Being a mother of the bride is an amazing time in your life. Sure, your daughter might be jazzed about picking out flower arrangements and dreaming up color themes, but it's like you're experiencing the ride with her. Chances are she's going to invite you wedding dress shopping, call you up in the middle of the afternoon to discuss the intricacies of hors d'oeuvres, and complain about how hard it is to pin down a playlist. And along the way you'll get to watch love radiate from her, making it a memorable, wonderful time in your life. But in between helping her plan and run all sorts of errands, you're going to have to think about your mother of the bride dress. With hundreds of options and hundreds of designers, it might be a little tricky to pin down at first. Where do you even start? There are minis and tea length dresses, pastels and jewel hues, long black-tie gowns and tulle frocks - the list goes on and on.
But don't stress! While too many options can be a daunting thing, there are a few things to consider that can help you narrow down your choices and zero in on that one perfect frock that will help you celebrate the happy couple's big day. You can look at the venue and consider what type of dress would be most suitable (you won't wear a bejeweled ballgown to the beach, after all,) and you can narrow down on the theme your daughter is trying to flesh out (so you wouldn't wear a flirty summer dress to a black tie affair with chandeliers and marble floors.) But even with that checklist that funnels down your options, it can be a little tricky to figure out your style. In an effort to help you with that, below are a series of beautiful mother of the bride dress picks, along with tips on how to decide if it's the right frock for you. Bookmark this page and prepare to shop.
If your daughter is planning the kind of black tie wedding where you rent out an old mansion and sip cocktails inside parlor rooms and fireplace-laden libraries, then this is the dress for you. Elegant, sophisticated, and timeless, it just oozes class. It has a vintage, mid-century feel to it, where the lustrous satin fabric and off-the-shoulder neckline look like a frock that Lauren Bacall would wear in her black and white movies. It would be just the thing to wear as mother of the bride.
An empire waist gown is perfect for that sweets table you won't be able to resist come reception time - especially after hearing your daughter talk about how good the cake pops and cupcakes are going to be. This romantic champagne dress has a tulle skirt that will float around you as you walk across the reception area, and a sequin bodice that is both minimalist and elegant.
Plus, the loose fit will come in handy in terms of comfort - according to Wedding Shoppe, picking a dress you don't feel 100 percent in will only end in regret. "You are going to find plenty of lovely looks for your child’s wedding, so don’t buy anything that isn’t comfortable. This is going to be a long, busy day. If you’re not able to move your arms, sit comfortably, or bend over, you will regret choosing fashion over a comfy fit," they shared.
For the mother of the bride who prefers simple lines and minimalist outfits, there's no need to compromise style in order to look done-up. This dress proves that point, where it's a sleek crepe dress with a high neckline in a sporty cut, skimming the body and billowing out at the knees.
If you love the dress but wish it could have a touch more sparkle to it, you can also always accent the outfit with accessories. For example, BHLDN has a series of silk and gem-encrusted belts that can elevate any frock.
A mini dress made into a tapestry of metallic beading, this nude colored number is sophisticated and sultry at the same time. Its long sleeves balance out the short hemline, and the ornate bead-work give a festive touch to the subdued brown-gold color. It will be just the thing for your daughter's swanky soiree.
But before you choose a mini dress, double check with the mother of the groom to see if she's comfortable with the length. Traditional rules share that both moms should have the same length. "If you decide to shop separately, the mother of the groom should match the length of her dress to the MOB. Length can often determine formality, and it will also look better in family wedding photos," Wedding Shoppe shared.
You will feel like pure romance in this capelet gown, where it works in notes of lace, florals, and fluttery hemlines. Featuring metallic and sequined embroidered blossoms, it adds a subtle touch of sparkle against the minty blue background of the fabric. If your daughter is dreaming up an intimate outdoor wedding - complete with mason jar cocktails and lace table runners - then this dress would melt right into that soft, whimsical theme.
Grab a flute of champagne and get your favorite red lipstick, because you are going to be giving all sorts of flapper vibes with this icy blue dress. If your daughter has an Art Deco themed wedding, then this beaded mother of the bride dress will fit right in. All that will be missing will be your feather boa and finger waves. This particular dress also comes in three different colorways, letting you choose between blue, blush, and dark grey.
