There are few moments in a mother's life as wonderful or memorable as watching her daughter walk down the aisle. As the bride's mother, you may have spent months, or even years, planning alongside her for this incredible moment. Amongst the myriad of wedding planning decisions that need to be made between her saying 'yes' and 'i do', one of the most important for you will be choosing what to wear on her special day. As with all wedding planning duties, this is one best shared, and as a collaborative process between the two of you, it can be one of the most enjoyable parts of planning the wedding.
For some who consider themselves 'fashion-forward' and love a chance to dress-up, choosing an outfit may prove easy, but knowing where to start and what to wear can prove a little more challenging for others.
To clarify the difficulties around the 'do's' and don'ts' of selecting your outfit, we've curated a list of 10 of the most frequently asked questions by mothers of the bride alongside 15 gorgeous outfit inspirations.
1. When should I start looking?
Ideally, it is best to start looking six to nine months before the wedding day as, typically, most decisions, including venue, theme, wedding dress, colours and the wedding style, are finalised by this time. The type of venue will play an essential role in choosing what to wear, as will the time of year and the dress code. Typically, design houses and wedding specialists will stock mother of the bride outfits for every season year-round, taking the pressure off having to rely upon what would otherwise only be available seasonally in stores. Allowing six to nine months will also provide adequate time for any dress alterations that might be needed.
2. Do I have to talk to the bride about what I want to wear?
Absolutely. As with any wedding planning venture, communication is key! While the bride shouldn't look to dictate what you can or cannot wear, knowing her style aesthetic and asking for direction regarding colours will ensure your outfit complements her vision for the day. In addition, you play an honoured and important role in her day's proceedings, so together, you can ensure that your outfit distinguishes you from the rest of the guest list.
3. Are there any colours I should avoid?
Look to avoid white, ivory and champagne, as these colours are best saved for the bride. That is unless the couple has opted for an 'all white' dress code, in which case you can use the style of your outfit to distinguish you from the bride and bridesmaid's attire. If wearing colour, steer away from anything too bright (no neon or vivid shades) and steer towards sophisticated, glamorous, modest and timeless - this is your daughter's day, so let her outfit steal the show!!
4. Can I wear black?
There are no hard and fast rules for wearing black on your daughter's wedding day. Dress codes such as 'white tie' or 'black tie' lend themselves beautifully to the shade to create an elevated or 'luxe glam' feel, especially if choosing a gown with sophisticated sparkle or luxe floral overlays. If the bridesmaids wear black, look to wear a colour that feels equally formal or sophisticated but distinguishes you from the rest of the wedding party.
5. Do I have to wear a dress?
Gone are the days when 'dressing up' required wearing a dress. The only thing more important than what you wear is how you feel when wearing it. Your outfit should feel comfortable, flattering, and an elevated version of what you usually choose. Skirts, pants, tailored shirts and jumpsuits are all on the table as viable options. Most notably, your outfit should look timeless and sophisticated and reflect the importance of your relationship on the day.
*"Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself." — Oscar de la Renta*
6. Should I wear a matching colour to the bridesmaids?
It's best to aim to blend visually with the bridesmaids but not match their dresses' hue. Your outfit should feel cohesive alongside the wedding parties but distinguish your role as the bride's mother. An excellent way to ensure this is to start looking for your outfit as the bridesmaid's dresses are selected, as many of the brands that offer bridesmaid's gowns also cross over to mother-of-the-bride wear.
7. Should I coordinate with the mother of the groom?
Traditionally the mother of the groom takes her cues from the mother of the groom in this department and will look to take your lead for her outfit inspiration. Look for outfits that match the 'mood' of your daughter's day and are a continuation of her wedding day's theme and 'story'. ou should both look to express and capture your unique style in a complimentary way. It is, however, essential that your outfits match in terms of formality.
8. Do I have to wear high heels?
This decision is usually determined by two key factors: the event's formality and, ultimately, how confident you feel in heels. For example, if the dress code is formal or black tie and stilettos aren't the first type of heel you would usually reach for, then block heels, wedges, or even kitten heels can provide the all-day support and 'walkability' you are looking for. In addition, Australian brands such as 'bared' specialise in podiatrist-designed dress shoes that will look incredible on your daughter's wedding day and comfortably take you from morning preparations to evening dancing. Alternatively, if the dress code is 'casual' or takes place in a garden or on the beach, then elevated sandals or dressy flats are acceptable options.
