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What Color Should the Mother of the Bride Wear?

by Adriana Perez-Nakamura
Last updated on August 21, 2023
Mother of the bride helping daughter get ready.

Congratulations, your daughter is getting married! And along with the many wedding tasks you’re in charge of, you’re also thinking about what you will wear. But more specifically: What color should the mother of the bride wear?

Thankfully, the days of matronly dresses are long gone. Conventional weddings allow for more versatility in outfit styles, colors, and patterns. And yes even white is ok as long as the bride doesn’t mind. However, as the mother of the bride, there are still things you must consider when you decide what color to wear.


Floral spring dress for mother of the bride.
Spring-inspired color for mother of the bride to wear.

The time of year will influence the type and color of the outfit you wear for your daughter’s wedding. You of course want to look nice, but you also want to be comfortable. A dark-colored dress made of heavy brocade is not the best choice for you to wear for a summer wedding. And you would probably be cold in a shorter tulle dress in soft pink during winter.

In order to help you choose, we’ve rounded up some dress color suggestions. You’ll definitely want to consider these when you shop for your dress.

Winter Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

A short cocktail dress may not work for an outdoor winter wedding if it’s cold. It also probably wouldn’t be appropriate if that cocktail dress were bright yellow.

Dark colors are generally best for the mother of the bride to wear to a winter wedding. And in this case, a full length navy dress or burgundy dress might be most appropriate. You can even consider wearing black because black dresses are no longer considered taboo. But if you are hesitant to wear black to your daughter’s wedding, continue reading toward the end for more about that topic.

If your personal style allows, metallics are also gorgeous colors to consider for your dress. Colors like gold, rose gold, and silver are perfect for you to wear at formal and semi formal winter weddings.

Spring Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Spring is an excellent time of year for daytime weddings. It evokes images of vibrant flowers, gentle rain, and fresh beginnings. A light and airy short-sleeved (or even sleeveless) dress is appropriate for the mother of the bride. And you can pair it with a light shawl or short jacket in case any winter chills linger in the air.

Lighter colors, as well as cooler colors, work well for a spring dress. Consider dusty pink, pale green, light yellow, or even baby blue for this special occasion. Spring dresses with small floral prints are also lovely and playful–just be sure they suit the color scheme of the wedding party if necessary.

Summer Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Much like spring, longer and warm summer days call for light, flowing dresses. Brighter, more vivid color schemes are generally acceptable. From a highly saturated color like a fiery orange-red to pinks, and even light blue, color inspiration for summer is endless. And remember, you want your dress to be cool and comfortable. So choose materials like chiffon, organza, or tulle.

Many people associate summer weddings with a brighter color theme, but an understated neutral color makes a perfect dress for the mother of the bride to wear, too. Cream, ivory, blush, mauve, beige, and even champagne are beautiful dress colors. And they look especially good against a summer sun-kissed skin tone. If you’d like a bit of contrast, pair neutrals with an accent color. It can coordinate with the wedding party’s colors, or even the bride’s dress.

Fall Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

A fall wedding offers the backdrop of richly-colored foliage appropriate for jeweled-toned dresses. If your daughter’s wedding is a formal wedding, a rich emerald, burgundy, cobalt blue, or even a champagne color is appropriate for you to wear. The dress code for a fall wedding allows you to choose from a variety of dress lengths. Hence, a knee-length dress for the mother of the bride to wear is just as proper as a floor-length dress, and material choices include velvet, lace, brocade, and silk in a matching color.

Are Black Dresses Appropriate?

Bride's mother in a black dress.
Mother of the bride dress in black with white accents.

For a long time, black was a color considered by many to be off-limits for wedding attire–especially for the mother of the bride to wear. After all, you are attending a wedding not a funeral. But things are changing and black dresses are now more acceptable. Black makes a chic color dress that suits a formal wedding quite well.

Black is a versatile color that can be dressed up with beaded accents, metallic embellishments, or as the main color in a pattern. Furthermore, a black dress for the mother of the bride with a contrasting sash is a creative way to add some color to the outfit. A jacket in coordinating colors with the bridesmaids dresses would look beautiful as well.

