Now that you’ve shared in the joy of your daughter’s engagement, it’s time to start preparing for her big day. Not sure what responsibilities come with being the mother of the bride? This comprehensive guide to mother-of-the-bride duties and etiquette outlines your key role in the wedding, from how to lend your daughter a hand before the wedding, to what you should expect on the wedding day.
ORGANIZE A MEETING BETWEEN FAMILIES
After your daughter and her partner are officially engaged, it’s time to get to know their family, if you haven’t met them already. Traditionally, the groom’s parents set up a meeting with the bride’s parents, however, these days it’s fine for either side to initiate a get-together.
SUPPORT WEDDING PLANNING WHEREVER NEEDED
The role you play in the wedding-planning process depends on several variables. Some of these include how involved you’d like to be, the bride’s wishes, and whether there will be a wedding planner. For instance, your daughter might appreciate your help scouting potential venues and vendors (especially if she lives far from the wedding site), putting together a guest list, or tracking RSVPs as they arrive in the mail. Another thing she might like help with is coming up with cultural or family traditions to incorporate into the celebration. Whatever responsibilities you decide to take on, your daughter will surely appreciate your help and be glad to know you are there for her.
SCOUT WEDDING VENUES
The first thing the bride will need to do is secure a wedding venue. While fun, it can also be a daunting task. Venue selection has a lot of moving parts and considerations beyond picking a date and signing the contract. Your daughter may really appreciate a second or third set of eyes as she looks at venues, you can give feedback or ask questions she may not have thought of. Minted’s guide to picking a wedding venue provides helpful tips on what to look for in a wedding venue and answers some frequently asked questions to take your mother-of-the-bride checklist to the next level.
ACCOMPANY THE BRIDE DURING WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING
Shopping for a wedding dress can be one of the most memorable moments in the wedding-planning process. Depending on the bride’s wishes, she may ask you to accompany her on dress-shopping appointments to help narrow down the choices until she finds that one perfect gown.
ATTEND THE BRIDAL SHOWER
Traditionally, the mother of the bride doesn’t host the bridal shower (the maid of honor typically assumes the chief shower-planning role), however, your daughter will likely want you to be a part of the celebration. You can offer to help with menu planning, decorations, or contribute to the shower without being named on the bridal-shower invitation.
SHOP FOR A MOTHER-OF-THE-BRIDE DRESS
Then, of course, you’ll have to figure out what you’ll wear yourself. The goal is to find a dress or outfit you love and feel comfortable in, that also matches your daughter’s vision for the wedding. If the bridesmaids’ dresses have been chosen, think about picking a dress in a complementary color to tie in with the wedding party’s look. Keep in mind you’ll be in lots of photos, so choose an outfit that will stand the test of time and avoid any overly trendy patterns. Our advice: start shopping early to give yourself plenty of time to find just the right dress.
Once you’ve chosen your attire, it’s customary to share your outfit choice with the groom’s mother. Coordinating with the mother of the groom ensures your dresses are the same level of formality and look great together in photos.
ASSIST WITH THE WEDDING GUEST SEATING CHART
Traditionally, the bride’s family will help cover some or all of the wedding costs, so it is common for the parents to have a say in inviting a percentage of the guests. Mother-of-the-bride responsibilities include putting that list together and going over it with your daughter. You can take this a step further and, along with sharing, you can help with putting together the seating chart, as she may not be as close to some of the people you’d like to invite. She will value your opinion on where they should sit and may appreciate another set of eyes on the seating chart as a whole. Read more about creating a wedding seating chart for some helpful tips.
SHARE FAMILY TRADITIONS AND HEIRLOOMS
There are so many customs and traditions involved with weddings. It’s an important duty of the mother of the bride to share any special family traditions with her daughter leading up to the wedding day. It’s also a time to share any heirlooms for a “something old” or “something borrowed” that she can incorporate into her ceremony.
LEND CREATIVE IDEAS FOR WEDDING FAVORS
Mother-of-the-bride tasks can also include helping your daughter brainstorm what kind of wedding favors to have at the reception. As her mom, you know her best and understand her wedding theme and personality. This makes you the perfect person to help her come up with ideas that will be authentic to who she is. Thoughtful wedding favors can come in all forms. We have seen some include bottles of home-brewed beer, packets of wildflower seeds to let “Love Bloom”, and personalized matchboxes displaying a wedding monogram.
