Once upon a time, the mother of the bride planned the wedding. Since her husband often paid for the affair, she was given the responsibility of making sure that everything was perfect. All the bride had to do was agree with her mom, and all the groom had to do was show up. But times have changed. These days, most couples are gainfully employed when they get engaged, which means they often pay for most of wedding costs themselves. And since they pay the bills, they also get to plan the affair.
Where does that leave the mother of the bride? In truth, it often leaves her feeling a bit left out. After all, the father of the bride has some real responsibilities. He gets to walk his daughter down the aisle, make the first toast, and dance with her. But there really isn’t much for mom to do at a modern wedding except to smile and look beautiful.
Fortunately, most mothers of the bride enjoy this simple, diminished role. They need not answer for everything. They can be as involved or uninvolved as their daughters like. Their only real responsibility is to find a killer dress. Of course, this is easier said than done.
How to Choose
Because most mothers of the bride don’t have much to do, they tend to put a great deal of emphasis on the dress. They want a gown that will blow everyone away and will make them feel like a part of the wedding party, even though they don’t have much to do. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the plus side, the right dress may transform them into the most stunning woman in the room. On the minus, that really isn’t their role. The bride is supposed to be the standout, which is why the mother of the bride should always wait until her daughter and the bridesmaids have selected their dresses before she starts shopping.
The mother of the bride should look for a dress that compliments the color scheme of the bridal party gowns, but does not duplicate it. In short, she cannot wear white and she should not wear the same color dress the bridesmaids wear, since she is not a bridesmaid. Soft shades of yellow, green, pink and blue are understated colors that are perfect for almost any wedding, no matter how formal or casual. Jewel tones like burgundy or purple are more popular at weddings in the fall and winter.
The easiest way to choose a pleasing color is to find one that is a few shades lighter than the bridesmaid’s dresses. Since the bride-to-be selects the color, her mother can be certain she likes it. A similar color will also ensure that her dress does not clash with the rest of the wedding party in pictures. The mother of bride can also coordinate dresses with the bride, since she will be sharing hundreds of photographs with her on the wedding day.
What colors are off limits? White, ivory, and even champagne are frowned upon; they’re simply too close to the bridal gown. Traditionalists also say that the mother of the bride should stay away from red and black. Red is thought to be too flashy and black is the color of mourning for mature woman.
Even if it the ceremony is on the casual side, the mother of the bride should always ask her daughter about the length of her dress. While most mothers dress conservatively at the weddings of their children, a younger mother might feel uncomfortable wearing a full length gown. Of course, she should never wear one that is much shorter than her daughter’s dress. Tea-length dresses, long gowns and cocktail suits are popular choice for younger mothers of the bride.
Style and Cut
Different dresses flatter different body types. Probably the most versatile silhouette is the classic A-line dress. It is somewhat bell-shaped and can make most women, especially older mothers, look their best. When it comes to style, that really is a personal preference. However, it is important to consider the mother of the groom. Tradition dictates that she take her fashion cues from the mother of the bride. So, if the mother of the groom is slightly older or a bit big in the hips, it may be best to select a more conservative, understated dress.
A Few More Tips
Avoid floral prints. They can be distracting and they rarely photograph well, especially next to girls in solid color gowns. Beads and sequins are also out of style. The bridal gown is the only one that is allowed to be ostentatious. Ribbons, lace and ruffles may also be over the top.
Accessories are an easy way for a younger mother of the bride who feels a bit drab in her dress to spice it up a bit. A colorful sash, a shawl or some jewelry can add just the right amount of color to an understated dress.
Take these tips and advice into account when you go shopping for your mother of the bride dress and you’ll be sure to turn heads on your daughter’s special day.