One thing to keep in mind when getting elaborately beaded and styled dresses, though, is if the mother of the groom is on board. The mother of the bride traditionally chooses her dress first and then the mother of the groom gets one in a similar aesthetic, so it's important to consider her budget in mind. "It is important to be sensitive to not overspend on your gown, especially if the groom's side cannot afford an elaborate or expensive dress," Martha Stewart Weddings explained.
This asymmetric, one-shoulder gown is simple and minimalist, but still packs a punch. The ruffle strap adds a dash of interest to the column silhouette, and the clean lines and simple aesthetic will look lovely in photos - especially since the basic design acts like a clean backdrop for your daughter's wedding dress.
An illusion neckline is a great way to dabble in modesty without feeling dowdy or matronly. This particular mother of the bride frock has a bodice covered in floral embellishments, but the top itself has a sweetheart neckline. The illusion neckline extends the flowers to the shoulders, making it look like you're wearing cap sleeves while also baring your décolletage.
Lace Bell Sleeve Gown, $139, Nordstrom
Maxi dresses can sometimes feel a touch dowdy, but you can balance them out with flirty details that make the modest frock feel romantic rather than drowning in material. Take this lace gown for example: it has a high neckline, a long hemline, and long sleeves - but the sleeves flair out into bell sleeves, giving it a slightly bohemian flair. This particular piece comes in either charcoal or mulberry, giving you some color options.
And past shoppers were happy with their pick, where one reviewer shared, "I ordered this dress for a wedding and it was perfect. It fitted very well, the color and style was just like in the picture."
Flirt with a midi length and open-back with this tasteful mother of the bride dress. Full of glitz and glamour, the sequin sheath makes even more of a statement because of the extended beadwork on the sleeves - which perfectly balances out the open back. This frock comes in three different colorways, letting you choose which one matches your kid's wedding the best: black/nude, nude/gold, and teal/gold.
And people who already wore it had glowing reviews. "Fit perfectly and was a great dress for the early spring wedding I had to attend," one reviewer shared. The brass is a great color that glitters just enough. Warm enough to not need a jacket for an outdoor venue. The back the breathtaking!"
This crepe gown is all lace with its Bardot-esque off-the-shoulder neckline and gentle ruffle that cascades down the skirt. It's elegant and refined, but also playful with a timeless aesthetic. This particular piece comes in both a black and hunter green hue, and runs from sizes 0-18.
If you're not entirely sure what kind of dress you should wear to the wedding (there are just so many options!) a great way to narrow things down is to look at your daughter's inspiration boards. "Check out your daughter's Pinterest board in advance and shop with her vision in mind," Christy Baird, founder and creative director of San Francisco bridal salon, LOHO Bride, told Martha Stewart Weddings.
Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, and if your daughter has a whimsical vision and wants her reception to be full of romance, bouquets of wildflowers, and burlap accents, then this southern-belle-esque Roman dress is the perfect outfit to bring out her theme. A multicolor floral applique dances down the blush colored column dress, and the illusion neckline and elbow-length sleeves give it a delicate touch. It's the kind of dress that makes you look like you dab your lipstick on linen napkins and put on pink perfume.
When starting the shopping process for your mother of the bride dress, make sure you start months ahead of time - don't leave it to the last two months. "One thing you’ll come to realise about wedding planning is to start everything earlier than you think. That includes shopping for the mother-of-the-bride outfit," The Wedding Gallery said. "The reason to start early is that it just means you’ll have enough time." From the buying process, to the alterations, to giving the mother of the groom enough time to find her own outfit, it's just a better idea to start early.
Not all special occasion dresses have to have long hemlines that boast dragging trains - mini cocktail dresses can do in a pinch, too. And if you love your legs or like showing off your amazing shoes, than a mini mother of the bride dress is the way to go. This light blue dress has platinum and lacy vines crocheted against its length, and it tapers off into sheer scallops at the sleeves and hemline that add an Art Deco touch. It's like a modern flapper dress!
This dress would be perfection for a spring or summer wedding. The pastel hue, the fluttering trumpet hemline, the one shoulder neckline - it has pure love-is-in-the-air vibes. You will love the way that the hem will swish around your legs as you walk across the banquet, and the simple design will give you plenty of opportunity to style it in your own special way with the help of accessories. It also comes in navy, black, blue, and blush, allowing you to pick a hue that would work best with the bride's wedding visions.
