9 Wedding Tips for the Mother of the Bride & Mother of the Groom

Congratulations! Your baby just got engaged! Unless you’ve been through this before, you are probably wondering, what do I do now? You are a very significant part of the big day. (But I didn’t have to tell you that.) My daughter recently got married and someone said to me, “You are the second most important person here!” Maybe the third most important, after the groom, but I owned it and it gave me confidence.

specific duties for the mother of the bride

Traditionally, there are specific duties for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom. But traditions are evolving, and your role may vary depending on your relationship with your child and your level of involvement in their special day. So whether you’re the mother of the bride or mother of the groom, here are my tips and few things to keep in mind as the wedding planning begins. They are roughly in chronological order.

1. Extend congratulations to the (other) parents.

It’s traditionally the responsibility of the groom’s parents to get in touch with the bride’s parents to offer their congratulations after the engagement. This is important because your families will soon be joined together. These days it doesn’t really matter who makes the first contact, but if you’re the bride’s parents, wait a few days, giving the groom’s parents an opportunity to honor this tradition. After that, feel free to initiate contact with the groom’s family. This is also a great time to “meet the parents” if you haven’t yet had the honor.

2. Discuss wedding details and establish your roles.

Traditionally, the bride’s parents will plan and pay for the entire wedding and the groom’s parents take care of the rehearsal dinner. If this is the case, then the bride’s parents are the official wedding hosts and will be making most of the decisions. However, the bride’s family is not always the exclusive host of today’s weddings. Many couples pay for their own wedding, and it’s becoming more common for expenses and responsibilities to be shared between the families.

It’s in the best interest of everyone involved if roles are discussed and established from the start. Once the engagement is announced, try to set aside a time to outline a game plan and discuss details such as dates, venue, theme, budget, number of guests, and how costs will be divided. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is ask the couple how they would like you to be involved. They might already know exactly how they want things done or they may be open to ideas. Be supportive and receptive to whatever they ask and remember- it’s their day. We cover communication and how to talk to your daughter (or son) in our post How to Be the Perfect Mother of the Bride or Groom.

3. Manage your guest list.

Creating and editing the guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. Once it’s been determined how many guests you are able to invite, put your list together and collect addresses. Prioritize your list, make cuts if needed, and always stay within the parameters that were set by the couple. Keep track of your replies and follow up with any of your guests who are late to RSVP. This blog post will give you more details on planning a Wedding Guest List, covering all perspectives.

4. Dress shopping with the bride.

Every girl dreams of the day she gets to choose a wedding dress. As mother of the bride, you’ve been dreaming about this special day too! This is an intimate time for you and your daughter and though you may not agree with her style choices, tell her that she will be a beautiful bride and always offer positive feedback. You can, of course, be honest, but make sure you build her up in the process.

My daughter and I had the magical dress shopping experience that I always dreamed of. I was that “typical” mom, wanting her in a ball gown with lace even though she wanted a sleek, minimalist dress. I also made the classic “not too revealing” comments. We had fun joking about it and she was a good sport. In truth, I wanted her to choose something she loved and that expressed her. I supported her choices and let her take the lead. When she tried on the dress that I knew would be the one, I could read it in her face, and yes, I teared up. Follow the bride’s lead and you too can have that magical mother – daughter experience.

wedding dress shopping with MOB and MOG

What I wanted, and…

perfect wedding dress

… what she chose – it was perfect!

5. Find your dress.

I’m not going to lie – this is hard!

It’s best to begin looking for your dress several months before the wedding. Traditionally, the mother of the bride would purchase her outfit first, and let the mother of the groom know what she is wearing. First, find out what the bride wants you to wear. She may have specific guidelines or she may give you free rein. Once you know the bride’s wishes, think about the date, location and theme. You want to pick attire that fits the venue, season and formality of the wedding. Finally, since the mother of the bride and groom and will be in photos together, it may be practical for you to work together in choosing your attire. Try to coordinate your look with each other and the bridal party.

Now that I’ve been through this process, I want to share how difficult it is – News flash – it’s harder than picking out your own wedding dress! I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve polled other moms and most agree, it’s quite stressful (photo pressure, plus most of us don’t look the same as we did in our 20’s or 30’s). Start early and be patient; you may have to try on a lot of dresses.

Share your wedding traditions

6. Share your traditions.

Research any family, religious or cultural traditions that could add a special touch to your child’s wedding day. There may be a song or poem that could be included in the ceremony or a traditional folk dance or ethnic dish that may be part of the reception. You could also offer an heirloom that could serve as the bride’s “something old” or “something borrowed.”

7. Be mom.

Being supportive is the overriding theme for all of my tips. Wedding planning is a time of great joy sprinkled with some frustrating moments, so do your best to take on the role of Encourager. Offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on when the bride (or groom) is frazzled or upset. Make it your goal to alleviate the stress of wedding preparations, not add to it. There may (OK, will) be times when you need to disagree. Talk everything out calmly. When the wedding is over, you’ll still be their mom, so put your relationship with your child ahead of your personal expectations and opinions.

