Color Code: Wardrobe choices for the mother of the bride/groom

by epi on September 23, 2011

Q:  How is it determined what colors of dresses the mothers of the bride/groom are to wear?

A: The mother of the bride selects first, a color she loves and loves to wear, having nothing at all to do with the wedding party. She then tells the groom’s mom what she is selecting so that the groom’s mom can get her ensemble in a color flattering to her, but not the same color as what the mom (or the attendants) are wearing.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth September 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

Personally, I think this rule places too strong of an emphasis on color and “rights” to wear certain colors. Unless the mothers chose exactly the same outfit, the chances of them wearing the exact same shade is almost nil. When I got married, I was happy to see both my mother and my husband’s mother choose dresses they loved and it never occurred to me (or my mother) that since she’d chosen a navy blue dress that my MIL should not have worn the more medium-blue dress that she chose. It was a non-issue, and I tend to think that people who really stress about this need to take a step back and look at the bigger pictures. As long as no one wears white, it’s fine.


TootsNYC September 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

And actually, even if someone does wear white, it can be okay. It’s just not a huge deal.

I think the biggest reason not to wear white is because the guest’s/MOB’s/MOG’s dress will then become a huge topic of conversation. And I think that’s a stinky thing to do to someone at their wedding–create a negative buzz like that.

The second biggest reason is because it looks a bit odd in the photos, and it creates TWO big white spaces that mess up the composition a little bit.

In fact, many of the etiquette books I’ve got say it’s OK to wear white as long as it’s not “bridal” (whatever that means). Not that I would agree with that advice–the “don’t wear white to a wedding” rule is incredibly strong in our culture (hence all the gossip that would result).


R Camp September 26, 2011 at 10:05 am

I know the proper way to address a wedding invitation when there is both an inside envelope and an outter envelope; however, what is correct when there will be only one envelope?
Thank you very much.


Just Laura September 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

It appears that all important information (names of invited guests) would need to be on the outer envelope. This page from the Emily Post Institute may help you.


Winifred Rosenburg September 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I would think you could also write the names on the invitation itself.


Jean S October 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I would like to know if it proper etiquette to invite people to the bridal shower and not to the wedding?


Just Laura October 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

No, it is inappropriate. Here’s what the Emily Post Institute has to say about it: However big or small the guest list ends up being, anyone invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding. The only exception to this rule is when coworkers throw an office shower.


amy ross November 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Is it appropriate for m-o-t-groom to wear dressy pants outfit if m-o-t-bride is wearing a gown?


Just Laura November 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm

My husband’s mother wore pants, and no one minded a bit. Have you asked your future daughter-in-law what she thinks?


Alicia November 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

If the outfit is of appropriate formality for the formality and time of day of the wedding , appropriate for the place of the wedding ( some houses of worship have rules), looks good on the woman wearing it, is not white, and the woman wearing it feels lovely in the outfit then it is absolutely appropriate. If all of these conditions are met then an outfit be it pants, gown, skirt and top, ect is perfectly wonderful.


Patricia Devlin November 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I am considering wearing a beautiful dress to my daughter’s wedding next year that I wore as MOB for our oldest daughter’s wedding 2 and 1/2 years ago. Is this inappropriate to wear the same MOB dress to both daughter’s wedding that are 3 years apart? Bride is ok with it and encouraging me to wear it, but I would like to know if this breaches etiquette.
Thanks, Worried that Someone might be Looking at Me.


Just Laura November 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

You only need to worry about two things:
1) Is the bride fine with it? You said that she is, and it was kind of you to ask.
2) Do certain members of your immediate family have an oddly specific photographic memory?


Patricia November 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Thanks for your reply…the dresses I’m seeing the second time around are very similar to the dress I have from the first wedding. I will be able to switch up a different shrug or even add beaded straps to add some confusion to curious minds.


Country Girl November 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Certainly not a breach of etiquette. However if pictures were taken and shared (via photograph, facebook, etc) or especially if the dress is unique or stands out in any way, then you can probably prepare yourself for at least a few people to remember. But since your daughter would like you to wear it, the biggest question now is do YOU care if anyone remembers?


Country Girl November 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Oops, I was still typing my comment when it submitted…. I was going to add that there are plenty of ways to embellish or accessorize a dress that can make it seem like a whole new outfit. A shawl, a thin belt, different jewelry, etc.


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