And don't be afraid of color! "The hue you choose should complement the rest of the wedding party’s attire, but doesn’t have to match exactly. Above all, find a shade you love that flatters your skin tone and hair (but doesn’t outshine the bride)," Nordstrom explained.
Simple but elegant, this cocoa-hued, ruched dress is a timeless pick for the big day. A column gown that drapes elegantly down the body, the true winning detail of this piece is the subtle hue. It's soft enough that it will blend into any color scheme that your daughter will choose - from misty pastels to bold autumnal hues - but it's strong enough to still help you stand out. This particular look is from the label La Femme, which specializes in simple but elegant frocks for special occasions. Feel free to pop over to their page on Nordstrom to see their full collection.
This one-shoulder neckline dress is just a little bit artsy, just a little bit avant garde, and a whole lot of stylish. It mimics the classic elegance of a pencil skirt, but its fold-over sleeve adds a touch of interest. It's also a great dress for women who naturally gravitate towards body hugging frocks - which is exactly what you should do when shopping for your mother of the bride dress. Gravitate towards what you normally shop.
"Think about what you usually feel good wearing and then take it to the next level," David's Bridal explained. "Do you gravitate toward form-fitting silhouettes? Why not try a trumpet gown? Does your temperature fluctuate easily? Opt for a dress with a removable jacket. Do you feel confident in trousers? How about a dressy pantsuit or a jumpsuit? Prefer a bit of give? Stretch lace and matte jersey fabrications feel almost like your go-to athleisure wear, we promise!
This popover chiffon gown comes in both red and navy options. It looks like an airy column dress that would flutter and sway with every movement, but it gets some added extra weight to the look with the structured caplet that drapes around the shoulders.
While there is no right or wrong choice for length, some experts advice letting the venue dictate how long your dress should be. "The formality of the ceremony and atmosphere of the venue will help inform the length of your dress," David's Bridal explained. "Having a religious ceremony, a glitzy reception, or both? Go for a formal mother of the bride dress, which usually entails a floor-length silhouette with a generous amount of sparkle. Another formal-yet-fun option is a tea-length dress, which shows off a great pair of shoes."
Both demure and provocative, this lace dress is ladylike with its ruffles and lace accents, but also slightly seductive with its black chiffon lace, throat-covering neckline, and tea-length hem. This would be a lovely pick for a black tie reception, or if your daughter has chosen a romantic, lace-heavy theme, complete with peony bouquets and pink champagne cocktails.
19. Deco Embellished Gown
This gown is pure glamour without being over the top. Not every mother of the bride likes to cover herself head to toe in sequins, but what does she turn to if she wants to look properly festive? This dress is a nice compromise between minimalism and razzle-dazzle, where its bronze sequins glint against the nude brown column dress, but they take the shape of a compact, Art Deco design. It's not overly busy, but it's also memorable.
Simple, clean-lined, but still show stopping, this strapless ruffle dress will help you look the part of mother of the bride and feel glamorous all at once. Featuring a structured bodice, a body-skimming fit, and one bold ruffle running from the hips to the floor, it's subtly captivating without making you look like you're trying to grab center stage.
If you never expected yourself to wear such a bold hue, or thought you would gravitate towards a ruffle, it still might be beneficial to try it on otherwise. One mother of the bride shared her shopping experience in an interview with BHLDN, explaining, "My advice to a MOB searching for a dress would be to try on dresses that you envision yourself in and ones you don’t see yourself in—the unexpected may end up being the perfect dress. I struggled with all the dresses I thought I would wear and ended up with one I never would have expected!"
Flutter-Sleeve Cocktail Dress, $387, Nieman Marcus
This beaded dress with sheer mesh details is a standout pick because of its delicate flutter half-sleeves. The hemline might be short, but the longer sleeves help balance out the mini proportions. Aidan Mattox is the label that concocted this dress, where they pull inspiration from Hollywood's most glamorous eras, designing cocktail dresses and evening gowns with intricate details, opulent bead-work, and luxurious fabrics. Put this on and you'll feel like a million bucks.
For the mother of the bride who isn't afraid of a healthy dose of sparkle, this Adrianna Papell original will help you look the part. It combines the charming details of metallic sequins and floaty tulle skirts, creating a charming confection of a gown. And the great thing about Adrianna Papell creations is that they're usually very size-inclusive, spanning from straight size, to plus size, to petite options all under the same frock.
