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Best mother-of-the-bride dresses for a 2024 wedding - plus expert advice on what NOT to wear

We've found the most elegant mother of the bride dresses...

mother of the bride edit
Hollie Brotherton
Lifestyle & Commerce Senior Writer
Updated: June 21, 2024
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Once the bride has chosen her wedding dress, it's time to turn your attention to the mother-of-the-bride's dress. You're probably looking for something classy and elegant, and certainly not frumpy.

Traditionally, it has been said that the mother of the bride's outfit should complement the bridal party, and follow the same colour scheme. However, these days many brides are more relaxed, giving their mums free reign to choose what they feel best in (although it is best to check in with her just in case).

With so much choice and for such a special day, it can become an overwhelming decision, so we got in touch with leading wedding and events planner Lavinia Stewart-Brown

“There is no specific rule for the mother of the bride, it is dependent on the couple's dress code," Lavinia told us. "However, I will caveat that, one rule is that they must not outshine the bride!"

What is the mother of the bride supposed to wear?

Traditionally, the mother of the bride’s outfit for a wedding is meant to be modest and co-ordinate with the bridal party. Most commonly, she will wear a mid-length dress and usually a full-length or ¾ length sleeve design, although capped sleeves are also popular. 

In more recent years, mothers of the bride may prefer to be a little more modern in a trouser suit or a jumpsuit, which can also offer more coverage. The options are endless, but it's important to dress appropriately for the venue, and primarily, to feel comfortable and confident.

"When picking an outfit, maybe work with the bride to find something that is complimentary and fitting with the venue," says Lavinia. "For example, a destination wedding may have a more laid-back feel to match the country's climate however, a UK wedding may be more formal. I wanted my own Mum to go for something really special so everyone knew she was one of the most important guests.”

Some mums may choose to add a blazer to their outfit, or a shawl if the wedding is in a religious setting, as well as a hat or a fascinator.

Kathy Hilton, Carol Middleton, Sarah Ferguson, Doria Ragland wearing their mother of the bride dresses
Celebrity and royal mothers of the bride (L-R Kathy Hilton, Carol Middleton, Sarah Ferguson, Doria Ragland)

What is the most popular colour for the mother of the bride's dress?

The unspoken rule when it comes to weddings is not to wear white like the bride and some brides wish for the entire bridal party, including the mother of the bride, to co-ordinate and follow the same colour scheme. Champagne hues, blush pinks and other pastel hues tend to be favourable.

Lavinia says: “This is definitely seasonal dependent, in the last year I saw a lot of powder blues during the summer months. People often choose a pastel colour so this is a good place to start for a summer or spring wedding. For a winter or autumn wedding, you can play around with a richer colour pallet - the dark and dramatic backdrops work well with this! 

"For a destination wedding, I think there is a need to consider which colours will be most comfortable in the sunshine - I maybe wouldn’t opt for a dark or rich colour.”

Does the mother of the bride have to wear a hat?

In short, no, the mother of the bride does not have to wear a hat. Some who wish to stick with tradition may choose to wear a hat or opt for a fascinator for a more low-key alternative, but it's not essential.

“The mother of the bride wearing a hat is a time-honoured tradition and not a necessity in my opinion," says Lavinia. "I think you can make the judgement based on the overall feel of the wedding - for a very traditional wedding, hats are more likely to be worn. For something more laid back, I think it is down to personal preference. There is no simple yes or no I am afraid!”

What shouldn't the mother of the bride wear?

Ever the question. The mother of the bride plays a key role in being a huge support for the bride, groom, and father of the bride, but it is traditionally frowned upon if any guest wears white to a wedding. It's also best to avoid dressing in any way that will outshine the bride, from revealing cuts to bold designs.

Some say it's advisable to not buy your dress too early in case it doesn’t fit on the day, and of course don't leave it until the last minute. It's also important to get the footwear right, as you will likely be on your feet for hours. Opt against stiletto heels and in favour of a chunkier heel, or a wedge, if you want to add a little height.

What are the best brands for mother of the bride dresses?

Lavinia says: “Depending on how much you are looking to spend, lots of high street stores have some great options for mother of the bride - Whistles and Reiss are great options and have a luxurious feeling without such a high price tag. For something a bit more mid-market, I would say Ralph Lauren is a great place to look. For something higher budget, Chanel carries a lot of amazing and classic styles. I have also worked a lot with the brand Caroline Castigliano who has a stunning evening and mother of the bride range.”

How we chose the best mother of the bride dresses

  • Trusted brands: We've only included dresses from brands the HELLO! shopping team know and love in this edit. We've worn pieces from their collections on multiple occasions.
  • Variety: Whether you're looking for a maxi or midi length, something sleek or statement, sleeveless or long-sleeved, we've found a style to suit you.
  • Price: We've included dresses suitable for a range of budgets, from £475 pieces by Needle & Thread to affordable £65 options from Debenhams.


Hobbs Lois Embroidered Midi Dress
Hobbs mother of the bride dress

Sizes available: UK 6-20

Colours available: Navy

Shipping: £2.95 Standard Delivery or free for orders over £150

Returns: Free within 28 days

Hobbs is a popular shopping destination when it comes to formal attire and even has its own Mother of the Bride edit.

