What's a Mother to Wear? (Almost) Anything!

Naturally, you want to look terrific on the day your daughter or son gets married—because while it’s true that all eyes will be on the bride, they’ll also be on you. The old concept that both moms are supposed to look matronly was retired long ago, along with the colorless advice that the mother of the groom should wear beige, unless that’s her color. Fashionable, tasteful and age-appropriate are in.

These days, virtually anything goes—formal gown, short or long dress, skirt-and-jacket ensemble—so long as it matches the style of the wedding. Brides can be very helpful by encouraging “the moms” to work together in choosing their outfits. Some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Traditionally, the bride’s mother has the honor of selecting her outfit first.
  • Try not to choose colors that are the same or very similar to the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses—you won’t stand out.
  • Wear different colors from each other. Variations on the wedding color scheme are fine as long as each mother’s dress is distinct.
  • The length of the gown or dress is a personal choice, even for formal weddings. Long dresses and skirts are fine for any wedding from noon on.
  • The mothers do not have to wear dresses of equal length, although many do, feeling that it creates a more harmonious look, especially in wedding photos.

Wedding Outfit Wisdom: Top Five Tips

  1. A specialty store, rather than a department store, will offer much more personalized attention throughout the process—from choosing a dress to making alterations to selecting just the right undergarments.
  2. If possible, bring in a swatch of the bridesmaids’ gown material when you go shopping, or have a description of the gown’s color.
  3. Order your outfit at least two to three months ahead of time, and allow at least two weeks for alterations.
  4. When buying your dress, get specific advice on which undergarments and hose will go best with it.
  5. As for who calls whom to discuss ‘our outfits,’ the mother of the groom shouldn’t stand on ceremony; if she hasn’t heard anything once the initial wedding plans are underway, she’s perfectly welcome to call the mother of the bride.