Four Things Every Mother of the Bride Should Know

A mother of the bride laughing with her daughter.

Calling all newly minted Mothers of the Bride! You, my lovely MOBs, are sitting pretty in your new role. While the social expectations of MOBs have changed throughout the decades, there’s no question that Mom will most likely play an important role in the big day. Whether you’re walking your daughter down the aisle or relaxing in the front pew, whether you’re excited to show off your moves on the dance floor or you’d prefer to do some elegant people-watching from your seat—you’re in a great position in relation to your child’s wedding day.

Of course, there are some misconceptions—and downright misunderstandings—about being a modern-day MOB. What do your pre-wedding responsibilities look like? (hint: they don’t actually have to look like anything!) Are you required to wear a dress? What’s your bank account going to look like once those crazy kids jet off on their honeymoon?!

Fear not, loving mothers. Below are four of the most important guidelines to your role as MOB in your daughter’s nuptials!

This isn’t your wedding (and that’s a good thing!)

This is an absolute blessing. You can be as involved as you and your daughter agree on in terms of decisions. Does she want your opinion on the color scheme? Maybe she’s stuck on what style of bridesmaid dress to choose? These are both great times for you to play consultant…not “secondary bride.” This process may be tricky to navigate for your sweet girl, and you’ll likely want to help her out—a role you’ve been playing since her birth! However, when it comes down to final decisions, organizing logistics, making vendor appointments, etc., it’s time for you to take a (well-deserved) break from being in charge and let her and her fiancé(e) handle things. You can offer up as much logistical help—on top of love and emotional support—as you deem doable and appropriate. This is not the time to live vicariously through your child, replicate your own wedding, or throw the celebration you never had. So kick back, mama!

You aren’t the wedding planner (and that’s a really good thing!)

A mother of the bride holding hands with her daughter.

Unless you work professionally in the industry, I don’t recommend taking on this role for your child’s wedding. This suggestion will vary depending on past experience and your mother-daughter relationship, but just like you aren’t the bride in this situation, you shouldn’t be the professional wedding planner. While MOBs tend to inadvertently take on some planner-level responsibilities, within every adult relationship, including parent-children, there needs to be clear and firm boundaries. If you find yourself biting off more than you can chew or you’re getting overwhelmed by your daughter’s wedding requests, you need to say something. The logistics of planning a wedding can hurt relationships if you’re not careful.

Money contributions (and lack thereof) come with some rules.

A mother of the bride buttoning up the back of her daughter's dress.

Let me break it down real quick (read: as concisely as possible).

You do not need to contribute to the wedding financially. It’s not an obligation. Wedding etiquette has changed drastically in this department.

If you don’t contribute financially, be prepared to temper your expectations. Don’t add 50 people to the guest list simply “because you’re the mom.” Don’t insist on a certain venue or scoff at your daughter’s plan to do a buffet. This is called the “no pay, no say” rule. It doesn’t mean you can’t make suggestions, but insisting upon more expensive options for a bill you’re not footing is rude, no matter who you are.

However, if you do contribute financially—I highly recommend considering that money as a gift. Using money simply to “get your way” (a bigger guest list, a more lavish menu, etc.) is manipulative and potentially relationship-ruining, both with your child and their new spouse.

Your outfit is your own!

Here’s something many Mothers of the Bride don’t know—you have free reign of your wedding attire! While I recommend sticking with the wedding’s level of formality (semi-formal, brunch-chic, day-at-the-beach, etc.) you should select the outfit that makes you feel most confident and comfortable. Traditions suggest the MOBs and the MOGs (Mother of the Groom) dresses should differ in color from the bridesmaids, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If you’re conflicted, consult your daughter, but you have the final say on what you wear. As you’re not a member of the traditional wedding party, your choice of clothing (pantsuit, flowing gown, short cocktail number) is yours to decide!

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