1. Let the bride be your guide!
If you take away only one tip, let it be this one: Follow the bride's cues about style, color, and degree of formality. The bride and groom set the tone for the wedding. That can mean everything from a casual country wedding complete with cowboy boots, or a formal black-tie affair. You're an important member of the wedding party and you'll want to look the part. So, ask your son or daughter for some guidelines and follow suit.
However, choosing the mother of the bride or groom dress should be a collaborative effort. The bride will likely have ideas and opinions on what her mom and mom-to-be should wear, but mom should get a say as well. Mother of the bride and groom attire should be comfortable and flattering — after all, it's a special day for moms too, and they’ll want to look and feel their best.
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2. Take color cues from the wedding party!
There's only one color not to wear: white! Avoid anything white, ivory or hues of champagne. Though you deserve to look stunning, the bride should stand out as the star of the show.
It’s tradition that the mother of the bride or groom’s dress complement the wedding party's colors (though not necessarily match). Therefore, it's best to wait until the bride-to-be chooses the bridesmaid’s dresses to begin shopping. See if you can get a swatch of their fabric to take with you—it will be super helpful when searching for a harmonizing hue.
If your daughter or daughter-in-law forgoes the uniform bridesmaid dresses in favor of individual outfits in a similar shade, stick to one or the other. For instance, if she asks her attendants to wear black cocktail dresses, you might want to choose something in silver or gray. Or if her girls are going in cobalt blue, a navy dress would pair perfectly.
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3. Borrow from the venue, too!
It used to be that the mother’s dresses followed a kind of “uniform.” Today, almost anything goes! Just as long as it's appropriate for the event. Make sure you also take the weather and cultural or religious customs into account when choosing your outfit. Whatever kind of wedding it is, you can never go wrong if these three words come to mind: elegant, understated, and appropriate.