Mother of The Bride: Essential Styling Tips for Etiquette Rules

Mother of The Bride: Essential Styling Tips for Etiquette Rules

The wedding of your daughter will be one of the most memorable events in your lifetime, so as the mother of the bride, you’ll want to look your best.

While it’s true that all eyes will be on the bride a lot of the attention will also be on you.

You want to look and feel beautiful and elegant.

But to find the perfect dress, you must take into account the wedding setting, theme and what the vision your daughter has for her big day. 

So, celebrate your daughter’s wedding day in style as we reveal essential styling tips for you to look your best on the big day. 

What to Do Before Choosing Your Dress

Consult with The Bride

It’s the bride’s day and you want to make it perfect, so it’s important to consult her before heading out to buy your dress.

While you may have your own sense of style, it’s crucial that you consider your daughter’s motif.

So, talk to the bride and ask her about her preferences and see how she envisions your look.

You want to ensure the outfit compliments the style of the wedding and the colour scheme.

There may be a certain colour she has in mind that coordinates with the bridesmaids or she may prefer that you stay away from certain colours like black. 

You can even ask your daughter for recommendations on colours and dress styles and make your pick so that it matches her expectations.

Consider the Location and Venue

The type of wedding plays a critical role in terms of what the wedding party should wear. 

The details make a difference in determining dress length, colour, and the type of shoes that might work best.

These days you can get married just about anywhere so it’s important to think about your outfit in relation to the venue.

When first starting to plan your mother of the bride outfit, look to the wedding location itself for inspiration.

If your daughter is having an overseas destination wedding, where the weather may be a lot warmer, you may want to opt for a lightweight dress such as a maxi-style chiffon dress or simple slim-fitting column-style dress.  

But, in addition to location, religious and cultural customs need to be taken into account as well.

For example, if your daughter is having a church wedding, this is a setting which traditionally sees a more conservative style of dress.

But, if she isn’t having a religious ceremony, then you may be able to opt for a more relaxed style or less conservative type of dress.

Consider the Weather

As well as thinking about style, you do need to consider the functionality of your outfit.

Elements to consider include the length, weight of the material, sleeve style, and colour.

If the bride is having an outdoor wedding, it is best to take an outer layer of some sort with you, even if the weather is good.

So perhaps find a matching jacket and wrap which is great for the changing weather. 

To ensure you appear suitably sophisticated for the day, select an elegant style, such as a chiffon design or a lace bolero, in a colour that matches your dress.

However, make sure you are happy with the outfit with the jacket off so that if it gets a bit warm throughout the day, you can take it off and still look good.

If the weather is hot, wearing lightweight, natural fabrics for summer weddings will help to keep you cool in the heat. 

What to Consider When Choosing Your Outfit

Start Shopping As Soon As Possible

There’s nothing more stressful than trying to get what you want last-minute.

So, don’t leave shopping for your special dress to chance.

You’ll have enough to stress about as the big day approaches, so get your dress taken care of well in advance.

You may need to go to various kinds of stores to try on different styles before you find the right dress for you.

If you are interested in custom made dresses, you should take into consideration even more time for the rounds of fitting and alterations. 

So, it’s best to purchase the dress at least three to six months before the wedding day.

If you are following tradition, you will also need enough time to let the mother of the groom know that you have purchased your dress so that she can purchase hers.

Avoid Certain Colours

There are certain colours that the mother of the bride should not wear.

Unless otherwise instructed, is to never wear white or any colour close to what the bride has chosen to wear.

Other standard colours to avoid include ivory, white and champagne.

Another colour to avoid is black. 

If black is a colour that you usually like to wear, this might be the time to reconsider.

Black tends to be associated with mourning or funerals, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear it to a wedding.

The traditional etiquette is, whatever colour you choose, you just want to avoid clashing with the bride.   

Check with The Rest of The Wedding Party

Try to coordinate with the mother of the groom, so you don’t turn up in very similar looks and ideally not in the same colour.

Generally, choose an outfit that compliments the bridesmaid’s dresses as well as the colours of the wedding.

However, try not to go for something too similar.

To stand out a bit from the bridesmaids, so your dress should complement rather than match the bridesmaid’s dresses. 

You can always go for colours that complement the whole wedding entourage, so check with your daughter to see if she has a particular colour or theme in mind.

Pick an Outfit That Complements the Bridesmaids

As a general rule, the mother of the bride should shy away from choosing the same colour dress as bridesmaids.

However, it should still compliment the style of the bridesmaid’s dresses.

It can be a different style from theirs, but the hues should feel cohesive.

So, if the bridal party is wearing royal blue, you could wear navy; if they’re in purple, look for a dress in lavender.

Stay within the same colour spectrum for a harmonious look that’ll still set you apart.

Dress for Comfort

Comfort is key for the big day, so make sure you are completely happy with your outfit and how it feels.

It’s hard to enjoy yourself when something is too tight or too loose and there’s nothing worse wearing a great outfit but feeling uncomfortable all day. 

Weddings are notorious for being very long days so make sure whatever you are wearing is comfortable enough so that it doesn’t distract you from enjoying your daughter’s big day. 

