The Mother-of-the-Groom Dress Etiquette Moms Need to Read

From who picks the outfit to which colors are best.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Sep 28, 2023

Now this one's for all the mamas out there shopping for the perfect mother-of-the-groom dresses for their son's big day. Good news, there are plenty of options for finding that perfect mother-of-the-groom dress that will make you feel beautiful and confident. And we're here to help make figuring out what to wear easy because we know that you are out there helping with planning tasks, in addition to your special role in the wedding party on the big day. So, it's time to find the perfect outfit that will make you feel like the "cool mom" you are!

Gone are the days of matronly dresses for moms of the bride and groom. Nowadays, it's all about feeling fashionable and confident in a look that reflects your personal style (with the couple's approval, of course). We're here to guide you through the latest mother-of-the-groom dress etiquette, helping you choose an outfit that will make you feel fabulous while still adhering to wedding customs.

Before you hit the shops for mother-of-the-groom dresses, there are a few things you should consider. What should the mother-of-the-groom wear? What color is appropriate? Don't worry - we've got all the answers. Our expert fashion advice will ensure that you're well-prepared to find a stunning outfit that will make you shine on the big day. So, let's dive in and make sure you're dressed to impress!

In this article:

What Does the Mother-of-the-Groom Wear?

More good news: Mother-of-the-groom dress etiquette isn't complicated. The mother-of-the-groom should wear an outfit that fits the wedding theme while also making them feel stylish, comfortable and confident. Use the season and venue as a starting point for figuring out the style of outfit the mother-of-the-groom should wear. Elegant evening gowns, lace midi dresses and chic jumpsuits are all fab options for moms. Use the couple's set wedding dress code as a guide to finding the color and formality of your fit. Formal weddings require an upscale dress or pantsuit, while the outfit can be more relaxed for a casual wedding. As long as you adhere to the dress code, you are welcome to go for a look that shows off your style—there's no reason you can't wear an of-the-moment trend or your go-to silhouette. Finally, don't forget to finish off your look with a bit of sparkle and a pair of shoes that elevate the outfit while allowing you to dance with the couple all night long.

What Color Should the Mother-of-the-Groom Wear?

The mother-of-the-groom should wear colors that look nice on her and complement the wedding colors. That doesn't mean you're supposed to wear the wedding theme colors—you want to stand out at the wedding, not blend in with the backdrop. If you're unsure where to start with finding the right color for you and your event, don't worry. Nayri, a wedding fashion expert and representative for Lovella Bridal, says her favorite colors for moms are "navy blue, burgundy, champagne, gray, blush pink and pastel blue." She adds, "There are some really pretty fabrics in nice metallic brown colors too."

The couple might want family members to coordinate colors with the wedding party. Work with the to-be-weds to determine a few colors that would complement their preferred palette. "I've seen couples have all the important guests wear the same color, which looks lovely and helps make everyone look cohesive," Nayri says. Have this conversation before shopping, so the process is easier for everyone involved. (Plus, it'll narrow down dress options for you too.)

Is it okay for the mother-of-the-groom to wear black?

    Depending on the wedding theme and dress code, wearing black to a wedding is totally okay. For example, if the couple has decided on a black-tie wedding dress code, wearing black fits perfectly. "I have a lot of Southern clients who say they would never wear black to a wedding. They look at it as a morbid color for a wedding, but a lot of my clients from elsewhere don't mind. It depends on the wedding," Sabatino says.

    Is it okay for the mother-of-the-groom to wear white?

      NO....but in all seriousness, mother-of-the-groom dress etiquette encourages mothers to steer clear of wearing white to a wedding, unless specifically approved by the bride, since they can look white on camera. These shades may look similar to the bride's wedding dress, so it's best to wear different colors to avoid any color mishaps. However, some couples may want an all-white wedding party—if that's the case, wearing a frosty hue is perfectly okay.

      Do the mother-of-the-bride and groom match?

      While mother-of-the-bride dresses are similar to mother-of-the-groom dresses, the moms don't need to match. Both are encouraged to wear outfits that represent their personal style. If the couple does prefer to have the moms wear complementary outfits, try to find colors or silhouettes that look great together. (For example, outfits with bold patterns or bright colors may clash in photos.) By coordinating outfits, the mothers of the bride and groom will avoid mismatched colors or levels of formality. If the moms do end up with very similar gowns, they can differentiate their looks with accessories like jewelry or hair pieces.

