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Everything to Know About Mother of the Bride Attire Etiquette

Plus, answers to the most common style questions.
Sarah Hanlon
by Sarah Hanlon

The mother of the bride holds an important role in a wedding party. Not only can she help execute certain details and act as a point person for family members and guests, she'll be a rock throughout the entire planning process. (And for that, she deserves a thoughtful giftor two). But of all the mother of the bride duties, one of the most important is picking out her wedding day outfit. Mother of the bride attire etiquette can be confusing at first, especially since it's different for each wedding. As with bridal fashion, mother of the bride attire doesn't have many steadfast rules. There are a few considerations to take into account, like the bridesmaid gowns, the mother of the groom's dress and the bride's preference. In general, though, the bride's mom is encouraged to wear something she and her daughter both love. Here, we answer the most common mother of the bride attire questions, from who picks the outfit to what color she should wear.  

What Does the Mother of the Bride Wear?

Mother of the bride attire etiquette is constantly evolving. In the past, mother of the bride dresses had a reputation for being matronly or overly conservative—but that's hardly the case anymore. (Psst: The same goes for grandmother of the bride dresses too.) Moms are encouraged to wear an outfit that they love (with the bride's approval, of course). Sleek evening gowns, trendy midis, maxi dresses and structured jumpsuits are all great options for the mother of the bride. 

There are a few factors that can influence mother of the bride attire. First and foremost, seasonality will help dictate the style of outfit mom chooses. For example, the mother of the bride may not want to wear a long, heavy skirt or lace sleeves in the middle of summer, and she may prefer to cover up with a wrap or shawl for a winter wedding. As with the wedding dress and bridesmaid gowns, mother of the bride attire should be appropriate for the season. 

The wedding venue can also help determine what the mother of the bride wears. A formal setting calls for a more upscale outfit, while a casual look is appropriate for laid-back celebrations. Take inspiration from the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses, as these can help influence what the mother of the bride should wear. 

Does the Bride Pick the Mother of the Bride Dress?

Choosing the mother of the bride dress should be a collaborative effort. The bride will likely have ideas and opinions on what her mom should wear, but mom should get a say as well. Mother of the bride attire should be comfortable and flattering—after all, it's a special day for her too, and she'll want to look and feel her best. As a general rule of thumb, it's best to ask for the bride's thoughts on color and style before starting the shopping process. This is especially important if mom is considering a look that's similar to the bride's dress.

What Color Does the Mother of the Bride Wear? 

There's not one specific color the mother of the bride should wear. It's generally best to steer clear of white, ivory or champagne hues as to not take attention away from the bride. However, with the popularity of über-chic all-white bridal parties, it's perfectly acceptable to wear any shade that gets the bride's approval. 

The bridesmaid dresses and wedding color scheme can both influence mother of the bride attire. If the bridal party has mismatched dresses, the mother of the bride can easily find a look that complements the rest of the wedding party. 

Does the Mother of the Bride Dress Need to Match Bridesmaids? 

No, the mother of the bride doesn't need to match the bridesmaids or the wedding party in general. The bride may prefer to have corresponding colors for a cohesive look, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Instead of matching colors, consider looking for a mother of the bride dress in a similar hue that complements the bridesmaids. A consultant at your local bridal salon can help with color matching if that's what the bride wants. 

It's also fine for the mother of the bride to wear an outfit that doesn't match the bridesmaids or the wedding color scheme. Some brides may not have a preference for what mom wears. If that's the case, any appropriate look will do. 

Should Mothers of the Bride and Groom Match? 

It's not necessary for the mothers of the bride and groom to match. The couple may prefer to have their moms wear complementary colors, though, in which case both are advised to discuss outfit ideas together. The couple can offer suggestions for colors, styles and levels of formality to help their moms choose wedding day outfits. While not necessarily required, having the mothers of the bride and groom collaborate on their attire will make for a smoother process and eliminate any style mishaps. 

Before shopping for a mother of the bride dress, it's best to ask the bride for her guidance or opinion. Doing so will ensure that the mother of the bride attire is appropriate for the wedding day. Once mom has a few ideas of what to wear, she can begin to shop for a look that she (and her daughter) will love. 

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