

Time annoys many people. 

It annoys me.

 

I have a time limit every time I go to a baseball card shop.

Why? Who knows?

No one.  Question answered.

 

The clock on the wall tells time.

The watches around the room tell time.

Even sundials tell time.

Even ancient Egyptians could tell time!

 

My little sister can’t tell time.

Neither could I when I was 5.

Writing is getting……hey!  Cool! 

I’ve written, edited and re-written a page about time!

I’m done.

After the roars of laughter subside, I reflect upon the true importance of Time, so that The Groom will forever understand it, as I know it to be.  I tell him that TIME is more than the seconds, minutes, and hours on a clock.  It’s more than the days, weeks and months on a calendar.  TIME is what we cherish. Time is what allows us to harvest our memories with those we love.  Without TIME, love cannot be counted in any form, in any increment.

 ♥   ♥   ♥

Black is my best color.  I’ve known it all along.  It’s what I feel is most flattering to my aging self. I don’t feel old, but I don’t want to dress young and look like I am old….too old to be wearing dresses that are too short, too tight and too trendy.

As I gaze at my beautiful family on this glorious wedding day, I feel comfortable in my own skin, knowing that I’m lucky to be in this place, at this time, creating a memory snapshot that will live forever in my mind.

And who care’s if I’m wearing black at my son’s wedding?  I don’t.  You don’t.  Nobody does.  And, if the Mother of the Bride does, well…big, fat, hairy deal.

20 thoughts on “Who Says You Can’t Wear Black to Your Son’s Wedding?

  1. I absolutely loved this, thank you. I am leaving in 2 weeks for my son’s wedding in 3 weeks in London. I have no dress yet, I’m nearly in tears and in a panic. I wanted to wear black, bride says fine, her mom wearing gray so perfect – but I don’t know her dress and don’t want to upstage her – do I wear plain, fancy, long, short – it’s black tie but it’s 2pm. oy vey, I’ve ordered online disastrously online and gotten stuck with return restock fees? What the? I’ve repeatedly brought dresses home, returned them. I’m so exhausted from shopping and trying on, it’s insane driving everywhere and feeling defeated. I appreciated your article and I’ll pick myself up and get back out there, wish me luck…….

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Dear Sherri,
      Oh my goodness! Sounds like you’re going through the exact same dilemma that I had. It’s crazy, and all I can say is: I hope you find a dress that YOU feel comfortable in. Because when all is said and done, you’ll want to remember the wedding day as a happy day of celebration, not as a fashion disaster because you were wearing something that you weren’t happy about. Best of luck and I hope you’ll let me know how it turned out! AND, thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment. It’s made my day! Sending all good wishes to you.

      Like

    • My son is getting married in November. My gown is black, and no one has an issue with it.

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      • Life and Other Turbulence

        Wendy,
        Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Glad no one has given you a hard time on the color of your gown, and I bet you’ll look wonderful. Congratulations and enjoy that special day!

        Like

  2. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I just typed “dress wedding fat mother of groom” into google and found my way to your blog. Black is also my best colour since I have passed the age of 45 – I’m short, on the verge of menopause, have gained weight that won’t shift no matter what I do, and feel like a blob. I can’t tolerate high heels for more than 5 minutes. My son is getting married in February and I have been panicking about what to wear for several months, hoping that I will lose enough weight in time to buy something bright and spectacular. My future daughter-in-law seems to think I should wear something green, long and sleeveless – I am beginning to think I should wear jeans and a t-shirt or my pyjamas. My mother and grandmother will both be at the wedding – my husband tells me to avoid wearing anything that resembles what they would wear! Why do all the online dress shops that advertise mother of the bride/groom dresses use 30 year old, tall, thin models to display their stock? After weeks of searching online, I am on the verge of tears every day. Finally I come across your blog, and realise that it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we enjoy the day, and that I am comfortable. I am going to stop panicking, wait until I return to Australia in a few weeks, and then go shopping. I’ll probably end up with black, and now I won’t care.

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Dear Juliane,
      I am so appreciative of your feedback and want to thank you for taking the time to read my essay. I know EXACTLY how you’ve been feeling, and having been there/done that, I can tell you that it isn’t about WHAT you’re wearing, it’s about how you FEEL in what you’re wearing. The memories you’ll take away from your son’s wedding shouldn’t include the discomfort of what you were wearing that day, no matter what anyone else has to say. Life is just too short..so, I say: enjoy the special moments and don’t lose one more minute of sleep over it!

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      • I’m so happy I came across this. My son is getting married in 1 week and I just found my black dress tonight. I came home and googled “is it OK to wear black to my son’s wedding” and your blog popped up. Thank you for writing this!! I feel so much better after reading this. Endless searching for a dress and depression over what to wear and what not to wear. Life is too short for any of this nonsense.

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      • Life and Other Turbulence

        Thank you so much for your message tonight, I appreciate the feedback! And I’m so glad you found a great dress and can now just enjoy the wonderful occasion of your son’s wedding. Congratulations!

        Like

  3. Excellent account!
    At our daughter’s wedding, groom’s mother AND bride’s mother, as well as maid of honor, all wore black dresses with white corsages. The groom and best man are both police officers who chose to wear black slacks, white shirts and wonderful silk ties with black and pinkish blue stripes (that matched the bride’s bouquet of hydrangeas). It was simple and beautiful.

