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What Is a Mother of the Groom Dress?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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The groom's mother typically plays a center role in her son's life, and on his wedding day, her attire should be in sync with the theme, style, and color of the wedding. It is important that the mother of the groom dress be appropriate for the event and not clash with clothing worn by other members of the wedding party, especially the mother of the bride's outfit. The bride should also approve of the dress.

Old-school wedding etiquette calls for the mother of the bride to select her dress first, and then notify the mother of the groom with details of her selection. This clothing coordination helps prevent the dresses from being too similar or clashing. In place of this formality, the mothers can simply opt to discuss their ensemble ideas before actually shopping for the outfits. The protocol varies among cultures and generations, but common courtesy is expected.

The mother of the groom dress will typically be featured in many wedding photos, so it is important that the dress match the wedding's atmosphere and the rest of the wedding party's attire. The dress should be casual for a casual wedding, or ornate and elegant for a more formal affair. Dress length, sleeve length, and neckline are all factors that contribute to the dress's overall impact.

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The color of the dress is important. The mother of the groom has a specific role in the wedding, and her dress should be unique and not be too similar to the mother of the bride's dress, the bridesmaid's dresses, or even what the bride is wearing. Many dress shops and online stores will offer fabric color swatches. In addition to purchasing the dress early enough to have alterations completed on time, it is also important to pick out accessories to match the mother of the groom dress. Shoes, jewelry, and gloves should be purchased well ahead of the wedding date.

Not every dress needs to come off the rack. Seamstresses can typically work with a mother of the groom to create a one-of-a-kind outfit in just the right style, size, and color. Proper fit is important for such a special occasion, so even off-the-rack dresses will typically look better with a few tweaks from a skilled seamstress.

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Discuss this Article

golf07
Post 5

When you look back through your wedding pictures it always looks nice when all the colors are coordinated. I would be more concerned about the colors than I would the style of the dress.

There are a lot of choices for dresses for the mother of the groom and the bride, so it should not be hard to find something that fits with the color and theme of your wedding.

As soon as my mother heard what my choices of colors were, she started looking for the dress she would wear to my wedding.

While I didn't tell my husbands mother what she should wear, I knew she would choose something that was appropriate and focused my energy on other matters that I thought were more important.

SarahSon
Post 4

I didn't realize there was a traditional etiquette to be followed for the mother of the groom wedding dress. I never wanted a large wedding ceremony and never gave a thought as to what my husband's mother would wear.

I figured it was her choice and should be something she felt comfortable wearing. I know that some brides are very particular about the dress their own mother wears, but never thought about having a say in what my future mother in law would wear.

ElizaBennett
Post 3

@Sara007 - I don't disagree that they should not clash (and maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think that white is off-limits and so is black, except maybe for a very formal evening wedding), but I agree with manykitties2 that they should choose their own dresses.

In fact, I would say that they should choose their own dresses even if you *can't* trust them to choose something "suitable and stylish." Weddings are made up of real people, not Hollywood extras.

If the mother of your future husband is the tackiest creature on God's green earth, why would you want pictures of her being something that she absolutely is not? Let her be who she is, and let the pictures show that.

I went through something similar with my brother, who as a seventeen-year-old groomsman happened to be going through his ponytail-and-goatee phase. That phase is now commemorated in lovely professional photos that show my family as it really was!

Sara007
Post 2

@manykitties2 - If you are more traditional I think it is a great idea for the mothers to coordinate their clothing with the wedding party. For something small and informal, sure the mother of the groom dress isn't a big deal, but for those dreaming of a big white wedding every detail counts.

For my wedding our mothers pretty much helped me with everything. They loved the planning just as much as I did. While they aren't part of the wedding party standing at the front of the church, it is still important that they match to show their continuity with the overall event.

manykitties2
Post 1

When I had my wedding I was completely unaware that there was a tradition related to the mother of the groom dress. I just figured that the moms weren't really a major part of the wedding party itself so that whatever they wanted to wear was fine.

My mom chose her own dress and my husband let his mom wear whatever she wanted. I suppose because we had a small ceremony that worrying about things like that were just too much of a hassle. I mean really, why does everything need to match exactly?

It seems really old fashioned and expensive to go to all that trouble for a few photos. I trusted our moms to pick clothing that was suitable and stylish.

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