No matter how much or how little money you have to create your wedding, how much lead time you have or have not, how many decision-makers there are or aren't, the fact remains that there is inevitably a deadline. Whether it be a very short engagement or one that lasts for a year, once it is over, it is over. And it is best to ensure that the relationships endure -- especially the bond you have with your mother.
Every bride has a different level of how involved she wants her mother to be in her wedding planning, ranging from not at all to having Mom choose every flower for the reception. But, no matter what your situation, tension during the planning process is inevitable. Use these tips to keep tempers from flaring and resentment from getting in the way of your relationship.
Clearly communicate your priorities in the very beginning
Your wedding needs to reflect you and your husband-to-be as a couple, not your mother's idea of a perfect wedding. Little sparks can quickly become big fights, so lay the foundation by sitting down and telling her in the beginning of the process that this is new territory for both of you -- and while you look forward to experiencing it together, the end result must obviously be your vision.
Choose your battles wisely and together
Make your feelings clear and express them on a united front; if it is a detail (no matter how large or small) that is important to both you and your Mr. Wonderful, it is worth a sitdown talk to sort it out.
I've learned through raising four children that you can communicate most effectively by fine-tuning your delivery. And then stay on track: Anytime you start to feel or see your mother's influence acting as a rudder one way or another, gently but firmly pull her back center with a smile and explain that you're doing things your way. She will marvel at your strength and maturity.
Communicate your vision before each appointment.
When you have vendor appointments, lay the groundwork going in. Let your mom know if you already have clear ideas in mind for this aspect of the wedding -- or perhaps you have no ideas at all and really need her input. It's important that she knows where your mindset is so she can be helpful if you need her opinions, or take a step back if you don't.
Listen to her opinion -- then explain why yours is different
Often when there are decisions to be made -- and your mom and you need to make them -- it is a good idea to ask her opinion even if you know your decision already. It shows grace and kindness. If you hear her out, you can let her know that her perspective is appreciated even if you decide to do the exact opposite. Listen to what she has to say then explain your perspective, telling her why you believe yours is the better choice in this circumstance. It likely will be an "aha!" moment for your mom. Remember: It's all in the delivery.
Ask her about her own wedding planning
If you feel your mom is trying to strong-arm you, ask her about her own wedding experience. Very often when a mom had a wedding that her mom controlled -- or perhaps it wasn't the wedding she would have liked for herself -- she may (even subconsciously) be trying to live the experience vicariously through you. Listen to her story. And then, in your own expert fashion, explain how lucky you are to have found your dream man and that you are so looking forward to creating exactly what you want for your own wedding -- contrary to what she had the opportunity of. If it is explained this way, she may be more introspective and realize what she's doing, then catch herself when the urge arises again (and likely again).
Remember where your mom is coming from
Understand that this very well could be something your mom has dreamt of and fantasized about since the day you were born. (I admit that every time I ever watched a wedding or beauty pageant I said -- out loud -- "That's my Pami" and my eyes filled up thinking about my daughter's future wedding day.)
If you are sensitive to the fact that this is the beginning for you -- but could be what your mom sees as the last hurrah for herself -- you may find yourself softening up.