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Updated: May 1, 2023

The Mother-of-the-Bride is the matriarch of the wedding in many cultures, and of paramount importance when no wedding planner has been hired to oversee the day's events. She will be entrusting groomsmen to pick up tuxes and maids of honor to secure flowers. She will be drying tears and checking for rings, minding flower girls, ring bearers and ushers. The bride and her maids will be too busy getting updo's and photo-makeup so the Mother-of-the Bride will be the one making sure everyone follows protocol.

The last thing she needs to worry about is how she looks!

Not every mother thinks of hiring a personal stylist to help them find their perfect mother-of-the-bride dress, however it's always a good idea because the stylists who work in bridal salons are only focused on selling their own limited collections. The problem is not every bridal salon carries brands that work for every figure type and personality, or they may not carry dresses that match their daughter's colour theme or venue.

If you don't have time to work with a personal stylist however, don't fret. The tips below will help you secure the perfect dress so you can focus on all the other things that are going to demand your attention on the big day.

Finding the Perfect Dress Style

The style of dress you choose should blend in with your daughter's colour theme and venue, as well as flatter your figure. If it is going to be a formal wedding in an upscale hotel for example, it's best to shop for your dress in the formal section of a better department store, such as Holt Renfrew, Nordstroms, or Hudson's Bay. Of course, you can browse the mother-of-the-bride dress selection in the bridal shop where your daughter is getting her gown. Just know you will have to order it in and there may be a long wait so try not to limit yourself to that one particular place. Go to other dress shops and try on styles from different designers. Every designer has a different vision of how a mother-of-the bride should appear. Finding a dress that matches your daughter's vision and flatters your figure may require a few trips. Your shoes should also be more formal, but you want them to be comfortable. Unless you plan on bringing some backups, stay away from stilleto's and find a 3 or 3 1/2" heel with more support like a block heel. You're going to be on your feet all day remember!

If the wedding is less formal, such as an outdoor destination wedding on a beach, the shops you go to can be more casual in nature. Comfort is key so you will need to consider the weather. A destination wedding in a tropical location will require easy, breezy fabric that keeps you cool. Anything made from organic cotton, linen, or bamboo will do that for you. Wear flats or sandals suitable for sand and sea. Weddings held in large barns on farmland or acreages can be even more casual, most times even allowing jeans. A specialty western store is a great place to find upscale jean or chambray dresses and accessories. Comfortable shoes you can dance in on a cement floor in a barn venue are a must. 2 to 2 1/2" block heels are great for this. If you will be walking around a farm, flat platforms and wedges won't sink into the loam.

Getting the Right Colour

Mothers-of-the-bride are often at wits' end when it comes to choosing a colour their daughter will approve of. I hear this all the time. Always check with her before you begin shopping. Most brides will give you a few options to choose from. It's a good idea to include the mother-of-the-groom in your discussions as well because she is going to be in the photo's and there is always the likelihood her dress colour or pattern will clash with yours. You don't have to wear the same colour as the bridesmaids, in fact it isn't really appropriate. What is appropriate is choosing one or two shades darker. If the bridesmaids are wearing lilac for example, choose something in mauve or plum. Or, choose another colour entirely that is complimentary, such as navy or a colour in the bride's bouquet. The photo's will look so much nicer if both mothers' dresses complement each other. I see too many wedding photo's with mothers in dresses that clash and in my opinion, it looks bad. Go shopping together or send each other photo's. Both should wear solid colours or complementary patterns. If one will be wearing a floral pattern, the other should wear a complementary floral pattern of the same density. If one is wearing a graphic pattern, the other should find a similar graphic pattern of the same density. The brightness factor is also important. If one mother is wearing a bright graphic or floral pattern and the other a pastel, one mother will outshine the other in the photo's. Of course, if both mothers wear excessively bright solids or patterns the bride will fade into the background! Consult with your bride and get on board together and the photo's will be amazing.

Accessorizing Just Right

Your daughter should be consulted before you consider any accessories that may not jive with her vision. Hats are a big one because they stand out so much. If her veil is quite opulent, a hat is definitely appropriate but try not to outdo her by wearing anything with too large a brim. It's not the Kentucky Derby you know! Fascinators are much more appropriate and come in every colour under the rainbow. You can find them in specialty hat shops, bridal shops, consignment stores, and online. Although it's still considered rude to wear a hat at the table, at a wedding a fascinator can be kept on until after dinner.

Jewelry is another consideration and should also match the style of the wedding. Pearls are actually a huge trend again and are always appropriate for both the bride and the mothers. Fine chains are also on trend, but preferably don't wear more than one to the wedding. One chain with one small pendant is great. Your earrings should be elegant and refined to match your necklace. Please don't wear the oversized styles you saw on the spring runways! Save them for date nights or concerts.

Your shoes can be accessorized with an appropriate amount of bling to match your dress. Shoe jewelry is still a thing and can be found at bridal shops or online. Bridal shops also have shoes to match your dress if that's where you found it, and some shoe repair shops will dye them for you as well. In Canada, you can send them to Bridal Shoes Canada to have them dyed any colour you want for about $25.00. Alternatively, take your dress with you when you shop, particularly if it is a solid colour. If it is patterned you will have many more colour options to choose from.

You want your daughter's wedding to be magical and a positive experience. Planning what you are going to wear well in advance will ensure you look amazing and allow you to enjoy the day as much as everyone else!

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