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Dear ESB: My mom wants to wear white

January 11, 2011

ACK! Just the title of this Dear ESB is enough to send anyone with just a glimmer of etiquette in their eyes over the edge. And Yay! ESB is back. We’ve missed her.

dear esb,

does the old adage that mothers of the bride (and groom, for that matter) don’t wear white (or cream, or ivory) still hold true?

my mother asked me what i wanted her to wear to the wedding, and when i said ‘i don’t mind, whatever you want, you have good taste’, she insisted i give her an opinion. so i said, ‘well it would be nice if you wore some blue’ – because blue is a theme colour in the wedding. next thing i know, she has found an outfit that a) i don’t think is flattering, and b) is entirely cream/ivory with pale blue accents. she very much wanted to know what i thought of it.

when i pointed out to her that i thought it might look a little odd that she was choosing to wear the exact same colour as me (not just ivory, but ivory with pale blue accents) she got somewhat miffed about it. the thing is, she also wore a creamy colour to my brother’s wedding a year ago, and his bride thought it was pretty weird, too. if my mother is setting a trend with this, i think our extended family might think it’s quite strange. i just think it looks kind of odd – scene-stealing, almost – for the mother of the bride to wear ivory. for that matter, i didn’t think it was de rigueur for anyone to wear a white or ivory dress to a wedding. (except the bride, obvs.)

i’m not worried she will steal my thunder, i just want to know if i’m on the ball about this being a bit strange or whether i’m being hopelessly old-fashioned and people not wearing white/ivory to other people’s weddings is no longer a thing?

p.s. i know i did say to her “wear whatever you want”, but i think there was an implied “within reason” there. like, no circus costumes, no stripper outfits, no quasi-bridal dresses. as my sister said to me later, “if mom was getting remarried now, this is the sort of outfit you’d expect her to wear to her own wedding.”


I’m old-fashioned too. I agree 500% that the bride should be the only one wearing white.

A mother-of-the bride in white is just plain creepsville. Feel free to tell your mom I said so.

(Photo by Irving Penn via Charles Hall via PRORSUM)