Lynn C.: Destination Santa Barbara

Lynn C.: Destination Santa Barbara

Mother of: Alana
Wedding Venues: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church followed by a reception at Villa & Vine in Santa Barbara, California
Vibe: Elegant-yet-beachy destination wedding
Dress: Eliza J. from Bloomingdale’s

“Go with your gut,” says Lynn, a mother of the bride who didn’t.

Now, make no mistake, Lynn could easily pass for a bridesmaid. She’s petite, fit, and looked beautiful in her floor length lace gown by Eliza J. But, she admits, “I had a gnawing feeling this dress wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I asked my daughters and sister, and they said they loved it.  Even though I often ask their opinions, I have a good sense of what I like and what looks good on me, but decided it was good enough.”

She happened upon her mother of the bride dress while browsing to help her daughter, Alana, find bridesmaids dresses. “I came across a dress I thought might fit the bill for me and ordered it, thinking I would surely send it back.” At 5 foot 1, Lynn says it can be challenging to get the proportions right, but much to her surprise, the v-neck Eliza J. gown with its cap sleeves, scalloped trim, and fluted skirt fit like it had been made for her. All she had to do was shorten the hemline. “It had a beautiful back and was super comfortable.” Plus, the dark blue complemented the groomsmen in navy and bridesmaids in gray.

The dress hung in Lynn’s closet for more than a year. Alana and Mario’s wedding, originally set for July, 2021 was postponed due to Covid, and rescheduled for the same weekend in 2022. The bride initially dreamed of a wedding in Italy, but that became logistically complicated, so she pivoted to a destination wedding in Santa Barbara. Searching online from their home in Minneapolis, Alana and Lynn found a venue with an intimate courtyard that felt Italian inspired and perfect for a family-style dinner with space for cocktails and dancing. For the ceremony, they chose a Spanish Mission-style Catholic church in neighboring Montecito, and booked both, sight unseen. “Everything was as we had hoped," Lynn recounts, "near the beach, beautiful weather, with a very European flavor.”

Meanwhile, the year-long postponement gave Lynn plenty of time to continue shopping for her perfect dress. She ordered a couple from BHLDN and Neiman Marcus, but nothing quite worked, which brought her back to the lace gown in her closet.

“I thought it was a bit matronly and ‘mother-of-the-bride-ish,’ which definitely is not me,” Lynn says. “But anything in a petite size was even more matronly, and when I have something tailored, it never seems to turn out great. I again decided the dress was fine—swayed by the perfect fit, appropriate color, and comfort.”


Even though Alana was an easy-going bride who made no requests about her mom’s attire, Lynn says she had it in her head that she should tone down her style and avoid standing out. Her advice to other moms: “Don’t settle just because you are not the bride. You also deserve to look and feel great.”

| Photography by Liz Banfield

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