Everything on your to-do list is going as planned: The flowers are ordered, the DJ is secured, and the cake tastings are complete. The only problem? Your mother or future mother-in-law just sent you a picture of her dress for the wedding, and you absolutely hate it. So now what? This is a tough one, but it actually happens all the time. How do you proceed? You have to be careful because, no matter whose mom it is, this is a woman who is going to be in your life for a long time. You don't want to hurt their feelings or ruin your relationship over a dress. When you do decide to say something, you should go about it carefully.
Here, the best ways to deal when you absolutely can't let your mom or mother-in-law walk down the aisle in the first dress they've chosen.
Don't make it about you.
"Being concerned for her comfort is a better way to go about it than saying, 'I hate your dress,'" says Julie Sabatino, stylist behind The Stylish Bride and The Stylish Dresser. "You can go at it from the overall style of the wedding and say something like 'Oh, you chose lime green, but our colors are gold [and navy]' or 'I'm concerned that you're not going to feel like you coordinate with the rest of the event because everyone else is wearing these tones.' Say it from the standpoint of wanting to make sure she feels comfortable in the overall setting."
Prevent the issue before it can start.
If you know that your mother or mother-in-law is the type of woman who might choose something you won't like, get involved from the beginning. Offer color or style suggestions that you think would go best with the wedding, or offer to go on a shopping trip together. "Tell her that you'd love to go shopping and have a girl's day to find the perfect dress," Sabatino says. "The more involved people feel in the process, the more identified they are with it and the less room there is for these types of mistakes."
If you're really stuck in a situation where you don't want to be the bad guy, you can always get some extra help in breaking the news. "I always tell the bride if they want me to take the bullet, that's fine—I'm happy to let them tell their mother or mother-in-law that I don't think their dress is going to be the right fit. Even a wedding planner or photographer could be a really good out," Sabatino says. "I don't condone lying, but if you really hate it and think it's not appropriate in some way, then you should make that clear."
No matter what happens, be careful with what you say.
At the end of the day, Sabatino says it's never a good idea to hurt your relationship over a dress. If your mother or mother-in-law isn't catching the drift or won't budge on their outfit choices, you might just have to drop. "You have to take a step back and realize this is the person who's going to be at every child's birthday and every holiday. Then think about whether the dress really matters that much and how big of a fight it should be," says Sabatino. "If they feel good, they're going to look good and be happy—even if you don't think it looks good."