The biggest day of a person’s life. Memories made which will last a lifetime. A dress you’ve spent your whole life choosing. A husband you selected in significantly less time. And a mother who thinks all of this is about her. Stop!

Indeed, as the old adage goes, on your daughter’s big day, you should be the frame and not the picture, and this includes trying not to steal the limelight with mother of the bride dresses more stunning than the bride’s (while still looking fabulous, naturally). It’s a day to behave with dignity and decorum, so with this in mind, here are 5 IDEAL etiquette tips for the mother-of-the-bride.


Like many mother-of-the brides that came before you, you’re probably wondering how you can help your daughter’s big day go swimmingly and no doubt you’ll want to be involved in every part of the planning process. But striking a balance between assistance and autonomy is key. You don’t want to be seen as interfering; something which can lead to a lifetime of resentment. Too much input can cause the bride and groom unnecessary stress, so ask how you can help, or wait to be asked, rather than being insistent.


If you don’t like an element of the wedding, practice discretion. Or better still, say nothing. Regardless of whether you think certain wedding day choices are a reflection on your family or parenting (they’re not), you don’t really have the right to intervene, even if you’re footing some of the bill. If the couple wants to have their first dance to Phil Collins’ ‘Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore?’, then so be it. Remember that it’s not every day that your daughter gets married (hopefully not, anyway), so be positive, optimistic and encouraging.

Step away from your own expectations and don’t become a ‘mumzilla’. With the average wedding nowadays costing £27,000, getting married is anything but cheap. So if your daughter and future son-in-law are in search of frugal wedding hacks to reduce the bill of their big day, then let them do it. Help by offering some creative ways to cut corners. After all, wouldn’t that money be better spent on a deposit for a house or on your future grandchildren?


Stereotypical mother-of-the-bride dresses are just so dated. Those champagne coloured bolero jackets paired with a stiff shift dress and fascinators are enough to make anyone feel like a middle-aged frump. You don’t have to look like all the other mother of the brides before you; this style so entrenched in British weddings was set years ago by someone whose sense of suave has long since faded. Don’t be afraid to change things up a little. Why not opt for something with a long swishy skirt or maybe a long mother of the bride dress that flows, allowing you to twirl on the dance floor with pizazz. A Jazzy jumpsuit or some palazzo pants is another unique way to do things differently.

Of course, it’s customary to consult the bride on your dress and not to wear white; an attempt to steal the show from her really isn’t a good look for anybody.

mother of the bride dresses long


Although it’s a day of unmatchable happiness, the uncomfortable truth is that for many, it’s also a day of tension and mishap. A certain amount of damage limitation exists on any wedding day, whether that be keeping feuding family members apart, offering to introduce those who oddly haven’t yet met, and just generally keeping the peace between all sides. As the matriarch of the family, you’re perfectly positioned to be the bridge builder on a day when your daughter’s mind will rightly be on more important matters.


While it’s unquestionably your daughter’s day, it’s also a huge event for you too. After all, it’s not every day the baby you birthed gets married. You have one certain role, and that’s for sure; to be proud and happy. While it’s important to do any jobs you’ve been asked to do and to swoop in to save the day if anything goes awry, avoid taking on too much responsibility. Don’t volunteer to do everything on the day of the wedding and help the bride by delegating tasks to the groomsmen and bridesmaids. After all, you’re responsible for the bride’s existence and without you, there wouldn’t be a wedding. Don’t forget to enjoy it and have fun!

Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.