Once upon a time, the Mother of the Bride (MoB in wed-speak) planned every aspect of her daughter's wedding. And Father of the Bride (FoB) paid for it. My mother doesn't even remember being given any options for hers, other than choosing her wedding gown (and I think she should give Grandma the credit for that too). That's why so many MoBs spend so much time dreaming about what they'll plan for their own children's weddings. Unfortunately, times have changed. Brides and grooms are planning -- and paying for -- their own weddings most of the time and it's rare that MoB gets the kind of control her MoB had 40 years ago.
Some brides want to include their moms in their wedding planning from the very beginning, and they have a lot of fun together doing it. But each and every year, I encounter a few MoBs who want to plant themselves right smack in the middle of the whole wedding planning process and make everything take three times as long to organize and execute. As a result of these experiences, I've had to put a few company policies in place to protect my sanity and their safety.
1) The name on the contract rules all final decisions. I always advise brides and grooms to put their own names on the contract because, at the end of the day, I don't care who signs the checks. I care who signed the contract. That's who I answer to when all is said and done. Over the years, I've heard the phrase "I paid you" invoked by more than one classless MoB, usually three glasses of wine into a cocktail party of relatives she hates, about some detail that her daughter, the bride, changed after MoB said what she wanted. Bottom line: I serve the CLIENT. The client is the name and signature on the contract for my services.
2) That also means the name on the contract decides who is on the conference calls when you talk to me to do your planning. If you want your mom to participate and have a say in your decisions, bring it on. But I won't do calls with her separately from you, and if she emails me without you, I'll CC you on my reply to MoB. First off, it's a time-suck and I don't charge you hourly -- it's a retainer. If MoB wants to talk to me separately from you, you're going to have to pay for my time. Second, all her suggestions/decisions have to be run by you anyway so why exclude the bride from the initial call? Doesn't make sense. If you want MoB to help plan, she can participate in the calls with us when we talk.
3) You have to fight with your mom offline from me. I don't want to listen to it. I'm a wedding planner, not a therapist. If you need me to get your back on something, call me or email me ahead of time to pre-plan, but at the end of the day, as long as you're the client, you make the decisions. If you can't get "mommy" to agree with you and pick up the tab, maybe you should consider pulling up your big girl panties and paying for some more of your own wedding.
4) I am not your mother's personal assistant or concierge during the wedding week, and if she treats me that way, she won't be happy with the results. I won't fight with her, I'll simply ignore her bad behavior. I had one MoB who actually used a pointy fingernail to poke me on the top of my head to get my attention... it hurt! My former-cop husband Bill was there and he says that if she'd done it to him he'd have broken her wrist instinctively. Too bad I lack cop instincts. Another MoB arrived on the island with her EKG and list of meds and a LifeFlight phone number to call if she or FoB keeled over on me. Say what?! Fifty conference calls and you failed to mention that the FoB was clinically dead for three minutes a year ago and you're both held together by rubber cement and band aids? Why are you giving me your medical info? Are you under the impression this is the responsibility of the wedding planner? Let me disabuse you of that notion immediately. I'm always happy to help, but I don't want to be the keeper of your emergency information. That's a family member's job.
5) Finally, even if MoB participates in every aspect of the planning, she's gotta chill when she gets to the island. Like the bride and groom, it's her job to be a "guest of honor" and not the hostess. She should plan to be elsewhere during venue set up the day of the wedding. My insurance doesn't cover her broken hip when she falls off the ladder she was using to decorate the chuppah because she insisted on draping the talis. Sweet, but not gonna happen. You hired us for a reason and we'll come in and do our jobs with a smile. If anybody on my crew get instructions from anybody other than me or my staff, they're going to pretty much smile and ignore you. They don't work for you. Having the MoB in the middle of it all futzing around is just a very bad way to get things done efficiently. And you are paying for the time of setup and teardown crew. Don't think I won't charge you for a babysitter for your mother.