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It used to be that the biggest concern a bride had about her mother's wedding outfit was that the mother of the bride didn't wear anything close to white. In my opinion, nobody is supposed to wear white, except the bride. But it's doubly inappropriate when it looks like the mother of the bride is trying to steal attention away from her own daughter.
I don't think Emily Post could have even conceived of some of the atrocious mother-of-the-bride outfits I've had the pleasure of seeing in almost 10 years of wedding planning, or she would have dictated some stricter rules.
It isn't the really ugly dresses that stand out in my mind — those were entertaining, but not all that memorable. The ones I cannot get out of my head stood out for entirely different reasons. Reasons that would made any logical mother realize that she absolutely, positively should not have worn that outfit in public, much less to her daughter's wedding. Here, the top 3 wedding day looks mothers of the bride should steer clear from.
Avoid the See-Through Look
I don't care how fashionable sheer fabrics are, you must be very, very careful that you're not showing off everything when you are backlit in your wedding outfit. On more than one occasion, I've actually cringed through an entire wedding ceremony when, from my angle, with the sun setting behind them, I could see EVERYTHING but the mother of the bride's dress. Her bra was completely visible, but so was her thong.
I've seen this exact same peep-show over and over again at "white" weddings, where everybody is asked to wear all white clothing. In one unfortunate case, the bride's mom had a horrendous wedgie, in very sheer white organza pants. And the guests stood through the ceremony. That wedding photographer had to do A LOT of editing.
Avoid Showing Too Much Skin
Lightweight, colorful maxi dresses are wildly popular at summer and tropical weddings, but not everybody can wear them well. And wearing them well means having the appropriate undergarments to keep everything in place, not just having enough fabric there to cover your private parts. I understand the challenge of finding something summery with enough strap to cover my bra. I also know how hard it is to find the right bras that offer support, and can be hidden, under the most popular strappy looks.
Too often, we see mothers of the bride in dresses that do not flatter their shape, or properly cover their curves. I don't care if the dress supposedly has a built in bra, if you've got C-cup or bigger, you need more support than some stitching inside an organza dress can ever provide.
Avoid Being a Showstopper
It's your daughter's big day, and you want to look good. But you shouldn't choose a dress that stands out in a big way from the way all the other guests. For example, if your daughter's having an afternoon wedding on the beach, and cocktails and dinner in a tent, it's not the time to choose a full-length beaded gown. It's also not the time to bust out a brightly-sequined cocktail dress of questionable length.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.