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Not all brides fight with their mothers during wedding planning — just most of them. I admit it, I wasn't as nice to my mom as I should have been during my wedding planning. I believe brides are hardest on their mothers because we know they love us unconditionally, and they understand how stressed out we are about the wedding.
That doesn't mean moms let their daughters off the hook, especially if they have a close relationship. If anything, some mothers of the bride are willing to go to war with the bride if they feel strongly she's making the wrong decision. When the parents are picking up the tab, all bets are off.
Interestingly, I've learned from listening to my clients over the years that most mothers of the bride and their daughters argue the most about the same four things:
1. The Registry
Despite the fact that the gifts are for the couple getting married, and mom will only see those gifts when she visits her daughter's new home, most brides report that involving mom in their wedding registry is a nightmare. While the current trend in registries is to be non-traditional — think registering for a honeymoon fund or cooking classes — a lot of mothers are unhappy that their daughters aren't registering for at least 12 place settings of formal china and crystal.
2. The Guest List
When our mothers got married, their parents took the first whack at the guest list so that they could include all the family, friends, neighbors, and business associates whose children's weddings they'd attended. Brides and grooms were given a number of guests they could invite by the bride's parents. Now, more couples are paying for their own weddings, and could care less about inviting friends of their parents whom they've never met. On the flip side, moms hold grudges, and don't like to see friends who haven't been good to you in the past on the list, either.
3. The Wedding Dress
Face it, plenty of wedding gowns are strapless now, and a lot of dresses are quite revealing. Yes, less fabric is in sync with current fashion trends, but there are a lot of mothers of the bride who lay down the law about what is too much skin to display while going down the aisle. Several brides have told me that was the reason they wore a different dress to the reception — they compromised by wearing mom's choice down the aisle, and their choice to celebrate afterward.
4. The Wedding Party
Although it's perfectly acceptable to have someone other than your sister as your Maid of Honor, that may not fly with mom. Traditionalists will want all your siblings, and possibly first cousins, included in the wedding party, even if that means you won't have room to ask your friends to be bridesmaids. Brides have pretty firm opinions to the contrary, and this can get ugly if your mother has a particular dislike for any of the people you and the groom are including, based on personal experience.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.