Dress Rules for Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom

Jonah Levine

Posted on July 24 2019

Your child’s wedding is a source of great joy, no matter what your side of the aisle is. However, it can also be a source of stress, especially when it comes to choosing the attire. Of course, you want to feel and look great on this occasion. Mother of the groom dresses should complement mother of the bride dresses, but not be entirely dictated by them. Here are some rules and guidelines to assist you.        

Color: Who Coordinates with Whom? 

Traditionally, the mother of the bride has been the first to choose her dress. The color of the mother of the groom’s dress should complement, but not match it. This is easier than it sounds because no two hues are exactly alike. To augment the distinction, you can choose different accessories. It’s best to stay away from white or any shade matching the dress of the bride unless you have her explicit consent.

The good news is that MOB and MOG dresses are not relegated to the realm of boring colors any more. Before you start shopping for a dress, talk to the couple about what their bridesmaids will be wearing and what color scheme they are planning in general. They might not be comfortable with certain colors, like black. Do ask because there’s no rule to avoid black at a wedding. It is even encouraged at highly formal ones.

Consider the Level of Formality

On that note, make sure the MOB and MOG dresses correspond to the level of formality of the wedding. A less formal dress would be appropriate at a casual wedding. Summer dresses are welcome at seaside weddings. You won’t go wrong with a formal dress in a color like navy for an evening wedding.

The MOG’s dress style and length should be similar, but not exactly the same as the length and style of the MOB’s dress. “Elegant” and “comfortable” are key concepts. There are a lot of formal and elegant, yet chic options. 

MOB and MOG: Rules?

Generally, the same set of rules is followed when choosing MOB and MOG dresses except for the traditional notion that the mother of the bride should buy her dress first. This rule is not very strict. However, a brief conversation about the tone of the attire between the mother of the groom and the mother of the bride is in order.

Avoid Overdressing or Clashing

The point of coordinating the dresses is to avoid garish color combos like red and green or overdressing. After all, nobody would want such faux pas immortalized on wedding photos. Discussing ideas in advance will also help prevent one mother dressing far more or less formally than the other. The bride and groom are encouraged to facilitate communication between them and provide guidance. 

Shades of nude and blush are popular color choices. The bride can give her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law ideas on style, color, length, or formality without insisting they wear something she specifies. These distinguished wedding guests should feel comfortable in their attire, as, indeed, all wedding guests should. On the other hand, it would be unfortunate if one or both mothers chose an incongruent style or color scheme. A friendly talk beforehand would prevent this.  

It can happen that the MOB and the MOG end up with almost identically colored dresses. This might be by chance or on purpose. Asking one of them to exchange or return her dress would be impolite, and quite unreasonable if her dress cannot be returned. In this case, they should focus on getting completely different accessories (or at least as different as possible) – different colors and styles of handbags, shoes, jewelry, etc.

Mother of the Bride Dress - Tips

Always take the venue, dress code, and time of day into account. Semi-formal and cocktail weddings are more casual and a cocktail-style or tea-length dress may be suitable, while formal white tie and black tie weddings will require a full-length or even floor-length gown.

Dressing too sexy might make the couple or other guests feel awkward. On this note, avoid plunging V-necks, thigh-high slits, cutouts, and lace-up details. Go for traditional and elegant instead of ultramodern and overexposed. If you found a dress you love, but you’re not sure about the neckline, don’t take chances and wear a jacket or shawl.    

Mother of the Groom Dress - Tips

The same as above applies with a few additional considerations. It’s best to start looking for a dress around six months before the wedding. At that point, you should at least have a general idea of what type and color of dress the mother of the bride has bought or is planning on buying. After all, you want to make sure you have enough time if you need alterations made.

Black and white weddings are becoming increasingly popular because of their simplicity. Sometimes an accent color is featured, like teal or deep purple. You could opt for a dress in black or the accent color. Often, deep-toned, dark attire will be suitable. Ask your future daughter-in-law if she has any preferences or recommendations based on what her mother has chosen.

A couple might opt for multi-color or splashes of color at their wedding. All guests will then be wearing different colors. Again, the same principle applies: the MOG asks the MOB about what the latter will wear and chooses a dress in a complementing color. Even colors like electric green or bright blue are appropriate at “rainbow” weddings. At an event with pastel tones, the MOG wouldn’t go wrong with periwinkle or soft violet.

Enjoy the Magical Experience!

For the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom, enjoying this special event is ultimately more important than dress etiquette. It’s an added bonus if the bride and groom love your dress! Feel free to read our other articles on dressing for a wedding for more great ideas.

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