Choose a dress with plenty of movement, which still feels comfortable so that you are free to dance the night away.

If you're not used to wearing stilettoes, your daughter's wedding isn't the place to start.

Be kind to your feet and get dressy shoes with a comfortable heel.

If you know you’re not going to last through your event in your heels, choose a pair of stylish but comfortable flats instead.

Also, if you are buying new shoes, don’t forget to wear them around the house a few times so you know you won’t get blisters halfway through the day.

Choose an Outfit That Fits Your Personal Style

Although it’s customary to go with the motives and the couple’s preferences, it is also important not to ditch your personal style.

It’s essential you still find something you feel confident wearing and that reflects your own individual style.

You can take others’ opinion on board, but at the end of the day it is such a special occasion and you should feel amazing in what you wear.

Be sure you feel good in what you’re wearing, and that what you’re wearing is right for you.

Be true to your unique style and you will look amazing. 

Choose an Appropriate Dress

Don’t be afraid to show your body off in a form-fitting dress but remember to keep it classy. 

You don’t want to wear a dress that is too short or has a deep neckline. 

Try and choose a dress that is stylish, yet still is appropriate so it keeps you looking elegant and sophisticated. 

Don't Look Like You're Competing with the Bride  

A basic rule of wedding etiquette is that the mother of the bride should not outshine her daughter.

This dress is going to be an important purchase, but remember that this isn’t a bridal gown

So, don’t choose gowns or dresses that would overpower the bridal gown.

Also, try to avoid loud patterns that will overwhelm in photos and make you stand out from the rest of the wedding party.

How to Make Sure You Look Perfect in Your Dress

Dress for Your Body Type

Your outfit should work with your body shape, not the other way around.

Wearing an outfit that is not suitable for your body shape could add pounds to your waistline and make you look frumpy. 

Instead, choose a style that flatters your body shape.

Take A Photo in Your Dress

One of the best ways to make up your mind is to see how the dress looks in a photo.

Ask your friend, daughter or even the shop assistant to take photos of you in your favourite mother of the bride outfit. 

Once you see how the dress looks in photographs, you’ll be able to make a decision.

Choose the Right Accessories

Your accessories can either make you or break you, so it’s important that you choose elegant pieces that will complement your overall do. 

Pairing the simplest dress with a statement hat and the right shoes and bag can be more impactful.


If you decide not to wear a hat, you could opt for an alternative simpler style such a cocktail hat or fascinator in colours which compliment your outfit. 

It’s important to ensure that any head pieces don’t swamp your frame and doesn’t hide your face.

Finally, make sure that you opt for a colour which complements your dress or matches the rest of your accessories.

This will complete your outfit and bring it together as a whole.


This special occasion also calls for a special bag.

You need a place to store your phone, makeup and other essentials so, a chic will do the trick, so long as it compliments your outfit. 

Wear the Right Underwear

In order to look and feel the best on this special day, you want to make sure you are prepared inside out.

So, make sure you look for undergarments that go well with your dress.

Most importantly, shapewear can also change your posture and add your confidence on this big day of your daughter.

This will also smooth out any lines to make sure no underwear lines are peeking through your dress.

Etiquette Rules

While it may seem old-fashioned, following etiquette rules is certainly good form, however, it's not a requirement.

The Mother of The Bride Buys Her Dress First

Traditionally, the bride’s mother has the honour of selecting her outfit first.

Customarily, the length of the dress for mother of the groom should match the length for mother of the bride.

So, the mother of the groom should reach out to the mother of the bride to ask what she is wearing, and then choose her own outfit accordingly. 

This way you can avoid clashing colours or styles.

If possible, collaborate with the mother of the groom to make sure everyone is on the same page before heading to the bridal shop.

The two mothers’ looks should complement one another, and the mother of the groom will typically take style cues from your dress of choice.

Sometimes the mothers will even choose to go shopping together.

This makes a great bonding experience while also ensuring that the two dresses coordinate beautifully. 

Where to Shop For Your Outfit 

When considering how to find the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress, take the time to research stores before visiting.  

Speciality Stores

In comparison to department stores, shops that specialize in bridal wear are better since they will be able to provide you with more options that could meet your specific needs.

The assistants there are experts in their field and will know the best styles to flatter your shape.

They can also help tailor your dress to fit you perfectly.

So, this is the best option for you if you if you don’t know what shapes and colours suit you. 


Shopping online is convenient and there are a lot of websites to explore 

If you are shopping online for your dress, make sure you do it well in advance.

Not only will you have to wait until the dress is delivered to you, but you need to be sure it looks good on you once you try it on.

Major department store retail sites have a specific wedding shop category and carry a broad range of sizes from petite to plus, which is not so easy to find in small bridal speciality stores. 

But you don't need to shop for an actual wedding and mother of the bride dress. 

Dresses slotted in categories for evening, cocktail wear and formal wear will also have great options. 

Department Stores

Department stores will also have plenty of selections of formal wear and evening dresses that you can choose from.

But, if you choose a department store dress, you run the risk of someone else turning up to the wedding wearing the same dress. 


There are no rules on what you should and should not wear, but when it comes to the selection process, always remember that being considerate on the bride and groom-to-be.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.