Bairbre Power... on the white track
The rules regarding wedding guest attire have changed - for the better
So what are the rules when it comes to wearing white to a wedding when you're not the one saying 'I do'?
Happily, there has been a relaxation of the 'dos and don'ts' of wedding etiquette, and just as the actual ceremony has become less formal, guests are stepping to the white side and confidently wearing non-bridal styles in ivory and creams (à la the Middleton sisters at Princess Charlotte's christening), safe in the knowledge that the bride won't throttle them.
The etiquette book has undergone a good edit and I'm particularly thrilled for the bridesmaids who were expected to wear exactly the same dress, irrespective of their body shape and size. Gawd, there were some shocking sights, and if you were the odd one out, more rotund than the other six bridesmaids in size eight, then poor you. It's far more democratic now and bridesmaids are no longer obliged to wear matching gúnas from the sales rail. These days, by working a two/three colour theme, one can mix and match fabrics and fashion different silhouettes into a winning combination.
It's the mothers of the bride that I often feel most sorry for, especially if the bride has fallen in with a bossy wedding planner. I came across the most unfortunate MOB recently as she was being bullied into a hideous 'rig out' - all because it matched the floral colour scheme. I wanted to pull open those curtains and liberate the poor mama who was going to have to pay for the outfit, and probably half the wedding too!
Justice for MOBs, I say. If a couple wants to drag everyone off to get married on some exotic beach, they need to respect their guests' wishes to dress down. Mums don't have to stick to the time-honoured template of matching dress and coat. It's fear of letting the side down or being upstaged by the future in-laws in the inevitable wedding picture tableau that triggers some of those really ghastly outfits that some mums are talked into. They should find their voice. 'No' is a very empowering word and if MOB really fancies wearing ivory, 'fess up!
Some traditions are worth keeping, though, like the mother of the bride getting first dibs on what colour she wants to wear, ahead of her obvious style rival on the big day, the mother of the groom (MOG). I think mums facing into weddings should stay true to themselves. The family has saved for this landmark occasion, so she should make sure to buy something that she likes, a treat she will enjoy wearing again. Fair is fair.
Mum's the word
"I'm mother of the bride but I don't want to look like the MOB." / "I don't want to look like a guest at the wedding or as if I'm going out for dinner with my husband."
Nessa Cronin of Vanity Fair on Main Street, Newbridge, recently told me that she hears these reservations on an almost daily basis, so if you're looking for an understanding ear, you know where she is. Even better, as a milliner, she is well placed to advise women with hang-ups about wearing hats with spectacles...
Elsewhere, designer Louise Kennedy has micro-analysed the requirements of the wedding market. She excels at beaded jersey dresses and scalloped lace skirts that can be worn later with a silk blouse or cashmere.
One of the rather excellent problem-solving solutions I found at her shop at 56 Merrion Square, suits the beach wedding invite, where the stylish MOB/MOG, or guest, can wear a kaftan such as the 'Petra' navy silk V-neck encrusted with crystals, reduced from €2,500 down to €1,995.
Pushing the boat out as a guest or member of the bridal party, you could treat yourself to one of the new, highly coveted Victoria Beckham monochrome pieces, such as the ivory dress with cut-outs and pockets ( €2,995). Also from the new AW15 collections at Brown Thomas, the Peter Pilotto dress (€2,750) features square silver buttons with pink circles on the skirt - just the right surface detail to lift a plain ivory dress. A cashmere coat in winter white is a once-in-a-lifetime investment and won't sulk sadly at the back of your wardrobe. Pop it over a dress in a jewel colour and that should satisfy any bride's cravings for colour.