The wedding of your son or daughter will be one of the most memorable events in your lifetime so naturally you want to look amazing. So before I even go into detail on what best to wear, I want to emphasize one important thing.

It is ok (perhaps even mandatory) to splurge on your outfit!

Don’t economize on your clothes for such an important event, even when you think that you will wear the outfit only once.

Of course, you may want to try to get an outfit that you can wear for other occasions as well, but if those outfits don’t make you feel as special as you want to, then just accept that you will need a good budget.

Believe me, it’s worth it.

The memories of that day will stay with you forever and you will always remember what you wear.

And then, there are the numerous photos of course. I have personally made the mistake of sticking to a low budget for a high-profile occasion and I still regret it today! I can assure you that I will never make that mistake again.

Mother of the bride gown |

Embellished Mesh Gown

Ok, so now that I have this important point out of the way, let’s take a look at what you should wear.

What requirements does a mother of the bride / groom outfit have?

Although dressing rules at weddings vary by country, in general a mother of the bride dress should:

  • Not be the same colour as the wedding dress. So check with the bride! Also find out which colour the bridesmaids are wearing. You do not want to be mistaken for one!
  • Preferably not be all black as that may suggest mourning. Although this is not a strict rule, I would personally prefer you to choose another color since most women over 40 look much better in more colorful outfits. An alternative is to mix black with another color, which can look very chic. I also like the other black and grey combination I feature (above), because of the great drape of the dress and the chic combination with the jacket.
  • Avoid flashy shades like bright red, pink or yellow as the dress may stand out too much. If you like to wear color, go for something more subtle like the multi-colored dress (above) I featured with the very stylish long purple coat. This combination is especially great for summer weddings.
  • Not be overly sexy. Avoid too much cleavage and let the bride be the sexiest girl in the room.
  • Offer solutions for multiple locations. If the wedding includes a church service for example, make sure that you have an accompanying jacket with your dress. Most of the combinations I feature here come with great jackets.
  • Not be too fashionable. Remember, you will look at these photos in years to come. Opt for something current yet timeless with clean lines. The two looks below are good examples of timeless style.
  • Be made of a good quality fabric. Make sure it does not wrinkle too much and is appropriately warm or cold for the climate in which the wedding takes place.

Mother of the bride dress - crepe gown |

Off the Shoulder Crepe Gown

Other guidelines:

  • Talk to the bride and ask her about her preferences. If she is casual about your dress, then you can just select whatever you please. But if she is sensitive about certain colors or gives you some guidelines, you may want to stick to that. She may even want to coordinate the color of your dress with those of the bridesmaids (let’s hope not!)
  • Even though you may want to take the bride’s and groom’s wishes into account, make sure you select something that YOU love too.
  • Don’t leave shopping for your special dress to chance. Plan well in advance, so you will not get too stressed and can help either your son or daughter with the wedding preparations.
  • Stick to your style personality as much as you can. If you normally like clean, plain clothing, don’t go over the top with sequins and diamonds. On the other hand if you like to be hip and enjoy pattern you could consider the featured modern black and white outfit (above).
  • Although it’s perfectly fine to wear pants at the wedding, nothing says party like as a dress. However, if a dress is totally out of your comfort zone, then choose a great pants and blazer combination in a luxurious fabric. There are ideas here on how to wear pants for the mother of the bride.

Here are some ideas for your outfits

Please note that fashion items sell out quickly so these may no longer be available in stores. They can still serve as inspiration though.

However, because wedding outfits are more timeless than other fashion items, you may well find that your favorite piece is still available!

Many stores, including Nordstrom have a dedicated mother-of-the-bride section.

Knee Length

Alex Evenings - Two-Piece Tea Length Dress | fashion over 40 | style | fashion |

Two-Piece Tea Length Dress

Vince Camuto - Off the Shoulder Lace Sheath Dress | fashion over 40 | style | fashion |

Off the Shoulder Lace Sheath Dress

Long and elegant

Pisarro Nights - Beaded Longline Gown | fashion over 40 | style | fashion |

Beaded Longline Gown

JS Collections - Soutache Mesh Dress | fashion over 40 | style | fashion |

Soutache Mesh Dress

JS Collections - Soutache Mesh Dress (NavyNude) | fashion over 40 | style | fashion |

Soutache Mesh Dress (NavyNude)

Dress suit

dress suit for weddingDress suit for wedding

Getting away with blackBlack and white festive dress for a wedding

Black and white dress

A beach or garden wedding

Because beach and garden weddings tend to be less formal than weddings in other venues, you may want to take a look at florals or a happy print as an option for your dress.

Printed dress for summer wedding |

Flowy dress for summer wedding

For a great selection of Mother of the Bride (and Groom) dresses, we recommend the following online (and brick and mortar) destinations with dedicated Mother of the Bride sections:

If you’re in England, you can also visit the Riva online store.  They stock a wide variety of casual wear as well!

What do you think is the perfect mother of the bride outfit?

P.S. For more ideas on on how to dress when you are the mother of the bride please see our article on the best mother of the bride dresses. Below is a selection you can purchase right now.

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how to dress when you are the mother of the bride |

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