Color

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. It has a lovely bolero jacket covering the sleeveless floor-length gown.  The jacket and bodice of the empire waist dress have a classy, textured glitter finish, and the dress is tailored and elegant.  

black mother of the bride dresses

My problem: when people ask what color 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 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,  Beth, Mother of the Groom

Hi Beth,

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

No Black Allowed is an Old-Fashioned Notion

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 your mind at ease. If she supports the idea and you feel comfortable, then go 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’m curious what colors look best on you?

black mother of the bride dresses

 

Is Black Your Best Color?

Some women who have worn black all their lives find it makes them look tired and old after a certain age.  Black can be harsh and aging because it’s so high contrast when worn next to mature complexions. It tends to accentuate lines, wrinkles, and dark circles and is usually not the best color age we age (although there are style tricks for making black more wearable after 40.) The exception is that women with deep, clear winter coloring ( dark hair and cool skin)  can look stunning in black.

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

Mother of the bride black and gold dress
Photographer: Shari D’Angleo, make-up: Beke Beau

If you find that black drains you and makes you look tired, then you might want to consider returning the dress and finding another in a color that suits you. If your heart is stuck on black, look for a black dress that will put less black near your face. For example, a black dress with

  • a  V-neck or scoop neck, or asymmetrical neckline ( one shoulder) because it reveals more skin by your face.
  • an embellished neckline to add color or sparkle near your face. For example, a jeweled, glittery, or embroidered neckline.
  • A black dress with a gold or silver or blush underlay to break up the black.
mother of the bride black dress off the shoulder
Photographer: Philip Gabriel, Makeup: Beke Beau

If you want a dark color but have decided against black, you could try dark navy, charcoal gray, and deep brown too! They’re deep and rich but softer than black.

Here’s me talking about the myth you can’t wear black and two other mother of the bride myths.

 

Here are a few black mother of the bride dresses that won’t offend and are lovely for a formal or semi-formal wedding.

 

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.

Join the Conversation

26 thoughts on “Can The Mother of The Bride or Groom Wear a Black Dress?

  1. As with any dress or color choice, the bride should always be consulted. However, I believe ruling out black is incredibly old-fashioned thinking! At a formal wedding, it can look elegant and stunning! My daughter got married in September 2015 in Philadelphia; her colors were grey and blush, and she loved that I wanted to wear black. I wore a black Carmen Marc Valvo dress, with grey stone beading at the neckline. Wish I could add a photo to this comment, to share with you! Also – our photographer was also Alison Conklin, the same as the first photo of this post!

  2. I agree with you, Deborah, if black is an amazing color for you and there is some special detail such as beading, sequins, trim, etc. it can be okay. Otherwise, black feels like a cop out! I don’t always think it photographs well and can look like a big blob of black. I think it’s important to consider the wedding colors and find a color that will blend well (doesn’t have to match) with the wedding party. If someone is concerned about their figure…it’s the style, not the color that’s going to be slimming.

  3. I recently wore a black dress to my son’s wedding. I also asked by daughter-in-law if she approved before I purchased it. The dress was gorgeous and I received so many compliments. I

  4. My daughter’s wedding party is wearing rosegold. I’ having a hard time picking something out. Can you guide me in the right direction.

    1. Hi Tei, Champagne (soft gold) would be lovely, or you could go with navy or burgundy which would look lovely too, especially for a fall wedding. Hope that helps!

  5. My husband and I will be walking our daughter down the aisle at her wedding. He is wearing a black tuxedo so I am strongly considering a beautiful beaded top black dress. I have seen so many weddings where the mob walks with her daughter in a bright print dress it I feel it really takes away from the bride. I want her to stand out in her ivory dress and want all the attention on her. So, is a black dress ok for me in this situation ?

    1. Hi Sandra,
      That is an interesting observation, and how kind and loving of you to make sure you don’t take away the spotlight on your daughter. Black is absolutely acceptable for the MOB, provided the bride agrees.
      It’s classy, formal and understated. Enjoy the big day!

  6. My daughters colors are black & white. She thinks it’s slimming ,sleek & chic to wear a black full length dress.I have seen many black bridesmaid dresses with a pop of color.It’s very fitting for a wedding especially if it has black crystals / rhinestones.

  7. There are so many beautiful joyous colours in the world and I’m going to wear black at my daughters wedding? You have to be kidding right? Don’t care if it’s allowed, old fashion, chic, classy,.
    A wedding is like a bunch of colourful flowers, god gave us the ability to see colour so use it ! Look at the blue sky and the green grass and the beautiful beaches, not into a black dark place! What are you afraid of?

  8. I love online posts – if for no other reason than to get a good chuckle. I purchased black for my MOB dress. My daughter totally approved. Truly, it’s the bride’s day. If she had said “Mom, for the love, you look like going to a funeral, then I would’ve obliged and made another choice. Black has been a staple in my wardrobe, for good AND bad days. In fact, most of my family would wonder what’s going on if I were not wearing a black top or black leggings or SOMETHING black. I am a pretty conservative gal, but just don’t hang onto anything that appears superstitious or “that’s old fashioned”. Like someone said to me this week, “when our children look at photos of us after we are no longer on this earth, they won’t care about what we were wearing. They’ll be happy to know that we were there.” I’m going with that AND my black MOB dress and be happy with the choice. I simply want to be there.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

    1. 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

    2. The black dress is fine, but try to avoid ALL black such as black stockings, black shoes, and black gloves as my mother in law wore all black and looked more like a widow than mother of the groom. All that was missing was the black widow’s veil.

      1. Hi CC, You make a great point!! Another thing, always check with the bride that black is o.k. It’s her day and some women feel strongly against black at a wedding. Cheers, Deb

  12. 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).

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

    Congratulations…

    1. 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!