For those looking for a luxe option in a darker colour, the Lois dress is ideal. Adorned with elegant embroidery, the navy shade will complement any skin tone, while the timeless fit-and-flare shape and long sheer sleeves ensure it's universally flattering.


Phase Eight Julissa Frill Wrap Midi Dress
Julissa dress

Sizes available: UK 6-20

Colours available: Navy

Shipping: £2.95 Standard Delivery or free for orders over £150

Returns: Free within 28 days

With its pastel hue and sleek silhouette, we think Phase Eight's Julissa dress is very Carol Middleton. Falling to a midi length, it has a flattering wrap cut with a matching waist tie, a layered frill hem, and softly fluted sleeves.


Karen Millen Structured Crepe Midi Dress
Karen Millen midi dress

Sizes available: UK 6-16

Colours available: Sage Green, Pale Pink, Pale Blue

Shipping: £4.99 Standard Delivery or free with Karen Millen Premier

Returns: £2 within 28 days or free with Karen Millen Premier

Another brand with its own Mother of the Bride edit, Karen Millen has you covered no matter what your style preference – we're talking everything from Bardot necklines, A-line styles, bright colours and more. 

With its long sleeves, belted waist and high neckline, this structured midi dress is particularly perfect for a mother of the bride and comes in multiple different colours.


Self-Portrait Crystal-Embellished Lace Midi Dress

Self Portrait dress

Sizes available: UK 4-16

Colours available: Pink

Shipping: £8 Standard Delivery or free for orders over £350

Returns: Free within 30 days

One personal favourite for stunning occasionwear is Self-Portrait, and none other than Princess Kate is also a big fan of the brand.

Not only does it have the royal seal of approval, this dress has been cut with the brand's signature Guipure lace in an elegant fitted silhouette, with crystal-embellishments for that extra special touch.


Monsoon Rosalie Hand-Embellished Dress
Monsoon dress

Sizes available: UK 8-24

Colours available: Pink

Shipping: £3.95 Standard Delivery or free for orders over £50

Returns: Free within 28 days

Monsoon is another of our go-tos when it comes to occasionwear, including weddings, which they have a category for customers to shop curated items.

If you're looking for something with a bit of sparkle, the subtly embellished design of the Jane dress is perfect. The midi length piece is finished with a hanky hem and angel sleeves. We'd style it with gold accessories.


Ted Baker Keomi Ruffle Neck Satin Midi Slip Dress
Ted Baker dress

Sizes available: UK 6-16

Colours available: Navy

Shipping: £4.95 Standard Delivery

Returns: Free within 28 days

Ted Baker has you covered for all formal occasions - you'll find plenty of mid-length creations, maxis, two-piece sets and much more. 

If you're looking for a mother-of-the-bride dress in a dark colour and simple cut, the Keomi midi dress has a slip silhouette that drapes beautifully and is adorned with a feminine ruffle.


Needle & Thread English Rose Diamond Ruffle Gown

Needle & Thread

Sizes available: UK 4-22, Mini, Midi & Gown

Colours available: Multi print

Shipping: Free Standard Delivery

Returns: Free within 14 days 

If you're looking for something really special, head to Needle & Thread's Mother of the Bride edit. Romantic ruffles and eye-catching embellishments in pastel pinks, bright reds and muted blues are all on offer for the glamorous mums out there.

For those who love florals, I'm a little bit obsessed with the romantic dark blooms and very flattering floaty silhouette of the Needle & Thread English Rose Diamond Ruffle Ballerina Dress.


Reiss Andressa Twist Neck Midi Dress

Reiss dress

Sizes available: UK 4-16

Colours available: Pink

Shipping: £5.95 Next Day Delivery

Returns: £1.95 within 28 days

Reiss is a fail-safe option when it comes to beautiful occasionwear. Favoured by the likes of Princess Kate, Princess Beatrice and Meghan Markle, the brand is a firm royal favourite.

If the bride is happy for you to wear a very neutral colour, I think this nude midi dress with cut-out shoulders and twist neck detail is perfection. 


Mela London Blossom Print Wrap Dress
Mela dress

Sizes available: UK 8-16

Colours available: Navy

Shipping: £4.50 or free over £50

Returns: Free within 28 days

John Lewis stocks a wide range of brands, which means there are numerous dress styles, sizes, cuts and colours to choose from. 

Looking for a classic mother of the bride dress? This one by Mela is your calling. Falling to a midi length, it has a flattering wrap cut and stylish floral print, a V-neckline and cap sleeves.

Meet the expert

Lavinia Stewart-Brown

As the founder of Lavinia Stewart-Brown Events, Lavinia is one of the UK’s most sought-after wedding and events planners. With a wealth of expertise in the curation and management of spectacular events, Lavinia's career to date has ranged from private parties and intimate and full-scale weddings to corporate events, award ceremonies and much more! Having started her career in the media industry, Lavinia grew her expertise and experience by putting herself at the forefront of a collection of globally prestigious and unforgettable celebrations. As an expert in her field, Lavinia is well-versed in various topics, from curating intimate dinner parties and hosting kids' parties to tips on wedding planning and tablescaping.

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