Once after a time, mother of the bride dresses were likely to wear matronly dresses in Easter-egg pastels or beaten up shades of beige. Thankfully, that’s in the past. But now that they’re liberal to express their sartorial sensibilities, deciding what the mother of the bride should wear with so many fashionable options can be incredibly overwhelming. Discuss spoiled for choice! Never fear.

We asked some bridal pros to provide us a few pointers in making the process as seamless as possible. Whether you’re a bride who’s hoping to help your mom find the perfect look or the materfamilias to the lucky lady herself, we’ve got the who, what, when, where, and exactly how of MOB dress shopping.

1. Let the Bride Be Your Guide
If you take away only one tip, allow it be this place: Follow the bride’s cues about style, color, and amount of formality. She and the groom set the tone for the wedding, whether which means a everyday country wedding detailed with cowboy boots or a formal black-tie affair. You’re an important person in the wedding party and you will want to look the part. So, ask your daughter for some guidelines and follow suit.

2. Take Color Cues From the Wedding Party
Traditionally, the mother of the bride’s dress should complement the marriage party’s colors (though not necessarily match). Therefore, it’s best to wait until your daughter chooses the bridesmaids’ dresses to commence shopping. See when you can get a swatch of their fabric to use with you-it will be super helpful when searching for a harmonizing hue.

If your daughter foregoes the uniform bridesmiad gowns favoring the use of individual outfits in a similar shade, adhere to one or the other. For instance, if she asks her attendants to wear black cocktail dresses, you might like to choose something in silver or grey. Or if her girls ‘re going in cobalt blue, a navy dress would pair perfectly.

3. Borrow From the Venue
It used to be that mother-of-the-bride dresses followed a kind of uniform – a cocktail jacket atop an understated sheath. Today, just about anything goes – provided that it’s suitable for the event. So, while you probably wouldn’t wear a strapless dress to a church wedding, it could be just the thing for a beach ceremony. However, you can add a lovely wrap or, yes, a good jacket to that particular same dress and it instantly becomes chapel appropriate.

4. Time It Right and Communicate your decision
According to our bridal experts, you should start searching for your dress no later than three months ahead of the wedding to allow time for special orders and alterations. You may choose to look in department or specialty stores for your dress, but don’t pass over traditional bridal salons. Many have options for the mother of the bride, as well!

It is customary for the mother of the bride to buy her dress first and then share her choice with the mother of the groom. The mother of the groom may also need special orders and alterations, so make sure to offer her ample time to accomplish this before the wedding. The mothers’ dresses don’t have to match (unless that’s what the bride wants), nonetheless they should complement one another. Remember, you will be taking lots of pictures together and the only person who should stand out is the bride.

5. Get Pretty Just Prior to the Wedding
There aren’t any special rules for mother-of-the-bride hair and makeup. Again, think elegant, understated, and appropriate – and reflective of your style. As with the bridal party, you’ll usually want to get a fresh mani and pedi the day before the wedding and have flowing hair and make-up done the day of. Whether you do this with the marriage ceremony is up to your daughter.

If the bride prefers to get glammed up with just her bridesmaids, don’t take it personally. You are able to invite the mother of the groom or other family members to truly have a prettying party of your personal, or relish the rare moment of quiet and plan to slip off on your own. Just make sure that you do plan to get your hair and cosmetic done – whether by a specialist or trusted friend. Too often, mothers overlook themselves and only their children. Remember, it’s your personal day, too!