Dress Etiquette for the Mother of the Groom

Amy Hoover
Coordinate with the bride's mom.
Coordinate with the bride's mom.

Figuring out proper dress etiquette for mother of the groom can be confusing for both the bride and mothers. Contemporary society does not always follow proper etiquette, further complicating the situation. However, a few traditional rules and some guidelines will help ensure the mother of the groom is fashionably appropriate.

Tips About Dress Etiquette for Mother of the Groom

Although wedding planning guides are often filled with pages on issues like wedding invitation etiquette and who pays for what, little is said about what the groom's mother should wear to the wedding itself.

Following proper protocol is important, especially when it comes to extremely formal weddings. Keep your wedding attire in line with some general etiquette rules and avoid making yourself a faux pas that will be immortalized in photographs for decades to come.

  • Traditional etiquette calls for the mother of the bride to choose her dress first, then inform the mother of the groom what she chose in order for them to complement one another.
  • Wear a dress in a color, style, and length that goes with, but does not exactly match, the mother of the bride's dress and the bridesmaids' dresses.
  • Do not wear white, off-white, or similar neutral shade that matches the bride's dress.
  • Choose a dress appropriate for the formality of the wedding.
  • Do not wear black unless it is a formal wedding and has been approved by the bride and groom.
  • Be conservative in your attire.

Traditional etiquette has become relaxed in modern society, meaning some of the rules are frequently bent to one extent or another. For example, black wedding dresses used to be a faux pas at a wedding; today, black is often part of the wedding color scheme. Though the rules used to state that strapless or spaghetti strapped dresses were considered improper for a mother of the groom, today, some mothers opt for dresses like these with a bolero jacket, shawl, or wrap.

Modern Guidelines for Mother of Grooms

Sometimes, situations arise that do not fall under easy definitions of proper etiquette. Stepmothers often fall into that realm. A groom's stepmother is usually considered an honored guest, but not necessarily on the same honoree level as a mother of the groom or bride. Her attire should fall somewhere between normal wedding guest outfits and that of the mother of the groom. Speaking with the groom or his fiancé is a good way to figure out your proper role in the bridal party and proper dress code.

A trendy wedding color scheme is to have one that uses rainbow colors. This usually means the attendants all wear a different color. In this case, the mother of the groom should wait until she learns of the mother of the bride's outfit and choose one in a flattering color. At a brightly colored rainbow wedding, the mother of the groom would not look out of place wearing a burnt orange or bright blue; at a wedding with pastel colors, a soft violet or mint green would look lovely.

Black and white weddings are becoming more and more popular. Sometimes, the couple will pick an accent color, like deep purple or claret red, while other times, they stick with basic black and white. In this case, dress etiquette does not say much. Consider wearing one of the accent colors or black. A dark, deep toned dress is often appropriate. Ask your son's fiancée for her recommendations or preference based on what her mother is wearing.

Remember that your accessories will help create the outfit. Choose wedding shoes that are appropriate and not too casual. Create a hairstyle that compliments your face shape but does not look like a bridal updo. Look for jewelry that matches your dress or go with classic pearls.


Ultimately, what matters more than dress etiquette for mother of the groom is that the mother of the groom, the groom, and the bride are happy with the dress. Getting prior approval for the dress from the bride-to-be is a surefire way to know that you will be dressed appropriately.

Dress Etiquette for the Mother of the Groom