What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be?

Picking the right color for your mother of the bride dress is about more than what’s flattering on you. Learn more about the dos and don’ts of mother of the bride dresses.

By The Zola Team

Mother of the Bride Dress
Photo by NST Pictures

Your daughter's wedding day is a huge deal—and you, of course, want to look your best; you want the perfect dress, the perfect wedding shoes, and the perfect wedding hairstyle.

And in the quest to look their best, one of the questions we hear a lot of mother of the brides ask is what color dress they should wear on their daughter’s big day.

As a mother of a soon-to-be-married child, choosing a color scheme for your wedding attire can be a challenge — especially with so many different opinions online. To help, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know to choose the perfect color for your dress — including a definitive list of the dos and don’ts, common FAQs, and a color palette ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

Ready to choose the perfect color for your mother of the bride dress? Let's jump in.

Do: Complement the Bridal Party

Whether your bride wants you to match the bridal party, wear a shade in the same color family as the bridesmaid dresses, or has no preference at all, it’s always good practice to make sure your dress complements the colors of the wedding party. You will be in a lot of photos with the wedding party, so your dress color mustn’t clash with those around you. Neutrals are usually a safe bet and can be embellished with metallics or contrasting neutrals for a more interesting design.

In addition to color, your dress should also complement the bridal party in terms of formality. For example, a formal evening gown (like a floor-length ball gown) would look out of place (and probably be uncomfortable!) at a daytime beach wedding—while a more casual pantsuit would be too informal for a more formal wedding or black tie event. So, be sure you have a clear understanding of the wedding dress code before shopping for your mother of the bride dress.

Don’t: Be Too Bold

Similar to the above, there are a few colors you may want to avoid. More specifically, avoid anything too bold or flashy that would detract attention from your daughter on such a special occasion. Attention-grabbing colors like vibrant orange, bright red, or vivid yellow may not be the best choice.

That said, you’re not limited to muted neutrals and pastels either. When looking for a dress, you should explore a variety of colors, taking into account the planned environment of the wedding, as well as the time of year you will be celebrating.

These guidelines will not only help you make the best color choice, but can also be good advice in terms of style. Though you aren’t relegated to matronly dresses, you should aim to find something age-appropriate. If you’re unsure about the dress you’ve selected, ask your daughter what she thinks.

What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be? Photo Credit // Kara Evans Photographer

Do: Flatter Your Skin Tone

Finding colors that look good on you is usually a matter influenced by skin tone. Generally speaking, those with warm skin tones will look beautiful in warmer colors, while those with cool skin tones will radiate in cooler colors.

Warm Skin Tones: The best colors for these women reflect the colors of nature. Turn to hues of red, peach, coral, orange, amber, gold, and yellow. You will also look gorgeous in "warmer" shades of cool colors, such as olive, moss, orchid, and violet-red. The neutrals that work best for you include taupe, cappuccino, cream, and mushroom gravy. With a warm skin tone, you should avoid chilly colors, like icy blues, or rich jewel tones, as they can wash you out and make your skin look gray.

Cool Skin Tones: The best colors for you are bright blues, emeralds, and deep purples along with frosty shades of lavender, ice blue, or pink. For a warmer shade, you can try ruby, bright rosy red, or super-pale yellows. However, it’s best to avoid orange, tomato red, and strong yellows, which can clash with your skin completely. To go more neutral, seek out cool gray and navy.

Need help determining your skin tone? A simple at-home test may help. Simply look at the inside of your forearm and check the appearance of your veins in natural light. If your veins look blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone. Veins that appear green, or a greenish blue, indicate a warm skin tone. If you still aren’t sure, ask a shop assistant at the bridal boutique or any makeup counter to help you.

Don’t: Match the Bride

Perhaps the biggest no-no for a mother of the bride, or any guest at the wedding for that matter, is to match the bride's wedding dress. When searching for a dress color, this simply means to stay far away from any shades of the bride's gown — like white, ivory, or champagne. If you’d like to stick with a neutral color, try greys, taupe, beige, or other off-white hues.

That being said, if you know the bride has opted for a non-conventional color (we love a pink wedding dress!), you may be able to explore white dress styles—just get her approval first.

Do: Be Comfortable

While you want to be considerate of your daughter’s desires and coordinate the color of your dress, you will ultimately want to be comfortable in what you’re wearing. Trust us: The last thing you want to be thinking about when you’re trying to celebrate your daughter’s marriage is whether or not you look good in the color you’re wearing.

If your daughter is insistent that you wear a particular color that you don’t feel your best in, talk to her about it. Approach this conversation with another idea that complements the vision she’s trying to create. Who knows, you may show her something she hadn’t thought of.

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Color Palettes for Your Dress

Need some color inspiration for your mother of the bride dress? Here are a few color ideas to get your creative juices flowing—and choose the perfect color palette for your wedding attire:

What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Dress Be? Photo Credit // Rengim Mutevellioglu

Metallics

Want to shine on your daughter's wedding day? Try a metallic color like silver, gold, or rose gold.

Neutrals

Neutrals like taupe, gray, or beige are a traditional choice for mother of the bride dresses; they feel classy, elegant, and sophisticated—and they're understated enough that they won't take any attention from the bride's attire.

Pastels

Pastels like lavender, baby blue, or soft pink are a great choice for daytime weddings. You can also go with a pastel dress if you want the understated look of a neutral—but want more of a pop of color for your look.

Deep hues

If you want something a bit bolder for your mother of the bride dress, try a deeper hue like burgundy, navy, or plum. These colors work particularly well for evening or winter weddings.

Mother of the Bride Wear FAQs

Choosing the right color for your mother of the bride dress is only one element of your wedding attire. Let's take a look at some more common questions about mother of the bride wear—so you have all the information you need to find the perfect dress for your daughter's big day:

What should the mother of the bride wear to her daughter's wedding?

The best mother of the bride wedding attire depends on a variety of factors, including the formality of the wedding and your personal style. Generally, dresses (for example, a cocktail dress) or more formal separates (like a dressier pantsuit) would be appropriate.

Who chooses the mother of the bride dress—the mother or the bride?

Ultimately, you get to decide what you're going to wear to your daughter's wedding—but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have any input. Ask for her opinions about what she'd like you to wear (and what she'd like you to avoid!) and keep those opinions in mind as you're dress shopping.

What's the difference between mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses?

If your daughter is marrying a man, you may wonder if you need to coordinate outfits with the mother of the groom. While there's no need for you to match each other perfectly, your son and daughter may want your mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses to complement each other (or at least not clash!). Talk to your daughter—and if she wants your dress to coordinate with her future mother-in-law's attire, make sure to chat with mother of the groom and get on the same page before you buy your wedding outfit.