Monsters-in-law battle over wedding spotlight

31 Aug 2011

Monsters-in-law battle over wedding spotlight

Mothers-in-law have thrown out the wedding etiquette rule book, much to the annoyance of brides, says Debenhams.

Thanks to increasing numbers of step-mothers-in-law now invited to nuptials, a new breed of thrusting, cougaresque mothers-in-law have ripped up the first commandment for weddings; thou shalt not upstage the bride.

While the happy couples have cut back slightly on the big day to save cash, research for Debenhams has found spending by fashion savvy mums has soared to an average of £430. This is compared to five years ago when they paid out an average £190 – a 126% increase. *

By comparison the overall cost of getting married has risen by only 52% to £19,779**. This is a drop from an all time high of £20,273 in 2008.

According to high street store Debenhams, the growth in sales has been driven by the increasing numbers of divorces and second marriages: when asked the reason for wanting to look extra special, 39% of mothers-of-the-bride or groom said they were competing with their ex-husband’s new wife or girlfriend.

Says Alain Mehada, Debenhams Personal Shopper, “It seems that brides are a casualty of the sartorial battle between wives past and present.

“In their determination to make an impact, mother-in-laws are regularly ignoring the main tenants of previous decades, such as “do not wear white, do not wear black and do not wear anything low-cut, tight fitting, or which is likely to gain you more attention than the bride on her big day.”

Personal shoppers have dubbed it the ‘Raquel effect’ after Raquel Welch’s famous thunder-stealing behaviour at her son’s wedding.

Raquel Welch, aged 65 at the time, turned up 12 minutes late to her son Damon’s wedding, wearing a skin-tight, little black dress with cutaway frontage revealing that famous décolletage, all topped off with a huge brimmed white hat and dark glasses.

Nearly 80% of women questioned said their main goal when dressing for their child’s wedding was to look younger than their years, with 63% of women agreeing that an expensive looking outfit was imperative.

Women agreed that a figure accentuating dress was the most important part of the look with an eye-catching hat or fascinator, expensive-looking high heels and immaculate hair and make-up following accordingly.

Debenhams looked at spending through its personal shopper service and found the average outfit bought by style conscious mothers for weddings cost £130, handbag £40, shoes £75 and hat £60 and £50 went on new cosmetics.

* Figures from Debenhams’ Personal Shopper Records

** RPI figures June 2001 to June 2011

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