21 Elegant Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses for Every Celebration

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
bride and mother of the bride

Photo by Corbin Gurkin

Watching your son or daughter say "I do" is one of the most special days of any parent's life, and such an important celebration calls for an outfit like no other. While selecting your day-of dress might feel daunting, we're here to say it doesn't have to be! For those whose style falls more along the lines of timeless and sophisticated, here's some advice: Lean towards buying an elegant mother-of-the-bride or groom dress for an easy and effortless fit.

One important note, though, is that "elegant" isn't a dress code. In fact, ensuring your look adheres to the couple's chosen formality is most important when selecting your celebratory style. Elegant designs evoke feelings of classic beauty, and every look listed below won't work with every formality. Formal and black-tie weddings, for example, call for floor-length dresses and luxurious fabrics, while cocktail and semi-formal events can include elegant knee-length ensembles that feel a little more casual.

Luckily, there are plenty of elegant mother-of-the-bride or groom dresses fit for any formality, season, or wedding theme. Whether it's a beachy celebration or a black-tie event, sticking to your tasteful style won't be hard given the array of options out there. Sourced from the most reputable sellers, read on for our favorite shoppable dresses, each as sophisticated as the last.

Contemporary Favorite

Jenny Yoo Ariana Dress

square neck gown

Courtesy of Jenny Yoo

Size: 0-18 | Materials: Satin back crepe | Length: Floor-length

Between the square neckline, wide-set straps, and bias-cut skirt, Jenny Yoo's Ariana dress is a modern favorite for fashion-forward mothers of the bride or groom. The sleek, silky design comes in five different color options to best suit your taste and style.

Best A-Line

Azazie Junie Dress

Floor length chiffon and lace dress in purple

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30, custom sizing | Materials: Chiffon, lace | Length: Floor-length

While we love Azazie's queen-like Junie dress in regency purple, the A-line gown is a vision in any of the 50+ color options. Between the sweetheart neckline, lace bodice, Queen Anne sleeves, and flowing chiffon skirt, this is one look that truly nods to the importance of your day-of status.

Off-the-Shoulder Favorite

BHLDN Rosie Dress

off-the-shoulder maxi dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Size: 0-18 | Materials: Polyester, sequins | Length: Floor-length

Off-the-shoulder styles are the definition of old-world elegance. BHLDN's Rosie gown marries old and new styles, with its form-fitting silhouette and the smattering of beads and sequins that trickle from bodice to skirt.

For a Summer Wedding

Fil de Vie Honora Smocked Maxi Dress

Smocked Woven Maxi Dress in yellow

Courtesy of Moda Operandi

Size: XS-L | Materials: Ramie Length: Ankle to floor-length

If the wedding is taking place in the warmer months, you want a dress that keeps you cool while still looking extra special. From the summertime Citrine hue to the loosely gathered bodice and tiered skirt, Fil de Vie's Honora gown nods to the season while staying true to your sophisticated style preference.

Chiffon Favorite

Azazie Pascual Dress

Asymmetrical chiffon dress in mint

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30, custom sizing | Materials: Chiffon | Length: High-low

Few materials are as romantic as chiffon, and Azazie's Pascual dress makes us fall in love with the flowy fabric all over again. From the empire waist to the flutter sleeves, this gown is as flattering as they come—but it's the airy high-low skirt that evokes true feelings of beauty and grace.

For a Winter Wedding

Revelry Gemma Dress

long sleeve velvet gown in black

Courtesy of Revelry

Size: 0-32 | Materials: Velvet | Length: Floor-length

Between the long sleeves, a bateau neckline, and the luscious velvet, Revelry's Gemma dress is a wonder for winter and cold-weather nuptials. Built-in cups allow you to skip the bra, which is great since the draped open back is the true showstopper of the overall look.

Best High-Neck

Jenny Yoo Nicole Dress

satin halter dress in emerald

Courtesy of Jenny Yoo

Size: 0-18 | Materials: Satin | Length: Floor-length

We love high necklines for sophisticated mothers-of-the-bride and groom, and Jenny Yoo takes halters to the next level with the Nicole satin dress. The bodice is fully lined and the back is daringly open, all of which balances out the entire ensemble.

