Give Them Wings to Fly
By: Colette Peterson
The day any parent's child leaves the nest to get married is a traumatic one. Even if the child has lived away from home for years, the formal taking of a spouse is something mothers especially look forward to with a mix of joy and dread.
The mother of the bride has responsibilities beyond holding her daughter's hand and crying over her veil. Over the past decades as weddings have changed so have the mother's roles. Let your daughter lead in deciding how much of a role you will play in her wedding. If the bride and groom are paying for the wedding themselves, they hold the decision making power. When parents foot the bill, mom tends to have a greater role in the wedding planning. The key is not to allow the stress of planning the wedding to affect your relationship with your daughter. Remember that it is her wedding, and she will guide the level of your responsibility.
The bride's mother is typically responsible for assisting her daughter in planning, including choosing the venue, vendors and dress along with organizing the guest list. The mother of the bride may be the hostess at the reception. She should help the bride organize her gifts, RSVPs and thank you notes before and after the wedding. The mother of the bride should also be the link to the groom's family and should communicate regularly with them and the bride's father. Such communication helps establish future relationships with the in-laws. If you start fighting over the guest list before the wedding, you are likely to fight over holidays in the years to come.
One of the most central responsibilities for the mother of the bride is choosing her own dress. Once the wedding colors have been decided by the bride and groom, the mother of the bride should start searching for her gown. It is the bride's mother's responsibility to purchase her own dress first then advise the mother of the groom, so they can coordinate regarding color and style.
The mothers should not wear matching dresses, but they should wear dresses of similar length and style. The colors of their dresses should complement both each other and the bridal party. If you are considering shades of red, black, white or ivory you must consult the bride first. These colors can be controversial, and you don't want to send the wrong message. So get the bride's okay.
There are several ways to coordinate dress color with the bridal party. The most common option is monochromatic where a single base color is used for the wedding party and the mothers choose different hues or tones of the same color. For example a forest green bridesmaid dress can be complemented by a mint green or lighter green dress on the mothers of the bride and groom. Another option can be used when there is an overabundance of the same base color. Mothers can instead choose a color that is adjacent on the color wheel such as a deep purple to complement a cranberry bridesmaid dress. Instead of the color most adjacent on the color wheel, mothers can also choose a dress that is directly opposite the base color on the color wheel. This complementary color can add depth and contrast to a wedding but should be done by both mothers in order to balance the wedding photos. Metallic or iridescent dresses can be used with some base colors to provide inventive alternatives and complement a mother whose skin tone disagrees with the color scheme of the wedding.
Mothers of the groom tend to feel left out of planning and organizing of the wedding, but they still play an integral role. It is important to keep in contact with the mother of the bride and provide guest list information as accurately and quickly as possible. The groom's mother should help arrange reservations for hotel rooms for out of town guests. It helps to reserve a block of rooms as soon as the date and site of the wedding are known.
The two most significant mother of the groom responsibilities are hosting the rehearsal dinner and supporting her son. The rehearsal dinner is traditionally planned and paid for by the groom's family and should include everyone who takes part in the ceremony and their significant other or parents if children are in the wedding party. Being supportive of your son is essential regardless of your feelings about the marriage.
Seating at the ceremony and reception is planned by the bride and her family, but the mother of the groom should communicate with them any concerns about who sits where. It is your responsibility to alert someone if Aunt Betty cannot sit next to Uncle Fred because they are feuding or if Aunt Sally needs to be close enough to hear the toast.
More and more grooms are taking an active part in planning weddings and mothers should follow their lead. Your job is to support your son, cry a few tears and wish the new couple well.
Wedding etiquette regarding stepfamilies is changing rapidly as more and more couples face the issue of how to handle stepparents during the wedding process. If you are a stepmother you should take the lead of the couple and your spouse's ex. If you are a mother whose child also has a stepmother give your daughter the space to determine how and where to include her stepmother. Each stepfamily is different, and the key to handling the situation is to make the bride and groom comfortable on their special day. Respect their wishes with calm and grace. No matter what hard feelings exist between the exes, put them aside for one day of your child's life. They will appreciate a battle free special day for years to come.
Regardless of the level of responsibility assumed by either mother, it is important to remember that you are both moms who love your children and want both their wedding day and their life together to be happy. Your job is to support them through every step of the way and cheer them on whenever they need it. Keep your kids in focus, and the details will all fall into place.