Mother of the bride manners

Bridesmaids
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Jack Rowell

Etiquette expert Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and author of Emily Post's Wedding Parties, tackles some of your toughest mother of the bride dilemmas. —Kathryn Papanek

My mother doesn't pay attention to fashion and trends. How can I help her choose a flattering outfit to wear to the wedding?

If she's open to your help, you could go shopping with her. You might show her some examples in bridal magazines of outfits that you think would look good on her. At the end of the day, her style is her own, and if she is not interested in changing, there's only so far you can go.

Should the mother of the bride choose her dress before the mother of the groom? Should the mothers wear the same color or style of dress?

It's best if the mother of the groom asks the mother of the bride what she wants to wear. They usually don't wear the exact same color, although there's no rule against it. And sometimes it's good if they have outfits of a similar length. It looks nice in photographs if you see a similar hemline. But again, this is not required. The mothers may have the same color, although it's a little unusual. It's more common for them to consult each other so that they one, match, and two, don't clash.

My mother wants to be involved in every aspect of the wedding planning. How can I get her to back off and let me make some of the decisions?

This is going to require some conversations, maybe more than one. If you always wanted to choose the flowers or plan the menu, let your mom know how much it means to you to do that activity and let her know how you would like to be involved. Start a conversation rather than telling her to back off. You can also think of tasks that she might enjoy doing. Try to play to her strengths and her interests. Giving her tasks can help to clear the way for what you want to focus on.

What are the rules concerning mother of the bride dress colors? Can my mother wear black or navy to the wedding?

Black or navy are not against the rules, but the mother of the bride never wants to look like she is in mourning. If there is a color that would be upsetting to you, black for example or maybe a very dark color, maybe you could talk about this with your mother and try to find another color. It may take more than one talk. But both sides need to be open to compromise and remember that the day will carry a lot of memories. Hopefully you will be able find another color in the rainbow.

Check out Anna's blog, "What Would Emily Post Do?" for more of her expert advice.

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