Mother-of-the-Bride Fashion Tips

Stylist Deb Bendetson gives advice on getting your mom looking wedding-ready.

Bride with Mother at Wedding Reception via Shutterstock

Wedding reception photo via Shutterstock

You’re thrilled that your mom’s excited to get gussied up for the wedding. But when she leaves the dressing room with her heart set on wearing that over-the-top full-length beaded ivory gown, it’s clear there needs to be a fashion conversation in your future.

How does a bride handle this potentially awkward situation? We asked Deb Bendetson, a stylist in Weston, for a few expert guidelines.

“Today’s mothers-of-the-bride are very different from the previous generations,” she says. “They are often in the best shape of their lives, worked hard, and have taken excellent care of themselves. This can be their Oscar moment, and I am all for that, provided it’s tasteful and if it’s in keeping with the theme of the wedding.”

Traditionally, when just the bride’s family was paying for the entire celebration, her mother would be considered the hostess (i.e., the second most important woman in the room). Even though it’s more common now for both families to share wedding expenses, the mother-of-the-bride hasn’t lost her status. Still, the attention shouldn’t be all hers.

“I like to say that mothers-of-the-bride should never purposely call attention to themselves,” Bendetson says. But that doesn’t mean they can’t look fabulous.

A general rule of thumb for wedding fashion is that even if a dress code is never specified, you can typically consider evening weddings more formal, whereas daytime weddings call for a more casual vibe. Mom should dress accordingly. Bendetson suggests that mothers-of-the-bride take one step up in formality level—but just one. “It’s OK for the mother-of-the-bride to be dressier than her guests, but never so much that the guests will feel uncomfortably underdressed,” she explains.

According to Bendetson, among the most important criteria for a mother-of-the-bride to keep in mind are the season and the time of day of the ceremony, as well as the bridal party’s colors. “For example, if the bridal party is in soft pastel colors, then a bright color will stand out too much,” she says. Mom should also consider the couple’s choice of venue: A beaded gown is lovely in a ballroom, but would look out of place on the beach.

Bendetson also recommends being mindful of the family and wedding party photos. “As mother-of-the-bride, you don’t want to be the first person someone will notice in a group shot. Think of it like viewing a piece of artwork: You want to first appreciate the overall beauty, but then your eye should be drawn to the focus point—in this case, the bride,” she says.

It goes without saying that whether dressy or casual, slinky or draped, classic or glamorous, the mother-of-the-bride should wear what looks great on her, and she should feel great wearing it. Bendetson suggests she have her picture taken from different angles while deciding on a dress. “You may be surprised how a dress photographs on you, and a picture is forever,” she says. Mom should also consider the wearability of the dress: “Unlike the bride, she’ll want to wear her dress again, so it’s important to keep that in mind.”


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