Modern Mamas: we discover what’s new for the role of mothers of the bride and groom in 2022

Remember all the old rules that used to govern the mother of the bride (or groom)? Most of them, thankfully, don’t matter any more. Olivia Simpson chats fashion, styles and roles with industry insiders

Left: Lombard short navy dress with full skirt. Right: Bride and mother of the bride.
Left: Lombard short navy dress with full skirt, £1,025, Catherines of Partick; Right: LITU Wedding and Events Consultants helped organise this luxe celebration at Mount Stuart, where the mother of the bride stunned in an elegant, full-length outfit (Photo: Duke Photography)

Being a bride in 2022 is not the same as it once was – and that’s a good thing. Nowadays, there’s space to question old traditions, especially those that might not fit with a modern feminist perspective, such as changing your surname or wearing white. The big day is no longer about leaving your father’s house only to disappear into your partner’s; it’s about two equals coming together to affirm their love and start a new life on a balanced footing.

But brides aren’t the only modern women taking a central role in the day: with so many changes to the proceedings (and to the world in general), what’s a mother of the bride or groom to do in 2022? According to the experts we spoke to across fashion, wedding planning and beauty, they can start by throwing out the rule book. Today’s mums are doing it their way – and setting an example for us all.

Two dresses from Joyce Young Design Studio
Left: Pussy-bow crepe dress with high-low hemline, made to measure in a choice of colours, £POA, both Joyce Young Design Studios; Right: sunray pleated skirt with relaxed crop jacket and hand-beaded trapeze bodice from the Couture collection, made to measure in a choice of colours, £POA

The bank of mum and dad

I can only imagine how exciting it must be when your (not so) wee one gets engaged, but if anything can bring you crashing back to earth, it’s money talk. “Traditionally, the bride’s parents would foot the bill for the whole wedding,” explains Lyndsay Mackenzie of planners Clementine Weddings & Events. “Nowadays, the parents of both partners are likely to split the cost by paying for different parts of the day.

“Often, though, you’ll find parents contribute much less when they’re not involved in the decision-making process because the couple are looking to plan independently” she adds. “As for elopements, more often than not these are paid for by the couple themselves.”

Hatinator with feather detail from Catherines of Partick
Hatinator with feather detail, available in a range of colours, £299, Catherines of Partick

Girl gang

Many brides will have more than one mother figure in their lives, whether that be a beloved auntie, a stepmum or even the mother of the groom, and it’s natural that they’d want to reflect this person’s importance on the day. Inviting her along to the dress fittings is a thoughtful touch, but you could also ask her to contribute to the day if she has a particular skill, such as baking or crafting. “Sometimes aunties and other relatives may help out with favours, place settings, or perhaps by doing a sweetie table,” says Kimmie Brown at wedding and events consultancy LITU.

For a more formal inclusion in the day, many mothers of the bride are taking on roles traditionally performed by fathers, from escorting the bride down the aisle to giving a speech. “I’ve also seen both mothers do a reading, and they can both be witnesses and sign the marriage schedule,” Kimmie tells us.

Mother giving a wedding speech
More and more mums are giving speeches, as happened at this Clementine Weddings & Events big day (Photo: Paul Govers Photography)

Fashion forward

A new kind of woman needs a new kind of look, and mums are definitely switching things up on the big day. “Styles have evolved from the time when every mum would be in a dress-and-jacket combo,” agrees Robyn Bell from Glasgow boutique Catherines of Partick. “It’s exciting to dress all our customers in the new styles arriving each season.”

So, what are the alternatives? “More customers are going for just a dress on its own or for a backwards jacket style, which is a fun take on the more trad look. Some designers are creating dress-jackets that give the illusion of being separates, but which are in fact all-in-one pieces – these can be easier to wear but still provide the elevated, formal look. We have also noticed that chiffon coats are increasingly popular. The delicate nature of the fabric and the bias cut provides a feminine elegance and is also a more lightweight yet formal alternative for weddings in the summer or abroad.”

