Dress Etiquette for the Mother of the Bride/Groom

by Karen

Dress Etiquette for the Mother of the Bride/Groom

Shopping for a bridal gown - or even a bridesmaids dress - is a relatively easy process. After all, there are so many gorgeous styles to choose from and so many photos from which to take inspiration from. But there is one important wedding guest who is much harder to shop for - the mother of the bride or the mother of the groom.If you have a son or daughter’s wedding on the horizon, it can be tough to know exactly what is expected of you. You want to look and feel your best without stealing the show. You want to make a statement without stepping on anyone’s toes. Plus, it may have been years since you attended an occasion or event where formal attire was required. It doesn’t matter if you already have ideas in mind or are starting at square one - here is a helpful guide that will walk you through picking the perfect dress etiquette for mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress.


Maintain Open Communication with the Bride

No matter if she is your beloved daughter or a future daughter-in-law who you’ve only met a couple of times - you should always check with the bride to see if she has any preferences or restrictions when it comes to your attire. Ultimately, choosing a dress that the bride approves of (or at least isn’t offended by) should be your main goal. While communication is key, please keep in mind that even the most organized bride has a million other things to worry about when planning her wedding. Don’t be offended if what you wear to her wedding isn’t her top priority. Ask for her input, listen to her preferences, and then be confident enough to make a final decision on your own. Generally, as long as you feel and look your best, the bride will approve of your attire.

Consider the Formality of the Wedding

The type of wedding will help determine where to start when it comes to shopping for a mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress. Is it going to be a destination wedding in a vibrant, tropical locale? Is it going to be a breezy afternoon brunch wedding with a garden party feel? Or is it going to be an elegant black-tie optional soiree? Find out where and when the wedding will be held before you start shopping for your dress.

Find a Design that Flatters Your Figure

When it comes to finding a style that flatters your figure, look no further than your closet. Even if you don’t own a lot of formalwear there are sure items in your wardrobe that make you feel your best. Take a look to see what design elements they have in common. Maybe they are all made from a stretchy jersey material. Maybe they all have cap-sleeves and a V-neckline. Decide what design elements make you feel great on a daily basis and then look for a gown that has some of the same characteristics. Once you have gone through your own wardrobe it’s time to start trying on some options. Although it’s tempting to visit a high-end bridal or formalwear boutique that carries Mother of the Occasion dresses, often these stores only carry one sample of each dress - And if that sample isn’t in your size, you’re out of luck. Instead, head to a high-end department store. They’ll have tons of on-trend options in a variety of sizes. Even if you don’t end up buying a dress at that store, you’ll have a better idea of what design elements flatter your figure and make you feel great.

Flattering Details You Should Be Shopping For:

A Defined Waistline

Your waistline is undeniably one of your most important features when it comes to a dress that is both stylish and slimming. Highlighting the smallest point of your body will define your figure and ultimately make you look incredible. For some women, a wrap-style dress that hits below the bust is their best options. Others will find that a substantial waistband that features a bit of ruching is a more flattering option. While it varies for everyone, highlighting your waist is always a good idea.

Classic Necklines

A neckline can truly make or break how a woman looks in a dress. The neckline you should choose depends on many factors, including your shoulder shape and how comfortable you are with exposed arms. Take a look at necklines you feel the most comfortable in on a daily basis and let that be your guide.

Circle Skirts

Let’s face it - tight, form-fitting skirts aren’t for everyone. Classic circle skirts, however, look fabulous on everyone. They often highlight your waist while falling gracefully to a modest length just past your knee. If you haven’t worn a dress in a long time, consider starting with a circle skirt and see how you feel.

Timeless Designs

When in doubt, stick with a style that is truly timeless. You’ll likely have pictures from your son or daughter’s wedding on display for a very long time, so it’s not the best time to try out a daring new style or trend. Instead, stick to classic silhouettes and designs. Dresses that draw inspiration from the 1920s will be very on-trend during the early 2020s. Or, select a modest mid-century design that will never go out of style.

Choosing a Color

Selecting the style of your dress is one thing - choosing the color is another process entirely. When it comes to colors, there are definitely some faux pas you’ll want to avoid. With that said, there are also a wide range of acceptable colors to choose from as well. Keep these tips in mind when picking out an appropriate mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress:

Consider the Season

The season is an important factor when it comes to picking the perfect mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress. In the spring and summer, sophisticated pastels like lavender, sage green, dusty blue, and even gray are an excellent choice. Fall weddings call for muted colors like mustard, burnt orange, mauve, or burgundy. If you’re attending a winter wedding, try out rich hues like hunter green, navy, or plum.

Florals & Other Prints

Prints aren’t everyone’s first choice, but they’re an option that is definitely worth exploring. There are plenty of floral prints with a sophisticated feel that would be perfectly appropriate for a mother of the bride or mother of the groom to wear to a wedding. You should never shy away from a dress just because it has a print. Don’t, however, select a print with a white or ivory background.

Black is Always Acceptable

In the past, wearing black to a wedding was simply unacceptable. In the modern era, however, wearing a chic black dress is always an appropriate option for the mother of the bride. Black is a color that is figure flattering, classy, and makes every woman feel impeccably dressed. If you still feel a black dress is a bit too dark for the occasion, add accessories like dramatic chandelier earrings or a shimmering statement necklace.

What NOT To Wear

The last thing you want to do is offend the bride on her big day. Here are examples of what you should definitely NOT wear to your son or daughter’s wedding.
  • It is never acceptable for a mother of the bride or mother of the groom to wear a white or ivory dress to her son or daughter’s wedding. Period.
  • It is becoming more and more popular for brides to wear breathtaking bridal gowns that are champagne, blush pink, or gold. Be sure to check with the bride before selecting a dress in any of these colors. Some brides might be ok with you wearing a shade of champagne. Others might feel that a mom wearing these colors is incredibly inappropriate.
  • Beading and embellishments are an excellent way to set yourself apart from the crowd. Don’t shy away from a dress just because it features an intricate beaded pattern or elegant embroidery. With that said, never wear sequins unless specifically told to by the bride. Sequins are often considered far too flashy and attention grabbing for a mother (or even a wedding guest) to wear.

Don’t Stress Yourself (Or Others) In The Process

What the mother of the bride and mother of the groom wears is important, but it is nowhere near the most important part of the wedding. On the day of the wedding - and on the days leading up to the wedding - you’ll want to enjoy every second of the joyous occasion. You’ll want to eat, drink, dance, and celebrate the love you have for your growing family. Whatever you do, don’t let your attire (or the shopping process) cause a rift between family members or stress you out to the point where you don’t enjoy all of the wonderful things happening around you.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.