You’ve dreamed about your daughter’s wedding day almost as much as she has, and you’ve been by her side every step of the way when it comes to planning every aspect of her wedding.
Now that your daughter has found her dream dress, as the mother of the bride, it’s time for you to start thinking about your own.
But what does the mother of the bride wear, exactly?
You certainly don’t want to upstage your daughter, but just as many eyes will be on you as the bride. You want to find a dress that’s sophisticated, stunning, flattering, and, most of all, one that you feel confident in.
Of course, this is often much easier said than done — and often, mothers of the bride can feel just as anxious as their daughters do when it comes to finding the “perfect dress” for the big day.
Don’t worry — this guide will make it all easy.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about getting the mother of the bride dresses right, so you can stop stressing about what to wear and enjoy the wedding planning process again.
After all, this event only comes once in a lifetime.
The very first step in shopping for dresses for the mother of the bride is to speak to the bride herself.
She may have some strong opinions or preferences about what she’d like you to wear, or she may give you completely free reign (within reason, of course.) Either way, you can both avoid a lot of stress, arguments, and miscommunications by having a quick chat before you head out shopping. (There’s also a good chance she’ll want to come shopping for your MOB dress with you if she can.)
While you should certainly feel free to share your own ideas and opinions, you will need to be prepared to compromise here. As hard as it can be sometimes — especially if you’re footing much of the bill — remember that this is her day, and not your own.
The main thing is for her to be happy and for you to feel comfortable and confident about the way you look in your dress.
What does the mother of the bride wear?
Above all, not a dress that’s the same color and style as the bridesmaid dresses. Remember, as the mother of the bride, you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the bridal party — including the maid of honor.
However, you also don’t want your dress to completely clash with the bridesmaid dresses in the photos.
If you’re concerned about this, then we suggest that you pick a darker or lighter shade of the bridesmaid dress color, or select something within the same color family.
You can also use this guide to help you find complimentary colors that are a totally different shade, but that will still look beautiful with what the bridesmaids are wearing.
The standard mother of the bride etiquette dictates that the mother of the bride should always choose her dress first and that the mother of the groom should then select hers afterward.
This helps to ensure that your looks will compliment each other well and that you’re both on the same level of formality when it comes to what you choose to wear.
Plus, it’s a great way to get to know the groom’s mother much better.
To make sure that you both have enough time for dress shopping and alterations, you should make certain that you’ve made your choice about what you’ll wear to your daughter’s wedding no later than three months before the wedding date.
When it comes to the length of your dress, you’ll need to take the wedding time of day, the season of the year, and venue into consideration just as other wedding guests should.
The good news here is that, even with these guidelines, you still have many more options than mothers of the bride in the past — you’re no longer just confined to a suit jacket, skirt, and oversized corsage.
If the wedding is during the daytime, you can choose a knee-length cocktail dress. For a formal wedding, a floor-length gown is best, and you can usually get away with wearing a floor-length gown as the mother of the bride for evening semiformal weddings, too.
Just make sure that the length of your dress matches the venue and the dress code, too.
For example, a long evening gown would likely not be appropriate for a beach wedding — but it would be fabulous for an elegant indoor event space.
When it comes to the mother of the bride dress color, we can all (hopefully!) agree that white and cream are absolutely out of the question.
However, what about blacks, browns, and other darker shades?
While in the past, one might not wear black to a wedding, especially in recent years, it’s become a more and more popular choice for both bridesmaids dresses and mother of the bride attire.
After all, it goes with everything, is incredibly flattering to the figure, and adds a touch of elegance.
If you’d prefer a darker color, but your daughter has nixed the idea of you wearing a black MOB dress, then you can look to deep plums and navy blues. You can also consider wearing a black dress with accents of brighter shades like pinks, yellows, and greens.
It’s tough to go wrong with metallic shades, too.
Silvers and golds look flattering on nearly every skin tone, and they don’t require much additional accessorizing.
Check with your daughter to see if she’d like for you to wear a dress that compliments or outright matches her chosen wedding colors.
