20 Modest Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses for an Elegant and Modern Look

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bride and mother of the bride

PHOTO BY GRACIE BYRD JONES

Selecting the perfect mother-of-the-bride (or groom!) dress takes some serious thought and planning. Your role in the wedding is extremely important, which means finding a gown that makes you feel confident should be a top priority. While there are plenty of different routes you can go, many moms prefer to stick with streamlined silhouettes and classically elegant styles. That's why modest mother-of-the-bride dresses are so popular, as they fit most formalities and are understated enough to help you avoid a fashion faux pas.

Dresses defined as "modest" are looks that are generally more covered with higher necklines, longer hems, and some sort of sleeves. Figure-hugging silhouettes and over-the-top embellishments are avoided, while relaxed fits and timeless cuts are highlighted. They are a wonderful option for mothers (and grandmothers) since they can take the guesswork out of what is/isn't appropriate. Plus, these styles lean into classic formalwear features, which many moms feel comfortable wearing for such an important day.

If you want an understated-yet-stunning day-of look, you've come to the right place. Sourced from the most reputable sellers with rave reviews, read on for the best modest mother-of-the-bride dresses that'll have you feeling confident and captivating for your child's special celebration.

Formal Favorite

Oleg Cassini Three-Quarter Sleeve Beaded Lace Ball Gown

three quarter sleeve beaded lace ball gown

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Size: 2-24W | Materials: Nylon, lace | Length: Floor-length

Most people don't get many chances to wear a ball gown, but if your child is having a formal wedding, this is an ideal time to sport the glamorous silhouette. Coming in a deep navy hue, the voluminous skirt and beaded lace bodice on this dress give an undeniable air of elegance.

For a Daytime Wedding

Amsale Mikado A-Line Dress

Mikado A-Line Dress

Courtesy of Amsale

Size: 00-28 | Materials: Mikado | Length: Midi-length

Cocktail and midi dresses are customary options for daytime weddings, but we love how this bias-cut, A-line design feels elevated given the waist detail and rich mikado fabric. Select the style in one of 10+ colors, and pair it with some special heels and dainty accessories to really let the sleek number shine.

Most Unique

Basix Beaded Puff-Sleeve A-Line Gown

Beaded Puff-Sleeve A-Line Gown in black

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Size: 0-16 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length

Black dresses are perfect for mothers of the bride or groom since they give the essence of timeless sophistication. We love how this fluttery design from Basix takes a classic look and amplifies it with unique details like puff sleeves, a sweetheart illusion neckline, and a beaded butterfly design on the bodice.

For a Fall Wedding

Adrianna Papell Long Floral Beaded Gown with Flutter Sleeves in Moonscape

Beaded Gown With Flutter Sleeves

Courtesy of Adrianna Papell

Size: 0-26 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length

This dreamy Adrianna Papell frock feels right at home at autumn weddings, with its burgundy plum hue and dark beading. The elbow flutter sleeves, illusion neckline, and no waist seam provide a covered and comfortable fit that's both modest and on-season.

For a Spring Wedding

Talbot Runhof Floral-Print Paneled Midi Dress

Floral-Print Paneled Stretch Pique Midi Dress

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Size: 2-16 | Materials: Cotton | Length: Midi

Spring mother-of-the-bride dresses make us think of bright, cheerful colors and breezy fabrics, like this floral print midi from Talbot Runhof. A high cowl neckline and A-line silhouette give a vintage feel, and the shorter sleeves are easy to cover with a light jacket that will keep you cool as the day runs on.

Best With Jacket

Alex Evenings Jacket Dress

burgundy jacket dress

Courtesy of Lord and Taylor

Size: 6-18 | Materials: Lace | Length: Floor-length

Jacket dresses are a popular mother-of-the-bride or groom choice, and we love the classic and effortless style of this one-piece design. Add in the formal eggplant hue and scallop sequin detail, and you have a winner for evening, formal, and cool-weather weddings.

