Party dressing: Is that "I do" or "I shoe"?

Thanks for your warm wishes on the wedding post!

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.

My 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
4. Makeup: use long-wear products
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.



It looks like a day full of bliss, frankly! And you look wonderful - the leopard flats are perfect with your dress, your makeup is spot-on, and your smile makes everything else fade into the background (as it should!). This is what weddings should be.
Susan said…
Such great advice and pointers Duchesse. Our son's wedding was last summer--with the ceremony at 4pm and the reception (at our home) lasting until 11pm. You are so right that comfortable shoes are a must! I want to add one more bit of advice. Try to get some rest the day of the wedding. Even though I had a lot of professional help, my husband and I did a bit too much of the work ourselves---and the wedding photos show very tired (but happy) parents of the groom.

You looked glowing in the wedding photos--and I love your dress.
SewingLibrarian said…
I'm chiming in late with my congratulations and best wishes. You looked wonderful, and I'm sure having comfortable shoes helped a lot at the reception. When my niece got married in May, our family stayed at the hotel where the reception took place. It was wonderful to be able to return to our room, freshen up, and, in my case, change to a different dress, before dinner.
Mardel said…
Oh it all looks lovely, as do you. I am sure that the comfortable shoes were a must, and I think they look like they went beautifully. I am intrigued that you started with a heel after not wearing them for years. I have eliminated most of my heels from my wardrobe, but it is the thin soles that bother me the most now, pretty but thin soled flats are also only for days with limited standing and walking.
Susan B said…
Great advice! Comfortable footwear is a must, and your leopard flats worked well with the dress.
Murphy said…
You looked lovely!
materfamilias said…
I think you look absolutely radiant in every one of the photos I e seen of the wedding. Your happiness comes from the inside out, and I think this is connected to the way your realistic approach to looking fabulous for the festivities wasn't allowed to come at the expense of comfort and being able to have a great time. Funny it should have been the Kooijman shoes that let you down... I've been avoiding the temptation of the F de K shop here in Bordeaux.....
Duchesse said…
Janice: Thanks; among the women roughly my age I was the only one with grey hair FWIW. Lots of blondes via the hairdresser and one octogenarian dark brunette.

Susan and Sewing: I agree, especially when you are in your home. If the reception had been in a hotel we definitely would have booked a room and considered getting one nearby. We did have a good hour and a half of downtime but I was so excited I could not have napped.

pseu: As I slipped them on, I thought of you!

Mardel: I was not willing to wear flats with my short dress, as mother of groom. Might have done so if wearing floor-length. No one wore flat shoes except the bride, in a long gown. Also, not one women in trousers.

mater: I thought b/c they were made for me, they would be comfortable, and trying on the style in the shop, did not realize the soles were absolutely unpadded; my inexperience did me in. (Their customer service was outstanding.) Koojiman boots are to die for, though-would adore a pair with flat heel.

Rita said…
All great ideas, Duchesse. I attended my niece's wedding in NYC last summer and I was glad we mostly wore long dresses, since that allowed more shoe choices!

The head shot pic of you is beautiful.
Oh footware can be such torture....slipping on those comfy and cute shoes allowed you to relax and enjoy the afternoon and evening. You look fabulous and your smile shows it!
materfamilias said…
Oh dear, now I'm going to have to linger in front of that glorious window again, and perhaps even tiptoe inside to think about boots....
Lisa said…
Everything and everyone looked happy and comfortable. My only reason to post a reply was your comment about ending up with a dress that was 1/2 a size too large!! How many people have that problem, it's usually the reverse. Such a problem to have :) You looked wonderful in your dress and shoes. Congratulations all around.
Cathy said…
Great tips. You look so happy in the photos. I would love to know how you "inadvertently" lost 5 pounds so I can copy your technique, LOL!
Those mauve (on my computer) sandals are beautiful; hope they will be wearable with a good supportive insole.

I'm glad to see that Steilmann are back. At their site, I saw a lovely duffle coat...

And yes, I recognize the spot where the lovely family photo was taken.
Blobby said…
I don't know how to say this gracefully, so please take this as a well-intended comment. There is something about your "hour-six" picture that reminds me so much of my grandmother. (mind you, she was 94 when she passed and that was 30 years ago.). But I meant when she was a young(er) woman. If I can find a picture of her in her heyday, I will scan and send your way.
Duchesse said…
Blobby: I don't mind evoking memories at all! I am 67. I only hope to reach 94; my mother died at 99 and her sister at 102, both fully aware of everything.
Sandra Sallin said…
Thanks for all of your suggestions. I've got an even in a few months and I will certainly use your tips.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips!

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