If you absolutely cannot make yourself wear black but would like a darker color dress, try dark gray or navy blue. Either would undoubtedly make a lovely and sophisticated dress color.

Are White, Ivory, and Cream Dresses Appropriate?

Mother of the bride dress in white.
Wear white if the bride allows it.

As a rule of thumb it’s best not to wear white, ivory, or cream-colored dresses. These colors can take away attention from the bride–and no one wants to do that on such a special occasion. But all white is very chic, and the bride may have this wedding color scheme in mind. She might request a partial white, or even all-white dress code for the mother of the bride or bridesmaids dresses.

Not every bride wants to wear a white wedding dress on her wedding day. Some brides are opting for colors like rose gold, darker pink, and even light blue. If this is the case, they may not mind if others in the wedding party wore white or something within the same color family.

Are Red Dresses Appropriate?

Red mother of the bride dress.
Mother of the bride in red.

When someone thinks of a dress for the mother of the bride, red is probably not the first color that comes to mind. Like white, red might take attention away from the bride and her wedding dress. But if the bride doesn’t mind there is nothing that says you can’t wear a red dress.

Red is a bold and beautiful statement color most appropriate for fall or winter weddings. Cranberry, scarlet, crimson and even cardinal red are all striking options for your dress.

Should Your Mother of the Bride Dress Coordinate With the Bridesmaids Dresses?

The mother of the bride does not have to match the bridesmaids.
Mother of the bride with the bride and bridesmaids.

Not necessarily. However, you may want to consider coordinating your dress with the bridesmaids dresses for the sake of the photos. If your daughter is particular about her wedding color scheme, coordinating with the bridal party is probably a good idea.

You don’t have to wear the exact colors the bridesmaids wear; you have the option to choose complementary colors for your dress. Let’s say the bridesmaid dresses are playful and light colors like peach, dusty pink, or lighter red tones. Some beautiful coordinating colors for your dress can be neutrals like charcoal, champagne, taupe, or blush.

You have many options for color coordinating so play around and have fun!

Should the Mother of the Bride and Groom’s Mother Coordinate Dresses?

Mother of the bride and mother-in-law.
Bride with her mother and mother-in-law.

Custom dictates that the mother of the bride chooses her dress first. But generally, the mothers wear whatever they like. If you’re not following custom, it’s still not a bad idea for you to speak with your future son-in-law’s mother about what she plans to wear.

You will want to do this for two reasons: The first reason is to ensure you don’t show up wearing the same dresses. And the second reason is to ensure your dresses aren’t so wildly different that they clash in the wedding photos.

Once you get these issues sorted out, feel free to choose a dress that complements your personal style.

Do You Have to Wear a Dress?

What do you do if dresses are not your personal preference? Or what if you just can’t find the perfect dress? If dresses are not your style you do have alternatives.

Pantsuits and even jumpsuits are suitable wedding attire for the mother of the bride. They offer you timeless elegance and comfort throughout the long wedding day festivities. If you’d like to give the illusion of a dress consider a pantsuit with chic wide-legged palazzo pants.

Color Inspiration for Your Dress

Metallic Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Black and gold dress.
Black and gold for a NYE wedding.

You may think metallics are not appropriate for a mother of the bride to wear. Or that they are most appropriate for fall or winter weddings, but that is not always the case. Nowadays, you’ll see a wedding party in metallics year-round. From the bridal party dresses to the bride dress, some are full-on metallic or metallics just in the details.

Here are some metallic color combinations for you to consider:

Black and Gold

Your perfect dress combination for a New Year’s Eve wedding.

Blush and Gold

Suitable if you’re in an afternoon summer wedding.

Mint and Gold

A fresh option for you to wear to a spring wedding.

Navy Blue and Gold (or Silver)

Traditional and elegant, an ideal combo for your winter wedding attire.

Sage Green and Copper

This color scheme works well for spring. But thanks to the copper, you can wear it in the fall too.