For a Cocktail Wedding

Azazie Cecily Dress

Knee length stretch crepe dress in light purple

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30, custom sizing | Materials: Crepe | Length: Knee-length

Elegant dresses don't have to be floor-length, and if the wedding is cocktail attire, you might be more comfortable in a look that hits just at the knee. This stretch crepe dress by Azazie is complete with flattering pleating and a fashionable front slit.

For a Fall Wedding

Adrianna Papell 3D Floral Gown

HAND-BEADED 3D FLORAL BLOUSON LONG GOWN IN burgundy

Courtesy of Adrianna Papell

Size: 0-20 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length

Burgundy is a fall wedding favorite, and you'll be able to take this classic hue to the next level in this memorable Adrianna Papell dress. Three-dimensional floral beadwork adds some sparkle without feeling too flashy, and the illusion flutter sleeves and surplice neckline keep the look refined.

Favorite Midi

Amsale Foldover Strapless Dress

Foldover strapless band multi seamed dress in black

Courtesy of Amsale

Size: 00-28 | Length: Midi-length

Tasteful, graceful, and totally versatile, this foldover frock from Amsale—which comes in 11 colors—works for a variety of wedding themes, formalities, and seasons. Dress the gown up with some bold accessories and top it off with a shawl for a complete (and unique!) day-of look.

For Lace Lovers

Azazie Malibu Dress

Asymmetrical chiffon and lace dress

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30, custom sizing | Materials: Chiffon, lace | Length: Floor-length

It's easy for lace ensembles to feel a little stuffy, but Azazie's Malibu dress is anything but that. While still exuding a distinguished design, this lace gown was made for movement with its high-low skirt and cold shoulder flutter details.

For a Black-Tie Wedding

Tadashi Shoji Laverne Gown

TULLE OVERLAY EMBROIDERED GOWN in black

Courtesy of Tadashi Shoji

Size: 0-14 | Materials: Sequin, tulle | Length: Floor-length

Ultra-formal celebrations call for seriously special gowns like Tadashi Shoji's Laverne. The strapless, sequin-dusted dress feels wondrously stately with its metallic embroidered design, A-line silhouette, and anchored tulle overlay.

Boldest

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Muhe Dress

3/4-Sleeve Ruffle Midi Dress

Courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman

Size: 0-16 | Length: Midi-length

Bold and elegant don't normally go hand-in-hand, but we've made an exception for this exquisite sheath midi from Chiara Boni La Petite Robe. While the silhouette stays sophisticated with its bateau neckline, 3/4 sleeves, and cascading side ruffle, the brilliant blue hue is what has us utterly captivated.

Best Faux Wrap

Revelry Giselle Dress

velvet red wrap gown

Courtesy of Revelry

Size: 0-32 | Materials: Velvet | Length: Floor-length

While wrap dresses always look chic, faux wraps, like Revelry's Giselle dress, give you extra security while staying true to the stylish silhouette. We love how this velvet design features both a V-neck and v-back, plus pleats that flatter beyond compare. The gown is also made in sequin if you're after a little extra shine.

Most Chic

Ralph Lauren Collection Turtleneck Evening Dress

Velvet Turtleneck Sweater Evening Dress

Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Velvet | Length: Floor-length

The polished turtleneck sweater just got a makeover in this velvet evening gown from Ralph Lauren Collection. Traditional long sleeves adhere to the classic style, while the detachable ruffled collar and cuffs nod to the formality of the special day.

Best Print

Ralph Lauren Collection Anahita Dress

Chiffon Lamé Evening Dress

Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Size: 00-20 | Materials: Mulberry silk charmeuse | Length: Floor-length

If you want your floral print to feel proper and polished, Ralpha Lauren Collection has you covered with this sweeping, silk charmeuse gown. Engineered ruffles decorate the one-shoulder design while the lacquered finish—blooming with dark-hued flowers—creates a look that's dripping in modern elegance.

