Can the Mother of the Bride Wear White?

January 26, 2023
Can the Mother of the Bride Wear White?

Question | Help! My mom wants to wear white to my wedding!

Answer | You might be surprised (horrified?) to hear that some brides actually love the idea of their mom in white—or even the entire bridal party, if you want to pull a Solange. Beyonce's little sister famously requested everyone in white for her 2014 wedding to Alan Ferguson—that included guests, wedding party, and even her mother Tina Knowles. It looked totally iconic. 

And well before the Solange white wedding, back in 1991, there was Father of the Bride, in which Diane Keaton's character Nina Banks wore a white suit as mother of the bride.

That movie—the 1991 version—was a favorite with many brides of the era, especially Susan Shisler of Waukee, Iowa. For her 1996 wedding, she knew what she wanted her mom, Mary Lou, to wear: a white suit, just like Diane Keaton's!

They found Mary Lou’s white suit in the Oval Room of Dayton’s department store, which was “the” place to shop for designer fashion in Minneapolis back in the day. The long jacket had a strong shoulder, tasteful collar and gold buttons. The skirt was a bit longer than Keaton’s, falling just below the knee. But the resemblance was unmistakable.

“I know my mom felt honored that I wanted her to wear white,” Susan recalls. “And of course it made my dad tear up—Mr. Sentimental. He appreciated how it made my mom also stand out from the crowd.”

During the five months they spent planning the wedding together, Mary Lou would bring Susan fresh white tulips every week. “We never had an argument,” Susan recalls. “This was before the days of wedding coordinators, and she and I laughed and cried happy tears through it all.”

Mary Lou passed away in 2016 from ovarian cancer. Her family described her fight with the disease as “graceful” and noted that she never lost her joy. To this day, Susan says some of her very favorite memories of her mom involve wedding planning. “Planning a wedding with your best friend is pretty amazing.”

We should have warned you tissues would be necessary for this post. 

Throwback movies aside, white for anyone other than the bride needs to be discussed, openly. If you come around to the idea of your mom wearing white, she should make sure it's something more tailored, without embellishment, that doesn't look like it could be a wedding dress!

Here's a nice compromise, in ivory and black, from Sachin & Babi: 

For the truly modern mom, we're also smitten with this futuristic chevron midi dress with the metallic sheen by Jonathan Simkhai


And if mom in white is not at all what you want, that's ok too! As the bride, you have every right to your wedding day moment. Be honest with your mom. And offer to go shopping with her, for something you both love. 


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