stepmom of bride to wear black?

malsdad313August 1, 2009

I am the father of the bride and my wife bought a very pretty black dress to be accented with teal blue jewlery. It is mid length and I am wearing the traditional black and white tux. The wedding is a evening event is this ok?

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I personally feel a lot of hurt feelings and arguments can be avoided if mother, MIL, step-mother (etc.) clothes are run by the bride. If it is an evening wedding in fall or winter and the bridesmaid are in darker colors I'd say black might be ok. If it is a warm weather wedding with pastels, I'd say no. My mother wore a black velvet with gold brocade dress suit to my first wedding, the girls were in dark green velvet (it was winter). For my second wedding (15 years later) the girls were in pale pink, my mother had passed away but my MIL wore rose and my step mother wore a dark ivory. Some people feel black is never appropriate for a wedding and will really raise a fuss when others wear it, just be prepared.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 10:30PM
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I agree with Sue36. In past generations, wearing black was a symbol of disapproval of the wedding. Today, that holds true in only a few very traditional communities. Your wife should take her cue from what the mother of the bride is wearing, assuming that she is dressing appropriately. (Today, we often see moms who overdress.)

The dress sounds lovely if the bridesmaids will be in darker colors. If they and the other moms are wearing lighter colors, then the dress may look out of place. The length is perfect, whether the bridesmaids wear long or shorter skirts.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 1:26PM
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I think that dress sounds fine. I would be sure to check with the bride, though, as this is the day the bride gets her way. I cannot imagine that she would say no.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 1:54PM
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There are enough people who disapprove of solid black (admittedly, I'm one of them), that your wife needs to be prepared for some backlash. I'm with the posters above who suggest that it's only OK if the bride approves and her attendants are also in dark colors.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 5:32PM
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Consider how it will look in the wedding photos. If everybody else is in light colors, your eye will go right to the dress that is out of place. Double ditto for very large floral prints. Check with the bride and the "other mother". This is a time to be part of the team, not to stick out like a sore thumb.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 4:11AM
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uh! yeah! Men wear black all the time to weddings, why can't women? Also the notion that black is negative rings about as true as the bride wearing white who is pure. I am a stepmom and I'm wearing black to my stepson's wedding. I did run it past the bride and she said fine. No one else will know that I asked her so they really should mind their own business and focus on the bride and groom and not what others are wearing. As for standing out in a picture, most of the men will be in a dark if not black tuxes. p.s. I'm wearing red shoes and purse. her wedding color is red.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 3:39AM
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Women guests often wear black to weddings, particularly black cocktail dresses. It is the moms that people are concerned about, though in most cases people really don't care what they wear as long as they are dressed appropriately (not too casually or too formally for the location, time of day, etc.).

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 11:26AM
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"I did run it past the bride and she said fine."

That is the point. The bride was fine with it.

You can't compare men wearing a black suit or tux to a black dress. All the men are in black suits, no one sticks out. But a black dress would stick out if the bridesmaids were in pastels and the guests were a sea of Lilly. Black is negative in some cultures (or age groups, meaning "older"), that is just the way it is, you aren't going to change it. You don't wear red to a funeral, either. Just the way it is. And no one wears white to a wedding except the bride. Just the way it is. Guests in black cocktail dresses are different, they aren't in the group photos.

My x-MIL wore baby blue chiffon to my wedding. It was "her color". Fine for a summer wedding, but mine was at Christmas, with the girls in dark green velvet and my mother in black velvet with gold. That blue dress looked wrong in the group photos, just as a black dress would look wrong in wedding party photos if all the women were in pastels. I am obviously not against black in general since my mother wore it.

This sort of takes this down another road, but it isn't just the color black. In general, guests should avoid anything too attention getting. That can be too sexy, too outrageous, too trendy (with a non-trendy crowd), etc. I have a great red dress that I would never wear to a wedding, not even a night wedding. The color and cut are just too much for a wedding. If the same dress were black or navy it would be fine. But in red, no.

Depending on your dress style, the red shoes could do the same thing. A dress that looks appropriate with black, platinum or nude pumps could end up too-sexy, too attention-grabbing, in red. Depends on the shoes, of course. And the dress, etc. There is no formula.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 11:28PM
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I agree that it depends on what everyone else is wearing and if it will work in the photos. Check with your daughter and see what she thinks.

My dad's girlfriend at the time wore black to my sister's wedding, and screaming cherry red to my brother's. My sister's wedding color was periwinkle blue, and my brother's was pink. Oy. They were broken up by the time my wedding rolled around, but my BIL stepped up to the plate by wearing a suit....with loafers and no socks. Not a problem except for those white ankles in every photo!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 9:03PM
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I don't know; I think it's a mistake to focus too much on the photos. The photos are supposed to be a memory of the day -- how it really was, how the people looked. The day's not supposed to be a setup for perfect photos.

