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Rules for Mother of the Bride Short Dresses


by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

Can the mother of the bride wear a short dress? Well, if by short, you mean something around knee-length, then the answer is, “Yes, absolutely.” If you are talking about a Walmartian, thigh-high mini dress, we won’t even discuss that.

Above the Knee?

Okay, there may be some women who can get away with a dress that’s a tad above the knee, but they are the exception to the rule. In general, mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom are not allowed to upstage the bride by wearing high hemlines. The proper upstaging of the bride is traditionally pursued by the wearing of large feathered hats. No. I meant that as a joke. Large feathered hats are fine.

You, as a woman of taste and breeding, already know that you mustn’t attempt to outshine the bride; whereas, looking better than the mother of the groom is, of course, up for grabs.

When May the Mother of the Bride Wear a Short Dress?

Most of the time, the mothers should not choose their own dresses until after the bride decides what the bridesmaids will wear. Yet, whether the bridesmaids are wearing long gowns or miniskirts, it’s fine for the mothers to wear short (or tea-length) dresses.

The most important thing is that the mothers’ outfits fit in with the “feel” of the wedding…and fit in with the bride’s vision of her wedding day. However, neither the dress of the bride's mother nor the dress of the groom's mother should be longer or more formal than the bridal gown. That would definitely look a bit off.

Similar Hemlines

Most of the time, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom should try to coordinate their hemlines. For example, if the mother of the bride is wearing a short (knee-length) frock, the other mother should as well. This is not imperative, but it makes for better photos.

As far as I’m concerned, I just want everyone to look good, to feel comfortable, and to not clash. There is so much time for clashes after the wedding. Why start early?

Good Taste and the Mother of the Bride

A more important concern is that the bride has chosen to be born into a family with good taste and that she marries into a family with equally good taste. Barring that, money is the next best substitute.

At any rate, you, as the mother of the bride, need not say anything disparaging about anyone’s choice of clothing. Leave that for the guests. That way you are certain to have a lively, animated reception…especially after the booze has been flowing. And, as long as all vocal over-indulgers are sent home safely by cab (at the end of the evening), you could very well end up with a fabulous, viral YouTube video of the festivities. How fun is that?

We Just Want All of You to Be Happy

Do most of us really care what you wear to your daughter’s wedding? Nope. Do we want you to upstage the bride? No. Do we want your daughter to be happy even though her fiancé is a cad? Yes. Do we think you should wear a short dress? Yes…if it looks good on you. Do we want you to look young and glowing compared to the mother of the groom? Absolutely.

What do you think of this article?  Leave a comment at the bottom of the page. We never publish your email address. We just need to know you're human.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

How to Wear a Peplum If You Have Curves

Mother of the Bride Tea-Length Dresses

Hippie Wedding Dresses for a Casual Bohemian Chic Celebration


Just as with the tea-length mother of the bride dresses, all frocks pictured in the main photo are size 12 or larger and found on Yoo x.com.  See Polyvore photo for fashion reference.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. Maria

    L-O-V-E !

  2. Lori

    I am the STEP-mother of the bride.....the wedding is late June in the Ca foothills (read - hot), outside at a park with reception indoors (again, read - hot... with potential stress hot flashes!!)

    I have a cute, slightly above the knee, sleeveless "shift"-type nice dress (black, white with yellow - large retro print - whoever designed this put the right print in the right spots so it look very flattering) and a plain solid (shorter) black cardigan. Thinking about a black hat as well - or straw with black ribbon. My question!!!! STOCKINGS??????? I have pale "retail legs" (ie spider veins) - will I look silly if I wear light stockings? I know everyone goes barelegged now.....please advise.... I'm 55, sz 12, and want to casually polished!!

  3. Tina-Boomerina


    I was just double checking online. From what I've read, sheer stockings (same color as skin) are best. If the wedding is at night, I would say that sheer black would be fine if your dress is dressy enough.

    If you can, it's more modern to go barelegged, but it doesn't sound like you want to do that. California can be quite casual, but it depends on the people.

    I don't know any brands, but I seem to remember that Donna Karan is good. Not sure of her sizing. I don't wear stockings and I don't think I have for a zillion years.


  4. Helen

    Can a Mother-of-the-Bride where her dress 4 ins. Above her knee

  5. Helen

    Can a Mother-of-the-Bride where her dress 4 ins. Above her knee