Some mothers of the bride are hyper-involved in helping plan their daughters' wedding day, while other MoBs prefer to take a back seat. No matter which category your mom falls into, there are certain duties she is traditionally responsible for handling, and most of the time, there are some tasks that become considerably easier if the bride involves her mother.
We consulted some top wedding planners to learn the ultimate mother-of-the-bride must-dos, 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, there to share in the joy and provide loving and honest feedback. There is no way that most moms will spend, or allow their daughter to spend, such a significant sum of money on a dress that makes you look less than your best. Mom's 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—maybe mom can offer to take the less-direct bullets. Did your bridesmaid choose a dress sure to offend multiple people in attendance? Let Ma tell her nah. Is someone getting a little out of hand at the reception? Your mother can be the one to suggest she refill her 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 groom's family—might want to incorporate in 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 on the thing, it's nice to have her opinion on the wording—particularly if your parents are divorced. She also may offer to chip in and help you afford a nicer card stock or some fancy gold leafing. 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. (Whew!) 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 groom's parents on all things wedding-planning related.
7. Tagging Important Items for Your Registry
Mom has been around on this earth, and 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 really 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 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 that means looking 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 their existence.
9. Communicating Outfit Choice with the Groom's Mom
"Etiquette dictates that your mother follows your lead as to the color and formality of the dress she picks," says Cowie. 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 goes a long way to help them welcome the bride and her family into their family with open arms," she says.
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, like, half an hour ago. In all these scenarios and more, rely on the mother of the bride to save the day like some wet-wipe wielding Wonder Woman.
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 or interested for whatever reason. (Actually, both parents accompany the bride in most Jewish weddings.) In a typical Christian wedding, the MoB should be seated in the first pew directly before the ceremony and leave 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 your dad (or whomever accompanies her), 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 expected to be there to support you in whatever you need. There may be tension—between you and your mom or your family and your groom's—but it should pass. Emotions will be high, and your mom's there to be your rock—and your realist. Remember: Mother may not always know best, but she always has your best interests in mind.