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Ask Nina: Can the Groom's Mother Wear Black?

By August 19, 2005

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In today's Ask Nina column, reader Patty writes, "Is it ok for the mother of the groom to wear black these days for the wedding? The bridesmaids dresses are claret."

Click here to read my answer and more.

This is a complicated question with an answer that depends on the time of day, the formality, what the bride's mother will wear, and where the wedding will take place. For example, in New York, no one would think twice about the groom's mother wearing black, especially if the wedding were after five. But I can't imagine it being okay amongst my parents' friends in the south. If the wedding is before five, or isn't formal, I'd say forget it. Otherwise, I'd start out by talking to the bride's mother about that she is wearing and see how she feels about you wearing black. You might also consider soft gray, or a jewel-toned purple or green, which will look wonderful with the bridesmaids' claret dresses.


June 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm
(1) tammy says:

I have been fighting with the groom because his mother is wearing a black gown and everyone else will be dressed in silver and turqoise. She knows it bothers me but says she will wear what she wants. I am tired of fighting with her and him. Do I have a right to be upset?

October 31, 2008 at 11:59 pm
(2) Magaly says:

I’m the mother of the groom and I would like to know if it is appropriate to wear a red long dress to the wedding, which is after 5pm? The wedding party is wearing a dark gray dress. I am waiting for a reply to know what color the bride’s mother is wearing.

January 28, 2009 at 9:05 pm
(3) Maria says:

As a mother of the groom myself, just let her wear what she wants….it’s only a dress. You got to pick your battles and the dress isn’t a good one to fight over. If she looks out of place, it’s on her. My daughter’s mother in law wore WHITE to my daughter’s wedding….a far WORSE choice than your mother in law’s.

August 12, 2009 at 6:41 pm
(4) lisa says:

I’d say you have a right to be upset! Maybe yout future mother in law doesn’t like silver or torquise but black?! Unless the wedding is very formal black is a sign to all those traditionalists out there that she disapproves of you marrying her son! So in this case it is not just that “she will be the one out of place” it directly affects others’ perception of you! Can she not find something navy or deep saphire which would be just as slimming (-lm assuming this is her issue)?

As far as the red dress mother-of-the-groom i’d say yes, take your cue from the bride’s mom, but unless your son’s fiance feels threatened by you (like if you are quite young and sexy or have an over-bearing presence haha!) Red would be perfect. Especially if it is a fall or winter wedding!

October 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm
(5) Celina says:

My mil refuses to cooperate my colors are dusty rose & wine & my mother is wearing a rose colored skirt & cream blouse & I wanted my mil to wear wine or burgundy so everyone is color coordinated… I know this is not tradition or ettiquete but it’s my wedding & what I want… She had her wedding & got to make all the choices… In my opinion it should be what the bride wants & if the groom agrees his mother should stop being selfish & do what is asked of her…

February 9, 2010 at 9:22 am
(6) deb says:

my son is getting married in June. To solve the problem of what I should wear, i went dress shopping with his fiance. We both got to look over the dresses andwe both decided on what dress I should wear.

March 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm
(7) holly says:

I am the MOG. Etiquette says the MOB should choose her dress first, so I waited. By 4 weeks before the wedding, the MOB still had not chosen a dress, nor had she contacted me to let me know what style she was thinking of. My future dil told me to go ahead and find a dress and the only thing she knew about her mothers was it was going to be floor length. My dil said she did not care what color I wear. Wedding colors are charcoal and fuschia. I found a beautiful shimmering floor length light lavendar dress that looks great on and I feel good in. Now I learned that the MOB is wearing a black and white (simple style) floor length dress. Should I keep my dress even though our colors are not coordinated. My dress is more formal than the MOB. The wedding is 3 weeks away!!!

August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm
(8) Theresa says:

My son is getting married in 2 weeks. He has only been engaged since early July. It is the brides second marriage. We were not consulted about a guest list nor have we been told any of the arrangements. We found out the date when our invitation arrived. And now, I am expected to show up in a fancy, fancy dress because the bride wants FORMAL! I don’t think so. I will show up, be appropriately dressed – but someone, please, please tell me – why so much fuss over what the mother of the groom wears – no one will be looking at us!

