Wedding Planning Duties and Etiquette for Mom
by Michael Kabel
It's a day you've probably dreamed of a little and dreaded a little, all at the same time. Your child is getting married, and the wedding details and the challenge of planning the perfect wedding are just beginning.
Depending on whether you're the mother of the bride or the groom, you've got specific roles to play in the build-up to the wedding. Some of them are optional, but some are very specific about the need for good wedding etiquette. Especially where the fiancé's family is concerned, you'll want to keep things cordial and warm. After all, they'll be part of your child's life for a long time.
For the Mother of the Groom
The chief responsibility of the groom's parents is financing and staging the rehearsal dinner. As the groom's mother, you're in a unique position to help your son plan the event and make all the necessary arrangements. With his permission, you might even take over managing all the arrangements, if you're both fine with doing so. As a guideline, the rehearsal dinner takes place the night before the wedding ceremony. You should start planning it up to six months in advance.
You'll also be the "family town crier" about the upcoming marriage. This includes spreading the word around to both sides of your family about the upcoming ceremony, and letting them know that invitations are forthcoming and where the couple is registered. You can also host a cocktail party or dinner celebration to introduce the bride to everyone. They'll get to meet the new family member, and she'll get a sneak peek at half of her wedding guests.
Once the engagement is officially announced, it's a nice gesture to invite the bride's family over for drinks or to take them out to dinner, as a sort of "getting to know you" occasion. Finally, do bring a special gift to the bridal shower.
For the Mother of the Bride
Once upon a time, the bride's mother was the chief wedding planner and decision maker for the ceremony and reception. Times have definitely changed, but the mother of the bride remains a trusted confidant and adviser in all the preparations. Since the bride's family still pays for much of the wedding events and apparel, you'll probably find yourself in a kind of bursar's role, reviewing the wedding budget with your daughter and negotiating costs and fees for many of the decorations and details. You don't have to take an "iron hand" approach, but you should also be aware of your responsibility as "emergency brake," too.
Like the mother of the groom, you'll act as herald for the wedding, announcing the engagement to family members and spreading word about the registry. You might also choose, with your daughter's permission, to plan and host the bridal shower. You may also be travel coordinator for your out-of-town guests, and arrange hotel rooms and transportation for them.
Here's one advantage you have over the mother of the groom - you get dibs on picking your ceremonial gown. It's the mother of the bride's prerogative to select her gown and inform the mother of the groom regarding her choice. You should send a picture of the dress or a fabric swatch, however, so she can choose a dress that compliments yours. Etiquette says you have three to four months to inform her of your choice.