Dress Rules for Mother of the Bride

Wondering what the mother of the bride should wear to your wedding? Read on for our complete guide.

Traditionally, the mother of the bride has been the first to choose her dress. The colour of the mother of the groom’s dress should complement, but not match it. 

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 dresses.

Keep in mind that the two mums do not have to dress identical at all—the two dresses just have to be complementary, so they don't clash with each other, the wedding colour scheme, or the bridesmaid dresses.

For example, if the mother of the groom is wearing a red dress, and the mother of the bride is wearing a purple dress, they can wear different shades of either colour. Or they can choose to wear a different accent colour altogether. If they are going to wear different colours, they should pick a dress colour that complements each other nicely.

The mother should also be sure to not match her outfit with her daughter's. For example, if she is wearing a white or cream dress, she should not match it with her daughter's red dress.

A nice idea is to pair them together in a colour scheme that complements each other. For instance, if your wedding theme is rustic-modern and you have three options for bridesmaids dresses: white gowns with black accessories; black gowns with silver accessories; and purple gowns with gold accessories; you could pair the mothers in all three options for the wedding party attire so that there are no clashes between each other or their daughters' dresses.

newlyweds, bride, groom

Does the Mother of the Bride have to wear a dress?

These days, virtually anything goes—formal gown, short or long dress, skirt-and-jacket ensemble—so long as it matches the style of the wedding.

You'll want to feel comfortable on their special day and not be too self-conscious about the way you look. If she doesn't feel comfortable in a dress, she can, by all means, opt for a two-piece set.

Mothers of the Bride commonly wear a top and skirt or top and dress pants combination. Some mothers opt for dresses such as the one shown below with a bolero jacket, shawl, or wrap.


Remember you need to stand out from the other guests and people will have their eye on you. This is your time to shine like the beautiful proud mother of your son or daughter's wedding. You are giving them away and celebrating a major event in their life.

As the Mother of the Bride or Groom it’s best to stay away from white or any shade matching the dress of the bride unless you have her explicit consent.

Wearing white to a wedding 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 choose any colour other than white,

Before you start shopping for a dress for the important event, talk to the couple about what their bridesmaids will be wearing and what colour scheme they are planning in general.

They might not be comfortable with certain colours, like black. Do ask because there’s no rule to avoid black at a wedding. It is even encouraged at highly formal ones.

Should mother of the bride dress be long or short?

The bridesmaids must coordinate with their bridesmaid and decide on the length of the dress. Both dress lengths can be accepted.

Can the mother of groom wear the same colour as the mother of the bride?

Traditionally the bride's mother was the first one to select her dress. It should be complementary to the dress but not identical. It's simpler because neither hue is identical.

What the mother of the bride should not wear?

The most common method of avoidance of white, ivory, or champagne colours is not to distract from the bride's image.

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, check out the White Runway range of mother of the bride dresses or make an appointment for a fitting.