In the wedding planning process and shopping experience, there’s a bit of a “pecking order.” The bride choosing her gown is the obvious first step, but what all the other steps? Well, next should be the bridesmaids. The bride’s gown sets the tone for the wedding and then her bridesmaids’ gowns help reinforce that tone or theme. The next step should be the mothers of the wedding, but there’s some etiquette to that as well!
According to tradition and wedding etiquette, the mother of the bride should choose her dress first and the mother of the groom second. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with shopping together, either, especially if they want to coordinate their looks for photos. But, speaking of how to coordinate their looks, it’s important to remember that:
Neither the mother of the bride nor the mother of the groom is part of the overall wedding design and because of this they are under no obligation to coordinate or match the colors of the wedding. With regard to color there is really just one rule for both of them to follow: choose the color that flatters them the most without upstaging the wedding party.
You’re probably wondering, “If the mothers aren’t part of the wedding party, what roles do they play?” Well, it’s pretty simple if we’re talking traditional roles, which for the purposes of this blog post, we totally are.
The mother of the bride is the hostess of the wedding. She should be the second-most-formally dressed person at the wedding, with the bride being the one person more formal than her. She should be more formal than the bridesmaids and definitely more formal than all the guests. It’s easiest if you think of it like this: when a guest walks into the reception and sees all the people in the room, they should be able to identify who the mother of the bride is simply by how she looks. In other words, she should look fabulous!
As for the mother of the groom, she is considered to be the “most honored guest.” She should be more formal than all the other guests, and less formal than the mother of the bride. So, if the mother of the bride has chosen a long gown, the mother of the groom may also wear long. However, she may also wear tea or knee length. On the other hand, if the mother of the bride is wearing a dress that is not floor length, then the mother of the groom should also wear a dress on the shorter side- either knee or tea length, depending on what the mother of the bride has chosen.
But again, in either case, the color they choose should be a color that flatters them and makes them feel beautiful! It’s a good idea to stay away from anything that will clash with the décor, but again, they have no obligation to fit into the wedding décor color scheme. And it’s always a good idea to avoid colors that will pull focus from the bride. Red is a great example of a color we think most mothers ought to avoid for the wedding day.
All other details can be gleaned from the wedding itself- the time of day, the venue (and its formality level), etc. and of course from the taste of the mother herself. Does she prefer sleeves or a particular neckline? Would she like to wear a shawl or a jacket for the ceremony, but take it off for the reception? Does she prefer a specific type of fabric?
Just like looking for your wedding gown, it’s a great idea to start on a website like Pinterest, saving images of dresses that have the overall feel that she’s going for. And then, as you know from shopping for a bridal gown, trying them on is very important, too! Dresses may look one way on the hanger, but once you put them on, they are completely different from what you expected!
Ultimately, our advice to brides is to help your mom feel as beautiful as possible. How she feels in her dress will reflect in the photos and in how she feels throughout this very exciting and important day. And wouldn’t you want her to feel beautiful, confident and relaxed while she’s by your side all day?