Mother of the Bride Dress: How to Shop for Your Wedding Attire

Finding the perfect mother of the bride dress to wear to your child's wedding can be one of your most stressful shopping experiences in wedding planning. Often our figures aren't as trim as they were when we were brides. This added to many other factors contribute to our elevated stress factor! Here, a few frequently asked questions and answers on how mother’s of the bride can shop for wedding fashion attire.

Don't I have to blend with the bridesmaids?
If it is a Christian ceremony, no, you do not have to blend. You just don't clash. In a Christian ceremony, as opposed to a Jewish ceremony, you are never standing near a bridesmaid. You are seated in the first or second row. In a Jewish ceremony, however, the parents of the bride and groom are standing near the rabbi during the entire ceremony thereby being seen in close proximity to the bridesmaids. In a Jewish ceremony, therefore it is important that your dress compliment the color of the bridesmaids' wedding fashion dresses. Most brides and mothers don't realize that parents are generally not photographed with the wedding party, they are photographed with the bride and the groom and in their own family picture. The family picture should not the deciding factor on the color mother of the bride dress you choose—looking your best is the deciding factor.

How soon do I have to begin to shop for my mother of the bride dress?
To have the best selection, it is wise to begin shopping for your mother of the bride dress four to six months prior to the wedding. Because many of the popular wedding fashion and attire are made overseas, this will allow time to make a selection, order the garment, and time for any needed alterations. Many of the wedding fashion dresses for MOBs and MOGs are cut in a very limited cutting and may not be available to order. If you begin looking six months before the wedding, it will give you time to see what your options are. If you wait until a month to six weeks before the wedding your options are greatly reduced.

As the Mother of the Groom why do I have to wait to select my dress?
Traditionally, the Mother of the Bride is the hostess of the wedding and the Mother of the Groom is the most honored guest. The MOB decides on the "formality" of the mothers' wedding fashion dresses. If she chooses to go long, the other mother should go long. In the "bookend" picture, as I call it--the one with the parents on either side of the bride and groom--If one mother wears long and the other wears short, the mother in short will be the only one in that picture with her legs showing. If she chooses to go knee-length the other mother can go any length she chooses other than long.

Can both mothers wear the same color?
Absolutely! If they both look best in the same color, there’s no reason why both ladies shouldn’t look flattering in their wedding fashion. The goal as a MOB and MOG is to look your very best at your child's wedding. A deciding factor in achieving this is your choice of color.

As mothers, do our dresses have to match in style?
The only thing that has to match is, if one goes full-length the other goes full-length. Other than that, each mother brings to this occasion her own sense of style. One mother may be an accountant, the other an artist. They are not senior bridesmaids of each other! Each wears what they feel "emotionally" comfortable in.

Does the bride choose our mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses for us?
No. Mothers are far more experienced in what they feel emotionally comfortable in and are better able to chose the dress that compliments them.

Barbara Tibbetts and daughter Terrie Tibbetts Martin opened T. Carolyn, a wedding fashion and formalwear shop in Houston, in 1991 and have been specializing in dressing mothers whose children are getting married for the last 18 years. Realizing the need for mothers to be more informed with pertinent, honest information, Barbara has just completed her book, "I Want My Mother's Dress To Match The Napkins.....Funny stories and Serious Advice for Looking Your Best At Your Child’s Wedding,” and it is available in store and on