On the day of the wedding, the mother of the bride should be prepared to help the bride with whatever she might need. This might include playing hostess, helping guide out-of-town guests, or being ready with a tissue box!
Before the Ceremony
BE PRESENT FOR THE PREPARATION
Your daughter will most likely want you to be there as she gets ready the morning of the wedding, to enjoy those last moments as a single woman sipping a mimosa or indulging in breakfast with her and her bridesmaids. When she’s ready to start getting dressed, duties of the mother of the bride typically include assisting her in putting on her dress and placing the veil, as well as anything else that might come up!
While your daughter might be all grown up, you will always be her mom. While nobody will say one of the mother-of-the-bride duties is to carry a “mom bag,” having a wedding day emergency kit of safety pins and a portable steamer stowed away, just in case, is always appreciated, and can be a lifesaver.
BE THE VENDOR CONTACT
If your daughter doesn’t have a wedding coordinator and doesn’t trust anyone else with this very important responsibility, it’s possible she will ask you to be the point person for vendors on the day of the wedding. Before the ceremony, that will mean the florist, caterers, entertainment, photographer, and other companies will have your number and be asking for your direction on where to set things up for a seamless ceremony and reception. Make sure you get all of the details from your daughter in advance so you have direction on where everything should go to execute her dream day.
During the Ceremony
TAKE YOUR PLACE FOR THE PROCESSIONAL
In a Christian wedding, the mother of the bride’s entrance signals that the processional is about to begin. She is often escorted by a son or another male relative, but may also be escorted by the father of the bride, who returns to the ceremony venue entrance to escort his daughter down the aisle. Once you’ve reached the end of the aisle, you’ll take a seat to the left of the aisle in the front row. In Jewish ceremonies, the bride’s mother and father escort her down the aisle together. Seating-wise, it’s the opposite in these ceremonies - the bride’s side is seated on the right, while the groom’s side is on the left. These days, it’s also common among non-Jewish ceremonies for the bride to be escorted by both parents
Photo credit: kindredweddings (@kindredweddings)
During the Reception
WORK THE ROOM
The mother of the bride plays the role of hostess, meaning you should spend some time greeting guests during the reception. Although there are exceptions, other wedding-day duties may include sitting at the parents’ table and dancing with the father of the bride to help warm up the dance floor.
TAKE IT ALL IN
Finally, don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate this special moment with your daughter. From taking photos together to incorporating meaningful family traditions into the wedding day, you’ll cherish the memories of this special occasion for a lifetime.
Who walks with the Mother of the Bride down the aisle?
In a Christian wedding, the mother of the bride is typically escorted by a son or other male family member. In Jewish ceremonies, the mother and father of the bride walk the bride down the aisle together and then seat themselves.
Does the Mother of the Bride give a speech?
Giving a speech isn’t one of the customary mother of the bride duties on wedding day, but some brides ask their mothers to give a speech or toast! If you are asked to speak, it’s best to keep it short, speak from the heart, and pay tribute to the new couple.
What should a mother say to her daughter on her wedding day?
Your daughter will have a million things going through her head and you can remind her to slow down, and take it in. Remind her how proud you are of her and the spouse she’s choosing to marry. Tell her you’ve been wishing and waiting for this since she was born and that you’ll always be there for her. And because each mother-daughter relationship is special, say what you know your daughter needs to hear as she prepares for the most important day of her life!
What should she gift her daughter?
The mother of the bride has a wide range of options, depending on what she thinks her daughter will appreciate the most. It could be a customized hanger for her wedding dress or jewelry to wear to the ceremony, for example. You can never go wrong with offering something old or something new, something borrowed or something blue!
What should the mother of the bride wear?
First understand what your daughter’s vision for her wedding is, and then find an outfit you like and are comfortable in that fits that theme. Make sure it ties in with the colors of the wedding and that you share your choice with the groom’s mother, so everyone coordinates for family photos.