How to Choose Accessories for Your Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Because the big day is just as important for the bride's mom.

bride with mother of the bride and groom getting dressed

Photo by Hugo Coelho

A wedding isn't just a big day for the bride; it's a monumental moment in a mother's life too. As the host, she wants to look and feel her best in front of all the guests, and accessories can play a huge part in that. How much is too much jewelry, though? And are there any rules when it comes to shoes?

We sat down with fashion expert Julie Sabatino, founder of The Stylish Bride; and Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, to pick their brains on picking out the perfect mother-of-the-bride accessories. (As if saying yes to the dress wasn't stressful enough!)

Meet the Expert

  • Julie Sabatino is the founder of The Stylish Bride, a personal styling and wedding day service for brides.
  • Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and shares modern etiquette advice on her blog and through private lessons. She is also the author of "Modern Etiquette for a Better Life" and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
01 of 08

Don't Over Accessorize

It's the bride's time to shine, so this isn't the day to experiment or be outrageous with jewelry, warns Sabatino. "Keep it classic and simple, and don't overdo it with statement pieces as a general rule." The exception to that would be if the mother of the bride is wearing a very simple dress, then a fabulous statement necklace would elevate her look.

Overall, the mother of the bride's accessories should be significant enough to signal that she's the host, yet not draw too much attention to themselves, she notes. It's all about finding the right balance. For appropriate jewelry for the mother of the bride, Gottsman advises going for a nice pair of simple studs, a small ring on each hand, and a bracelet. "Then, look at yourself and decide if you need to take one piece off," she says. "If you wonder if it's too much, it probably is."

02 of 08

Avoid Noisy or Uncomfortable Jewelry

Steer clear of noisy jewelry in both senses of the word, says Gottsman. "You don’t want anything too loud or over the top, like fluorescent colors. Don’t wear any jewelry that’s noisy or dangling or distracting." Simple bracelets that won't clink together are ideal. And, remove any watches with alarms or alerts that could potentially go off during the wedding. As for rings, Gottsman says to keep any on your right hand on the modest side, since you'll be shaking hands with friends and family. "A big ring will hurt your hand, and it will be a disconnect to the person you’re shaking hands with."

03 of 08

Use the Dress Code as a Guide

Is it a more casual outdoor wedding or a fancy black-tie affair? The formality of the event will definitely help dictate your accessories, says Sabatino. Your jewelry should be tasteful and in line with the dress code.

04 of 08

Know What the Bride and Bridesmaids Are Wearing

This way, you don't look like you're trying to compete with your daughter or her friends at the wedding. To play it safe and nip any worries in the bud, Sabatino suggests running what you're wearing by the bride beforehand. It gives you the opportunity to bond and coordinate with her on your big-day look. Basically, it's a win-win for everyone.

You should also communicate your outfit choices with the mother-of-the-groom, as well, to make sure you're both on the same page (and don't accidentally show up in the same dress).

05 of 08

Bring an Extra Pair of Shoes

And make sure both are as comfortable as possible since you'll be on your feet all day, advises Sabatino. There are no hard and fast rules as far as heel height goes. However, "It's always a great idea to have a change of shoes on hand, such as flats, when the dancing comes." Also, Gottsman advises being mindful of the type of terrain you'll stand on. "If it's grass or gravel, it may harm your heel," she says.

06 of 08

Accessorize With a Beautiful Shrug

One major concern Sabatino often sees with moms is how to best cover up the arms, as she's rarely met a mother-of-the-bride that wants to show them off. "An accessory we pay a ton of attention to is what kind of shrug, overlay, bolero, or jacket to wear," she explains. Look for something that provides the proper coverage and meets the dress code, and you'll be golden.

07 of 08

Stick to a Small Purse

"A nice little purse is a beautiful statement," says Gottsman. "Make it tasteful and small so you can place it on your lap with a napkin over it for dinner." It should be large enough to fit essentials, like lipstick, your ID, cash, and a credit card. Make sure you pick out a style with a thin chain or strap so you'll be hands-free all night and able to properly greet guests.

08 of 08

Stash a Linen Handkerchief in Your Purse

Because chances are you're going to shed some tears! "This is a great gift to give mom on the wedding date and one of those items that can be passed down to the next generation," says Sabatino. We recommend getting it embroidered for that extra special touch.

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