Bride getting ready for her wedding at the Azul Fives Hotel

Mother of the Bride: What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

When you’re a guest of honor like the mother of the bride or groom, you want to look your best without taking attention away from the bride. Beach weddings in Cancun and the Riviera Maya also tend to be very informal, but that doesn’t diminish their meaning and importance. As a representative of your family during the formal joining of two families, you want to feel confident and beautiful, but it’s important to remember that you’re not meant to be the center of attention. As a wedding photographer whose job it is to capture the most special of days, here are a few suggestions for how the mother of the bride or groom should dress.

1. Do not wear black.
If you opt for a dark color, not only will you be hot (aka sweaty, which no one wants), but you will stand out like a sore thumb. Beaches here in the Mexican Caribbean are light, bright and anything but black. So, if you opt for a dark, harsh color, you will be the only thing on the beach in that shade. You will also stand out in the photos and draw a lot of attention to yourself. Therefore, I always recommend you stay away from black – unless it’s a black-tie event, of course.

2. Talk to the bride.
This is an absolute must. The most surefire way to make sure you won’t offend the bride is to ask her what she would like you to wear. Ultimately, it’s her day and she calls the shots. In my opinion, your outfit should be complementary to the wedding. For example, if the bridesmaids are wearing pink, then don’t wear pink yourself unless the bride asks you to. However, it would be nice to wear something that is complementary to pink such as a light blue dress with pale pink details or accessories.

3. Wear solid colors.
Patterns are very “noisy” in photos, so I always suggest wearing a solid color with as little pattern as possible. If you do end up wearing a pattern, try to make it a large pattern with big blocks of color and nothing too busy. The bottom line is, solids look best in photos and we want you to look your absolute best.

4. Consider a wardrobe change.
You might want to have two outfits – one for day and one for night. Normally there is time to change from a less formal outfit for the ceremony on the beach, to a more formal outfit for evening. You can also change from sand-friendly footwear to something more fun and flirty for dancing at the reception.

5. Think about your footwear.
To continue that last point, consider your shoes when picking your wedding outfit. You cannot walk on the beach in heels, so if you’re wearing a floor-length dress, remember to have it hemmed to be worn with flats or barefoot. If you want to wear the same dress for the entire event, but with heels later it in the day, you can get away with having the dress a bit long on the beach. Just keep in mind that it will drag in the sand unless you hold it up.

6. It might get chilly in the evening.
Beachfront events can be windy at times and the weather can change suddenly. Don’t forget to pack or plan something to keep you warm after the sun goes down. I always recommend a nice cashmere pashmina. They are nice enough for a formal event, but can easily be worn again. They also come in endless color options, so it would be easy to find one that matches your outfit or the wedding’s color scheme.

7. Enjoy yourself.
Remember to enjoy the process and the role you will play in one of the most important days of your child’s life. It’s nice to put thought into your appearance, but remember that the day is about the bride and groom. If your wedding day outfit requires alterations, consider asking the bride if you can tag along to her alterations appointments. This can take something that is pretty boring and make it a bonding experience the two of you can share together.

One thing I can’t stress enough is to go with the flow and avoid drama at all costs. Communication is key. Odds are, if you think your outfit might be inappropriate (too tight, too short, too attention-grabbing), then it probably is. Go with your gut and try to blend in. It’s okay to want to look your best, but you don’t want to take attention away from the couple. Also, while it’s polite to ask the bride what she thinks you should wear, don’t stress her out about it. It’s a fine balance when planning a wedding and it can be a difficult line to walk when you want to be an active participant in someone else’s wedding. My experience has always shown that the best thing you can do is inject humor into any situation. It diffuses tension and will keep the mood light. I hope you find this advice helpful! Above all have fun, enjoy the day and remember to smile!

– Dean Sanderson
Cancun Wedding Photographer

Mother putting on veil at Secrets Maroma, Riviera Maya