Some mothers of the bride are extremely involved in helping to plan their daughter's wedding day, while others prefer to take a back seat. But no matter which category your mom falls into, there are certain duties the mother of the bride is traditionally responsible for handling, and most of the time, some wedding planning tasks just become considerably easier when mom is involved.
We consulted some top wedding planners to put together a list of the ultimate mother of the bride responsibilities, plus, asked them about some sweet nontraditional ways moms can lend a hand.
1. Supporting the Shopping
Traditionally, mothers accompany their daughters in their search for a wedding dress, and they're there to share in the joy of finding the right fit. Mom is definitely one of the most helpful people to have look at different styles with you, and chances are, she'll be the one with the most honest feedback.
Is Mom far away? Email dress ideas back and forth or schedule a dress-shopping visit.
2. Wrangling Bridesmaids
God forbid someone is forced to step in and run interference when it comes to bridesmaid mischief, but your mama will likely volunteer as tribute. While most disagreements should be resolved solely among the involved parties—we're all adults here—perhaps mom can offer to take the less-direct bullets. Is there a last minute issue with a bridesmaid's dress? Ask mom to help handle it! Or is someone getting a little out of hand at the reception? Your mother can be the one to suggest your guest refill their glass with some lovely non-alcoholic punch the next go-around. Never underestimate the value of a mother's self-sacrificing and unconditional love when it comes to awkward and difficult conversations.
3. Researching Traditions and Finding Family Heirlooms
It typically falls on your mom to uncover religious or cultural traditions you—or your partner's family—might want to incorporate into the ceremony. She will also help you find the something-old or something-borrowed, such as a stunning piece of jewelry that's been in your family for generations.
4. Perfecting the Invitation Wording
If you're opting for a traditional wedding invitation, those technically come addressed from your parents. Since her name is literally in print, it's nice to have mom's opinion on the wording. She may also offer to chip in and help you afford a nicer style than you had originally planned on. When the invites are coming from her, she'll want people to know she has excellent taste.
5. Pruning the Guest List
If your budget or venue simply doesn't have the room, your mom is a great resource to help you trim down your list. She may also offer to have RSVPs routed her way, which she can then catalog on an online spreadsheet shared between the two of you.
6. Accepting Designation as the Go-To Contact
Your mom should be the one whose name you give to the caterers, florist, planners, entertainers, and venue as your backup to field questions and assist in coordinating. As celeb wedding planner Colin Cowie suggests, "Set your mom up for success with a list of creative contacts and a message book solely for your wedding day." She'll most likely be the designated point of communication between the bride, the bride's father, and your partner's parents on all things wedding-planning related.
7. Tagging Important Items for Your Registry
Mom has been around the home goods sections of department stores, for just a little longer than you. She's an excellent source to tap about what you really need and what you don't. What's the one thing she treasures the most from her registry? Which item does she wish she'd had the foresight to include? Another tip: some couples who plan on moving immediately after the wedding often request that gifts from the registry go to the bride's mother's home to avoid any missed packages during the tricky interim time between addresses.
8. Providing a Second Set of Eyes
Whether you need someone to look over the fine print of vendor contracts, affirming your venue choice, or watching over a hundred other minor details in order to notice and fix problems before you've even become aware of them, mom is there to help.
9. Communicating Outfit Choice with Your Partner's Mom
"Etiquette dictates that your mother follows your lead as to the color and formality of the dress she picks," says Cowie. Traditionally, the bride's mom buys her gown before the mother of the groom, and, once chosen, calls the groom's mother to describe her dress.
10. Playing Hostess
From the moment guests begin to arrive in town through the end of the ceremony, the mother of the bride is the official hostess, helping each guest feel welcome. According to Diann Valentine, event maven who has planned weddings for Usher and Toni Braxton, "Receiving lines are not as customary, so making a point to greet or visit with each guest is important." In addition, Valentine suggests that the mother of the bride host a dinner party for the groom's family or an afternoon tea for just the ladies of both families. This will go a long way in welcoming the groom and his family into her family.
11. Assisting with Day-of Dressing
"Helping the bride into her dress and placing the veil is, and will always remain, such a sweet, time-honored tradition [for the bride's mom]," says Lynn Easton, owner of Easton Events in Charleston, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia.
12. Last-Minute Errands
A passport was left at home. The lipstick fell out of the makeup bag. Someone needs deodorant. In all these scenarios and more, rely on the mother of the bride to save the day.
13. Find Her Place at the Ceremony and Reception
A mother of the bride is perfectly welcome to escort the bride down the aisle if the bride's father isn't able to for whatever reason. (Both parents accompany the bride in most Jewish weddings). In a typical Christian wedding, the mother of the bride should be seated in the first pew directly before the ceremony, and she leaves the church or chapel first afterward. At the reception, the mother should eventually find a place at the parents' table, if there is one, but only after completing the aforementioned greetings.
14. Warming Up the Dance Floor with a Second Dance
After you and your groom have your first dance, then it's time for your mom and her partner, to take a spin. After all, your mom deserves her moment to shine, too!
15. Reminding Her Daughter How Loved She Is
No matter what, your mom is there to support you in whatever you need. There may be tension—between you and your mom or your family and your partner's—but it should pass. Emotions will be high, and your mom is there to be your rock—and your realist. Remember: Mother may not always know best, but she always has your best interests in mind.