Does the dress zip up but the fit could be better? Designer Helen Ainson has an easy solution. "Tailor it! Make sure your gown has been tailored to your body. A perfectly tailored gown will make your figure look its best."
This dress is a work of contrasts, and that's why it works so well. The long sleeves and floor-skimming hemline have the potential to make the wearer appear too covered up, but the scoop back gives that needed touch of allure. It also features a confetti-like smattering of sequins, which can feel overwhelming on such a covered-up dress, but since they taper off into a more subtle amount the further down the dress you go they feel balanced.
Designer Adrianna Papell speciallizes in these whimsical, glitter-bombed kind of styles, so for similar frocks but with different styles, check out Papell's collection here.
This mini dress is perfectly elegant for your daughter's wedding, where the nude slip has a mesh overlay with a lattice pattern of metallic beads. It's alluring while also being properly festive, and the neutral colors will help you blend into any kind of color scheme she picks out in the end.
This short-sleeve jersey column dress hits all the marks: it's comfy because of its soft fabric, has a touch of interest with its floral bateau-neckline, and comes in a soft, easy-to-blend color. Which is quite important when trying to bring together your daughter's wedding theme.
"Wait for the bride and bridesmaids to choose their dress before you choose yours
That way, you can see the color scheme that the rest of the bridal party is going to wear before selecting your dress," Crystal Brides explains. "You don't want to stand out too much from the other members of the bridal party — unless the bride and groom want that. The key thing to remember is that you want to complement (and not clash with) the wedding color theme."
Wonderfully elegant, demurely flirty, and just the right amount of saucy and covered up, this Aidan Mattox dress is a great pick for anything from a black tie wedding to an informal garden reception. Its bodycon silhouette is the perfect canvas for the intricate beadwork running down the length of the dress, and the sheer tulle high-low hem lets you flirt with both a mini dress and a tea length frock.
Unsure if the sheer element is appropriate? "A mother should not feel like she has to be frumpy as long as she remembers the attention should be on the bride," Inside Weddings shares.
If your daughter is leaning towards a romantic, whimsical wedding - complete with wildflower arches and fairylights strung up across the ceiling - then choosing an equally romantic dress is quite appropriate. This Aidan Mattox strapless gown with petal embroidery and cascading hem is a fairy-tale-like pick, where its mermaid silhouette and sweetheart neckline will do wonders for the reception pictures.
Not sure how to accessorize? "Wearing florals? Choose a plain coat, jacket or cover-up over the top to avoid pattern clash during the day, and give you a different look for evening," Good Housekeeping suggested.
If your daughter settled for a black tie event complete with French sounding canapes and smartly dressed waiters passing out champagne flutes, then your dress needs to do its part. This beaded gown with crepe skirt is a lovely pick because its conservative and done-up, but still playful with its illusion neckline and thigh-high skirt slit.
Plus, the crepe skirt material will help you look polished and non-wrinkled all evening long. "All eyes will be on on you on your daughter’s big day, and it’s important to feel happy, confident and comfortable in what you wear. Choose non-creasing fabrics, as you will be moving around a lot all day, and comfortable shoes with a hint of glam," Good Housekeeping suggested.
If your daughter is having a fall or winter wedding, you get the added perk of getting to play with coxzy, non-traditional wedding materials like velvet. This blue velvet gown is a total dream, but it feels perfectly wedding appropriate thanks to its sequined flutter sleeves and body-hugging silhouette.
This scalloped trim dress is both demure and flirty, Southern-belle-like and modern, making it the perfect mother of the bride dress. Curious what color to get? Look at the bridesmaids and try to match accordingly. "You can also use the bridesmaid’s dresses as a guide and pick a lighter or darker shade of that color. For instance, if the bridesmaids wear rose, stick with warm colors like peach or gold, but if they wear navy, stick with cooler colors like blue-gray or silver," designer Tadashi Shoji shared. "For my wedding I told the mothers, readers and all of my best friends to dress in blush tones as I knew they would be photographed most and it made for beautiful cohesive photos!"
Whatever dress you choose, in the end you will feel beautiful and have a night that you and your family will always remember. Don't stress too much about the frock, and enjoy the ride!
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