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In the throes of wedding planning, it's easy to forget that you and your soon-to-be spouse aren't the only ones super stressed. "Wedding planning and the wedding day itself are stressful for not only the couple, but also the mother-of-the-bride," says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia.
Why? As John Duffy, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent, explains, "just like the bride, her mother has an awful lot to accomplish, and a lot of planning to do, leading up to the wedding day. Along with that, it is important to keep in mind that she has also been envisioning this day for many, many years. It is an important day for her too."
So in between easing your own anxiety, be sure to take care of your mom, too. Here, our experts suggest five ways you can soothe even the most stressed mother of the bride.
1. Include her in the planning process.
It may seem counterintuitive to ask a stressed-out parent to pitch in. But sometimes a mother-of-the-bride's stress comes from not knowing what's going on and feeling pushed aside, Duffy explains. "I worked with a couple recently who, recognizing the anxiety of the mother of the bride, arranged planning meetings with her every few weeks," he says. "This made her feel like a valued part of the process, and important as well."
2. Take her on a special shopping trip.
Don't leave your mother to pick out her wedding day attire alone, warns Fisher.
"Your mom may be feeling stressed about what she's going to wear on the wedding day," Fisher explains. "She wants to look and feel her best, but also wants her dress to complement your wedding day style. Ease this pressure by planning a special day where the focus is solely on finding her the perfect dress."
See More: How to Handle Wedding Planning Stress
3. Arrange for a spa day for her — and foot the bill.
Duffy says you'll get bonus points if you pamper your mother before and after the big day. "This way, you're acknowledging the degree of stress she is and has endured," he explains, "while also sending a thank you to her for her contribution. She will feel pampered, taken care of, and appreciated. There is no lose here, for anyone."
4. Include your mother in a wedding-day toast.
If you and your spouse plan to offer up toasts at the reception, be sure to give a shout-out to the mother of the bride, Duffy says. "And don't let this be a quick thank you among a list," he says. "Take a beat. Tell a story of how helpful she was when you were stressed, or a funny event that took place during the planning. She will feel appreciated, publicly and clearly, and truly feel more a part of the proceedings than any kind of afterthought."
5. Be happy yourself.
Says Duffy, "This may seem like an odd or elementary piece of advice, but in my experience, there is nothing that makes a mother of the bride happier and less stressed than to see her daughter, and her future son-in-law, happy. So, come to her to help solve pre-wedding problems and issues, sure — but also go to her when you feel blissful. She is going to want to be a part of that as well."