September 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm
(9) Rita says:

I am the mother of the groom. Bridesmaid colors are chocolate brown. Mother of the bride is wearing deep red. The bridal salon suggested to my daughter-in-law that I should wear black and she said she did not care. So I am wearing black. It’s a formal wedding in December at night, so I think I will be okay, but I am not really happy about it. I tried to talk to the bride but she really does not care what I wear so BLACK it is. Does any one have any thoughts. I wanted to wear a beautiful green but red and green too much like Christmas…

September 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm
(10) Jen says:

I am a bride getting married in October and my fiance’s mom just got a black dress and I have absolutely no problem with it. My bridesmaid dresses are chocolate brown. We are getting married at 4pm and it is pretty formal. My mom is wearing a beautiful dark forest green dress. I am sure that my future mother in law will look beautiful! All I want is for her to wear something that she will feel great in. I think that if you have a good relationship, there will be no problem about colours and the message it sends.

October 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(11) Wendy says:

ohmygosh – I’m Jen’s mother-in-law to be (wedding in two days!!!) . . . i’m all nervous about what I’m wearing – and i come across this forum – and there’s JEN – leaving this lovely comment. It absolutely made my week. No matter what color you are all wearing – I hope you all are lucky enough to have a daughter in law as great as Jen!!!

November 9, 2010 at 10:49 pm
(12) renee alberts says:

It doesn’t matter what colors mother of groom or mother of bride wear,as long as you coordinate their corsages to match their dresses and the bridal party. When you shop flowers, just ask them to add a “touch” of the bridal party flower color to the arrangement.

January 21, 2011 at 9:02 am
(13) Sue says:

Hi, I have been asked to do a reading at my sons wedding in September and I feel very privileged.However the thought of it somewhat fills me with dread!!! Any ideas what I can say,does anyone have any Mother to Son poems that are suitable,HELP .

February 12, 2011 at 9:27 pm
(14) Cathe says:


You are a gem. Your family will blossom under your care.


March 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm
(15) Candice says:

I am a MOG and I feel best in Black. My DIL loves the dress I picked out. I adore her and have no hidden reason for wearing black. Her colors are raspberry pink and my son wanted something pink incorporated in the outfit so I bought pink high heals and pink crystal jewelry. He and she were very happy with that. People should realize that not all can wear certain colors and styles. There are really not that many color choices out there for mature woman and feeling good about yourself and what your are wearing sure helps for a smoother happier running wedding than wearing a color you hate and feeling uncomfortable at a really important day in your sons life. Unless someone chooses to wear an inappropriate outfit out of spite or dislike for the bride, in that case that issue should be addressed long before the wedding, be respectful of the bride and her family and enjoy the day. Now if the bride is being a bridezilla and a power freak than you need to address that with your son, because this will be a continual battle all through any event. But if you have a lovely dil as I do I know she wants me to look my best and I want her to be happy. This is not a show, this is a ceremony uniting your most precious child and his choice as a wife for the rest of their lives. Embrace the opportunity to a part of it.

April 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm
(16) Patricia says:

@ Sue … regarding a reading at your son’s wedding: my son asked me to read KhAlil GIBRAN’s poem from THE PROPHET called MARRIAGE …. it is absolutely beautiful. .. and brought tears to everyone’s eyes.
To all those MILs about wearing black, my DIL asked me NOT to wear black and so I didn’t …. like Jen, I have a good relationship with my DIL… I am lucky and truly blessed … as is my son of course … :)

June 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm
(17) Anne says:

Being MOG, I feel left out of everything. This is my only child, and like MOBs, I too have dreamed about my son’s wedding. In the beginning I was told by my fdi that she wanted me to go along when searching for a wedding dress. Didn’t happen. To say the least my fdi and I do not have a good relationship. I also had dreams of finally having a daughter and this isn’t it. I ask myself most every day, why my son chose this self-centered, obnoxious girl. But then, it’s not my choice. I understand that my son is grown, but it still does not lessen the hurt and heartbreak I feel. Although I cannot fake liking her (that’s just not me), I will play nice for my son’s sake. Very jealous of you mom’s and girls who have such wonderful relationships. The best of luck to you all.

