The Weddingbee boards have had quite a few threads in recent weeks about mothers who haven’t met expectations during their daughter’s engagements. We’re in a period when scores of newly engaged women are embarking on the planning process (the holidays, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day seem to create a proposal bonanza) and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the mother-daughter relationship during wedding planning.
Most of us have grown up with pretty powerful messages about how wedding planning will work. We think our mothers will be by our sides constantly during this entire process. We may even think that planning with our mothers will improve our relationships with them. We believe our wedding day will allow us to feel the pinnacle of motherly love and affection.
Image by Manuel Meszarvits
Some of our mothers will meet our lofty expectations. For many, though, our expectations are impossibly high.
We’ve chosen to believe those messages we got when we were younger and we’re crushed when the reality isn’t what we anticipated.
Despite knowing Mama Mink for 34 years, I was blindsided by her reaction to my phone call announcing that Mr. Mink proposed. I forgot to add that after she asked when we would get married, she told me that she had two other weddings to attend in the next year. I told her that I would hope her daughter’s wedding would take precedence over the weddings of the daughters of a friend. I laughed when I said this, but inside, I was deeply hurt.
Mama Mink isn’t a girly-girl. She’s a prim and proper woman who isn’t very demonstrative. I knew this, but for some reason, I expected her to morph into a bubbly, excited girlfriend who’d be fired up for wedding planning. I set myself up by expecting my mother to be someone she can’t be.
The little girl inside us wants our mothers by our side throughout this entire process, but we sometimes need to remember that as adults, we don’t need them there. I think it’s fine to grieve a little bit over shattered expectations, but then we will move forward with vendor meetings and decision making like mature, independent women.
In time, I became thankful that Mr. Mink and I were able to plan our wedding together. I love the thought of being the hosts of our wedding and I see my mother’s lack of involvement in planning as giving her freedom to enjoy her day. She won’t be worrying about vendors or time-lines at our wedding. She’ll be our honored guest.
How have you involved your mother in wedding planning? Did your expectations for your mother’s involvement in your planning process sync up with reality?