What to Wear to a Wedding: Mother of the Bride/Groom

by | Apr 18, 2018 | Formal Dressing | 2 comments

After years of helping dozens of women for weddings, particularly Mothers of the Bride or Groom, (MOB/MOG) it is my turn. My son is getting married this summer. I thought I would share this journey with you in a few posts over the next months.

In preparation for an upcoming TV segment on Portland Today, I wanted to cover all the basics. The clip is only a few minutes and because of the spontaneous format, I wrote out a few more details. I hope you find it helpful if you are in this stage or know someone who is.

What length of dress is best? First, let’s consider the venue and the overall formality of the event. Brides usually set the tone and know the look they are after.

When you start to search “Mother of the Bride” dresses online, often full length dresses appear first. I believe that is because many areas of the country are more formal. We are pretty casual in the Northwest. Typically cocktail length dresses are recommended for day weddings. Evening weddings might have a little more glitz and long is sometimes preferred, but you could also do cocktail length. Many women don’t feel comfortable in a short dress because they don’t like their knees or legs. Tea length is a good compromise. Certain styles of full-length dresses could even be hemmed to tea length if it matches the silhouette and doesn’t just look like it’s “too short.” This also shows one with a high-low hem which we are seeing more of this season.

Wedding venues have changed in recent years. Instead of a church wedding with reception at another location, many couples are choosing a place that houses the ceremony and reception. Local wineries are a common choice. I think this dictates more casual dress among guests, but the MOB and MOG still tend to go for a dressier choice.

What about colors? Traditionally, the MOB chooses first or at least she can indicate what color she is looking for. The rules you’ve always heard about “don’t match the bridesmaids” still apply somewhat. Choose a different shade or pick up a color in the flowers.

Black is acceptable now and it really is a pretty option for an evening wedding and complements the dark suits/tuxes, looks great in outdoor settings against all the green or bright flowers. (All photos in this post link to the website)

The one rule that still holds is NO WHITE. That being said, ivory or champagne could work if the bride is in pure white. I hear brides say now more than ever… “I want you to feel great and be comfortable with what is chosen!”

Shop online or in store? Many retailers are not carrying the inventory for all the formal attire, and there are hundreds of choices online. This can be frustrating. Here are some tips:

1. Try on whatever dresses are available in stores to get an idea of size. Many dress labels run small. Start ordering. Read reviews, look at measurements and read the descriptions.

2. Pay attention to the shipping–FREE BOTH WAYS? Charges can add up.

3. Don’t rule out a dress if it doesn’t fit EXACTLY. Consult a tailor and see what options you have.

4. If your size isn’t there, don’t panic. Things do come back in. Write down the details and search online to see if you can find it on another site.

5. Once you find the dress, and if you are trying to lose weight, order two sizes. Typically it’s easier to take in a dress so be sure and seek advice on charges etc.

What are current trends? For the first time in a while we are seeing dresses with a sleeve or even a sheer overlay. Many women are not happy with their arms, so this is a welcome change. We are also seeing illusion hems where the lining hits above the knee and the hemline below the knee–a “peek-a-boo” effect. Below is another example of the high-low hem.

Coming Up in Part 2 I’ll cover shoes, accessories, hose/self tanner and shapewear!