Mother of the Bride – Dress Etiquette

by Katya Maker Mother-of-the-Bride dresses are a special breed. You want something that’s fabulous and flattering, yet comfortable. Just as with your daughter’s gown, the time, setting and season of the event will dictate the appropriate attire for you. I always say to my clients, “Use the opportunity to dress up – not all of us have been blessed with a daughter”. But donning a sequined ball gown for a champagne brunch will make you feel out of place.After more than a decade of dressing ladies for one of the most important days of their lives, I believe I have seen it all when it comes to wedding dress attire. Here are some tips which will turn this from a scary chore into a pleasant experience. 1. Dress suitably for the season and time of the day Daytime weddings and evening affairs have their own explicit sets of dress codes. For the day, you want your fabrics light and your colours bright. In the evening, it’s more acceptable to flaunt beads, sequins, and other sparkles in darker hues. Similarly, hemlines get shorter as the summer days get longer (one exception: floor-length is always fitting for a black-tie affair). And fabrics and colours change with the seasons; bold colours and airy fabrics lighten the warmer months, while deeper tones and rich materials warm up the autumn and winter. 2. The location Where will the ceremony and reception take place? A church? A beach? A vineyard? If you’re going to be at a beach, you should consider a hat and skip the stilettos. Beach weddings are very popular for our area; the colours are light and bright and the styles more relaxed and flowy, while a church wedding requires a more structured look and also a hat. Which style of dress normally makes you feel comfortable? Remember, you might be wearing this from early morning until late at night. The most important thing to consider is comfort. 3. Consider the bridesmaids’ dresses Chances are your daughter has a few ideas about what she’d like to see you and the bridesmaids wearing on her wedding day – brides don’t like big surprises and we’re guessing you don’t either. So take her shopping with you; plan a fun day around it.First, talk about what she’ll be wearing. Find out if she’s got a ‘What Not to Wear’ list. Are there certain colours to steer clear of (besides white, of course)? Mind you, it has been becoming more popular in recent years for Bride and Mother of the Bride to wear different hues of white. She may be averse to anything too bright or flashy. Does she think a strapless is too revealing? Is she afraid you’ll clash with her colour scheme?  Then insist that the bride suggests some ideas, which will save you valuable shopping time, and trust her, she is really wanting you to look your best on the day. Black is totally acceptable for a mother to wear nowadays and goes with any colour and just about any type of event. On the other hand I suggest, if you are the Mother of the Groom, consult with the bride before buying a black dress.Or maybe your daughter knows what great taste you have and trusts you completely – that’s how it should be. 4. Share what you will be wearing with the Mother of the Groom Compare notes with the groom’s mum – you’ll both feel more comfortable if your elegance is in sync. If you follow tradition, the Mother of the Bride should be allowed the first opportunity to choose a dress so you don’t end up with the same one and believe me, it happens more often than you would think.However, you may be confronted with a Mother of the Groom who isn’t up on her etiquette. Either way, just opening up a line of communication will make things easier for both parties. After all, she’s probably just as anxious about the purchase as you are. Don’t flip out if she’s not on board with the rules – she might have budget constraints or limited retail options. She might already own a fabulous evening gown in navy blue. In that case, just buy your own gown and don’t worry about coordinating the effort.Bottom line: A matching level of formality is key (a sundress and a sequined ball gown at either end of the group wedding photo would look a little off).  For some ideas on mother of the bride outfit pieces we have a specially dedicated collection for this occasion which you can look at here.  We also specialise in one on one occasion styling sessions, please contact us on 09 4223359 or email us at to make an appointment.