Can the Mother of the Bride (or Groom) Wear Black to the Wedding?

Is a black gown considered acceptable attire or a fashion faux pas?

Mother of the Bride Embroidered Dress
Photo: Brian Hatton Photography

For decades, the mothers of the bride and groom would consider any color appropriate to wear to her child's wedding, with two exceptions: white and black. But just as brides now wear whatever color they want down the aisle, moms are now choosing dresses in any color that suits them, including black. (White is still generally considered taboo for the moms.) If you're thinking about wearing a black gown to your child's wedding, don't let anyone talk you down from your decision-they're sticking with old-school etiquette while you're reading from a more contemporary rulebook. Here, everything you need to know about wearing an elegant black dress on the big day.

Why was black once considered a poor choice for the moms?

This dark hue has always been associated with death and bereavement, which some saw as inappropriate for a mother to wear to her child's wedding. What's more, it was also thought to symbolize disapproval of the upcoming marriage. But today black is the favorite color to wear to formal occasions like weddings and gives many dresses an air of sophistication and elegance.

Um, tuxedoes are often black.

Haven't men been wearing black tuxedoes for centuries? Why has no one been judge-y about that? If half of the wedding's guest list will be wearing black attire on the big day (including the bride and groom's fathers!), there's no reason why the moms shouldn't be allowed to wear this color, too.

In short, times have changed.

Not too long ago, the couple's mothers were relegated to a "uniform:" a loose-fitting gown, often beaded, with a matching jacket in some shade of beige or champagne. The color and style worked for some, especially those who preferred more conservative attire. Today, however, there are many women who want to wear a dress in a color and cut that shows off their sense of style-and it's not always a beige sheath that allows them to do so.

The only question you need to ask: How does the bride feel about it?

If she's like most brides, she'll consider the mother of the bride or groom wearing a black dress to her wedding a non-issue. But if she disapproves, save the dress for another formal occasion and buy a different color for the wedding. If other people give you side eye at the reception, ignore them and revel in how gorgeous you look.

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