How to Find the Perfect Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

From color to style, we break down the right fit for mothers.

With all the time spent browsing through wedding gowns and compromising with bridesmaids about their dresses, the mother of the bride’s outfit can often be overlooked. Though she may not be standing at the altar, the mother of the bride (and the mother of the groom, for that matter) is still an important part of the big day and deserves to look her best.

Whether you’re a bride unsure of what advice to give your mom as she begins her search, or a mother of the bride who doesn’t know where to start, we have tips to help you find a dress that’s the perfect fit. If you could use some visual inspiration, browse through our gallery of mothers at real weddings

Mariana Vicente Hernandez with mother and sister, finding a mother of the bride dress
Photo by Branco Prata

- Fit the wedding aesthetic. The bride sets the tone for the formality, color, and style preferences of a mother's gown. However, a daughter should not be unreasonable and box her mother into a style she doesn't feel comfortable wearing.
- Start your search for a gown early. You don’t have to buy something right away, but it will help give you an idea of what you like. If you're buying off the rack you have more time, otherwise keep in mind the time it will take for a dress to come into a bridal salon.
- Don't be a bridesmaid. The mother of the bride should complement, not match, the wedding party. One idea is to dress the mother of the bride in the accent hue of the color palette.
- No bridal looks. Do not wear white, ivory, or whatever the bride is wearing unless she specifically requests it.
- Communicate together. As a bride, make it clear if you want to see the dress before your mom buys it if that's important to you. As a mother, be sure to keep your daughter in the loop throughout the process.
- Reach out to the other side. Let the mother of the groom (or other bride) know what you will be wearing so she can find a complementary ensemble. This will also help keep one mom from feeling over or underdressed.
- A dress is not required. An elegant pantsuit or jumpsuit is perfectly acceptable (and chic!) if it feels more natural.
- No need to be dowdy. A mother should not feel like she has to be frumpy as long as she remembers the attention should be on the bride.
- Consider coverage options. If a jacket feels too matronly, but you want to cover your arms, consider a lovely shawl or pashmina.

For more ideas and advice, watch a famed bridal designer share his tips for dressing a mother of the bride, and see gown inspiration for mothers here

Authored by: Emily Lasnier