As the mother of the bride, your role is to stand back and let your daughter shine on her special day. Acting as hostess, wedding consultant and sometimes counselor are all duties assumed by a mother of the bride, on top of maintaining a cordial relationship with the groom's family. Besides working with other members of the bridal party to ensure the bride's wishes are fulfilled, a happy mother has several duties to attend to on her daughter's wedding day.
Before the Wedding
Once you've received the happy news from your daughter and her fiancé, you might feel as if you are living in a tornado of appointments, planning and details. However, one of the first places to start is to talk frankly with your daughter about a budget, as the bride's parents traditionally pay for the bulk of wedding expenses. Whether you all choose to divide financial responsibility in a traditional way or if there are exceptions to the rules, getting the money worked out at the beginning will help prevent headaches and mistakes due to miscommunication.
As the mother of the bride, assist the bride with invitations and a guest list. It's common for parents to invite their friends and close co-workers to their children's weddings, even if the bride doesn't know them very well. As the one hosting the happy event, you're entitled to share the day with those close to you. Also, help the bride with any extended family questions and issues, as she may not be as clear on who's related to you. Be prepared to make compromises depending on your budget.
Make contact with the parents of the groom and stay in touch with them. Coordinate with the mother of the groom to include their guest list requests for invitations, and also work out sleeping arrangements for any out-of-town relatives. Many mothers of the bride work out a celebratory dinner or outing so both sets of parents can meet each other. Just follow your daughter's lead on how she wants things to go.
Beyond the nitty-gritty of wedding prep are the fun tasks for the mother of the bride. Most brides ask their mothers to accompany them to look for a wedding gown and veil. Depending on your relationship, you may also be asked your opinion on a variety of wedding subjects, from flowers and favors to a DJ or a venue. Be helpful and honest, but try not to overstep your role as a support and a sounding board.
Work with the maid of honor on a wedding shower. While it's considered a breach of etiquette for the mother of the bride to throw a wedding shower for her daughter, it's perfectly acceptable to volunteer your home for the event and accept certain duties from the maid of honor in pulling it all together. Along the way, be there for your daughter to talk to and give her reasonable advice without being too pushy.
Finally, choose your own dress for the wedding. Generally, the dresses for the mother of the bride are ones that complement the bridesmaids' dresses, whether in color, style or fabric. General etiquette rules regarding dresses for the mother of the bride include not wearing white, cream or black, and the dress should match the level of formality of the venue. Talk to your daughter about what she envisions, and try to choose a dress that closely matches it.
Throughout the preparation, don't turn into Momzilla. Unfortunately, the most common complaints from brides regarding wedding planning center around mothers. Relationships can suffer under the stress and emotion of weddings, and moms and brides can clash over minor differences. As the mother of the bride, avoid conflict with your daughter, and keep any feelings of sadness or loss to yourself.
At the Wedding
The duties of the mother of the bride at the wedding vary, depending on the type of ceremony and venue. Some ceremonies require the mother of the bride to come down the aisle escorted by an usher before the bride and bridesmaids. Other ceremonies allow the parents of the bride to light a candle as part of the process. However your daughter chooses the ceremony to proceed, just ask questions and ensure that you know exactly what your role is.
If your daughter's reception includes a receiving line, it is the duty of the mother of the bride to be first in line in her role as hostess. Make sure you greet everyone with a smile and identify yourself to guests whom you are not familiar with, such as relatives of the groom. You'll also be seated at the parent's table during dinner, along with the groom's parents. If there will be dancing at the reception, traditionally there is a dance for the father of the bride with the bride, and the groom dances with his own mother. You may be asked to dance by an usher, the father of the groom or anyone from the wedding party. At this stage, your primary role is to enjoy yourself and be proud of your daughter and your role in making her big day happen.
For the mother of the bride, the trickiest part about choosing a wedding hairstyle is making sure it doesn't upstage the bride's look.