I learned several things about dressing for a special occasion, and though I don't anticipate being mother of the groom again any time soon, this post might help you make choices for any event when you're "on" from day though evening.
|The family with bride and groom|
1. It's all about the shoes!
The shoes in the photo above are not the shoes I wore to the ceremony, even though the original sandal, soft calfskin with a modest heel height, had been chosen for wearability over double-digit hours. Epic fail!
|Florence Koojiman sandals|
I did wear the pink sandals (the maker calls them prune) around the house for an hour here and there to reacquaint myself with walking in heels, but at the wedding, it wasn't the height but the unpadded sole (no cushioning) and the straps (bit into my feet after the first two hours) that maimed. I may have had a chance if I'd used those gel footbeds but did not think of them, because I had not worn heels for years.
|Thierry Rabotin slides|
When I limped out of the ceremony, I conceded defeat (yes, pun-ishment) and slipped on leopard-print slides, added to my bag at the last minute: absolute relief! (This was an informal wedding, or I would have been stuck hobbling in misery.) Tuck Leopard Flats in Your Bag is my new mantra.
|Mandy's red heels|
|The bride's sandals|
Even the glamourous bride changed her shoe plan, giving her first choice, red patent heels, to her friend Mandy, above, and substituting the white and metallic silver flat gladiator sandals you see peeking from her wedding dress.
2. Try the dress again, at least a week before!
Between buying my dress (Steilmann) and the wedding, about two months had passed, during which I inadvertently lost 5 lbs or so. The day before—too late for alterations—I tried it on and found it about a half-size too big, roomy in the bust and hip. Nothing to be done, but a precise fit would have made me happier. I also should have sewn bra-strap holders into the shoulders, as way too many reception photos attest.
3. On the bright side: breathable fabric, sentimental accessories
I chose that dress, a shocking pink/black art deco design and leopard print, to say "happy", and in that respect, it was perfect. Also, the dress is cotton, which breathed in the 30C/90F heat. No Spanx, agony in hot weather and no fun even in lower temps, no stockings. Even in cool climates, choose fabric that breathes so after dancing you don't feel like you're wearing a plastic bag.
I accessorized with baroque pearls, my mother's Tiffany bee earrings and gold cuff, and an emerald cocktail ring, all sentimental pieces that brought the memory of loved ones to the occasion.
|At six hours' wear|
I did not have makeup done professionally because every time, I feel caked even if they say it is 'light'. But I stepped up the intensity for eyes and lips and chose long-wearing formulas: water-resistant mascara and eyeliner (Lancome) and two thin coats of my favourite paint-on lipstick brand, CoverGirl Outlast in "Hottie", which stood up to oysters, BBQ ribs and kisses.
I occasionally reapplied the clear balm topcoat. While OutLast does not transfer to glassware or linens, it can lift slightly with oily food, but even after dinner, I didn't need to re-do. If you have a favourite tube lipstick in the same shade family, you could wear it over the top.
Natasha, the mother of the bride, went to MAC, whose staff equipped her with primer and their super-pigmented lipstick to give her very good endurance.
I gained new respect for behind the scenes planning. My tactics were the extra shoes, a pretty handkerchief instead of Kleenex, and a travel atomizer of my perfume—but a friend takes it to another level.
She booked a room at the reception venue (a hotel) where, after the ceremony, a film makeup artist friend created a more 'evening' look and retouched it after dinner. His date even gave her a foot massage, which she said was heaven after standing in a long receiving line. She also stashed a backup dress in the room because, at a step-daughter's wedding a few years ago, a waiter had sloshed red wine down the front of her pale blue silk suit.
When you're dressing for a long event, if you ensure that your feet are up for the hours of action and that everything else requires little tending, your most important accoutrement—the blissed-out smile—will shine throughout the festivities.