Dress Etiquette for Mothers of the Bride and Groom


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Your child is getting married, and you want to properly honor the auspicious occasion. How do you look and feel your best while adhering to proper mother of the bride or mother of the groom dress etiquette? While fashion trends change frequently and social norms evolve over time, there are some current and enduring customs to consider carefully before selecting your dress. 

Dress Codes

There may be certain dress styles or features that the bride and groom would like you to avoid or certain dress codes you should adhere to. You should know whether you're shopping for a black tie, semi-formal or a more casual wedding since what's acceptable in dress design changes depending on these factors.

Beyond formality, the couple may have other aesthetic preferences. Maybe they'd like every woman involved in the wedding party or ceremony in floor-length dresses, or maybe they want a touch of lace detailing in each dress. It’s important to know about any restrictions or requirements up front so you can look for a dress that meets all the criteria. 

Color Restrictions

Your grandmother may have said you shouldn't ever wear black or purple to a wedding. While that may have been true for previous generations, wearing violet hues and black dresses is much more acceptable in modern-day weddings. One color you do want to avoid, however, is white or cream. Not only could it look outdated, these colors often clash or compete with the bride's light gown. Avoid whites and creams for the sake of the photos, especially.

Of course, mother of the groom and mother of the bride dress color etiquette is primarily founded on open communication with the soon-to-be-married couple and the color scheme they've chosen for their wedding. Ask the bride and groom if they want you to wear the same color as the wedding party or whether there are any specific colors you should avoid. After all, you want to make them happy on their big day.

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Wedding Location

Several details of the wedding ceremony and reception may affect which mother of the bride and mother of the groom dress styles are considered appropriate: 


Autumn and winter weddings may call for long-sleeved dresses in darker, cool shades. Sleeveless or short sleeved dresses in floral prints that feature lighter and brighter tones are more common choices for spring and summer weddings. Elevate the elegance of your dress choice in any season with a matching or complementary jacket. 


If the wedding is taking place inside a religious establishment, you may be required to cover your shoulders, whereas an outdoor beach wedding may have more lenient dress code requirements. Consider venue and whether you'll be primarily indoors or out when making your choice.


Evening weddings tend to be more formal than daytime events, so you'll want to dress accordingly. An evening gown at a morning ceremony may look out of place, whereas a short, floral dress might not fit in at an evening affair. No single style is better than any of the others. The correct choice comes down to how well each dress suits the specific event.

Communicate with the Bride and the Other Mother

Once you find a few dresses that seem to be a good fit, get the bride’s input before buying. That’s not to say you must follow her preference, but you can feel more confident in your choice if you know her opinion. Plus, dress shopping together is a nice bonding experience to share with your daughter or soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

You may also want to include the other mother of the wedding party in the dress discussion. If you’re the mother of the bride, talk with the groom’s mother about the dresses you're thinking of wearing. Open communication helps you avoid getting gowns that are too similar or too contrasting.

Whether you’re the mother of the bride or groom, you also want to know that no one else at the wedding will wear the same dress as you. With the unique patterns created from luxury imported materials in St. John Knit's California studio, or wedding guest designs offer a selection of mother of the bride or groom gowns and separates that you can feel confident in on your son or daughter's special day.