Mother of the Bride Style Tips & Dress Etiquette

Mother of the Bride

Style Tips & Dress Etiquette

Your daughter just got engaged, and you’re over the moon! Along with the excitement you’re certainly feeling as a proud mom, you’re likely facing some apprehension and uncertainty about mother of the bride etiquette and responsibilities.

What is the role of the mother of the bride? What wedding traditions do you need to follow? How can you best communicate with the mother of the groom? Our mother of the bride planning guide is here to answer these questions and more, with practical advice for choosing a dress, coordinating with the rest of the wedding party, and supporting your daughter as she prepares for an unforgettable day.

Overall Advice for Mothers of the Bride and Groom

Mother of the Bride

While the dress may be the first thing that comes to mind, there’s much more to the role of mother of the bride. A good mother of the bride is on hand throughout the planning process to offer advice and support. Though wedding planning is guaranteed to have highs and lows, your daughter will deeply appreciate all your help in making her perfect day a reality.

To avoid any extra stress, ensure that you and your daughter are on the same page when it comes to the mother of the bride dress. Talk through her vision for bridal party attire, and then share some possibilities for your ideal dress. Consider each other’s feelings and be prepared to compromise when you’re ready to go dress shopping. In addition, find out how she would like to coordinate dress selection with her bridesmaids and the mother of the groom to make sure there are no clashing styles!

Once your dress is chosen and the wedding day has arrived, set aside a few quiet minutes to spend together as you’re getting ready. You might prepare a few pieces of advice to share with your daughter, or surprise her with a small, meaningful gift that holds special memories of the day.

Still searching for more guidance on all things M.O.B.? For a deep dive into mother of the bride duties, consider adding wedding planner Katie Martin’s The Mother of the Bride Guide to your reading list; Martin covers everything from wedding planning to navigating your new in-laws to (of course) choosing the perfect dress.

Mother of the Groom

As mother of the groom, the wedding may mark the beginning of a brand-new relationship with your future daughter-in-law’s family. Even if you already know the mother of the bride, you don’t want to step on any toes during the planning process! How you choose to coordinate mother of the bride and groom dresses will depend on your relationship with the bride and her mom. Before you start shopping, talk to the groom about the best ways to communicate and who should be involved in the dress selection process. Consider asking the bride if she has any requests or guidelines, and then ask for an introduction to the mother of the bride so you can share ideas and be sure your dresses complement one another and the bridal party.


Wedding planning offers an opportunity to make once-in-a-lifetime memories with your mom, and communication is key as you work together to plan the perfect day! Set aside time to talk about ideas for the mother of the bride dress, with the goal of finding a look that coordinates with the rest of the wedding party and makes your mom feel her best.

Questions to consider:
• Is there a style, length or color you’d prefer she wear?
• Would you like her to coordinate with your bridesmaids?
• Would you like to shop with her for the dress?
• Would you like her to coordinate with the mother of the groom?
• How far in advance should her dress decisions be made?

As the wedding date gets closer, consider picking up a gift to surprise your mom and thank her for all her help during the planning process. Keepsake jewelry is one of our favorite mother of the bride gift ideas; you might choose a bracelet, a pair of earrings, or even a locket that holds a photo of you together. Whenever she wears the item, she’ll be reminded of your wedding memories.


The wedding planning process is different for each family, and it may feel tricky to navigate your role as stepmother of the bride or groom. How you communicate with the mothers of the bride and groom will depend on your family dynamics; when in doubt, let your daughter or son take the lead, make introductions, and guide the dress shopping process. Be sensitive to the feelings of the couple and their parents as you choose your ensemble. It may be thoughtful to let the mothers of the bride and groom find their dresses first, then select a more understated, coordinating option that still showcases your style.

FAQs, Dress Tips, & Etiquette

Choosing the perfect dress is one of your biggest mother of the bride responsibilities, and you’re likely to need some guidance before you start shopping! Dress etiquette for the mother of the bride has changed a lot in recent years, and you have more freedom than ever to express your personal style on the wedding day. The BHLDN stylists have answered common questions about mother of the bride dress color etiquette, styling, and shopping. Their guidance on silhouettes, accessorizing, and choosing a look that complements the bridal party serves as a helpful starting point for finding the most flattering mother of the bride (or groom!) dress.