It's one thing to ask the attendants to match (although lately I prefer it when even they don't). For others not in the wedding party, even though they will be in photos, I think it's too much to dictate their clothes (beyond the usual formality guidelines you put on the invitation for all guests) to the point of asking them to choose harmonizing colors. Even at weddings in our community, where the parents stand up with the couple through the whole ceremony, they don't wear matching clothes, and it always looks fine -- like real people dressed in their best for an important occasion.

Another thing to consider: this seems to be the bride's father asking what his wife, the bride's stepmother, should wear. I would be very careful to consider whether even she, let alone he, should start asking about having her dress look good in photos; it may be misunderstood.

When I got married, my mother-in-law (she's wonderful, by the way) would not stop asking me about what she should wear, what my mom was wearing, and EXACTLY what shade the attendants were wearing so she could match them. No matter how many times everyone told her it didn't matter WHAT color she wore, she kept at it. She sounded ridiculous, like she was trying to play bridesmaid, or at the very least rather narcissistic, as if what she looked like at the wedding should be everyone's chief concern.

This is a different situation, but I think that if there is any kind of discomfort or touchy feelings, the OP (or his wife) should at least be careful in how they phrase any questions like this so it won't be seen by anyone as the stepmother trying to make herself more a central character than they want her to be. That may not be the slightest issue in this family, but in case it is, I'd keep it in mind.

I note that the OP didn't ask whether they should ask the bride about the stepmother's clothes, just whether black with teal jewelry would be okay. In my opinion, sure -- more women guests at dressy weddings seem to wear black than any other color. Just avoid looking like you are dressed either for a funeral (= "I disapprove of this marriage"), all white (= "Look at ME, not the bride"), or for picking up sailors (= "This is a beer blast, not a solemn occasion").

But in any event, as a general rule, I don't think that the mothers and grandmothers (or fathers -- horrors, what if someone wears a clashing tie?) need to ask about their clothes. If it's so important to you later that everyone in the photos look matchy-matchy, photoshop their clothes later (or use B&W prints).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 11:08PM
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Good points, Gellchom. To add a little detail to my dad's ex-GF's attire:

Black Dress at sister's wedding: Looked like she was dressed for a Goth funeral in Hollywood.
Red Dress at brother's wedding: Luckily there were no sailors there. We were also careful to prevent her from lingering on any street corners for too long.

Back to the OP: It doesn't sound like your wife dresses like my dad's ex-gf, and I admit I was speaking from that perspective. I would still casually ask if your daughter would object to a tasteful black dress.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 7:19PM
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Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy already at 48, but IMO, the mother of the bride (or groom, or step-) should be dressed like a mother-of-the-bride! There's a whole genre that goes with this -- nothing too low cut, tight or slit-up-to-here, non-flashy color, not white or ivory (champagne is OK), beading and chiffon encouraged, a few sequins or rhinestones are OK, jackets encouraged...

There's a whole traditional style to the MOB / MOG look, and IMO, it's generally very tasteful, and helpful to the guests to be able to ID who's who.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 4:29PM
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Sweeby, how is that different from any other female guest at a dressy evening wedding? (I wouldn't think the moms -- or anyone else, except maybe the bride -- would wear beading, sequins, or rhinestones at a daytime wedding.) I suppose the moms would probably dress at the dressier end of whatever the range is.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 9:56PM
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I'd be OK with a very few sequins or rhinestones and/or moderate beading in the daytime for the Mothers-of, but not for the guests. I'd be OK with 'happy' prints for the guests but not the Mothers-of unless they're really, really subtle (tone on tone). For a formal evening wedding, it would be harder to tell the Mothers-of from the guests, though I'd probably wonder if any right-age female in a long chiffon with beaded jacket number in a pastel color is a mother-of, and probably avoid that look if I were 'just' a guest.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 3:50PM
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When I am a mother-of, I may avoid prints, etc., but I sure hope no one expects me to limit my choices to a "long chiffon with beaded jacket number"!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:56PM
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It does not matter what the mother of the bride or mother of the groom wears as long as the bride ok's it.

When my son got married both the brides mother and I weren't the fussy fancy dress kind. We both decided that we would like to wear dressy suits. We asked the bride. She said fine it and that was that.

If your wife is worried about the color she could look for a light silky jacket in her teal or even a scarf, But if the bride likes what she's wearing then go just as she planned

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 5:25PM
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(I wouldn't think the moms -- or anyone else, except maybe the bride -- would wear beading, sequins, or rhinestones at a daytime wedding.)

Unfortunately, think again ;)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 9:03PM
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