My journey to finding the perfect mother of the bride outfit

03 Jun 2019

Mother of the bride Judith McGrath shares her experience of finding her dream wedding outfit

Image gallery

Image gallery

It was January 2018 and my daughter Lauren McGrath became engaged to Jonathan Howe. Cue great excitement and a wedding to plan, but where to start? They wanted to marry in Portugal so a secluded hilltop villa, Casa Rupi near Boliquieme, was booked for May 2019.

Lauren bought her dress and the save the dates were sent. By now it was April 2018 and I had a year to find an outfit which would be easy, I thought. I started looking online at mother of the bride shops, dress retailers and visiting local shops too. By the end of the summer I hadn’t seen anything that resembled what I wanted.

I am not a traditional mother of the bride and the sorts of outfits shown to me would not suit my figure and nor were they my style. They were too straight, too short, too formal and too thick a material for Portugal. Summer dresses were not formal enough and could have been worn by any of the guests.

I wanted a dress that was:

  • Off the shoulder
  • A floaty fabric or silk
  • Matched the wedding colours of pale pink, silver grey and ivory
  • Midi or ankle-length, and definitely not knee-length or a maxi
  • A size 18/20

Was this too much to ask for? After literally hours and hours of internet searching I found a silver grey dress by Spanish designer Fely Campo. I researched UK stockists but none stocked this dress and would have to order it in specially. I even emailed Fely Campo direct and received a lovely response advising that 'no UK suppliers had ordered this style’.

One evening while watching a scene from The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Netflix where the family are on holiday, I noticed that the mother was wearing the dress style I wanted. I downloaded a picture and then asked around locally for the name of a dressmaker. County Couture in Sidmouth Devon was recommended as they had made a wedding dress for a girlfriend.

Armed with a picture, I met with Lynsey - the owner - and the rest was history. During the first appointment we discussed fabrics, length, fitting, price and the number of times I would have to go to get the dress made. I was nervous as I have never done this before and although this dress was the style I thought I wanted and in silk, I still wasn’t sure it would make me look like the amazing mother of the bride that my daughter would be delighted with.

Once the dress was underway I could then start to plan the rest of the outfit: the hat, shoes and jewellery. The hat was easier. There are a number of great hatmakers on Etsy and when I sent pictures to Lauren she said that a friend of the best man was a hat maker so I tried her. I sent Gillian of Hats by Gillian, which is based in Scotland, a picture of my dress and samples of the fabric for colour matching. She sent a sketch of her idea which was a perfect complement to the dress and set about making the fabulous hat in the style and exact colours to match.

The whole outfit took a great deal of research and effort on my part and that of Lynsey but both my daughter and husband were delighted with the finished outfit, proud of me on the day and I was a very happy mother of the bride. Would I do it again? Absolutely!






Venue: Casa Rupi, Cerro Das Ruas, Sao Sebastian, 317, Loulé, Portugal
Mother of the bride dress: County Couture
Hat: Hats by Gillian 
Bride's dress: Prudence Gowns, Exeter 
Men’s outfits: Marks and Spencer
Caterer: John Hill at Pickled Carrot
Photographer: Paul John Fuller

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