Bridal Buds WeddingWire Blog

Marilyn Asks: What should the Mother-of-the-Groom wear?

I am the mother of the groom, 5’9″ and not particularly fond of my legs.  I would like to wear a floor-length or tea-length dress for my son’s formal outdoor summer wedding. The mother of the bride is short and thinks she looks shorter in a floor length gown so she would like to wear a knee length dress.  Will I look out of place if I wear a longer dress than the MOB. The bride says she doesn’t care, whatever I am comfortable in, but I sure don’t want to make any wedding etiquette mistakes. Any suggestions?

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. Kathryn H.

    Kathryn H.


    There is so much that I love about this question, Marilyn. I am appreciative of your concern for the couple and parents of the bride, as well as your respect of wedding tradition.

    But, you won’t be surprised, in light of my experience as a specialist in same-sex weddings, when I answer a little bit outside of the box. (Since our unions borrow freely from tradition as we are so inspired, we have the luxury of doing what feels most appropriate and meaningful for each circumstance.)

    My bottom line is that the couple is supportive of you and your preference, and thus the small detail of the length of your hem will have no impact on the significance of their day and the vows they exchange. Don’t be distracted by “what others might think” or “what the etiquette books say” if those elements will interfere with the organic joy, beauty and love of the ceremony and celebration. Your confident and loving presence will be the best gift you can give them.

    You could provide a bigger problem by clashing with an off-scheme color choice or going with an attention grabbing hat to keep eyes focused on it over your legs.

    In sum, I’d say you’ve done your due diligence. Go in peace with a dress length (which is already bride approved) that works for you!

  2. Marjorie Maxfield


    Etiquette for a “formal wedding dress” is a long dress. Formal means black tie for the gentleman. The couple will give their hosts the intended pleasure if their company dressed, as requested, by the bride and her family.

    It is common sense when you think of it! You prefer, as the host, to have your male guests wear a tuxedo and the ladies, a formal outfit. A long formal gown and a suit do not match.

    Weddings at 8 pm are formal. If the invitation has “black tie”, it is formal for the women and tux for the men.

    A frequent etiquette faux pas, “black tie optional,” written on the invitation or another insert. Why? Either you want black tie as the dress or not. If you have a formal event then it calls for a tux. Why “dumb down” the event with an open invitation to go for it. Why let guests, and it could be the majority of your guests, turn a formal event into a mix of jackets, no tie and suits. A stew, if you will that takes away from the “magic” look that only a tux and formal dress gives!

    I did not forget the shorter Mother! Today, under 5’5 seems to be short! Alas, I know at 5’4. So from experience, a smashing evening gown in one color does the trick.
    For an garden wedding in late afternoon a tea length, to the ankle area, is also a show stopper in one hue.

    As a national wedding etiquette expert, I am asked about ” black tie” and other what to say about dress on an invitation quite often.

    For a rehearsal, if it is a restaurant, then it is coat and tie! Men generally can take it from the groom
    ‘s Dad, on arrival, if he sees that he is in a open shirt. A man just discreetly takes off the tie and jacket and follows his host!

    Oh, yes, it is quite lovely to see the Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom in unison: in color range and in dress, be it formal to the floor
    or cocktail length.

    Brides dream since childhood of their weddings! How the guests dress is part of her picture of a perfect wedding!

  3. Rachael Halpern

    Rachael, Vintage&Lace


    Hi Marilyn,
    Since you have the approval of the bride to wear what you want, wear something that you are comfortable in! You will be able to enjoy the day best if you feel confident in your outfit!

    Plus, long dresses are so popular now, even in every day wear, you will be right on trend and looking beautiful! If you are concerned about the gown being too formal, pick a material that is a bit more casual than silk or chiffon. Also, try to color coordinate (not match!) with the MOB so no one looks out of place in the photos. Hope that helps and have a wonderful wedding!