For a Summer Wedding

Sachin & Babi Ivy Dress

maxi dress

Courtesy of BHLDN

Size: 0-16 | Materials: Viscose | Length: Floor-length

Dainty floral accents and whimsical ruffles accent this breezy blue gown from Sachin & Babi. While the V-neckline and plunge-back might feel a little daring, you'll stay cool in the seasonal heat and can easily pair the look with a summer shawl.

Understated Favorite

Azazie Dorothea Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Tea length chiffon and lace dress

Courtesy of Azazie

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

Whether you don this gown in midi or floor length, this sweet style from Azazie is lovely for moms who want an understated gown that's fashion-forward but not flashy. The bodice draping and empire waistline flatter, while the lace sleeves add a sweet and feminine touch.

Boldest Hue

Amsale Floral Mikado Tea-Length Dress

Floral Mikado Tea-length Dress

Courtesy of Amsale

Size: 00-28 | Materials: Mikado | Length: Midi-length

Modest doesn't have to mean muted colors only! In fact, if the to-be-weds agree, a bright color is a wonderful way to showcase your joy for the union. This tea-length gown from Amsale comes in the most magnificent marigold Italian mikado material and features hand-beaded appliques that define the festive floral print.

Best Velvet

Revelry Reese Dress

velvet dress

Courtesy of Revelry

Size: XS-6XL | Materials: Velvet | Length: Maxi

Many velvet gowns are form-fitting, but Revelry's Reese dress offers a not-often-seen relaxed fit that features a tie-waist and elbow-length flutter sleeves. Select the style in one of 20+ different color options, and pair it with a dainty necklace to complement the tasteful V-neckline.

For a Cocktail Wedding

Adrianna Papell Bow Sheath Dress

BOW SHEATH DRESS WITH THREE QUARTER SLEEVES IN HUNTER

Courtesy of Adrianna Papell

Size: 0-26 | Materials: Crepe | Length: Cocktail-length

Modern, modest, and sophisticated, this self-tie cocktail-length dress from Adrianna Papell checks off all the boxes and then some. The crepe style—which comes in six different colors—is an easy choice for rehearsal dinners and less formal weddings, and can easily double as a wardrobe staple after the celebration.

Favorite Cape

Oleg Cassini Plus Size Cape Gown with Sparkle Embellishment

cape gown

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Size: 2-24W | Materials: Polyester | Length: Floor-length

Caped dresses are great for providing coverage and elevating your look, which is why many moms gravitate to this Oleg Cassini sheath gown. The high-neck design boasts a flowy floor-length skirt and an attached, sparkle-adorned cape that offers plenty of shine while still feeling refined.

Best Sequin Option

Revelry Gwen Sequin Dress

Revelry

Courtesy of Revelry

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

If you love the idea of sequins but don't want to feel ostentatious, Revelry's Gwen dress is likely what you've been envisioning. While keeping you covered with flutter sleeves and a subtle V-neckline, the design stays youthful with a twist front detail and nipped waist. Order it in one of the matte hues for a softer sparkle.

Most Sophisticated

Tadashi Shoji Knotted Crepe Gown

Knotted One-Shoulder Crepe Gown

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Size: XS-XL | Materials: Crepe | Length: Floor-length

Whether you select this style in black or blue, Tadashi Shoji has perfected the sophisticated mother-of-the-bride gown with this elegant floor-length number. A draped short sleeve in white pulls the eye up while the streamlined silhouette subtly hugs without clinging.

For an Evening Wedding

Amsale Flutter Sleeve Satin Gown

MOG Dress

Amsale

Size: 00-28 | Materials: Satin | Length: Floor-length

While this satin Amsale gown also comes in black and navy, we especially love the design in the blue-grey petrol hue. From the draped waist to the hand-beaded illusion neckline and flutter sleeves, this is one style that feels both effortlessly sophisticated and supremely special.