      Nayri reminds mothers to not get discouraged while shopping for their wedding outfits. "The mother-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom dresses are often the most challenging to shop for. Primarily because of the inventory and options available. So, try not to put too much emphasis on matching a theme or style. It's okay for things to be different and complement one another," Nayri says.

      Traditionally, the mother-of-the-bride selects her dress first and then tells the mother-of-the-groom what style of dress she chose so the mother-of-the-groom can pick accordingly. So, if you're thinking, 'What does the mother-of-the-groom wear?' Remember, you should find a dress that works in harmony with the mother-of-the-bride's dress. But even though the mother-of-the-bride typically chooses her dress first, that doesn't mean you and her can't go dress shopping together. Think of the shopping process as a perfect opportunity to bond with one another before the big day. Going wedding outfit shopping together also decreases the likelihood of you and the mother-of-the-bride clashing.

      FAQs About Mother-of-the-Groom Wedding Attire

      There are a lot of mother-of-the-groom dress etiquette rules that many mothers have followed, but every wedding and couple is different, so that doesn't mean you have to follow them too. Read below for expert answers to all your mother-of-the-groom wedding attire-related questions to help guide you before the big day.

      Who picks out the mother-of-the-groom dress?

      You're responsible for picking your wedding day outfit—you'll be the one wearing it, after all. Despite this, the mother-of-the-groom is still encouraged to talk about potential wedding outfits with the child-in-law's parent(s) and the couple. Even though it's not a mother-of-the-groom dress rule, Julie Sabatino, bridal stylist and founder of The Stylish Bride, thinks that having a conversation with the couple about what you should wear before shopping is key. "I've seen brides give a lot of pretty strict guidelines. And I've seen some brides say, 'I don't care if you wear white. It doesn't even matter to me.' So no matter who the bride is, it's important to play within that. But in general, I would say that you want the bride's blessing for your dress," Sabatino says. Having an open discussion from the start will ensure everyone is on the same page for the wedding day fashion.

      Who pays for the mother-of-the-groom dress?

      Just like the mother-of-the-bride, the mother-of-the-groom is responsible for paying for her own attire. Depending on the couple's wedding budget, they may offer to pay for your wedding outfit, but unless they tell you this directly, you're expected to cover your mother-of-the-groom outfit costs. Before shopping for your wedding outfit, set a budget so you don't overspend. While shopping, we suggest you take photos of yourself wearing your top three outfit options. Send the photos to the couple for their approval if you're nervous that your selections might clash with the wedding theme or the wedding party's attire. This way, you and the couple are happy and confident about the final decision.

      When should the mother-of-the-groom buy her dress?

      The to-be-weds get their wedding outfits early in the planning process (ideally a year to nine months before the wedding date), and moms should plan to find their looks shortly after. This ensures that everyone has plenty of stress-free time to get alterations if necessary. Even though shopping far ahead of time for your outfit is always a good idea, Sabatino says you may want to consider what season the wedding is in before buying your attire. "If you have a bride getting married next summer, those summer outfits aren't going to be in the stores until next spring. So unless you want something like a navy-colored dress that doesn't relate to any particular season, you can start shopping. Otherwise might not find what you're looking for. You have to figure out when it makes the most sense to shop based on a timing and seasonality perspective," Sabatino explains. So despite traditional mother-of-the-groom dress etiquette saying the mother-of-the-bride should buy her outfit first, have open communication with the mother-of-the-bride before you shop, so both of you can work on a timeline that best fits everyone's needs.

      Does the mother-of-the-groom get ready with the bride?

      Even though the mother-of-the-groom and the bride typically don't get ready together, no mother-of-the-groom dress rule advises against it. This means the decision depends on the relationship you and the bride have with one another. "The bride has to do what feels right to her, but I am of the opinion that she should be more inclusive than not because these are going to be her in-laws for a long time," Sabatino says. If getting ready with the bride isn't in the cards, arrive already dressed and seek the bride out to give well wishes before the wedding ceremony.

      What does the mother-of-the-groom wear to the rehearsal dinner?

      Similar to the groom's mother's dress etiquette for the wedding, you should follow whatever theme and dress code are in place for the rehearsal dinner. Most likely, the couple will put the attire-related information on their rehearsal dinner invitation or their wedding website, so check those two places before contacting the couple about what you should wear. For example, if the invitation says the dress code is semi-formal or dressy formal attire, then you should wear a mid-length dress or classy jumpsuit.

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