Contrary to popular belief, the Mother of the Groom plays an important role. She is the insignificant other -- the extra in the bridal equation whose job it is to be glaringly inconspicuous, giving the Mother of the Bride the chance to shine.
The MOG must simply slip quietly behind the scenes and blend into the woodwork. Most important, she is to look unobtrusive enough so as not to upstage the bride or the MOB by appearing even remotely attractive. This is the reason why MOGs traditionally wear beige. Her dress must not dazzle or excite. She must smile sweetly, engage in light, but not dull banter and throughout the reception, assure her new relative, the MOB, how lucky her son is to have found such a treasure as the MOB's daughter.
Being a MOG isn't as easy as it sounds. My friend, Elaine, did not carry it off according to plans. The problem began when her son came home last year with Annabelle, the wrong girl, according to Elaine. Annabelle was not particularly attractive. She didn't go to the right schools, and was a little rough around the edges. To make matters worse, Elaine couldn't stand Annabelle's mother, Denise -- the MOB. Her son, however, loved Annabelle, so when they announced they were going to solidify their relationship, Elaine became distraught. Throughout the engagement period she walked around sullen and depressed, and had to resort to megadoses of massage therapy and reflexology in order to stay calm. When it came to choosing her dress, all hell broke loose. She was so despondent she chose to wear black.
"You can't wear black to our son's wedding," Elaine's husband, Charlie, chided. "People will think you're attending a funeral."
"I might as well be," Elaine said.
So it came to pass that Elaine, moaning and groaning for months on end, brought me along in hopes of finding the blackest dress she could find, claiming that black was her signature color and best matched her mood.
"A nice ecru would look better," I said. "Or even subtle peach or, at worst, mint green."
But Elaine refused to try on pastel dresses, saying that they made her look like sorbet.
Finally, after combing the major bridal salons, Elaine went to Loehmann's and found a black dress that defied imagination. It was so tight that when Elaine slipped into it, it temporarily cut off her air supply and rearranged her body parts, pushing her chest up so high it rested on her tonsils. This made her voice rather squeaky so that when she spoke, she sounded like a mouse that was about to faint. That notwithstanding, as Elaine emerged from the dressing room, despite the fact she couldn't breathe, she did look drop-dead gorgeous.
"Don't you think it's just a tad over the edge?" I asked.
"Nonsense," she squeaked. "This dress is made for the woman who dares to be different. I've never looked better in my life. The MOB will turn green with envy."
A month before the wedding, Denise-the-MOB phoned Elaine-the-MOG to inquire what color dress she was wearing.
"Bombshell Black, darling. It's my new fashion statement."
There was a long silence until the MOB gained her composure and asked Elaine, "Don't you think that black is just too ... too gloomy? I mean to say, it might cloud the atmosphere of joviality and put a damper on the wedding."
"What color will you be wearing?" Elaine dared to ask.
"Fuchsia, angel," the MOB retorted. "I find that hot pink defines me."
"Well then," Elaine said, "together, we'll represent the quintessential look of comedy and tragedy."
The infamous wedding day arrived. Elaine-the-MOG showed up in her to-die-for black creation, while Denise-the-MOB pranced around in her shocking pink, looking very much like cotton candy. Together, they stole the show, leaving the poor bride, Annabelle, to pale by comparison.
That was two years ago. The bride and groom are still living in marital bliss. As for the MOG and MOB, they turned out to be best friends. Next December, Elaine's youngest son is getting married. She's not too crazy about the girl, but then again, there's no pleasing Elaine. The good news is, she's not wearing black. Instead, she's going to borrow Denise-the-MOB's little fuchsia number, and a strawberry blonde wig to top off the look.