The Mother-In-Law Dress


“I need a mother-in-law dress,” I informed the saleslady at the fancy bridal salon.

“You mean a mother-of-the groom dress?” she frowned.


She quickly and deftly passed me off to a younger colleague while smiling over my shoulder at a new bride that had just entered the store. Obviously, commissions were better on bridal gowns than on mother-in-law dresses. Oh well, it didn’t really matter. I didn’t want to be there any more than she wanted to waste her valuable time on a low commission sale.

Guiding me to the racks of dresses, the sweet young salesperson asked what color I liked.

“Well, it can’t be blue because the mother-of-the bride picked that; it can’t be off-white because the grandmother selected that. And it can’t be cranberry, because the wedding party will be wearing cranberry. What’s left?”

As you can probably tell, I was not terribly enthusiastic. It’s the second time around for my son, so I’ve been through this ordeal once for him already. It sometimes seems like the bigger the wedding, the faster the divorce. But, I’m trying to be optimistic today. Wife number two has not been married before and she wants a wedding. I need to quit acting like a mother-in-law and try to share the joy of the happy occasion.

“I don’t want sequins either,” I said. Guess I’m old-fashioned but all that glittery stuff looks tacky to me.”

Sweet Young Salesperson selected a light green dress and a peachy pink frock with a lacy top and we were off to the dressing room. It looked more like a dance studio or a health club with it’s mirrored walls.  Young brides flushed with excitement were trying on fluffy wedding gowns while sales people hovered around cooing. I didn’t realize that marriage was such big business.

I slipped into the lacy peach number and held my breath. Nope, no use, it won’t zip.

“Oh, that looks great on you,” exclaimed Sweet Young Salesperson and her cooing flock of colleagues.

“I can’t breath.” I gasped as I grabbed dizzily for the wall. “Get me out of this thing!”

I really liked the green one. Very sophisticated. Good color for me. Unfortunately, it fit me like an Army tent.

“That is fabulous!” squealed Sweet Young Salesperson.

She has got to be kidding! The entire wedding party could fit into this, all at the same time. We could add a tent pole and hold the wedding reception underneath this dress. No amount of alteration could ever make it fit. Naturally, it was not available in a pup tent size.

“I think I’d better keep looking,” I said, edging my way toward the door.

“Wait, try this!” exclaimed Sweet Young Salesperson, chasing after me waving a dark green bridesmaid dress. Good grief! Do these people never give up?

I managed to escape unharmed and locked the car door. I would check out the discount bridal warehouse that I had seen advertised in the Yellow Pages. It was on the other side of town.

How was I to know they would be working on the Interstate and I would be stuck in construction traffic for an hour trying to get there? Maybe I should have tried the bridesmaid dress on after all.

I don’t know the north side of the city very well, but using a map, I finally found the place. The prices were too high. Apparently the word “discount” was just a come-on. It didn’t look much like a warehouse either, just a regular store. The sales people hung around in back by the cash register, talking to each other and ignoring the customers. You know the sort of place.

I selected a couple of dresses in my size, hauled them back to the dressing room and tried them on all by myself. I finally interrupted the chat session going on at the cash register and purchased a dark purplish gown that doesn’t make me look too awfully fat, I hope.

Okay, I’ve got my mother-in-law dress. Now if I can just get rid of my mother-in-law attitude, I’ll be ready for the wedding.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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5 Responses to The Mother-In-Law Dress

  1. I just attended a wedding and searched for a new dress. Fortunately I wasn’t any one’s mother so I could go peacefully to a regular store and shop dressy dresses. The mother of the bride wore a variation of the bridesmaids’ dresses and it was lovely. Get your happy on and enjoy the wedding! With luck, this will be his last.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alison says:

    It’s the worst. Going through that myself right now. The bride’s mother selected seductive for her gown and I have no clue where to go with that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheila Moss says:

      I hate it when the mother tries to outdo the bride. That style sounds very inappropriate, esp if the wedding is in church. It used to be that shoulders were always covered, but now a lot of the bridal gowns are strapless.

      Liked by 1 person

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