It is difficult to imagine a wedding without the mother of the bride somewhere in the forefront!
Of course, it is right and proper that the bride and, indeed, the groom should have the limelight. Yet it would be wrong to underestimate the contribution that the bride’s mother will have made in the run-up (and even on the day itself).
One of the bride’s mother’s first tasks will happen soon after the news of the engagement: making contact with the groom’s parents – face-to-face, if possible, or, at least, over the phone. It’s important to start on a good footing, as there’ll probably be need for co-operation and agreement later on, when making the arrangements.
Another early job may be putting together the engagement party, if there is one, but that is simply a warm-up exercise!
Whether or not the bride’s parents are stumping up all or part of the cash for the wedding, the mother of the bride will probably be fully involved helping her daughter with the planning. That normally entails choosing the venue, deciding on the guest list and dress-shopping, although it can include things like choosing the menu, etc.
The big challenge
One of the most demanding balancing acts is moderating the level of control the bride’s mother will wish to exercise. It is sometimes difficult to square what she sees as practicalities and necessities with the fact that it is actually the couple’s big day and their wishes absolutely need to be respected. Tact, understanding and persistence (on both sides) are qualities that may come into their own. It would be tragic if the mother-daughter relationship were to collapse due to ego or petty intolerance.
Budget will play a role, but the couple must feel sure that the venue will meet their needs – and that goes for atmosphere, catering, accommodation – and that the home team can be relied upon to look after them properly.
An area where the mother of the bride may offer valuable advice is the ceremony itself. However, it really should be down to the couple to make the final decisions here. They should be able to choose the degree of religiosity, rituals, music, readings, participants etc. There may need to be some compromising!
When the bride chooses her dress, her mother will surely have useful input to offer, but the bride should not be bludgeoned into wearing something she will not feel happy or comfortable in.
It’s always difficult to agree how many and whom to invite. The couple may well appreciate guidance here. Especially if the parents are bankrolling the event, they should expect a measure of choice as to who is invited, but the couple’s wishes are paramount. It may help to draw up a list of “essential” guests (the closest relatives and friends) and then, if money and space permit, moving on to the “desired” guests. Only after that, consider inviting less close contacts.
The Wedding itself
The wedding day is not the time for the bride’s mother to start complaining! What’s done is done, and pointing out “I told you so!” is only likely to antagonise people and potentially ruin proceedings. Support and love are what matter now.
The mother of the bride will traditionally be part of the processional and will head up any receiving line at the reception. Her contribution will normally be acknowledged in the speeches.
The bride’s mother has some real multi-tasking to do: over the months, she must be confidante, adviser, sounding-board and supporter for her daughter. The bride will be embarking on a new journey – although she need not become independent of her parents even now – but what a contribution her mother can make, as she sends her daughter out from the nest feeling confident, happy and full of love!