Photo courtesy of Caneel Bay Resort
Congratulations, mother of the bride! You have such an exciting time ahead of you, as you help the bride and groom create the day of their dreams.
You’ve probably noticed that things are not quite the same for the mother of the bride as they were when you got married. Today’s planning team isn’t automatically the bride and her mom. You may be part of a larger team that includes the groom’s parents, or the bride and groom will be doing the majority of the planning on their own. So don’t go into this with huge expectations, or have your feelings hurt that you won’t be in charge of the cake, the flowers, the menu, the locations. Just look forward to meeting with the bride and groom to discuss how THEY’D like their team to work together. Here are some top tips to help you enjoy the wedding preparations, and make everything more special for your daughter.
* Make a promise to yourself, as a parent, that you’ll keep the wishes of the bride and groom paramount, no matter what. Since the wedding is such an important and emotional event, it’s easy to get revved up and want more of your ideas included, to ‘make things nice.’ You have no bad intentions, but you’d be surprised at how the bride may interpret your suggestions as bossing her around. So make it clear from the beginning: you want what they want for the wedding, and you’re there to help create it.
* Respond quickly and deliver completely when you’re asked to help with finding family addresses or other tasks. When you set a foundation at the start of being easy to work with, interested in their wishes, and responsible, you’ll likely be asked to do more.
* Let them know what you’d like to be involved with. They’re not mind-readers, so they may not know that it’s a dream of yours to go to cake tastings with them. A simple “I’d love to join you” is far better than insisting, or pouting when you hear they went last weekend.
* Let them know what your talents are. Since weddings are so expensive, couples are looking for ways to save money. If you have a talent for art or a flair for calligraphy, Web design or favor-making, they need to know about that. Again, let them make the decision.
* Find ways to welcome the groom into the family. Get to know him better, if you haven’t already, and show your approval by including him in family dinners where it’s all about social time, not just wedding planning time.
* Be a stress-relief for the bride. Take her out for coffee or lunch, or to a day spa for manicures, and make it no-wedding-talk time to allow her to step away from wedding stress and nurture your relationship.
* Get your look together. A personal shopper at a department store can help you find a terrific gown for the wedding, as well as dresses for the rehearsal dinner and other events, and you get the same royal treatment as the bride. Personal shopper services are free at Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor, among others…they’ll interview you for your style wishes and colors and sizes, and when you go in for your session, they have all of the outfits and accessories lined up for you.
* Give meaningful gifts as well as practical ones from the registry. A framed photo of the bride as a little girl, together with a wonderful handwritten letter from you, is a fabulous gift on the morning of the wedding.
* Write a toast. Whether it’s for the rehearsal dinner or the morning-after breakfast, your words make a lasting memory. Or have the bride’s favorite song played for her.
* Keep your fears in line. Don’t be afraid of the change that’s coming to your family, particularly if the bride plans to move after she’s married. Have a plan to stay in touch via e-mail, Skype and visits, and welcome the good things these changes bring. I know, it’s tough to face the huge emotional changes that happen with a wedding, and this is the #1 thing that makes mothers act badly and hurts their relationships with their daughters (which causes the distancing they fear!). Just be honest with the bride and come up with a plan for the future.
* Embrace the in-laws. Find ways to include them in family holidays and dinners — the bride and groom will be sooo relieved if you make that a smooth transition and welcome their loved ones into your circle. You don’t have to be best friends. Just let the bride and groom know they’re welcome as family.
* Never inject your guest list wishes, song wishes, menu wishes, etc. with force. This is not the time for that, even if you’re sure the etiquette rules are on your side. “You have to invite them, since you were a flowergirl at their wedding 20 years ago!” doesn’t fly in today’s wedding rules of the bride and groom choosing their guest list. They know the new etiquette rules, and unless it’s a glaring omission, a must, be gentle with your guidance.
*Don’t forget that you’ll likely get to plan the morning-after breakfast, or perhaps an engagement party of after-party just for your friends, so all of your fantastic ideas can be used for the party you host!
* Think about renewing your wedding vows months after their wedding if you feel you want to plan a big party of your own. All of your great ideas the bride and groom aren’t open to…they might be better at YOUR party!
Sharon Naylor is the author of The Mother of the Bride Book and Mother of the Groom, plus 30 additional wedding books, www.sharonnaylor.net .