Including Both the Mother of the Bride and the Groom

How do you include one of the most important people in your life on your big day? Here are some tips and tricks on getting the mothers involved in wedding planning.

As with anything weddings these days, some traditions have gone by the wayside, while others have changed to fit new tastes and styles. This includes a lot of traditional duties performed by the mothers of the bride and groom. What is and isn’t included, and what each mother contributes, should reflect the wishes of the bride and groom. This doesn’t always go exactly as planned, however, so how do you navigate this often-tricky topic?

Level of Involvement

Perhaps the best way to start is to ask both parties how much they want to participate. Some mothers will want to be involved in every step of the process; some will just want to show up on the big day to have fun and celebrate their child. Whatever their choice, setting up expectations before you get started is a great way to reduce stress down the road.

Mother of the Bride

Traditionally, the mother of the bride is mostly involved in dress shopping, guest planning, and support roles. She’s there to help her daughter, whether that be honest (but loving) opinions on the wedding dress, gathering names and addresses of family members for invitations, or making calls to that distant cousin who just won’t respond to your R.S.V.P. These days, it’s popular for the mother of the bride to host a bridal shower for family while the maid of honor hosts for friends, but you can mix and match however you choose!

As far as day-of outfits go, usually it’s still courteous to let the mother of the bride choose first, and then coordinate with the mother of the groom so they don’t end up wearing the same thing. She can also be helpful in reminding the groom’s mother that only the bride gets to wear white—which happens more often than you might think!

Mother of the Groom

The mother of the groom customarily plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner, since the bride’s family hosts the wedding. Similarly, she is the one who tends to host the engagement party if you have one, but like the bridal shower, this tradition has gotten more relaxed over the years. Many couples prefer to throw their own, if they have one at all. Nowadays, the mother of the groom is a great resource for the guest list on the groom’s side, helping with vendors, and corralling the groomsmen on the day of the wedding. Who better to get the groom to the wedding on time than his own mother? We promise, he won’t be late!

Deciding Who Does What

Not sure what you need done when they ask? See our wedding planning timeline for a great overview; you can even sit down with both mothers and see what tasks they want to take on! Another great place to start is the discussing your finances checklist. While not a hard and fast rule, generally if one side or the other is paying for something, they will be more involved in the planning aspect too.

No matter what you decide, make sure both mothers know exactly what you want from them. Be decisive and clear in your intentions; everything will go much smoother when everyone knows their role. Also, don’t be afraid to buck traditions! If you have a stepmother, a close aunt, or even a cherished grandmother, let them be part of the day too! Involving matrons from your extended family is a great way to lighten the load for everyone.

What Happens When Conflict Arises

Not to say that you will have problems, but it seems getting mothers involved is a common sticking point in a lot of weddings. Here are just a couple of tips to keep calm and smooth over problems if they do come up:

Stay calm and focus on the issue at hand. Now is not the time to bring up past arguments or reopen old wounds.

Pick up the phone! We have a tendency to inject misplaced emotions into others’ written communications, whether email or text messages. Just a simple phone call can clear up a lot of misunderstanding.

Don’t sweat the little things. Your big day is stressful for everyone involved, and sometimes that can cause people to say things they don’t mean. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that they’re probably just trying to help. Giving people the benefit of the doubt will pay dividends.

Let Them be Helpful

While sometimes family members can get carried away—especially doting mothers—remember that everyone just wants to support you on your big day. Communication is key, however, so make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what you want from them. Finally, remember that at the end of the day, your wedding should be a fun celebration of the new life you’re starting, and all the love that comes with it.