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For The Mothers: How Do You Start Your Search?

And all of a sudden, we find ourselves Mothers of the Bride and Groom. Our babies aren’t babies anymore, but what exactly does that mean for us? Your role, place, and/or self confidence can really be put to the test during wedding planning, culminating with your introduction announcement at the start of the reception. When you imagine walking in to the excitement and applause, what are you wearing? How do you even start?

“I don’t want to look like a Mother of the Bride.” So we’ve heard…

“I’m Mother of the Groom, I’m supposed to wear beige and be quiet.” We’ve heard that, too.

“I don’t like my ___(neck/arms/belly/shape/rear/thighs/hips)___”… The list is endless.

Being the mother of the bride or groom certainly is strange territory. You want to look beautiful without going too far, appropriate but not frumpy, sexy but not too sexy . If you are the mother of the groom, you may also worry because you don’t want to outdo the mother of the bride. There may be another layer in there of step-mother.

There is still the etiquette of allowing the mother of the bride to choose her dress first. Usually she will send a picture of her dress to the mother of the groom which allows her to choose her dress and her color without worry. Both mothers should be aware of the chosen bridesmaids color and avoid wearing it.

Choosing the dress you wear for your daughter or son’s wedding should be a thoughtful process. You will want to consider style for the formality of the event, the season, location, and any color specifications made by the couple. Then the shape and silhouette of your dress.

As for style, consider first the formality of the wedding. A formal wedding requires a more formal dress and what makes a dress more formal than another? We can start with a fabric.

Satin and silk both lend a very formal look to any shape dress. If you choose a satin dress, it may have beading or embellishments, or it may be plain. Silk dresses do not often have embellishments, nor do they need them. Dresses with lace and lace overlays can work perfectly for this type of affair, but make sure this doesn’t compete with the bride’s dress. Beaded dresses are perfect for formal affairs so if you like to sparkle, this is the time!

A navy colored full length satin dress with spaghetti straps, V-neck line, and banded waist
A satin dress in navy

A semi formal affair allows for something like a flowy chiffon, perhaps with a flutter sleeve or off the shoulder straps, taking into account the season of course. If the wedding is in the early afternoon, a cocktail length dress may be perfectly appropriate. Some dresses come with pretty matching jackets or a matching wrap that works beautifully for the wedding ceremony. There are chic pantsuits that are perfect for a semi formal event!

A three-piece women's pants suit in the color wine on a model including chiffon pants, beaded tank top, and matching chiffon long sleeve buttonless jacket
MGNY pant suit in wine with removable jacket

Determining the season/location is more obvious, a summer wedding calls for a different dress than a winter wedding. A barn wedding is different from the grand ballroom. The beach wedding dress isn’t for the snowy mountain couple.

In our experience with color, mothers tend to gravitate to darker or jewel tones; navy and plum are very popular, while sapphire, wine, and emerald are also lovely choices. Depending on the colors chosen by the couple, or the locale/season, again your options may not include darker colors.

For lighter colors that are very flattering, consider wedgewood, mink, amethyst, wisteria, and English rose. These colors are very soft and do not go into the pastels, these blend beautifully. Silver, from light grey to dark metal, there is a silver shade that goes with every color pallet.

Now the shape. Let’s start with the easiest silhouette which is A-line.

A mothers dress in an A-line shape with a v-neck, three-quarter beaded sleeves in the color navy and fabric chiffon
A-line shape dress by MGNY in navy

The A-line shaped dress looks flattering on everybody and that means every body. This dress has a clearly defined waist and the skirt forms the shape of the letter A. some A-line skirt have lining or crinoline underneath which may give them a little more volume, if you don’t like all the volume you can either take some out or find a dress without to get it what we call a slim A-line. A number of dresses are made in this shape so you will have no problem finding a great selection. It is also a great one for mothers to start when unsure.

If you have curves, do not shy away from a good fit and flare dress.

A lease and tulle fit and flare dress with off the shoulder sleeves, beaded lace bodice, and flared tulle skirt with horse hair hem in a light charcoal colorcolor
A lace and tulle fit & flare dress

A well-made dress will show curves off beautifully. You may not like the feel of the tightness around the hips, or you may feel very restricted in movement, but at least give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at how great you look and how great you feel!

If curves do not describe you, you may like what is called a sheath dress.

A sheath dress with a beaded bodice, matching beaded short sleeves, and a chiffon skirt in the color cornflower blue
Beaded and chiffon sheath dress

A sheath is a straight cut that is very flattering and classic. These dresses look especially good on petite (under 5’3″) mothers because it is an elongating shape without a defined waist.

Once you find your preferred shape, you can then try different necklines, like V-neck, scoop neck, high neck, etc. and sleeves as well. Many mother dresses now come with a set of detachable sleeves should you prefer that look, or if you aren’t sure about the weather on the wedding day. Perhaps you would want sleeves for the ceremony and not for the reception. It is a great option to have these.

Above all, the dress you choose needs to make you feel good inside. You want to be confident, comfortable, and proud. This is a big day for you and your family and you deserve to enjoy every moment.

We are always available to answer any of your questions about dresses for mothers! Please call or text us at 215-491-8500 and we will be happy to assist!

About the author: Wendy Ianieri is co-founder and co-owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, now in its eighth year in business. In that time the store has grown from a small bridal boutique to a full-service bridal store serving not only Bucks County, PA but the surrounding counties and even border states. With the customer experience in mind, Ms. Ianieri steers the company by offering the best designers and wedding attire while creating a caring, family atmosphere. A life-long Bucks County native, she currently resides in Warrington with her husband and co-founder/co-owner Franco Salerno, and their two daughters for whom the store was named, Daria and Deanna.

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