9. How much should I spend on my outfit?
If there is ever a time to splurge rather than save on an outfit, then the most photographed day of your daughter's life is it! If the wedding is to be hosted in Winter, choose heavier and luxe fabrics such as velvet, satin or brocade for a striking gown. Think lighter laces and silks for summer and spring weddings: floral overlays, detailed beading, sophisticated sparkle and chic hemlines. Be sure to partner with an elegant bolero, shawl or jacket for the cooler months and sophisticated accessories (shoes, clutch or jewellery) in the warmer months.
10. What if I only wear my outfit once? Can I hire one?
Hiring a gown for the evening may be an option for those looking for a designer gown - just remember that you will not be able to make any alterations if it is ill-fitting. Companies such as 'Dress For a Night' and 'The Volte' offer an in-store try-on session and allow booking up to 6 months in advance.
Black tie attire
This dress code is reserved for formal evening events and is only one step down from the 'white tie', the most formal dress code. Think floor-length gowns, tuxedos, diamonds and pearl accessories. If you do want to swap the 'floor length' gown for something with a shorter hemline, make sure it doesn't fall above the knee and opt for rich tones and hues in luxurious fabrics to ensure an elevated feel. If you want to wear a suit instead of a dress, ensure that it is well-tailored and structured and composed with luxe velvet, rich silks or elegant embellishments. Finally, organise to have your hair and make-up professionally done to balance your look with the rest of the wedding parties.
You cannot surpass Australian designer Rachel Gilbert's elegant and sophisticated 'mother of the bride' collection for designer black tie gowns. Known for their intricate detailing, sleek construction and meticulous tailoring, each dress strikes the perfect balance between contemporary styling and timeless glamour.
Her collection of full-length fitted gowns featuring luxe touches ranging from sequins and feather trims to hand-sewn embellishments make for the perfect Black Tie mother of the bride attire.
Look no further than White Runway's most recent mother-of-the-bride collection for those looking for something equally as elegant but without the designer price tag. Lace overlays, textured crepe fabrics and sequin detailing all feature heavily in various colours and an array of flattering styles.
Think relaxed elegance when dressing for a 'cocktail attire' wedding. It is the perfect landing place between formal and casual. A floor-length gown will feel out of place, as will a mini-skirt! Men typically wear a suit to a cocktail-style wedding, and women can wear dresses of varying hem lengths (tea-length, knee-length or midi).
Adding the ‘fun to formal’ cocktail attire allows more scope for play with patterns, florals, metallics and colours. Fuse floaty hemlines with florals and choose silk midi dresses from design houses Zimmerman and Scanlan Theodore for your daughter's special day or from Carla Zampatti, this metallic bronze dress with voluminous three-quarter blouson sleeves.
For a more traditional take on 'cocktail attire' look to White Runways Collection featuring tea-length fitted dresses with ruched detailing and detailed beading:
This denotes that the wedding will be more of a casual affair - usually held in a garden, backyard or beach. A dressy sundress made from lighter fabrics or a skirt and top is the go-to option, with accessories and shoes being much more informal as well - swap out the heels for sandals or espadrilles. As the mother of the Bride, you will still want to err on the more 'formal' side of causal. Choose simpler dress styles but with a beautiful pattern, or if preferring a plain colour look, choose a fabric that ticks the 'casual' box but still feels special for the occasion.
Every gorgeous outfit needs an equally gorgeous pair of shoes to accompany it. As the mother of the bride, you’ll want to mix comfort with fashion by choosing a pair of shoes that will effortlessly escort you from the early morning preparations to the evening dance floor. Unless you are accustomed to an entire day in heels and are looking for designer mother-of-the-bride shoe inspiration, you may want to park the Jimmy Choo’s or Christian Laboutin’s and reach for something more inviting and friendly to your feet. Australian podiatrist-approved brands such as Bared, Frankie4 and Diana Ferrari offer all-day wearability without sacrificing style.
Regardless of the dress code and whether you look for inspiration from ‘real wedding’ mother-of-the-bride outfits from the runway or from your favourite designers there is an abundance of gorgeous outfits to choose from for your daughter’s wedding day.