For a Winter Wedding

Azazie Greta Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Sweep train mesh dress in green

Courtesy of Azazie

Size: 0-30 | Materials: Mesh | Length: Floor-length

Winter weddings call for holiday hues, long sleeves, and sparkles, all found in the exquisite Greta gown from Azazie. The scoop neckline and sheer sleeves keep you covered, while the mermaid silhouette and dark green shade feel seasonal as can be. Pair the dress with silver accessories to match the shoulder and waist detailing.

Most Whimsical

Needle & Thread Valentine Ruffle Gown

ruffle and tulle light purple ankle-length dress

Courtesy of Needle & Thread

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

Layers of tulle ruffles and frills make this modest dress a superb choice for moms who want to channel the unmistakable romance of the day. The style comes in six different colors, all of which look lovely with dainty accessories and updos.

Most Glamorous

Adrianna Papell Scoop Back Sequin Gown

SCOOP BACK SEQUIN GOWN IN LEAD

Courtesy of Adrianna Papell

Size: 0-26 | Materials: Sequin, polyester | Length: Floor-length

Covered in glittering sequins, this dramatic dress seamlessly blends modest and eye-catching details to create a gown that's both cultivated and striking. The cap sleeves and scoop neckline nod to timelessness, while the partial train and lower back ensure you still give off a glamorous, youthful vibe.

For a Beach Wedding

Azazie Pascual Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Asymmetrical chiffon dress in green

Courtesy of Azazie

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

High-low dresses are ideal for beach celebrations because they keep you from feeling weighed down by water or sand, without losing their air of formality. Azazie's Pascual dress does just that and then some with its gathered bodice, epaulet beading details, empire waistline, and ultra-soft chiffon fabric.

Favorite Floral Print

Staud High-Neck Tiered Organza Gown

high-neck tiered organza gown

Courtesy of Farfetch

Size: XS-L | Materials: Organza | Length: Floor-length

Whether it's a garden event or a springtime affair, floral prints are a wedding favorite, but finding a style that's still modest isn't always easy. This organza gown from Staud, however, manages to mix a sundress feel with a more refined silhouette thanks to the high neckline, covered back, and all-over bloom detailing.

What to Look for in a Modest Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

As with any special occasion outfit, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting a modest mother-of-the-bride dress. First, make sure you have a clear understanding of the event's dress code. While the wedding website or invitation should state that, chatting with the to-be-weds is your best bet to ensure you're dressed appropriately. Generally, long gowns are seen at formal and black-tie events, while cocktail dresses work well for less formal celebrations.

As far as colors go, this is another situation where it's important to get on the same page as the couple, as they may have a specific hue they'd like you to wear. If not, coordinating with the wedding party or leaning into the wedding color palette is a good idea, so you don't wear a shade that clashes in photos or feels too bright.

Lastly, consider the season when looking for a mother-of-the-bride dress, especially if you want a modest look. Since these styles are generally more buttoned up, you want to ensure you avoid overheating at warmer celebrations. Cap sleeves are popular for all wedding seasons (you can easily add or remove a jacket depending on the temperature), but if the event is taking place in a cooler location, long sleeves might give you the style and coverage you crave.

FAQ
  • Are modest mother-of-the-bride dresses expensive?

    The cost of modest mother-of-the-bride dresses can vary depending on the designer, fabric, and retailer. That said, because these understated looks typically include fewer embellishments, there are plenty of budget-friendly options out there that won't break the bank.

  • Where can I find a modest mother-of-the-bride dress?

    There are so many fantastic retailers that carry modest mother-of-the-bride dresses. Revelry, Azazie, and David's Bridal are smart options if you're looking for a budget-friendly style, while BHLDN, Amsale, and FarFetch can yield some stunning, splurge-worthy selections.

  • How should I accessorize a modest mother-of-the-bride dress?

    Typically, you'll want to keep your accessories simple and classic to match the modest aesthetic of your dress. Think diamond studs, pearl necklaces, and dainty bracelets. Of course, there's no rule that says you can't rock a statement piece if that's what you're feeling. What's more, you should let the cut of the gown help guide your choices when creating a cohesive look.

Why Trust Brides

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.

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