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Mother of the Bride Dress Dilemmas, Solved

March 23, 2013 by Jill Prouty  
Filed under Brides' Guide

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Shopping for the perfect mother of the bride (or groom) dress isn’t easy. The mother of the bride is expected to pick a dress that is beautiful, graceful, distinct and understated just enough not to draw attention away from the bride. Choosing the right dress can be challenging, but armed with the following tips, you’ll find a dress that ticks off all those boxes and then some.

The days of the dowdy mother of the bride are long gone, along with the matronly loose-fitting sacks that went along with them. The modern mother of the bride has a wide range of choices available to her, from simple to sophisticated. There are no hard and fast rules of fashion in searching for a mother of the bride dress, but your aim should be to dress in a manner consistent with the overall style of the wedding.

Your first order of business should be consulting with the bride so she can share her vision (color, theme, style) of the wedding. It’s also a good idea to talk to the mother of the groom as well. You do not want to match — or clash — with her. As soon as the bride has made a decision on her dress as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses, it’s time to start shopping. Bridal stores usually stock a limited number of sizes and colors in a particular style, so you probably will have to special-order your dress. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to find a dress you love.

When deciding on a color, choose one that looks good with your skin tone and complements the overall wedding colors. While some dictate that the mother of the bride should stay away from white dresses, ivory or cream ones are perfectly suitable. Black used to be considered off limits, but it is now a popular choice (and slimming as well!). Try to avoid colors that clash with the bride’s gown or that of the bridal party. For instance, if the bridesmaids are wearing pastels, you should not wear jewel tones – or black for that matter. You want to be different, but not garishly so. Ivory would be a better choice in this instance. You don’t want to look out of place in the wedding photos. Again, the guiding principle is to avoid matching or clashing.

It is also a good idea to follow the wedding party as far as the length of the dress. If the bridesmaids are wearing knee length dresses, then avoid wearing a mother of the bride dress that is floor length. Something that falls just below the knees would be perfect in this situation. On the other hand, if everyone in the wedding party will be dressed in floor-length dresses, then the mother of the bride’s dress should be as well.

As far as style goes, a wedding is not the time to choose something daring or too flashy. A fully-sequined dress or one that is ornately beaded is probably not the best choice. The mother of the bride should look good, but it’s important to remember that the focus should be on the bride. A good choice might be an elegant straight dress in a soft fabric with a matching jacket. For a little extra sparkle, look for something that is lined or trimmed with small rhinestones or beads.

As in all fashion, remember to wear what you love, what feels comfortable, and what looks best on you. The last thing you want is to feel self-conscious in your dress. Above all else, allow yourself the time to carefully select something that both flatters you and fits in seamlessly with the rest of the wedding party.

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About Jill Prouty
Jill is a reader, writer, and professional librarian who enjoys spending her free time with her husband of twelve years and their two sons. She has an MSLS from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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