While many people assume that choosing the right cut and color of your MOB dress is the most challenging part of getting your outfit right, it’s often the fabric that becomes a seriously difficult decision.
Some mothers of the bride may prefer traditional lace fabric, while others can’t wear a dress with a lace overlay as it’s a bit too close to the bride’s dress.
You may want a fabric with a bit of sheen to it, such as satin or silk — or that may be far too “girly” for your taste.
If you want to show off your figure, a knit or jersey fabric may be the right choice for you — but if you’d prefer to hide a few things, it’s not the best option.
If you’d prefer to go a bit bolder with your look, then you could go for a dress made of sequined fabric, or even a floral print or fun pattern (just don’t go too wild here, or you’ll risk upstaging the bride and standing out for the wrong reasons.)
In the end, the best thing to do in order to find the right fabric is to try out several options and see which one is the most flattering and comfortable for you.
Of course, choosing the most flattering cut — and one that’s still appropriate for a mother of the bride — is certainly difficult.
The golden rule here is to show as much as you feel comfortable showing, while still finding an age-appropriate option. The last thing you want to do is embarrass your daughter or have everyone talking about how low-cut your dress was as opposed to how beautiful she looked.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be ultra-conservative, either. The general idea is to pick one feature, in particular, to show off, and no more than that. Maybe you want to show your neck and cleavage, your awesome legs, your pilates-toned arms, or even pick a dress that’s flattering to your bum.
It’s a good idea to pick necklines that are off-the-shoulder, v-necked, scooped, or run straight across. Don’t be afraid to show off your collarbones or a small amount of cleavage, just don’t go overboard.
Leg slits shouldn’t be extreme, but after all, you still need to have one that allows you to dance a bit. You can also opt for a dress that’s fairly conservative in the front, but that also does an awesome job of showing off your back.
It’s all about dressing in a way that will make you feel confident — and choosing the right supportive undergarments. Girdles, bras, slips, and anything else that will help you to look your best are all key. Make sure that you take these items in with you when you’re having your MOB dress altered so that the fit is absolutely perfect.
We’ve pretty much covered the basics of what a mother of the bride should wear on her daughter’s wedding day when it comes to the dress, but what should you do regarding accessories and shoes?
Of course, you want to pick shoes that you feel comfortable in, as you don’t want to slip or trip on your way up the aisle to your seat. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with a thick low heel, or even a high one if you feel comfortable walking in it.
Also, keep in mind that you can always switch up your shoes as the night goes on. You don’t have to dance in your highest heels all night — it’s totally OK to switch to a more utilitarian option for the reception.
After all, you want to be able to dance with as many people as you can and show off your moves!
For shoes, metallics and neutrals are always a smart move — gold, silver, or even beige or black pumps are all excellent options (once again, be sure to keep the venue in mind.) Plus, going with a neutral shoe means there’s a good chance that you actually will wear it again.
But what about when it comes to accessories and jewelry?
We love the idea of wearing a bracelet that your daughter also wears, but if she’s not into matching, it’s OK to make a statement with your jewelry if you’re wearing a more neutral dress.
The right brooch can take an already fabulous outfit to the next level.
For earrings, we suggest keeping things simple, especially if you’re wearing your hair down. Pearl and diamond studs are always a nice option. When it comes to necklaces, generally, for a MOB dress, we say steer clear — especially if you’re going with an out-of-the-box neckline.
We hope that this post has helped to answer the eternal question, “What does the mother of the bride wear to her daughter’s wedding?”
Remember that it’s OK, even fun, to show a little bit of your personality when it comes to your outfit. Still, in order to avoid any disasters, be as transparent with your daughter as possible, and make sure that you always take her preferences into consideration.
Are you ready to start looking at some options for the perfect mother of the bride dress?
If so, then we’d absolutely love to help you find a dress that everyone can agree on, and that you feel completely stunning in, as well.
No matter the color, length, fabric, cut, or style that you’re looking for, we have the right dress. Use this page to learn where to buy our gowns.
Now is the time to browse through our incredible collection and see just how much mother of the bride dresses have changed for the better.