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How to coordinate the colour of your Mother of the bride dress with the wedding

Aside from your own wedding gown, the dress you wear for your daughter's wedding is one of the most important wardrobe decisions you'll make. The mother-of-the-bride should stand out as a distinguished member of the wedding party, but she shouldn't upstage the bride. When choosing a dress, consider the formality of the wedding, the season, the wedding colours and how the dress will look in photographs.

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Mother of the bride dresses

  1. Stay within the same colour family as the bridesmaids. The mother-of-the-bride does not have to match the bridesmaids, nor should she. Choose a colour in the same family (e.g., lavender for the bridesmaids and eggplant for the mother.) This way, the mother is associated with the bridesmaids but remains distinguished.

  2. Complement the bridesmaids. Complementary colours are those directly across the colour wheel from one another. If the bridesmaids wear pink, choose a shade of green. For orange or yellow bridesmaids gowns, go with navy or another shade of blue. Analogous colours also work together to flatter each other. These are colours right beside each other on the colour wheel. If the bridesmaids wear turquoise, try royal blue or sky blue.

  3. Play up a secondary colour. If the bride has chosen a palette of several colours for her wedding, dress in the colour not used by the bridesmaids. If the wedding colours are spring green and daffodil, and the bridesmaids wear spring green, try a shade of yellow to bring out the secondary colour.

  4. Stick with a classic. The most popular colour for mothers-of-the-bride now is champagne. Shades can range from a light gold to almost pink, but tones of champagne can flatter any skin tone and are appropriate for all seasons. This colour complements the white or ivory of the bride's gown without looking garish like a mother in white would.

  5. Tip

    Consult the bride before shopping. She may have a colour in mind. Shopping together can be a great bonding experience, too. White or ivory is typically off-limits because it competes with the bridal gown. Black is sometimes seen as a colour of mourning, but can be chic and flattering if the bride doesn't mind. Red and other flashy colours may be seen as attempts to upstage the bride, but it could be done tastefully. Etiquette dictates that the mother-of-the-bride should communicate with the mother-of-the-groom about their outfits. Ideally, the colours will complement one another and the formality will be the same.

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About the Author

Emily Jarvis

Emily Jarvis is a graduate of University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism. Her articles have appeared in "Southern Distinction Magazine" and "The Red & Black." Jarvis holds a Bachelor of Arts in magazine journalism and a Master of Arts in journalism.

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