Mother of the Bride

Do’s and Don’ts for Mother of the Bride Wear

At one time in the past, the mother of the bride dress code was to wear a pastel colored dress much like an Easter egg’s color or in a washed out shade of color. Whether you are the bride helping your mother shop for her dress or you are the mother yourself, you can depend on this collection of the who, what , when and were as to how you should find your attire.

A Dress Shopping Guide for Mother of the Bride

Just as there seems to be many rules for everyone involved in a wedding–there is also certain etiquette when shopping for mother of the bride wear for your daughter’s big day.

The Bride is Your Guide

The most important tip is to follow the bride’s cues about the style, color and the degree of formality. She and the groom set all of these values when they were first planning their wedding. So it could be anywhere from a country wedding in a barn complete with cowboy boots for all or a formal black tie event. You are a very important member of the wedding party and in being so, you want to look the part. So, ask the bride for her input to help you find the perfect dress.

The Wedding Party has Color Cues

Traditionally the mother of the bride dress should complement the wedding party’s colors but not necessarily match the color. Make sure and wait until the bride chooses the bridesmaid’s dress to start shopping for a mother of the bride dress. See if you can get a small swatch of fabric to take with you to be super helpful when you are searching for a hue in harmony with the bridesmaid’s dresses.

If the bride chooses to have individual and different outfits for her bridesmaids but in a similar shade, stick to one shade or another but not an entirely different one. For example, a dress in navy blue would go well if the bridesmaids are in a cobalt blue or silver or gray would pair nicely with bridesmaids that are in a black formal dress. The biggest rule in color is not to wear the same color as the bride.

Choose a Flattering Color and Style

Make sure that a particular dress doesn’t overwhelm your body or your frame. All dresses may look lovely on the rack, but make certain that it matches your body type for the best results. For example, women with a pear shaped figure do well with the A-line or empire waist dress, while women with hourglass figures show off their curves better in a sheath or wrap dress. Choose any style that accentuates your body type and in a color that complements your skin tone.

Hemlines Matter

If you decide to wear a shorter dress than a formal length, take care when choosing the length of the hem. A hemline that is right at the knee works best for the mother of the bride. If you should choose to wear pants, a longer inseam is more forgiving than a shorter one. Make sure and bring the shoes you will be wearing on your daughter’s big day to your fitting so you can see how the outfit works together.

Make the Design Age-Appropriate

Some mothers of the bride are still quite young or feel younger than they are. Your mother needs to realize that she is going to the  event as your mother and should wear something age appropriate for the occasion. Even if she loves revealing some skin, she needs to realize it’s a formal event and all of the attention should be on the bride. Sleeves with lace and lovely embroidery are some of the details that quite often adorn the mother of the bride’s dresses.

Take a Hint from the Wedding Venue

In the past, mother of the bride wear was an understated sheath with a cocktail jacket on top–not any more. Now just about anything goes. If the wedding venue is a beach wedding, you can wear a strapless dress. You only need to add a wrap or a jacket to a sleeveless dress for it to become formal enough for a chapel wedding. Make sure and take into consideration the season and think elegant, understated and appropriate. (

It’s All in the Timing

You should start the search for your perfect mother of the bride dress at least three months before the wedding so you can have time for special orders and alternations. You can find great choices in department or specialty stores or a bridal salon. Most of the time the mother of the bride buys her dress first and then communicates with the mother of the groom. The mothers’ dresses don’t have to match unless this is something that the bride wishes, but they should complement each other and not take away from the bride in all the photos.

Hair and Makeup

There aren’t any steadfast rules for hair and makeup for the mother of the bride. However, think again of elegant, understated and appropriate that is reflective of your style. You will want to get a fresh mani and pedi the day before the wedding and have your hair and makeup done the day of the wedding just as the bridesmaids. It is up to the bride if you do this with the wedding party or on your own.

Keeping all of these tips in mind when shopping for a mother of the bride dress will help you to choose the perfect outfit. As the mother of the bride, this is a very important day for you as well as your daughter and you want all to go the best possible way that it can.

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