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thanks for taking the time to read this one….it by far gets the most ‘hits’ of anything I’ve ever posted. I think (hope!) wearing black as the mother of the groom/bride is becoming more and more acceptable these days. Thanks for the affirmation! I’ve really enjoyed getting acquainted with your blog, Marylin, and look forward to each new post!

      Like

  4. Juliane Samara

    Back in Australia and last weekend I hit the shops in a blind panic hoping for a miracle in the post Christmas sales. I think I tried on about 20 different dresses. Many were over $500.Most were either too frumpy or too fitted or too tizzy with lace and added flowers. None of them were me. In despair I went to a small boutique in a quiet suburban shopping mall. There I tried on several more dresses. One of them was absolutely NOT what I would have chosen, but the saleswoman convinced me to try it on. It was by designer Sacha Drake who has the amazing ability to design clothes to fit any figure. I have had one of her dresses before when I was much slimmer. The dress has a black bodice, sleeves that can be worn in two or three different ways, a waist that can be worn high or low, tied at the front, side or back, and a brightly colored abstract patterned skirt in greens, purples,need and black. It fit like a glove, made me feel taller and slimmer, and most importantly is light and easy to wear. After deliberating for 24 hours, it is now hanging in my wardrobe with a new pair of strappy black evening sand less ready for the big day on February 15th. I don’t think I would have even tried it on if I hadn’t read your blog!

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Dear Juliane,
      Thank you so much for your wonderful message. Oh my goodness…it truly has made my day! I am so happy for you, and your dress sounds PERFECT! Sending all good wishes for a joyful and very special day on February 15, as well as a wonderful new year!

      Like

  5. Vicki McCormick

    I too feel better after reading your post. I’ve started the hunt for the dress to wear to my son’s wedding I’ve tried on and looked at so many dresses -ordered and sent back -I didn’t feel good or myself in any of them- this 63 year old body just doesn’t seem to adhere to any of the dress sizing- too tight or too frumpy or too short. Or poorly made for the exsorbent price tag. In the back of my closet is a dress that is at least 13 years old that I bought because I loved it and still in pristine condition as I only wore it a few times. It is black lace with lavender flowers – when ever I wore it before I always felt good. I tried it on – it still fits even though it is a smaller size than what now fits me in the stores — which confirms my suspicions about the clothing industry changing the sizing. I have decided to have the dress shortened, buy some cute black sandals, paint my toe nails and wear my black and lavender dress to my son’s wedding – I don’t care what anyone else thinks, whether they consider it out of style or not. I am there to enjoy the day and those moments of precious time!

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Dear Vicki,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and leave me your comment! I’m delighted that you’ve already got the perfect dress, one that you know you’ll be comfortable in and most certainly one that looks gorgeous on you! Best wishes for a memorable and wonderful day…and congratulations!

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  6. Kelly Davidian

    When I got married, I told my bridesmaids that I didn’t have an attachment to what they wore, that I wanted them to feel beautiful. One of my bridesmaids was a very organized and caring person who found a dress at a chain store that was a simple sheath that would match the colors of my flowers, cranberry. The other two went to the local store where they lived and tried them on. My maid of honor called me in tears because she had also had breast surgery and even though she bought the dress, she was dreading wearing it. I reminded her about what I had told her and reassured her that I really, really, really meant it. She found a beautiful, flowing dress in Cranberry that was perfect on her and made her feel beautiful….I understand wanting to have a beautiful wedding, but as you say, I think that when people feel good inside, they look happy and shine with beauty on the outside too! I’m glad you wore black!!!

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Me too! I never gave it a thought that entire day,.I simply enjoyed every moment. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment too. Much appreciated, Kelly!

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  7. What a great post! I laughed through a lot of it, then cried at the end. Beautiful. I lucked out at my daughter’s (80-some) wedding. She urged all women to wear black dresses, all men to wear black or gray suits with pink ties. And she handed out a small bouquet of pink flowers to each woman who attended the wedding. I shopped with her before the wedding and she picked out for me a shiny knee-length, low(ish) neck sleeveless black dress with billowy skirt and a black sheer cape for when it turned cool. It was so much fun! 🙂 I know you looked fabulous – it’s time we wore what was right for US, not others. xo

    Like

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Oh I love that idea of handing out a small bouquet of flowers to all the women! Black is just elegant..no matter the occasion, so I am delighted to hear from others who’ve also worn black to weddings without apology! So glad you enjoyed this post…thanks for taking the time to comment! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Vicki McCormick

    Life is too short to be hung up on what we wear. The day is all about the love and joy we witness and share. I wore black with a touch of purple to my son’s Oct wedding and I and everyone else enjoyed ourselves immensely! And even though it rained that day – after the ceremony there was a gorgeous rainbow which the photographer captured rising above the bride and groom– a sign from above that the union was truly blessed!

    Like

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      So happy Vicki that you did in fact wear that dress! I remember reading your comment from one year ago and thinking that the dress sounded just wonderful. I’m so delighted you took the time to follow up here again, and it sounds to me like that wedding day was truly a memory captured forever! Sending all good wishes to you and yours.

      Like

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