1. Should mother of the bride dresses coordinate with bridesmaids?

While it can certainly look nice in photos, this rule was meant to be broken. With mix-and-match bridesmaids gaining popularity, it can be fun to wear a shade within the palette; you’ll coordinate, but it won’t look too matchy-matchy. If you’re still unsure, metallics are a neutral in our book! They lend themselves well to bridal parties of all color palettes, while floral prints with a rich mix of colors are another great option.

What color should I wear?
• If bridesmaids wear black or navy: silver, champagne, charcoal, navy
• If bridesmaids wear gold or neutrals: gold, champagne, ivory
• If bridesmaids wear red or pink: champagne, taupe, floral prints with red or pink tones
• If bridesmaids wear white or blush: burgundy, champagne, floral prints with pink or neutral tones
• If bridesmaids wear light blue or silver: navy, charcoal, French blue

2. Are there colors I shouldn’t wear?

Traditionally, mothers of the bride and groom avoid shades that too closely match the bride’s gown, such as white, ivory, and champagne. In addition, you may choose to avoid black (which can suggest mourning) and red (sometimes considered too dramatic). However, it’s ultimately up to the bride to decide if she wants to adhere to these rules. With the rising popularity of black and white bridesmaid dresses, these colors are becoming more appropriate for moms, too. And a bright pop of color may look amazing with a vibrant maids’ palette. Before you start shopping, touch base with the bride to determine how she feels about color and any shades that may be off-limits.

3. Which styles are appropriate?

There’s no need for mother of the bride dresses to feel frumpy or conservative! Modern etiquette allows for strapless dresses, a variety of lengths, and even chic jumpsuits for moms—just be sure to take your daughter’s feelings into account. Like color, it’s up to the bride to decide which dress styles are appropriate for the mother of the bride or groom.

If you need more guidance, let the overall dress code guide you as you start shopping; a floor-length, sequined gown might be the perfect choice for a glamorous black-tie wedding, but feel completely out of place at a backyard ceremony. Look to the bridesmaid dresses for guidance on patterns and embellishments; if the maids’ dresses include beading, sequins or prints, those are fair game for you, too! Finally, communicate with your daughter and determine her comfort level if you’d like to select a more daring style. Most of all, you want to be sure that your dress doesn’t upstage her wedding gown on the big day!

4. How can mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses coordinate?

Traditionally, the mother of the bride selects her dress first, which informs what the mother of the groom will choose. However, we find it more effective to communicate early and often with the mother of the groom (and any stepmothers on either side) throughout the shopping process. If you’re not close with the mother of the groom, ask your daughter to help get the conversation started.

Once you’re ready to chat, discuss color, pattern, formality, and style to avoid any potential clashes. Decide if you’d like to wear the same color, complementary shades, or patterns that coordinate with the bridesmaid dresses. You may choose to share photos with each other during the shopping process to be sure that your dresses coordinate, or even go shopping together! Finally, be sure to share when you’ve found your dress to confirm that you haven’t both selected the same one.

5. How far in advance should I start looking for a dress?

As soon as possible! Once the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses have been chosen, you can start shopping for your mother of the bride dress. Ideally, you’ll find your dress around six months before the big day, leaving ample time for shipping and alterations.

6. I’m petite (under 5’4”). Any tips for choosing a dress?

Consider your proportions and give extra thought to length to ensure the hemline hits you in a flattering place. The best silhouettes for petite MOBs are above-the-knee, maxi, or tea-length, which hits mid-calf for a slimming effect. The good thing is, BHLDN dresses are designed with alterations in mind!

7. What’s the most universally flattering silhouette?

You can’t go wrong with an A-line dress! It nips in the slimmest part of the natural waist and floats gently away from the hips. Large-scale lace and allover embellishment have a streamlined effect on any silhouette, and we love a stretch lining for the perfect fit.

8. Can you recommend shoes that will be comfortable all night but fancy enough for my dress?

Go for a pair of fancy flats or kitten heels! Crystals, lace, bows, or blooms more than make up for a lack of height. While you’re shoe shopping, don’t forget to cross jewelry and hairstyle ideas off your mother of the bride checklist.

9. It’s going to be chilly on the wedding day. Any tips?

The easy answer is sleeves! Three-quarter sleeves are ultra-flattering and provide coverage without sacrificing style. If you have your heart set on a style with short or cap sleeves, add a matching wrap, pashmina, or cover up.

Ready to find your dress?

Shop All Mother Of The Bride Dresses

Shop All
Mother Of The
Bride Dresses

Top of Page