Can The Mother of The Bride or Groom Wear a Black Dress?

Dear Deborah,

My son is getting married in September. When I was shopping for a dress, I  saw a lot of beautiful black dresses, so I bought one.  Mine is simple and has a nice bolero jacket covering the strapless floor-length gown.  There’s some rhinestone embellishment at the empire waist, but otherwise the dress is tailored and elegant.  

mother of the bride black dresses

My problem: when people ask what I am wearing, they are shocked when I tell them the dress is BLACK.  I thought the old rules of not wearing black to a wedding no longer apply.  I asked the bride if she minds my wearing black — and she totally approves of it.  That said, I don’t want to offend the guests or send the wrong message at the wedding.   So should I shop for another dress?? 

Thank you,  Mother of the Groom

First of all, congratulations on your son’s engagement!   This is such an exciting time, and I’m impressed that you are sensitive to the bride’s opinion on the color.

The reality is “no black” at a wedding is just old-fashioned.

It’s true that years ago people assumed if you wore black it meant you disapproved of the match, but that’s all changed.

Black is very much accepted these days and has become popular in the past few years. It’s elegant and chic, not to mention slimming, and with so many attractive and classy black dresses out there, it’s silly to dismiss an otherwise flattering dress based on color alone.

Mother of the Bride dress etiquette says if black suits you, it can be a good option for a mother of the bride or groom gown if it is a semi-formal or formal wedding. It’s too serious for a casual wedding.

Mother of the bride black sparkly dress

Photographer: Alison Conklin, makeup: Beke Beau

It’s Important to Get the Bride’s O.K. 

I think the most important point you brought up is that you asked the bride her opinion. Since she “totally approved”, then you should put you mind at ease. If she supports the idea and you feel comfortable, then fo for it. However, that being said, I want to remind you that you are going to want to look your prettiest that day as well.  I am curious what colors look best on you?

Is Black Your Best Color?

Most women over a certain age can find that black can be aging and bring out lines, wrinkles and dark circles. Women with fair complexions who have dark hair, gray or red hair can look stunning in black. However, for many of us, it doesn’t seem to be our best color as we age.

To help you make a good decision, next time you are getting ready to go out, and you have your makeup and hair done, put on the gown and take a photo of yourself in it.  If you like the way you look in it, it is a keeper.

Mother of the bride black and gold dress

Photographer: Shari D’Angleo, make-up: Beke Beau

If you find that it drains you and makes you look tired, then you might want to consider returning it and finding one that is in a color that suits you.

Other options for an elegant look are black with mixed with gold or silver.

mother of the bride black dress off the shoulder

Photographer: Philip Gabriel, Make-up: Beke Beau

You could try dark navy, charcoal gray and deep brown too! They’re dark but softer than black.

Here are a few good options in black that would be lovely for a formal or semi-formal wedding. Plus size? Go here.

Good luck and enjoy this special day.

Mother Of The Bride ebook

I get so many questions about this topic, and because every wedding and body is unique, I have put together an e-book for you called, Tweak Your Chic: Mother of the Bride.

This e-book will give you a step by step system to make sure you are making the right choices about your dress and accessories so you can feel special and confident on that special day! Pick one up today.


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  1. I think a black dress is elegant. I see no problem with wearing it to the wedding. I would of course show the dress to the bride. I was at a wedding last month and the mother of the groom had a beautiful black gown.

  2. I tried on a beautiful black dress while shopping for a dress for my daughter’s wedding this past summer. I couldn’t quite bring myself to wear black, but the woman at the bridal shop told me that black is currently the most popular color for the mother of the bride dresses.

  3. Tabatha DeStefanis says:

    My son is getting married on October 30th (5 days after his 21st b-day) I love his fiancé & I would never want to offend her, especially on her wedding day, but I found the most fabulous black dress that makes me look & feel beautiful. They have decided on a fall themed wedding, & I was just wondering if wearing this black dress is in bad taste? should I start looking for another dress?

    • Hi Tabatha, black can be chic but many women still have reservations about wearing to it wedding. It’s fine so long as you check with the bride first. It’s her day! Cheers, Deborah

  4. I wanted black dress for my mom, but she did not want to and bought silver, something like here in third photo –
    We had gothic style wedding and of course I had black wedding dress. :)

  5. I wouldn’t choose a black dress for a wedding. First, IMO it’s not for such an occasion. Secondly, it’s not my colour (but I’d wear it for a funeral).

  6. Leslie Bonner says:

    IMHO if I was at that wedding and saw the Mother of the groom wearing black I would think she were in mourning and wanted to send a message about her daughter-in-law. Sure the DIL gave a pass and some bridal parties do black and white these days but I wouldn’t.

  7. Wanda in Edmonton says:

    Black is one of my best colours. When I got married for the second time, we decided to do it at rather short notice. I was quite heavy (for me) at the time and had to go shopping. The only thing that I liked was a black straight skirt and a sleeveless black fitted top with white sequins in a stylized paisley on the front. I felt great in it and got so many compliments about the outfit. But when I tell people that “the bride wore black”, they generally raise their eyebrows. When I lost all the weight this year, that was the only piece that caused a tug at the heartstrings when I gave it away. At least it went to a younger sister who looks as smashing in it as I felt that day. Not sure how to send a photo of it, as this seems to be plain text, but if you tell me how, I will.

  8. Kimberly DeLude says:

    The dress shown is one I wore last September as the mother-of-the-bride. My daughter went with me when I had selected 3 gowns for her opinion. When I walked out with this one on, her face said it all. I felt elegant, and it looked beautiful in the pictures. BTW, I am fairskinned with medium reddish brown hair with golden highlights. Black really worked well with that!

  9. First – I LOVE the photo of the dress – very elegant. I was of the opinion that you didn’t wear black to weddings as well – old rule said that if you wore black, you were hoping for a divorce!

    That said, if the BRIDE doesn’t have a problem with it, no worries! I love the advice the Glam Gals gave you – take a picture ahead of time, see if the color ‘drags’ you down. They always give the BEST advice!

  10. I hear your advice about black and have added more color to my wardrobe but still love black. I am so glad you provided some guidance on wearing black as you age. I have dark hair and light olive skin and feel fabulous in black. I am going to try your idea of taking a picture and seeing how I really look. At just 50 I think I can still wear black – but the photo will tell.

    To the Mother of the Bride/Groom: wear it with flair. All my bridesmaids were in black (married 1989) I loved it. So elegant. Dress you picked is stunning. Have a wonderful day – forget about others. Some people at the wedding will have negative something to say regardless – it’s the flowers, it’s the colors, it’s the decorations, it’s the brides shoes…whatever. You and the Bride are in agreement. That is All that counts.


    • Hi Deborah,
      I ended up wearing the black dress (very similar to the one pictured, but not the same) to my son’s wedding. It looked fabulous, if I do say so myself. Since I have fairly bright red hair, black works as a nice contrast for me and tones things down a bit. I would love to email a couple of photos, but not sure where to send them. Please let me know.
      Thanks again for your help and advice.
      Mother of the Groom in Black but not Mourning!