How to Design a Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Express your style, but stay within the look of your daughter's marriage ceremony

By Terrichele Bradley

Mother of Bride and Bride Walking Together
Photo by Michael Graham PhotographyBookmark and Share

Your daughter's wedding is an unforgettable event. Although helping plan the wedding may be hectic, you have supported your daughter by helping select the venue, vendors, decorations and by providing your insight about the wedding attire, especially the bridal gown. Once these decisions are made, you can focus on your mother-of-the-bride dress. You not only want a dress to respectfully represent your daughter, but also one fits your personal style. Unfortunately, the selection of dresses may not meet these needs, but fortunately designing your own mother-of-the-bride dress is completely within your means.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Allow enough time to design your dress to assure it is ready for your daughter's wedding.
Mother of the Bride Dress

Step 1:

Research the variety of mother-of-the bride dress designs. You can find pictures of dresses in bridal magazines and on bridal websites. Visit local bridal shops to see samples and look through catalogs. Major retail chains often carry mother-of-the-bride gowns too. Download or clip pictures of dresses and details that interest you.

Step 2:

Decide what style of dress works best for your figure and is appropriate for the season, the wedding's location and its level of formality. For example, a long, formal gown may not work for a wedding on the beach, but spaghetti straps may not flatter your shoulders. Do you need long sleeves because the wedding will take place during the winter or because the ceremony location has certain guidelines about women's attire?

Step 3:

Go to local fabric stores to look at and get swatches of various fabrics and colors you think would look great for your dress. Keep in mind your daughter's wedding colors so you select a color that complements them as well as your own features.

Step 4:

Consider what details or embellishments you may want on the dress, such as lace, ribbon, beads, embroidery, rhinestones or sequins. Gather samples from fabric stores or take pictures, if possible, so you don't forget.

Step 5:

Make a preliminary sketch of the dress you want made, attach to the paper the swatches of fabric and embellishments, if any, you've selected and then show it to your daughter to get her feedback. Also, consider showing it to the mother of the groom, for traditionally she selects her dress based on the dress selected by the mother of the bride.

Step 6:

Interview and select a design studio, seamstress or local bridal shop that can make your dress. Ask for a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs and budget range, and review a portfolio of previous dresses. Once you select the person or business that will make your dress, get a written contract stating the full amount for the work, the deposit amount (if any), the timeline and the services to be performed.

Step 7:

Review the sketches of your dress from your dress designer. Try to make any alterations now, during the planning stage, to prevent any delays.

Step 8:

Approve the final sketch.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • When interviewing seamstresses or design studios, ask if you will receive a sketch of your dress to approve, how many dress fittings are required and what recommendations they might make if something doesn't work well.
  • Depending on your dress designer's schedule, your dress may take between three to six months to complete, so plan accordingly. That said, your designer may be able to deliver it earlier if you ask, although additional fees might be included.

About the Author

Terrichele Bradley is a freelance writer with experience in weddings publishing.

Planning Reminder:

4 bridesmaids figurines

All dressed up

If you're having a formal wedding, you may want to go with the tried-and-true matching bridesmaids dresses. Or opt to give your bridesmaids wiggle room (in more ways than one) but with parameters. Select a color, and bridesmaids can choose or have dresses made to suit their figures.

View your wedding checklist!


Wedding Glossary


A dress style with a narrow fit that is ankle-length and hugs the bust, waist and hips.

View the Full Weddings Glossary
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