It’s not just what mums are wearing that’s changed, it’s how they’re finding their outfits too. “Mums are definitely more active on social media and are using it to help gather ideas for their outfits,” Robyn informs us. “As soon as we post a new arrival on our social media, we get an influx of enquiries from all over the world. Any photos we share of real mums at their children’s weddings are also very popular for inspiration and get a lot of interactions. It’s lovely to see our customers supporting each other with their kind compliments, and it also helps clients to see how the outfits look on women with different body shapes, giving them the confidence they need to try on something unexpected.”

There’s one lingering misconception that Robyn is keen to clear up: “Some people believe that the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother have to dress differently according to their role, but both ladies are of equal stature and shop from the same collections. There are no hard and fast rules on what they should wear, so we always advise ladies simply to choose what they feel most special and comfortable in.”

Similarly, she says don’t worry too much about co-ordinating with other important women in the party. “It doesn’t matter if you’re all wearing similar colours or completely different ones, as long as you are all happy and confident in your outfits.”

Lady in a hat with makeup done by I Do Makeup by Geo Kane
I Do Makeup by Geo Kane tailors her looks to your comfort level

Fit and fab

You’ll likely be giving up a lot of your free time to help with marriage preparations, but it’s important to carve out space to take care of yourself too – and attending a wedding can be a great motivator to get back into exercise. “I encourage my clients to be healthy, empowered women with the confidence to know they can feel their best on their child’s big day and be happy with how they look in the photos when they reflect on them later,” shares Megan Osborne, The Female’s Fitness Coach.

She recommends starting out slowly: “If you’re a beginner, try brisk walking, jogging, biking or swimming for ten minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration.”

Megan Osbourne personal trainer doing a personal session
Megan Osborne, The Female’s Fitness Coach recommends incorporating weights into your workouts to combat age-related muscle loss

A thing of beauty
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to get all glammed up – and a lot of women have mixed feelings about this. “Recently, I’ve had a few mums go for bolder eye looks,” says Georgina Kane from I Do Makeup by Geo Kane. “However, it comes down to the individual and I’d always encourage you to go for a look that makes you feel comfortable.”

Lyndsey Love at Love Hair Glasgow says anyone who’s willing to leave their comfort zone can see an incredible transformation: “Occasionally, mums can feel nervous about having their hair and makeup done if it’s not a regular thing for them, but I just love seeing how confident it makes them feel! Often, the younger girls in the party encourage them to go a bit more glam, perhaps by adding strip lashes.”

Nowadays, not all weddings are formal occasions, and mums are choosing looks that reflect this, says Eileen Nugent from Eileen Nugent Bridal Hair and Makeup: “Location is key. For example, a barn wedding warrants a very different look to a church ceremony followed by a formal ballroom reception. This has also led to fewer mums wearing hats, so there are more options for hair styling.”

In the run-up to the wedding, you may want to add some steps to your beauty routine to ensure you look and feel your best. “I would advise not trying anything too invasive to give the skin a boost,” says Eileen. “Just drink lots of water and focus on skincare, using a good moisturiser and night serum.”

Bride and mother getting ready for the big day
The key to keeping your mum relaxed on the big day? A good wedding planner, says Kimmie at LITU Wedding and Events Consultants (Photo: Duke Photography)

She notes that while it’s natural for our hair to thin as we age, this can be combatted by avoiding products that contain parabens and sulphates. “It’s also important that you recognise the emotional impact the wedding can have on you. That’s why I’d recommend getting a facial: the benefits are so much more than skin deep because you get time all to yourself to just relax.”

No amount of facials will help if the day itself is chaotic – which is where a wedding planner is essential, claims Kimmie at LITU. “I honestly believe that planners really help mums to relax and enjoy the day,” she says. “It’s such a special time and it goes so quickly (not to mention how much it may have cost!), so mums should not be worrying about what to do or where various suppliers are.”

The day is yours to enjoy too, after all.