Whether you're the mother of the bride or the groom, it goes without saying that you want to look your best on your child's wedding day. While tradition offers guidelines for choosing appropriate wedding attire for mothers of brides and grooms, choices abound.
Follow the leaders
The most important rule of thumb for mothers is to follow the couple's cues about the style and tone of their nuptials. Before purchasing an ensemble for the big day, talk with the bride and groom about their vision for the wedding.
It's also a good idea for mothers to postpone purchasing their own wedding attire until the bride has selected her wedding dress and those of her attendants. It may also be useful to know if the couple has selected a color scheme for their wedding. These decisions will be helpful in determining the style, colors and level of formality that will be appropriate for the mothers.
Don't be a matchmaker
Mothers' dresses should complement the attire of the wedding party, but do not have to match the bridesmaids, the wedding colors or each other. In fact, the only color that is off limits is white, which is reserved for the bride.
While wearing black to weddings is gaining popularity, it is not a common color for mothers -- particularly the mother of the bride. In general, mother-of-the-bride and - groom dresses tend to be solid colors rather than intricate prints, which can be distracting and look out of place in photos.
Timing is everything
Traditionally, the mother of the bride selects her dress first, and the mother of the groom then chooses something similar in style. If either mother has questions about their choice of wedding attire, they should consult the bride. Clear communication between the mothers or between each mother and the bride will not only make the shopping process both pleasant and productive, but will ensure that one mother doesn't "outdo" or overshadow the other.
Know your style -- and your place
When looking for that perfect dress -- whether it's a floorlength gown or a flowing cocktail dress -- stick with styles that flatter your figure and enhance your best features. Since your children's wedding photos will be viewed -- and may even be on display -- for many years to come, choose a style that photographs well and a color that works well with your skin tone and won't get "washed out" by the camera.
Also, keep in mind that while you will be one of the leading ladies at the wedding, your attire should never compete with or draw attention away from the person with the starring role in the production -- the bride.