Most moms assume they will be a part of their daughter's wedding planning. And that's natural, especially because back when most of our mothers got married, their parents planned their weddings, without a whole lot of input from the bride or groom.
That trend started shifting about 25 years ago, with brides and grooms getting more and more involved in the wedding planning process. At the same time, couples started paying for more of their own weddings, too. It's rare today to find the parents picking up the entire tab for their children's wedding. Now, many weddings are planned by the bride and groom with very little help (advice or financial) from their moms and dads.
Unfortunately, cutting mom out of the wedding planning process can result in some seriously hurt feelings if she's been planning your wedding day in her head for a long time. And that may be the exact reason you don't want her to be involved — because you know she will try to take over. But even if you're justified in your concerns, it would be totally unproductive not to take your mom's feelings into account. So, in my professional opinion, here's how to talk to her about it, in a thoughtful and considerate way.
The Sooner, The Better
You need to sit down and have a serious conversation with her soon after your engagement, because if she's already working on lists, you need to nip it in the bud before she's put in a lot of time and energy. Do it someplace private, in case either of you cries during the conversation.
Be Prepared With a Compromise
Pick one thing you WANT your mom to do for your wedding, and be prepared to offer it out to her if things don't go well when you tell her you want to plan your wedding solo.
Listen to Her
Explain to mom that while you appreciate that she'll be there for you IF you need advice, you and your fiancé want to plan your wedding yourselves (and pay for it, because you can't completely shut her out and treat her like an ATM). Sketch out your overall plan so she doesn't feel like you're trying to keep her in the dark, and listen if she feels like she has to offer advice. You don't have to take it — you've just told her you may not. But she's still your mother and you owe her the respect of just listening. Telling her that you don't want to hear it will just make things worse.
You Might Still Want Her Two Cents
If your mom surprises you by being a really good sport about your request that she let you plan your own wedding, you might end up asking for her opinion on things more frequently than you had anticipated. You don't give up your planning autonomy by inviting her to go dress shopping or cake tasting with you. If you don't like what she has to say about your favorite, ignore her and buy it anyway. It's about letting her feel like she's a part of your big day, even if she didn't plan it, more than anything.
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.