Barbara Coolidge Tibbetts – I Want My Mother’s Dress to Match the Napkins

What is the name of your book?

I Want My Mother’s Dress To Match The Napkins: Funny Stories and Serious Advice for Looking Your Best at Your Child’s Wedding

Tell us something about yourself.

Born the daughter of missionaries, involved in music from an early age, and eventually, with a degree in Music from the University of Tulsa, I found myself participating in many weddings in several parts of the country. After deciding to venture into something new, I closed my music studio, which I had operated for 13 years in Houston, Tx, and embarked on a new journey into the business world. I began Affordable Eelskin which was an import company importing eelskin accessories from Korea and later was expanded to International Fine Leather Co. When my daughter, Terrie, graduated from Texas A&M University with a BSc in Economics and Management she joined me and together we traveled to the different Markets throughout the United States selling to stores. Tiring of the frequent trips to Korea and India and being on the road much of the time, we decided to try our hand at retail in a permanent location. In March of 1991 we opened T. Carolyn Fashions in Northwest Houston, with the unique concept of specializing in fashions for mothers of brides and grooms.

What inspired you to write this book?

After having participated in so many weddings in so many places, I had first hand knowledge of what actually goes on at a wedding and I became increasingly frustrated with the myriad of misinformation being given to anxious mothers. Additionally, over the years I had heard many stories in the store some quite funny, some sad, and others almost unbelievable. I decided to write the book so that once and for all, mothers would have an ally in perhaps the most stressful purchasing experience in life…. choosing something to wear to your child’s wedding!

How did you start the process?

When I began to realize that I wasn’t remembering the stories, and that some day I would probably want to write a book, I began writing stories on the computer as I heard them. I didn’t attempt to put them in any order, I just wrote them down as they were told to me. Sometimes I would hear two a day, sometimes one every two weeks. But I began accumulating my “material” years before the book materialized. As I recount in the Forward to my book, my then 9-year-old grandson heard I had finished my book. At a family dinner he asked how many pages were in my book. When I told him he then asked how long it had taken me to write the book. The look of amazement and consternation on his face and his reaction to my response were priceless as he remarked incredulously, “And it took you 15 years?!”

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Get started! Begin by jotting down ideas. Keep a notebook with you at all times and as you think of something, jot it down. Don’t try to create the finished product the very first day. It is a slow, evolving process. When I thought my book was finished I gave it to my daughter-in-law, who owns a distribution company specializing in children’s television and my son, a gaffer in the film industry. After reading it they both agreed it was entertaining but suggested that I include advice I give on a daily basis to customers in the store looking for something to wear to their child’s wedding. With that advice, I went back to the “drawing board” and made the book a fashion handbook, using the stories I had heard to teach and to entertain. Be willing to change and expand your original concept.

How did you choose the title?

Honestly? My daughter-in-law came up with the title after reading the manuscript. I had something far more mundane in mind. In the book I tell the story of the customer who informed me that the bride had purchased burgundy napkins and she wanted a burgundy dress to match the napkins! (This title reminded me of Erma Bombeck’s “Life is a Bowl of Cherries” and interestingly enough, several readers have commented that I am the Erma Bombeck of weddings!)

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

With Create Space, a self-publishing company owned by Amazon, it is amazingly simple! Instead of having to depend on the whims of the large publishing companies, you can self publish for practically nothing. There is no huge outlay of money, and books are printed as needed. I had heard the horror stories of publishers editing books to the point the author could no longer identify their work, authors being billed for hundreds of unsold books stashed in a warehouse somewhere. I avoided all of that. As people order my book from,, or through my store’s website, the books are printed and delivered. As stores request my books to sell, I order and ship. I will be doing book signings at the Dallas Bridal Market in Sept and the Chicago National Bridal Show in October. Prior to those events I place my order with the number of books I want and that is what is printed and shipped. It couldn’t be any easier!

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Any woman who has a child getting married and is trying to figure out what she should wear. Interestingly enough, I’ve had designers tell me they learned a lot and my 82-year-old male neighbor told me how much he enjoyed it and how much he had learned!!

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?,, and if you google either the name of the book or my name, all sorts of articles written about the book and about me will come up.