July 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm
(18) Beth says:

My first born will be married in October to a young lady who has been in his life for 3 1/2 years. It is a relationship that has blossomed from friendship to adoring love for each other. It does hurt the heart knowing that your son loves another woman, but when you are able to share your heart with both, it is a tremendous feeling. My son and his fiance have chosen black, white and red. They will be married on the beach in Florida at dusk. She is wearing a formal wedding dress with barefoot sandals. I have asked her what she would like me to wear, she said whatever I felt comfortable in wearing. It took me some time to find the right dress, and it has a black flowing skirt, with a silver and black damask print on the bodice. I sent her a pic and she loved it. I have red satin shoes to wear as well. Good luck to all you MOG and MOB that can not find it in you to be happy and respect the wishes of your children. I have not lost a son, I have gained a daughter!

November 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm
(19) a3288260 says:

I’ve said that least 3288260 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

January 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm
(20) just the mom says:

These are such tough questions, which are so different simply because of the relationships and circumstances. I totally understand both sides of the moms have hearts and feelings and being left out just hurts. I am the mother of the bride..and so lost without a role because my daughter has made it her mission to not make her fiances mom feel left out.. somewhere along the line..she left me out. I have no words to express this. her and I have been best friends all our lives together. I have watched silently as she has become his future bride..with seemingly no voice and wondered where that strong young lady I raised went. Sigh. Weddings can be a time of mourning for moms even in the happiness for their children.

February 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(21) Jennifer says:

I am the MOG and I plan on wearing whatever I want. I have been excluding from everything while the MOB has been running the show. No one is going to tell me what color or style of dress I will be wearing I am paying for it not them.

March 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm
(22) Jo says:

I am going to be MOG next month. I have chosen a black lace dress, with a rose pink jacket, and rose-pink and black fascinator . I have shown both to my son Richard, and my future DIL Clair, who both loved it. There were no instructions as to what to wear, but as the wedding colours are pink I tried to incorporate my outfit to match (although my jacket matched the pink perfectly, they have since changed it to pale pink, as they were having trouble matching the bridesmaids dresses, and no one informed me. I was a bit disappointed at first, but hey, it’s their big day, not mine, and it’s not as if I’m wearing bright orange is it?). I did have the courtesy to enquire what the MOB was wearing (she is wearing a grey suit and pink top apparently), so hopefully we will not clash and will fit in with the wedding party. I just want them to have the perfect day, and if they are happy then so am I. I would however have drawn the line if I was asked to wear a certain style, as that MUST be a personal choice, as everyone has their own individual style. Good luck to all the MOB and MOG to be. Hope you all have a lovely day, despite whatever stresses you may have to endure beforehand……….

March 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm
(23) Kathy says:

Hi! My son is getting married late May. outdoor wedding and the bridesmaids dresses are “fawn” color.. I have asked my DIL what she would like me to wear and what her mother is wearing. Her response is sweet, with no guidance…. says they aren’t going by “wedding rules” and for me to wear whatever I like. I haven’t a clue what her mother is wearing color or style. She only suggested a short dress rather than formal since it is in the deep south heat. Any suggestions?

April 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm
(24) Donna says:

i have a situation!!!! first of all im butch..and my son is getting married in december..colors are royal blue and silver. My daughter n laws mother is wearing a dress..I am not wearing a dress…my wife says if i evn dress gurly she will no attend..im stuck..not to mention my son is a christian so the gay thing is hard of rhi, he wants me to look some femine..help!!!!! any ideas…

April 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm
(25) CB says:

Donna, my son’s step-mother and I have been discussing this what-to-wear issue today. She does not like to wear dresses . . . I researched and found some really beautiful, formal pants suits with duster-style jackets that seem very suitable in soft flowing fabrics. MOB is wearing a floor length gown. I am going with a jacketed knee or tea-length gown.

