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.
- A shimmering midnight blue, sleeveless number
- A sleek multi-colored tiered dress in blues, purples, whites and blacks
- A conservative black sheath for those properly formal occasions
- A shimmering black number with a big fabric rosette on the upper right shoulder (very festive, color aside.)
- 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.
In other words, bathroom reading.
To me, time is worthless.
Nobody needs it.
I don’t. You don’t.
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!
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.