Finding the Perfect Look for the Mother of the Bride (Or Groom)

A mom wearing a red dress while tying the necktie on her son, a groom.

The day your son or daughter gets married is always emotional. You may feel nostalgic for the little baby you held in your arms years ago, proud of the person they’ve grown up to be, and also relived that all the wedding planning is finally over. But there’s another emotion you may feel, too: anxiety over your own outfit!

The mothers of the bride and groom often spend at least part of the wedding ceremony with all eyes on them. This means that everything, from your hair and makeup to the shoes you wear, must look perfect. But what exactly does “perfect” mean for an MOB? Here are some tips for looking elegant (and age-appropriate) on the big day.

Get the Right Hemline

A family of 7 posing for a wedding portrait.

A vast majority of couples get married in the summer, which means you may find yourself celebrating on a rather warm day. But if you think that means you’ll be stuck sweating in your “sensible” dress, think again! It’s perfectly appropriate for the couple’s mothers to step out in shorter skirts—provided they wear the right hemline for the occasion.

Even if you have exceptional gams (and I know some of you do), the age of the mini-skirt has passed. If you are planning to show some leg, a good rule of thumb is to make sure your hemline doesn’t rise over four inches from the knee. Also, avoid pairing short skirts with sky-high stilettos; most agree that look is a bit too showy for your child’s wedding day.

Cover Up with Class

While browsing the boutique with the bride-to-be, you may find that the MOB landscape has changed since you walked down the aisle. Along with the traditional pantsuits and dress/jacket combos, you see dresses with tighter silhouettes, decorative necklines, and even strapless gowns! How can I wear something like this?! you think. After all, it highlights my *gulp* “problem areas…”

Firstly, calm down. No one will be scrutinizing the MOB’s (or G’s) upper arms as her child says “I do.” However, if you still feel uncomfortable showing certain areas, use a stylish accessory to cover up. A shrug, jacket, or shawl can do wonders for your outfit! Talk to the salesperson while you shop so you find a matching piece.

Ditch the Old School Fashion Rules

Three generations of women posing with their wedding rings.

We’ve all learned certain fashion rules from our mothers and grandmothers: never be seen without pantyhose, red is the only “appropriate” nail color—the list goes on and on. Those rules once developed an aura of old school beauty and glamour; these days, however, they may simply make you look (or feel) old. It’s time to buck the tradition and do your own thing!

Instead of sticking with red nail polish, try a pretty sheer polish in a nude or pale pink shade. And pantyhose is definitely out these days! Instead, get a spray tan a week before the wedding and step out with your bare legs. These subtle choices will revitalize your ensemble, creating an overall look that’s age-appropriate without being too aging.

But DON’T Match the Bridesmaids

This is one slip-up many women make as the MOB. While it can be tempting to wear the exact same color as the bridesmaids (in a way, aligning yourself with the rest of the bridal party), it’s simply poor etiquette to do so. In fact, you shouldn’t wear anything in the same color, style, or fabric as the bridal party!

Instead, the mother of the bride or groom should wear a color that complements the bridemaids’ dresses. If you can, bring a photo of their dresses (or better yet, an actual dress) with you to the boutique, as this will help the salesperson find a shade that suits your skin tone and the wedding party’s colors.

Ask for Help (If You Need It)

For some mothers, dressing for their child’s wedding is easy. They’re at home in the fashion world, they know wedding etiquette inside and out, and they know what looks good on their bodies. These women will feel confident and regal as they walk down the aisle, and it’ll show.

For others, this may not be the case. Perhaps you haven’t been to a wedding in years —and the last time you were, your body looked a bit different. Now, you may feel overwhelmed trying to find the dress that won’t be totally embarrassing.

If you fall into column B, don’t worry! You are you not alone, and there are many people available to help you find the perfect look. Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson for help, and certainly don’t be afraid to ask your child or their spouse-to-be for their opinion and advice! It may not be your special day, but the wedding is still special for you. You deserve to look lovely—and with a little help from the experts, you will.

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