Neither my son nor his bride have any preferences; both are in the theatre world, as are many of the guests (and bridal party), so I know there will be a lot of beautifuly attired people there.

July 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm
(26) Connie says:

Donna, I agree with CB. There are many beautiful formal pant suits available. Hopefully you can talk with you wife about being tolerant before the wedding or she will surely be offended at some point. It should really be about the bride and groom, not the parents, regardless of differences in lifestyle or beliefs. I don’t know if you are able to have some inexpensive “feminine” accent you could pitch after the wedding (to make your son happy). But, it is really more important to be yourself even if you are flexible on style and coloring. Although my husband is a Christian minister, we both agree that we must be considerate and tolerant with everyone, whether we agree with them or not…how much more at our adult children’s wedding should we accept and enjoy their family. Think classy, not feminine. (I liked David Beckham’s suit for the royal wedding.) At least December means darker colors are appropriate.

August 1, 2012 at 1:59 am
(27) Vicki says:

I’m so confused, I am the MOG and have been left out of everything. My son is in the Marine Corp and is getting married in his blues and the bridesmaid dresses are midnight blue. Is it wrong to want to wear navy floor length dress with white lace overlay on the top, and to top things off she got my name wrong on the invites. She is wanting me to wear cream.

September 14, 2012 at 8:38 am
(28) Lynn says:

The colors of the Wedding my Son and Soon to be Daughter in Laws wedding are Ivory, Black and Red. And the bride said she would like the Mothers to wear Red or Black. I know I heard an audible gasp from alot of different family members but WTH. The bridesmaids are wearing black. The Mother of the Bride is wearing Red and I am wearing the Black. Etiquette is a wonderful guide line but today’s young couples like to blaze there own trails and I think there would be a lot less stress for everyone if people could learn to roll with the flow and not be so quick to pass judgement or opinions. At the end of the day the Happy Couple will be Married regardless of everyone’s attire. Here’s to a Happy Ending for all!

September 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm
(29) Shelby says:

My son is getting married in two weeks! I am very excited and love his fiance. Her mother is wearing black, the bridesmaids are wearing navy. I wore navy to my daughter’s wedding exactly one year ago and my son loved the dress and wants me to wear it….I haven’t found anything I like as well. Is it ok to wear the same color as the bride’s Mom? My dil(tb) says she doesn’t care what I wear as long as I like it. She is a doll and we are very blessed!

February 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm
(30) Sandra says:

M y sons bride has chosen peacock colors for the wedding,&my sons tux is dark brown and beige shirt and pool blue vest the wedding is after 5 and its in the south in april indoors can i wear black ?

February 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm
(31) Jennifer says:

I’m the MOG and my FDI does not care what me or her mother want to wear. So the two of us actually went out together to shop for dresses. We both agreed that wanted to look great in our gowns, we went to quite a few shops and although I had a specific designer and dress I wanted my future daughter in laws mom tried on a gon that I thought looked great on her. I told her that was ” the one” . She bought it, I on the other hand still hadn’t found ” the dress” I was on a mission and had o actually contact the manufacturer of the gown I wanted. They were nice enough to give e a few places that supposedly had ” my dress ” I was so happy when I found a shop that had it. It is a BLACK dress. It was the ONLY dress I tried on. It is simply gorgeous and I am very happy that I did not settle on just any dress. This is my first borns wedding and I want to look ad feel great. I don’t get what the big deal about wearing black is. If that’s your color then wear it.

March 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(32) Deb says:

To Jen: What a blessing you are to your family. I wish my dil could share your thoughts. It was a few years after my son married that my dil brought up the fact that I had worn a sleeveless black dress (with small flowers of all colors cascading down from my shoulder to mid thigh). I had asked several times what her Mom would be wearing and she said light blue…I tried but I could not find anything that would fit me. I showed my dil the dress and she did not say anything at the time-she waited about 4 years to go ballistic on me. If I had known she felt that strongly I would have continued to look. But really and truly-it’s not about the dresses or the hair-it’s about the joining of two young people. Maybe that’s what the focus should get back to…..

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