Hello Mother of the Bride! Congratulations: Your daughter in engaged! If you are like most moms out there, you've been dreaming of this day since your daughter was a little girl. Perhaps imagining her gorgeous white ball gown or her first dance with her father or her tossing the bouquet and cutting the cake at the end of the night. Perhaps you had visions of the two of you, side by side, visiting with the florist, selecting colors for the bridal party and choosing what kind of entrée to serve at the reception dinner.
And then, after the glee of the engagement itself, you actually sit down with your daughter and her fiancé. Sit-down dinner? No, they were thinking cocktail party. Father-daughter dance? She'd rather skip the formality and get to the party. Bouquet toss? Demeaning to women, fighting over a bouquet like that! Ball gown? She imagined herself as more of a sexy, whimsical bride. And cake cutting? Cakes are soooo four years ago; they were thinking of getting a donut truck and taking a bite out of the same donut for a photo op.
While brides know that nothing is more "en vogue" than casual, nontraditional celebrations at all budgets and that wedding "rules" are now meant to be broken, this is still coming as news to many a mother out there. And the surprise, combined with the casual trends, and the general stresses of wedding planning, can sometimes create friction.
So what's an M.o.B. to do? Here are 3 simple tips to avoiding mother-daughter drama.
1. If you are holding the power of the purse strings, decide if and how you are going to use them. Gone are the days when it was assumed that the bride's parents paid for everything. Today, it's more common than ever for it to be a joint effort, which can be good news for you! But, whether you are paying for the wedding in its entirety or merely in part, you should decide if that money is conditional in advance. So, if you know that you won't be able to live with anything but a sit-down dinner and you are footing the bill for the wedding, or even the food and beverage, better to not be passive-aggressive about it. From the beginning, say, "I am happy to contribute this much, and it can be as casual or fun as you want, but I really want it to be a sit-down meal." Your daughter will appreciate that a lot more than you attempting to persuade her to change from a cocktail party to a formal dinner for month and months.
2. Own, in an upfront way, the aspects of the wedding you truly care about. Recently we had a wedding where we had two clients: the bride and her mother. The trouble was, they didn't agree on very much. The mother's style was formal and glitzy, while the bride was more "Grey Gardens" and artistic. After a few rounds of disagreeing on nearly all points, a compromise was reached. Mom really only cared about two things: the ceremony and the flowers, and over those two things she would have complete control. It released them both from a lot of fighting along the way and even became a source of humor. At one point our M.o.B. asked the bride her opinion of the ceremony décor and the bride said, "Mom, it's all cool. It's your chuppah -- I'm just getting married under it."
3. Remember, your daughter has her own way of doing things.
I often hear of M.o.B.'s who had weddings of their own and remember leaning on their mothers for all aspects of help organizing the day. Sometimes these moms are taken aback by how confident and savvy their daughters seem about undertaking the wedding. And some M.oB.'s feel a little hurt that their daughters don't lean on them more for advice about colors, styles, or etiquette. If those feelings are creeping up, try to remember this: If your daughter is getting married today, she has probably been out of the nest for a while. She has her own way of doing things. According to the 2011 Knot Wedding Survey, the average bride is 29 years old. Compare that to 30 years ago, when the average bride was just 21. At 29, your daughter has developed not only her own style and tastes, but also her own way of entertaining friends and guests. So, when tempted to enforce the fact that you as a mother "know better," remember that your daughter may simply have decided to want to do things "her own way."
Above all, mothers of the bride, do not fret! Your role is just as important as ever as even anti-brides still need their mothers' love and support. And even if the day doesn't look the way you might have imagined, nor her dress the dress you would have picked, you will think she looks beautiful regardless.