Every wedding year comes with a classic list of “dos” and “donts,” and the Mother of the Bride (MOB) and Mother of the Groom (MOG) have their own, too. If you’re not sure how to handle the wedding year of your soon-to-be-wed son or daughter, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
We’ve even tapped our resident wedding etiquette guru, RegistryFinder.com founder Cheryl Seidel, for her sage advice.
Establish open lines of communication.
We don’t need to tell you that wedding planning can get emotional! When you could be spending tens of thousands of dollars and making what feels like a never-ending list of important decisions, how could it not be? The key to getting through it all is to be open and honest throughout the whole process, and for mothers of the couple, that means really listening to what the bride and groom have to say.
“Sit down in person and talk about the wedding and really try to understand the couple’s vision. What couples want today is often very different from the traditional weddings their parents had—and we, the parents, don’t understand it,” Cheryl says. “You might have expectations you don’t even realize you have. When something doesn’t go your way, don’t get your feelings hurt or get upset, just talk about it. You probably want your kids to have what they want for their wedding day.”
Be willing to compromise and keep your emotions in check.
Both parties need to be willing to compromise, yes. But as the mother of the bride or groom, you need to be prepared to compromise a little more! It’s easy for parents to assume that, if they’re paying for the wedding (which they traditionally are), they also get to make the bulk of the decisions. At the end of the day, however, the stars of the show are still the bride and groom.
“Most couples today want their weddings to be unique to their personal style. Don’t get excited and make it more about you than the couple,” Cheryl says. “Pick a few things that are important to you (your non-negotiables, so to speak). Lovingly explain why they’re significant and usually the couple will be willing to incorporate or bend to what’s really essential to you.”
It’s also important to consider how you compromise, when you do.
“Always discuss calmly. When my daughter and I disagreed, I made sure that I calmly and gently probed into her reasons for wanting something a certain way. After understanding her reasons, I was usually fine with her decisions. In the same way, she has been very accommodating for those few things that were important to me.”
Remember those emotions we talked about? Sensitivity goes right along with it. Think twice before giving your thoughts about something, and don’t say anything negative unless you’re asked for your honest opinion. That said, if you have a legitimate concern, share it! We’re not trying to tell you to keep your mouth shut. We’re just saying speak with a heavy filter.
“Be careful how you phrase things. If you say you don’t like something, you’re criticizing their choices which to them translates into criticizing them,” Cheryl says. “Try to find a diplomatic way to offer a solution instead of saying you don’t like it, or their feelings will get hurt.”
This especially applies to one sacred mother-daughter wedding tradition: wedding dress shopping. Your soon-to-be-wed daughter may choose a dress that’s a lot different from the one you always imagined for her. While shopping, repeatedly tell her she will be a beautiful bride and be honest with her while keeping the feedback positive.
Don’t wait for the bride and groom to ask if you’re planning to help pay for the wedding.
Money is never fun to talk about, especially when you have to spend a lot of it. Make it easier on the couple by bringing up what you can or can’t contribute at the beginning of the wedding planning process. Be specific about whether or not it’s a gift or a loan, or just go ahead and offer to cover certain parts of the weekend. (For example, the bride’s family traditionally takes care of the wedding, while the groom’s family covers the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. Of course, there are countless variations of that today, making it even more important to talk about early on.)
Don’t make any decisions without consulting the couple.
We can’t reiterate this enough: it’s their day! Everything from who and how many people you invite to the rehearsal dinner to what you wear to the wedding needs to go through the couple. Planning a big blowout the night before the wedding, when they just want something low key and casual? Opt for the latter option. It’s all part of their vision for the wedding weekend.
“As parents, we tend to feel we know what’s best because we have more experience,” Cheryl says. “But if there is friction, we just need to relinquish control. I’ve done it during my daughter’s wedding, and it’s been incredibly freeing and fun.”
More than anything, your son or daughter will need your support. This is a major moment in their lives, and mothers play an important part in that! Be ready to solve any last-minute problems, give the couple an ear to vent to when they need it, help alleviate stress and if you really want to be involved, offer to lend a hand with any DIY or errands they might have. And whatever you do, don’t be the problem.
“Weddings feel huge because they can take so long to plan. But remember, this is one day: you’re hopefully going to be attached to these new family members for a lifetime,” Cheryl says. “Don’t spoil your relationship [with the couple or your new in-laws] over the wedding planning.”
-By Jennifer Agress, a travel and food writer who has never been married, but looks forward to sending this blog post to her mother and mother-in-law one day.