Mother of the Bride Etiquette

wedding duties, do's and don't's 

By Holly Lefevre, The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book

Some envision the Mother of the Bride as a crazy woman intent on making every detail perfect for herself... not necessarily her daughter. Others see the Mother of the Bride as a joyous woman reveling in a day that is special for her, too. 

Did you know the MOB is technically a member of the wedding party? Really, she has a laundry list of duties particular to her position. A few include: assisting the bride in selecting her gown, accessories, and trousseau; helping the bride, groom, and groom’s family to devise a seating plan; helping to address invitations and, in most instances, acting as hostess of the reception.

Related: 5 Ways To Avoid Fighting With Your Mom While Planning Your Wedding

Of course, not all of the above duties will apply or be acceptable or even possible for all MOB's. As a wedding planner, I have seen brides and their mothers disagree in what is sometimes a power struggle. In those instances, it has been helpful to ask the MOB to assist with certain planning tasks that she can "run with", within reason of course. Just be sure everyone is on the same page in terms of style, budget, etc. Ultimately, the MOB can be involved in every aspect of planning if that is what the bride and her mother agree upon.

Some specific duties the MOB can also assist with include:

  • Favor selection

  • Invitations selection

  • Planing the bridesmaids tea/luncheon

  • Researching attendant gifts

  • Researching other paperie, for example-- wedding programs, menu cards, escort cards

  • Helping select wedding day accessories like the ring pillow, candles, guest book

Related: 3 Wedding Planning Myths... BUSTED!

When I was planning a wedding a few years back, the MOB lived across the country and had a lot of hostility towards the bride, the groom, and me. As it turns out all she really wanted was to feel needed and involved. The bride had no real opinions about her invitations, other than some wording, so we told MOB the colors of the wedding, and let her "go to town." She was happy... almost obsessed, and the bride was happy, too.

What's the Mother of the Bride to wear?

This can be the million dollar question. Seriously I have seen MOB's show up in gowns more revealing and more dramatic than the brides.... um,"not appropriate!" However, the styles of dress for a MOB are far reaching and very stylish. Gone are the days of ruffly chiffon dresses, sensible shoes, and floppy hats (unless of course that's her thing!)...MOB style has evolved as weddings have.

Just a few points a MOB should consider when it comes to attire:

Related: Choosing Your Wedding Colors: What to Consider

  • Her dress should not upstage or outshine the bride's dress... no fire engine red for the Spring wedding, no inappropriate cleavage, etc.

  • Her outfit should not be white-- unless approved by the bride or called for, i.e. a "white wedding" theme.

  • Her dress does not need to match the Mother of the Groom's (MOG) dress. They should complement each other in formality, but the colors do not need to match, nor must the styles be the same. The MOB should shop for her attire first and the MOG should follow the lead as far as formality is concerned. She should always discuss her options with the daughter if there is any question in her mind. In fact, make it a fun "girls day" of shopping.

  • Finally, the MOB should not feel like she needs to shop in formalwear shops or bridal boutiques only. Department Stores and other women's retailers often carry a beautiful selection of clothing that is perfectly suited for MOB attire. The options are limitless. I tell my MOB's to go shop at their favorite specialty store first (provided they carry more formal attire) and then go from there..."remain true to your style and the right dress will be there and you too will feel confident and be radiant on the wedding day."

TIP: As a wedding planner, you do not know how many times I have heard moms (OK, all female guests, other than maybe Grandma) complain about corsages. No one wants the heavy flowers pulling on their expensive dress or making a water stain on delicate fabric. Consider a small bouquet for the mothers, a single flower, or even no flowers at all (it isn't a rule, you know).

What everyone involved in planning a wedding must remember is that this is not only a right of passage for a couple, but it is also a rite of passage for the families. There are many emotions involved and all it takes is a little consideration on everyone's part to make the planning go smoothly.

Do you have a MOB story? Share it in the comments!

More from

Connect with GalTime on Facebook! 

Holly Lefevre loves all things weddings. As a wedding expert, she has served as editor for a local bridal magazine, spoke at wedding seminars, and appeared on national television. She has inspired couples to marry with style and grace and a pop of personality that is all their own. She is the author of 7 books, including The Everything Wedding Checklist Book and most recently The Everything Vegan Book. She shares her creative and wedding whims at

Leave a Reply