Mother of the Bride and Groom Dress Guide

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You can search for mother-of-the-bride dresses and mother-of-the-groom dresses in our interactive photo gallery.

Sure, the day may be all about the bride and her big dress, but as the mother of the bride or groom, you need to shine, too.  Here’s everything you need to know to ensure you look stylish and perfectly coiffed on the big day.

Getting Started

When it comes to selecting wedding-day attire, the bride goes first. The moms need to start shopping as early as possible, but not until after the bride has selected her gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses. Once this has been done, the bride will discuss her preferences of lengths, colors, and styles with her mother or both mothers.  If you’re not happy with the style she suggests, let her know and work out a compromise. It is her day – but the moms have to be comfortable, too. 

Here is your guide to selecting mother-of-the-bride dresses and mother-of-the-groom dresses:


Typically, the mother-of-the-bride (MOB) selects her dress (taking cues from the bride), then politely consults with the mother-of-the-groom (MOG) as soon as possible to inform her of the style. The MOG should then select an ensemble that complements – not matches – that of the MOB.  This custom is definitely not required, however. If the MOB is lagging and the MOG is anxious to get shopping, she can definitely take the initiative and consult with the MOG or the bride. Regardless, it’s important for everyone to be flexible and considerate. 

Style Tips for the Moms

Everyone has their own preferences, and any color can really be worn if the bride and moms agree on it. That said, most would advice against these hues:

White or Ivory – don’t compete with the bride
Black – don’t appear as if in mourning
Red – don’t be too flashy

You usually can’t go wrong with lavender, beige, silver, burgundy, blue, and rose.

Matching the Bridesmaids?
There is no rule that says that mothers’ dresses should match or coordinate with the bridesmaids’ attire. You can either choose to stay within the same color family, yet different shade (i.e. maids are in seafoam green; you choose a deep emerald green), or feel free to mix and match as you see fit.  Again, talk to the bride about her preferences.

While you have more room to maneuver in color, the formality of your gown should match the formality of the rest of the wedding party and the event. If it’s an evening wedding and the ‘maids are in floor-length ball gowns, it’s probably best to avoid a short hemline in a casual fabric and vice versa. 

Where to Shop for Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses and Mother-of-the-Groom Dresses

Most department stores and many specialty boutiques feature appropriate gowns that can also be worn again to another formal party. Shop with a trusted friend or relative, one whose judgment you can trust to help you choose the style and color that is best for you.