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Mother of the bride 101: what to wear, what not to wear, and traditional etiquette

by Julie Goodwin, / Saturday September 7th 2019

When it comes to ‘mother of the bride outfit rules’, I’ve heard them all. Every bride is different, every big day is different, and every bride has a different set of outfit rules for her mother, and the mother of the groom too. Some brides are slightly more relaxed than others, and some are more traditional than others, but there is a general list of what to wear and what not to wear as the mother of bride.


Anya and Mother of the Bride Sarah


White is a no-no.

Regardless of how traditional or contemporary the wedding might be, wearing white as a guest is a no-no, unless the bride and groom have mentioned that it’s ok to do so. If the bride is wearing white, it’s customary for her to be the only one. With the entire colour wheel to choose from, it’s easy to wear any colour other than white, and it’s best to avoid ivory and champagne too. Weddings are a celebration, so if you can, avoid black.

Communication is important.

Traditionally, the mother of the bride will purchase her dress first, which subtly dictates what the mother of the groom will and won’t wear, as the two should be different. It’s a slightly old-fashioned approach to mother of the bride dressing, so check in with the bride and groom as how traditional they’d like to be about dressing rules. Either way, good communication between the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom is important to make sure you don’t end up wearing something similar.

Co-ordination is key.

Be aware of the bridesmaids’ and groomsmens’ colours and styles. It’s best not to be too matchy-matchy, but some brides do prefer both their mother and their mother-in-law to wear similar colours or styles to the bridal party for co-ordinated group shots. ‘Let the bride be your guide’ is an easy rule of thumb for colours and styles.



Respect the dress code.

Regardless of your relationship to the bride and groom, respecting the dress code and their idea for their big day – is essential. If they’re planning a formal wedding at a formal venue, plan your outfit accordingly. If it’s a beach-style low-key wedding, let the theme dictate your style, keeping in mind the traditional dress codes for mother of the bride dressing.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect mother of the bride or mother of the groom outfit and you’re not having luck with ‘off the shelf’ outfits, pop into my Albert Park studio for a fitting.

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