MOB at wedding

8. Spread the word about the wedding registry.

It is a big etiquette no-no to include registry information on a wedding invitation. So as mom, it’s your job to let family and friends know where the happy couple is registered. Or keep it simple and refer them to RegistryFinder.com where they can easily find all of the couple’s registries in one place.

9. Play hostess.

Do your best to make out of town guests feel welcomed and comfortable. If the wedding is in your hometown, ask the bride if she would like you to check out local hotels and reserve a block of rooms. As the wedding gets closer, coordinate with the bride to be sure that guests are informed about all wedding events and any local activities that would be of interest to them while they’re in town. This can be done with email, sharing a wedding website or providing welcome bags with lots of great info for your guests.

Enjoy this exciting time together!

Enjoy this exciting time together, and don’t panic if there are tense moments (there probably will be). Plan ahead, remain calm and forgive easily. Follow the lead of the bride and groom, and remember, it’s not about your expectations for their wedding; what’s important is that your child’s marriage and your relationship with their spouse has the best start possible.

Enjoy this exciting time together

Photo Credit: All wedding photos are from my daughter’s wedding and were taken by Ashley Plante of Analog Wedding.

6 thoughts on “9 Wedding Tips for the Mother of the Bride & Mother of the Groom

  1. […] For more MOB guidelines, please see my article, “What’s Your Role? Tips for the Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom.” […]

  2. […] might also like to read my article, What’s Your Role? Tips for Mother-of-the-Bride and Mother-of-the-Groom. Best of luck and I hope this is a joyful time with your […]

  3. My daughter eloped with her fiance. The fiancees parents have had zero communication with us. Should i just ” move on” and follow their lead?

  4. You are not “obligated” to contact your son-in-law’s parents, but you can feel free to do so. It doesn’t matter who initiates the first contact, but I think it would be a good idea to set the tone for a future cordial relationship. Ask your daughter to arrange a get-together or Zoom call if you don’t feel comfortable. If you are feeling disappointed about the elopement, they may be too. Reaching out is a good way to find common ground.

  5. Hello Cheryl- my oldest child and only son will be married in October.
    Two years ago I moved away from my home state of Colorado to Alabama. Leaving my oldest two children behind independently at 21 and 19.
    When my son told me he was wanting to propose I immediately took to crocheting a personalized afagan for the two of them. It was a token to the young woman who changed my sons heart about marriage and to his commitment to her.
    I stirred and briefly spoke and asked my son about what the upcoming wedding would look like and offered to do what I could from where I was. I’m crafty and as a SAHM I have some time on my hands. Especially, because he hadn’t actually popped the question yet.
    I got very little knowledgement for the time consuming gift from my soon to be daughter-in-law but felt accomplished when my son said it’s on their bed. So be it.
    After the proposal I reached out and congratulated her(them) and began asking what she wanted. I offered help and my husband and I also contributed $500 to help with what they see fit. I also asked that he include his step-grandparents because their son and I have been married 18 years and they have always made sure we could give them more than just the necessities. They’ve always included my two children and have always been generous for birthdays, Christmas and graduation. I received a late night massage from my son stating that due to budgeting and space my in-laws were not invited. Yet her next door neighbor, children and grandchildren are?!
    Not only does my soon to be daughter-in-law keep all conversations to the bare minimum her mother has now “unfriended” me on social networking. I’m troubled by this simply because we were social craft friends long before our children met.
    I’ve learned that my son has reached out to my mom and my sisters to host “meet and greets” because they cannot count on his father (yet he’s God) for such commitments and I’m not there. Apparently, her mom was uncomfortable with my family for whatever reason and I’m terrified!
    Now that we’re six weeks from the wedding I’m now badgering my son to communicate their needs for any loose ends because he’s telling me they’re stressed and there’s still lots to do. I’ve continued to contribute financially.
    They live in a very rural area with only a Wal-Mart within 250 miles and very unpredictable shipping options. I live in a city where I can easily track down anything but I get no response.
    My husband and I are pulling our girls from school to arrive a week early to assist and not sure what to expect.
    What more can I do to let them know that we’re here to help? Here to support them. How do I undo her mom’s uneasy feelings about my family? I can get along with anyone and connect with new people regularly. I don’t expect to be best friends but to connect and share this union. To celebrate our children and their future.
    I’m a people pleaser but won’t be a doormat. Giving and doing is what makes me happy. I don’t expect anything in return but maybe communication. Even if it’s to tell me they aren’t interested in my help.

    Focused Mom of the groom,

  6. Hi Sara,
    Traditionally, the bride and the bride’s parents are more active in wedding planning. Of course, it would have avoided hurt feelings if they had kept you in the loop. But sons are often remiss in communicating with their parents.

    Naturally, you want to be involved, but even though they didn’t tell you directly, I think they have been clear that they don’t feel that they need your help. I recommend you take a step back and let it go. You have offered, and I’m sure if your help is required, you will be the first to know. Maybe you are pushing too hard.

    Did they ask you to arrive a week early to assist? If not, you may be wasting your time. You said that giving and doing make you happy, but turn that around and ask what will make them happy. Attend the wedding with no expectations, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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