Mother of the Bride Dress Shopping
(Mother of the Groom too!)
We have a wedding in our family happening soon! And I’m on the search for a mother of the bride dress – actually, I’m the mother of the groom. But I quickly discovered the key search term is “mother of the bride dress,” even for us mothers of the groom.
If you’re on the hunt for a mother of the bride or groom dress, a wedding guest dress, or a special occasion dressy or formal dress, let me share my experience and possibly help you circumvent some of the road bumps I encountered.
I excitedly sat down to start my online search for a perfect mother dress for our upcoming summer formal wedding.
And whoa, Nelly! It’s turned out to be much more challenging than I’d anticipated.
Keep This in Mind When Shopping
Start shopping for your mother of the bride / groom dress about six months in advance of the wedding. Once you find THE dress, you may need to have some alterations done (hemming most likely), and you’ll want time to find the right shoes and accessories.
The Online Search
Discovery: Type in a search for mother of the bride / groom dresses and you’ll find styles that lean toward maturely dignified (read as: matronly). Not really my style.
No problem, let’s switch search terms to: formal, cocktail, or black tie dresses. And, oh my! Results veer to plunging necklines and hip-high slits. Definitely not the vibe I want as mom of the groom.
Bottom line: You need to get clever with your search prompts. Try more specific searches, like: special occasion dress for women over 40, long cocktail dress, formal wedding guest dress, formal dresses near me.
When you’re choosing styles to try, don’t automatically discount a style before trying it on. Often dresses are unexpectedly flattering once on the body.
I’m sure that you, like me, have an idea of styles that look good on you. But be flexible. I had a definite shape in mind for my dress and ended up with something very different that I love.
Make sure to choose a dress that feels both “like you” and makes you feel beautiful.
And guess what? Strapless, off the shoulder, spaghetti straps, tasteful skirt slits are appropriate! You don’t have to look matronly. The bride and groom want you to shine! It’s an important day for you too.
Always clear your dress selection with the bride and groom before purchasing.
And, just in case, know the return policy. I discovered that if I removed any of the tags from the dresses I ordered to try at home, they wouldn’t be returnable. (You’ll see a tag or two in these photos.)
A Rookie Shopping for a Formal Dress
I was hoping that among all the formal dresses out there in dress land, I’d easily find dress styles that fit my vision as well as that of the bride and groom.
I will note that in my desire to be budget conscious, I was searching for dresses that came in under the $400 mark. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for – almost always. Specifically, in the lower budget range don’t expect luxe fabrics, dress lining, or embellishments (for example, beading).
Absolutely DO choose styles that flatter your figure. And keep in mind that it’s possible to have a dress altered if needed. For example, if you find a dress you love but it’s sleeveless and you’d rather have sleeves, you may be able to have a dressmaker add sleeves to the dress.
My Mother of the Bride / Groom Dress Shopping
I haven’t worn a floor-length, formal dress since my high school prom days, and the first few dresses I tried on brought me back to prom shopping!
I searched the major retailers: Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Dillards, Anthropologie, Lord & Taylor, Macys. I checked out bridal shop offerings. I even took a deep dive into retailers like THE OUTNET, a luxury discount shopping site (there were some gorgeous and unique dresses with prices slashed by 50% – I recommend checking the site if you’re shopping for a special dress). I ordered a slew of dresses to try at home, with the feeling that none of them were “IT.” At the same time, I tried not to “judge a book by its cover.” I know that how a clothing item looks on a hanger is often completely different from how it looks on the body.
What I found with dresses in the under $300 price range is that while styles are nice, there are constraints that must be included in fabric selection. Additionally, most dresses in that price range are unlined. This doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful, and they may be perfect for the occasion you’re shopping for.
When it came to our upcoming celebration, the dresses I was finding in this price range were just missing the mark.
But never give up!
Read on for the gorgeous dress I did find in my perfect price range.
Should I go sparkly and mermais shaped?
Mother of the Bride / Groom Dress Success
Through a stroke of good luck, one of my Google searches led me to a dress shop in the Bay Area that specializes in special occasion dresses: Siri Dress Boutique in South San Francisco.
I could tell from photos on the website that the dresses are made from gorgeous fabrics. I knew I had to make a visit.
I made an appointment for the following Saturday after a nice phone conversation with the owner, Beverley Siri.
I learned that she’d been in the special occasion and special-order dress business for 35 years, and was moving toward retirement. Her winding down plan includes selling current inventory at prices discounted 50%+!
Wow! I was optimistic.
What I’d seen on the website was definitely different from anything I’d viewed online.
Mother-of-the-Bride / Groom Dress Try-ons
I had fun trying on a variety of styles (pictured below) in several colors that fit the wedding color palette. The craftsmanship was beautiful; most dresses are silk and lined.
I encourage any California Bay Area ladies looking for a special occasion dress to make a appointment at Siri.
Not local? You can order a dress from the website. Dresses are returnable for up to seven days after receiving.
Note: All sizes aren’t available in all styles. If you’re looking for a specific style in a specific size, I suggest giving Beverley a call.
Also to note if you’re thinking of making a visit: Call for an appointment. You’ll find a very large and comfortable fitting room, but it’s not fancy. And Beverley will find the styles for you to try that fit your vision.
*These final 14 photos are mirror selfies with the backgrounds removed to reduce all that fitting room distraction. This explains the somewhat diminished clarity of these images.
Click the images to navigate to each style on the Siri site.
Drum Roll . . .
Apologies for being coy. But I can’t simply reveal my dress to the world four months before the wedding, can I?!
But here’s a tiny sneak peak – a tease, really.
I love the dress I found at Siri! It’s gorgeous, with that “extra” quality. The fabric is a stunning silk, and the dress is fully lined.
The bottom line: $228 (sale price) for a beautiful, high quality gown that makes me feel all the things we want to feel for an important special occasion.
Questions? I’m happy to help if I can. Comment below with any questions and I’ll get back to you.