Wedding Advice: What should the Mother of the Bride or Groom Wear?

May 17, 2019

This post originally appeared on the Adrianna Papell blog.


No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, dressing for your son or daughter’s big day can be both joyous and stressful. On this momentous occasion, it’s no doubt you’ll want to look and feel your best. Gone are the days of matronly dresses in muted colors and stuffy silhouettes. We are in an age where Mom’s are invited– and encouraged!– to express their personal style. Here are the top questions our stylists get when outfitting every mother of the bride or groom…


Who should I include in my dress shopping experience?


The bride– and potentially the groom depending on his level of involvement in the planning– should absolutely be included in your dress shopping experience. Although, the level of their involvement is more a matter of the bride and groom’s personal preference. More traditional brides may want to be consulted prior to any purchase being made, but a modern bride may be ok with you choosing what fits your personal style. This is an important conversation that should be had at the start of wedding planning.


Traditionally, the mother of the bride purchases her gown first. The mother of the groom will then choose a gown that follows the MOB’s lead. This rule is now more of a guideline. Talk to the bride, groom, and the other mother prior to starting your shopping experience to gauge everyone’s comfort level. Remember that this is not a competition and that everyone’s style is different. Be prepared to find a middle ground if you disagree on how this should be handled.


What color should I wear?


Gone are the days of boring colors for Mom– and we could not be happier. Talk to your bride and groom about their color scheme and what the bridesmaids will be wearing. Be sure to have a conversation about which colors they are and are not comfortable with you wearing for their day. Most importantly, don’t become to attached to the idea of wearing a specific color ahead of having this conversation. The more traditional bride may have a very specific vision in mind. Other brides may be a bit more flexible to your preferences. This conversation is crucial. One color to absolutely avoid  without explicit permission from the bride? WHITE.


Does the mother of the bride or groom have to match the bridesmaids?


Not necessarily. Typically speaking the mother of the bride and mother of the groom will not be expected to wear the same color as the bridesmaids, but every wedding is different. We recommend matching the bridesmaids without wearing the exact same color. Our keys to a cohesive bridal party? Try a different shade of the color the bridal party is wearing– either several lighter or darker– or choose a complementary color. Blacks, golds, and dark silvers are also appropriate if the wedding is a formal event. Consult the bride and groom about their vision of their wedding day for guidance on your color options. For example, if the bridal party is in blush, the below options are pretty picks for the MOB and MOG:



Do the mother of the bride and mother of the groom have to wear the same color?


This is completely up to the bride and groom. In your pre-shopping talks with them and your soon-to-be in-laws, have a discussion about choosing a color and get on the same page. Everyone has a color they feel their best in, but take the bride’s lead. Here are two complementary styles that are very different, but work together:




When should I start shopping for the mother of the bride or groom dress?


Once you’ve consulted with the bride and groom about the color scheme and dress code of the wedding, we recommend that you start shopping for your mother of the bride or groom dress as early as possible. Set an absolute deadline for yourself to ensure you stay on schedule and ahead of the wedding taking all factors into account. These factors include: ship time (if ordering online or choosing a custom design), alterations, and unexpected delays. We recommend purchasing the dress no later than two months ahead of the wedding date.


What is the best silhouette for my body type?


At the end of the day, no matter your body type, the best dress is the dress you feel most beautiful in. Here are some guidelines on fits that flatter based on body shape,  but remember these are not hard and fast rules:

Rectangle (Straight up and down): A v-neck style or off-the-shoulder neckline with a form-fitting bottom or trumpet skirt. These details create the illusion of curves.


Inverted Triangle (broad shoulders, slim hips and shapely legs): Balance broader shoulders with v-necklines and a-line skirts. A fit and flare silhouette that nips at the waist will create a shapely look.


Pear (widest at your hips): Balance your figure by accentuating the top of your body with details like an off the shoulder neckline or fit and flare silhouette.



Hourglass (curvy with a smaller waist): Fitted silhouettes highlights this figure best. Steer clear of loose, baggy dresses.



How dressed up should I get?


Define this early with the bride and groom. The level of formality depends on these three factors: dress code, venue, and time of day. A daytime outdoor wedding with a rustic reception in a barn to follow calls for a less formal look than a evening soiree in a ballroom. Take these details into consideration and you’re look will reflect it.


Formal White or Black Tie Wedding:


Cocktail/Semi-Formal Wedding:


Daytime Wedding:


What length should my dress be?


Take the factors mentioned above into account to best answer this question: dress code, venue, time of day. Formal black tie and white tie weddings call for long gowns, while cocktail and semi-formal weddings are a little less dressy and a tea-length or cocktail style may be appropriate. Base your decision off of the bride and groom’s plans.


Is there such a thing as looking too sexy as the mother of the bride or groom?


Yes, as with any event, there’s always the possibility of looking too sexy. Nix dresses with overly trendy details from the start to eliminate any doubt. Say no to plunging necklines, cutout details, high slit skirts, and lace up accents. Go for modern and stylish rather than sexy and overexposed. If you found the perfect dress, but are nervous about the neckline, a shawl or jacket will help you feel more comfortable. Here are our picks:




What is the best style tip you can give me as mother of the bride or groom?


Photos last forever– choose a timeless style that you feel your best in and there’s no going wrong.