Dress Etiquette for the Mother of the Groom

Amy Hoover
Groom with moms

What should the mother of the groom wear? Mother of the groom dresses should be appropriate, understated, and should complement the mother of the bride's dress. Following a few traditional rules and guidelines will help the mother of the groom dress appropriately.

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.

Basic Traditional Guidelines

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 mother of the bride dress etiquette says that she should select 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 mother of the groom wedding outfit 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.

Moving Beyond Traditional

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.

Can the Mother of the Groom Wear Black?

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.

Multi-Color Wedding Schemes

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.

Stepmothers of the Groom

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.

Select Appropriate Accessories

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.

Check With Bride and Groom

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