Five What-to-Wear Tips for Mothers of the Bride (and Groom) Dresses in 2019


Color schemes are being chosen, save the dates are being sent out, and your daughter or son is in full wedding planning mode. Next on your agenda? Figuring out what to wear for a day when you’ll want to make sure you look, and more importantly feel, your absolute best.

For nearly 40 years, the Garden Room boutique has specialized in connecting discerning shoppers with truly great garments. “We’ve been really focusing on mother of the bride dresses for probably the last 15 years,” owner Patty Hoffpauir says, “So we’ve seen a lot of weddings.”

The exact dress I envisioned wearing at my daughter’s wedding I found at The Garden Room.
— Judy Carr

This past summer Hoffpauir outfitted NASA astronaut Anna Lee Fisher, the first mother in space, helping her find the perfect navy Teri Jon cocktail dress for her daughter’s rehearsal dinner, and a long Olvi’s navy and blush damask print dress for the wedding. “That was a fun wedding because we worked from the very beginning with her,” Hoffpauir says.

Here are some of Hoffpauir’s tips for selecting impeccable attire for the big day:


Tip #1 - Consider the details of the event


Before starting your search for the perfect dress, list out the event details. Is it a formal wedding? Casual? Indoors or outdoors? Afternoon or evening? “A 4:30 wedding is different from a 7 o’clock wedding,” Hoffpauir says. A barefoot summer beach wedding certainly calls for a different dress than a winter evening church wedding.

The details make a difference in determining dress length, color, and the type of shoes that might work best. In the Austin area, Hoffpauir notes the trend toward tea length dresses. “I think because of the influence of all the weddings south — Dripping Springs, Buda — those venues are a little bit more casual, so I think the reason we’re selling so many tea length dresses is it looks formal, but yet you can move around in the grass and the gravel. And I’d say half of the mothers of the bride are wearing cowboy boots.”


Tip #2 - Find what feels comfortable


“We always tell the mother of the bride and groom to choose a color that looks best on them, somewhat in the palette of the wedding,” Hoffpauir advises. “Stay in those parameters, but still choose a color that’s best on you. You’re the one that has to wear it all night; you’re the one that has to move in it. And when you’re in the wrong color, you feel it.”

In addition to color, Hoffpauir notes that most mothers opt for a dress with sleeves, which can be added with extra fabric, and if needed, dresses can be ordered with modesty panels to maximize the fit and look of the dress without being too revealing. The recent trend is toward stretch lace dresses from Olvi’s, which are fit according to torso length. “They’re extremely comfortable,” Hoffpauir says.


Tip #3 - Get your dress early

There’s nothing more stressful than trying to get what you want last-minute. Colors and sizes can sell out, alterations can get delayed, and other event demands can pile up. To make sure you can get exactly what you want, prioritize shopping for your dress.

Hoffpauir recommends allowing eight to 12 weeks for a dress from Amsterdam-based brand Olvi’s, and four to six weeks for dresses from Connie Roberson or Marisa Baratelli’s Thai Silk. The sooner you can get in and make a selection, the better. “It’s just best to get it checked off your list,” Hoffpauir says.


Tip #4 - Trust the experts


Planning a wedding can be an emotional time, and it can feel like there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Hoffpauir recommends shopping solo, if possible, to find an ensemble you really like. “We try to take the stress out of it,” Hoffpauir says. “We’re good at fitting and we know what we’re doing.”


Tip #5 - Accessorize


With your dress selected and ordered, it’s time to accessorize. Many mothers wear a piece of jewelry that carries sentimental value, and then add a complementary bracelet or earrings to complete the look. Don’t forget a clutch or handbag – always good to have a place to keep a few tissues. And finally, comfortable shoes. A low heel in matte silver or gold nearly always looks good, and is easy to wear on the dance floor. After all, it’s time to celebrate.