The Mother of the Bride

By Irene Conlan

This is a touchy subject and I approach it with great caution – the subject of the mother-of-the-bride. The majority of mothers are wonderful to work with and help their bride-to-be-daughter in any way needed. But there are a few who throw a monkey wrench in the whole thing and can literally ruin the wedding. Or it can ruin the daughter’s memories of her wedding and/or cause a rift that lasts for years.

To begin with let’s just state: It is your daughter’s wedding, not yours. Please, please, please, let her have something to say about what she wants and what she needs you to do.

Yes, you are probably spending a great deal of money on this wedding, but it is still your daughter’s wedding.
A good way to approach this is to sit down with your daughter in the beginning and volunteer to help (notice – it says help and not “take over.”) Let her ask for your advice and, when she does, give her the advice she asks for rather than using it as an opportunity to tell her how to do everything else as well. She and her fiancé should pick the cake, the flowers, the music, the venue and the minister – together. If they ask for your opinion, then freely give it. If they choose not to follow your advice, let that by o.k. and don’t let your feelings be hurt.

Some stories from my own experience may help clarify what I mean.

Arriving a few minutes early as is my pattern, I checked the ceremony site, tested the microphone and generally got my bearings. I looked up to see the mother of the bride in a bright-colored, form fitting, spaghetti strapped dress going up and down the aisle as if to say, “Look at me. Look at me.” I then went to check on the bride who, as usual, was hidden away in a dressing room. Just a few moments before it was time to go out, the mother came in with a bouquet (the bride was already holding a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers). The mother handed her the very formal bouquet and announced, “You will use this bouquet because I paid $50 for it” and she promptly left the room. The bride, with tears brimming, said to her maid of honor, “I won’t allow her to ruin my wedding and the bouquet isn’t what’s important here.” She picked up mom’s bouquet and proceeded to the place for the processional. It was a beautiful ceremony that could have been an emotional disaster had the daughter not have reacted in such a mature way.

At another wedding, the mother of the bride pitched a totally tizzy fit when her former husband came in with his new wife. In front of all the guests, she screamed, “You can’t sit here (on the front row) and made her go to the back row. The father, who was totally embarrassed – as were many of the guests – went back to get his daughter to walk in for the processional. The bride, who had heard it all, was in tears and they had to wait while she regained her composure. Now I ask the couple if either of them have parents who have divorced and remarried and if there is conflict. The seating is worked out well in advance to avoid such a dilemma. I’m sure that the memory of that incident will remain strong in the bride’s mind for years to come.
One mother of the bride read the ceremony that the couple and I had designed and insisted that it be changed to the traditional wedding ceremony. The bride, not wishing to have a confrontation, yielded to the mother and I’m sure she will always wish she could have the beautiful ceremony that had been designed just for them.
There are many, many stories to illustrate the point. But the important point is that the mother of the bride is a very important person in her daughter’s life and in her wedding. Planning a wedding is a time that mother and daughter can build delightful memories that last a lifetime or a time that damages their relationship. It can be a time of wonderful sharing, planning, shopping and laughing – or not. Mom, it’s up to you.

About the Author: Irene Conlan is an ordained, non-denominational minister in Scottsdaale, AZ and the Phoenix metropolitan area. She delights in designing unique, custom weddings that are personal and spectacular for each couple.