Mothers of the groom (MOGs) have been handed a bad rap. According to bridal salons across the country, they are treated as second class citizens. Jill, a MOG friend of mine, pointed this out when we went dress shopping together.

“It’s ridiculous,” Jill told the salesgirl. “Without me there wouldn’t even be a wedding since I’m responsible for having produced the one commodity necessary for such an occasion: the groom.”

The salesgirl shrugged her shoulders. “What can I tell you? Mothers of the groom are just not that important.”

Jill invited me to join her on her next shopping expedition.

“What about that little orange and white number you bought last week?” I asked.

“It was wrong. I tried it on and Bill (the father of the groom) said I looked like a Creamsicle. I need your help.”

The following week we went to find something that was more MOG material. A blonde beauty with perfect teeth, who called herself Ms. Mindy, greeted us as we stepped off the elevator.

“I know. Don’t tell me. One of you is the MOB (mother of the bride).”

“I’m the mother of the groom,” Jill said, “and this is my partner-in-crime.”

“Oh,” Ms. Mindy sneered slightly, “well, we also specialize in dresses for MOGs. But remember, your job is to look as understated and nondescript as possible. A MOG is supposed to blend into the woodwork — be inconspicuous.”

We were escorted past rows of lovely gowns dripping in beautiful colors that would enhance Jill’s complexion. Further along, we stopped in front of an array of dresses which, if they had signs under them, would have read, “drab.”

Ms. Mindy plucked one from the rack. “Now, here’s a little something that could work,” she told us.

“Beige isn’t my color,” Jill said.

“It’s not beige,” Mindy corrected, “it’s ecru. Ecru is the perfect MOG color.”

“Ecru will make me look like an egg shell,” Jill said.

“Perfect,” said Mindy. “The bride’s family will love it.”

It suddenly became clear: the idea was to have Jill look as invisible as possible. While she tried on a variety of ecru washouts, I pored through racks of lace and sequined dresses reserved for more important members of the wedding — the mothers of the brides. Among the collection, I suddenly spied a raspberry chiffon gown. I brought it into the dressing room for Jill to try on.

“Now, this has definite possibilities,” I said.

“Wrong.” Ms. Mindy announced. “It is a smashing little number, but not for a MOG. If you wore raspberry, the bride would never forgive you. You would look too flamboyant. But I can order it in battleship gray.”

“I refuse to look like a ballistic missile,” Jill said.

“Let me tell you a story,” Ms. Mindy got serious. “About a year ago, I assisted a MOG who decided to wear hot pink to her son’s wedding. The MOB never spoke to the MOG again. I found out through the matrimonial grapevine that the couple divorced a year later. It’s bad luck for the MOG to look too perky.”

After an hour with no success, Jill and I headed to another store, this one a small bridal shop that carried a wide selection of MOG dresses. We combed the racks where Jill found a lovely dress in mauve silk.

“Are you a MOB or a MOG?” the salesgirl asked, “because mauve on a MOG is just not done. Try something in the beige family, instead.”

“Doesn’t she know it’s called ecru?” Jill whispered.

Unsuccessful in our attempt, we gave up and moved on to a bridal boutique where this time a cheery woman named Angelica welcomed us with open arms.

“Forget conventionality,” she said. “I tell all my MOGs to go for another kind of look that is always appropriate: the little black dress.”

“Can I really wear black to my son’s wedding?” Jill asked. “Won’t it seem a tad depressing?”

“Black is the new gray,” Angelica assured her. “Dare to be different. Dare to be a MOG who exudes class, not boredom.”

Convinced, Jill found a stunning black gown with a single red silk geranium on the shoulder.

“A touch of red will add just the right hint of frivolity you need,” Angelica said. “Not ostentatious, but appropriately reeking of je ne sais quoi.”

“I love it,” Jill said.

“It’s so to-die-for,” said Angelica, adjusting the geranium.

I kept quiet, anticipating the worst.

The day of the wedding, Jill appeared in the black gown she had kept as a surprise. All eyes were upon her as she floated down the aisle looking very “je ne sais quoi” as Angelica had predicted. Jill’s 80-year old mother was horrified.

“I can’t believe you dared to wear black to my only grandson’s wedding,” she said.

“Relax mother,” Jill said. “I’m exuding a MOG aura.”

“Really? Maybe you need to see a doctor,” her mother suggested.

Jill cornered me, champagne in hand. “Several guests asked me if I was in mourning. The rest think I look sexy and sultry.”

Then the MOB appeared, wearing a ghastly shade of tangerine. She looked like a bowl of orange Jell-O. To make matters worse, during the reception, she ate so many Swedish meatballs she popped two buttons, which flew into the salmon mousse and splattered across her face, ruining her new makeover.

“I should have worn beige,” she moaned.

“Ecru!” Jill and I shouted in unison.

Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at joodth@snet.net or at judithmarks-white.com.