Neutral Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Neutral-colored dress.
Mother of the bride in a neutral-colored dress.

If you’re completely unsure of what color dress to choose, neutrals are always a safe option for the mother of the bride. Additionally, they work for almost every season. If the wedding party is in neutrals as well you may want to avoid matching them completely.

Choose complementary colors and something that will pair well with your skin tone. This way your dress will coordinate with the bridesmaid dresses but still stand out a bit.

Shades of Gray

Gray monotone does not have to be boring. You can start with lighter shades of gray, and for some variety add a dark gray or light blue. Generally, gray color schemes are appropriate year-round.

Dusty Blush

If you choose a pink for your dress, dusty blush is a sophisticated choice that suits almost any skin tone. Furthermore, you can dress it up with cream or taupe for an exquisite dress choice any mother of the bride would love to wear.


Taupe is a nice option if you’d rather not wear gray. It is a combination of brown and dark gray and is available to you in various hues. Taupe is a popular neutral color for bridesmaid dresses, so it’s a good color for you to wear if you want to coordinate completely with the bridal party.

Pastel Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Pastel purple mother of the bride dress.
Pastel purple dress.

If metallics, neutrals, or dark colors like navy blue or black don’t appeal to you, consider pastels. The softer and subtle nature of pastels is ideal for spring and summer weddings. And with so much variety, you are sure to find a shade that will complement your skin tone.

The following are just a few pastel colors that would be perfect for a mother of the bride outfit.

Pastel Blue

In general, blues pair well with a variety of colors. A soft blue or even robin’s egg blue (which pulls a little bit of green) can coordinate with blush pink, peach, and light green. Neutrals would also go well with a lighter blue shade.

Pastel Purple

Traditionally known as the color of royalty, purple pairs beautifully with grays and pinks. For contrast, citrusy colors also look fantastic if you pair them with purple. Think, pastel purple with lighter oranges and greens.

If this combination sounds a little too daring for a mother of the bride, try it in a small pattern. A pattern can incorporate all of these colors seamlessly.

Pastel Yellow

A happy color that exudes springtime warmth, pastel yellow is an excellent choice for your dress. It goes well with a surprising variety of colors–from creams, grays, and browns to various pink and purple shades.

Jewel Tone Color Ideas for the Mother of the Bride to Wear

Mother of the bride dress in emerald green.
Emerald green dress.

Jewel tones are a stunning look for the mother of the bride to wear. Eye-catching and warm jewel tones offer rich, saturated color that enhances any skin tone. However, these colors are most appropriate for dresses you would wear to a wedding in the winter or fall.

Emerald Green

Add sophistication and depth to your outfit with this deep green color. You can pair it with gold, or wear it as the main color in a brocade pattern for extra dimension. Emerald green is an eye-catching and unexpected color for a dress, but it would look just as glamorous for a pantsuit.

Sapphire Blue

If light blues don’t work for you, a rich sapphire blue could be just what you need. Pair it with complementary colors like citrine or emerald green. And like other jewel tones, it goes beautifully with metals like gold and silver. A sapphire blue outfit for the mother of the bride accessorized with gold jewelry makes a simple but elegant statement.

Ruby Red

As we’ve already discussed, red is an appropriate color to wear if the bride doesn’t mind. In fact, jewel-toned reds are popular colors for bridesmaid dresses–especially for a wedding held in winter. You can pair ruby red with most neutrals, and even accent colors like navy blue and turquoise.

Making Memories

We hope we’ve given you some ideas for what you will wear. But if you’re still in doubt, talk to the bride. Ask her for her preferences on dress color and style. Consider making dress shopping a collaborative effort with her–just like it was for her wedding dress shopping.

Your daughter’s wedding day is hopefully one of the happiest days of your life. No matter what you choose to wear, it will be an event where you will make memories to treasure for a lifetime.

If you’re looking for additional ways to accessorize your wedding day outfit, treat yourself with a gorgeous diamond pendant. Every time you wear it, it will be a sweet reminder of your daughter’s special day.

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