Tiered Favorite

Azazie Viola Dress

Floor length stretch satin dress

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30, custom sizing | Materials: Satin | Length: Floor-length

Ideal for more formal events, this tiered satin gown from Azazie is fun without feeling costumey. The standout style comes in 10+ colors and has custom sizing options to ensure you find your perfect fit.

For a Spring Wedding

Needle & Thread Valentine Ruffle Gown

ruffle and tulle light purple ankle-length dress

Courtesy of Needle & Thread

Size: 0-16 | Materials: Tulle, polyester | Length: Floor-length

Pretty pastels are a springtime essential, but if you want a dress that nods to the season while still feeling contemporary, Needle & Thread's Valentine gown is the way to go. We love the tulle ruffle dress in Porcelain Blue, but the style is just as pretty in pink for spring celebrations.

For a Beach Wedding

Amsale Taffeta High Low Dress

amsale

Courtesy of Amsale

Size: 00-28 | Materials: Taffeta | Length: High-low

Taffeta isn't the most breathable fabric, but we love this delightful Amsale design for beach weddings. The scoop neck and open tie-back will keep you cool, while the luxe, cobalt blue fabric soars above standard cotton frocks that are often seen at sandy shore celebrations.

Best Sparkles

Revelry Starla Dress

one shoulder gold sequin dress

Courtesy of Revelry

Size: 0-32 | Materials: Sequin | Length: Floor-length

If you want some shimmer with your statement mother-of-the-bride or groom gown, Revelry has the answer with the sparkling Starla dress. The single shoulder strap draws the eye up, the cinched waist flatters all body types, and the stretch sequin fabric dazzles from every angle.

Crepe Favorite

Oleg Cassini Tank Sheath Dress

crepe tank sheath with embroidered capelet

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Size: 2-16 | Materials: Crepe | Length: Midi-length

Whether you rock this crepe midi with or without the included matching capelet, this Oleg Cassini tank dress is a favorite for moms at rehearsal dinners or cocktail celebrations. We especially love that the classic sheath silhouette can be easily incorporated into your wardrobe after the wedding has passed.

What to Look for in Elegant Mother-of-the-Bride or Groom Dresses

Since "elegant" isn't a traditional formality at weddings, you'll want to pay close attention to the dress code when searching for your mother-of-the-bride or groom dress. An elegant look is generally one with clean lines, classic detailing, luxe fabrics, and often few embellishments. While elegant dresses are typically on the more formal end, in general, they simply adhere to the "less is more" mindset by way of silhouettes and design.

Before selecting any sort of wedding look, it's a good idea to chat with the to-be-weds to ensure you have a clear understanding of the expected formality. Since elegant can vary from cocktail to black tie, getting a good idea of the style you're expected to wear can help narrow down your options, making way for an easy shopping experience.

FAQ
  • What colors are popular for mother-of-the-bride or groom dresses?

    Mother-of-the-bride or groom dresses can vary greatly in color depending on the season, wedding theme, and location. Traditionally, more formal and evening occasions call for darker hues, and many elegant gowns will likely come in shades of black, emerald, navy, and ruby. That said, chat with your son or daughter to see if there's a color they'd like you to wear that best adheres to their celebration vision.

  • Do I have to wear a floor-length gown to an elegant wedding?

    Since "elegant" is a style and not a dress code, you'll want to get a clear understanding of the event's formality to figure out whether or not a floor-length gown is appropriate. In general, you can wear a long gown to formal (or dressier!) weddings, while a cocktail dress is appropriate at less formal (cocktail, semi-formal, or casual) events.

  • How do I accessorize an elegant mother-of-the-bride or groom dress?

    Elegant gowns are beloved for their clean lines and chic silhouettes, so keep your accessories simple if you want to lean into the sophisticated aesthetic. Think stud or small dangle earrings, dainty bracelets, and pearls for that timelessly beautiful look.

Why Trust Us

Contributing Expert Writer Rachel Varina is a full-time freelancer with over 10 years of editorial experience and seven years of experience in the wedding industry. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Elite Daily, Betches, Zola, and more.

Related Stories