Mothers and Daughters and Weddings

Editorial: from one of our readers…

By W.W.

Yes, it is supposed to be the best day of a woman’s life (having kids is a little too painful to be considered the best day of anyone’s life, in my opinion), and it should be the bride’s day, but a wedding is almost always a strain on the relationships of everyone involved and particularly the bride and her mother.

I am not a psychologist (but I did take Psych 101) but I think I have enough experience to make a statement here. I have been a bridesmaid more times than I can remember. I was a guest attendant, flower girl, Maid of Honor. I have gone to all of my cousins’ weddings (some cousins more than once), was a bride myself and, most recently, the stepmother of the groom. So, I have played just about all of the wedding roles there are for a woman.

Every time a friend or relative got engaged, I warned her (and her mom) about what I had seen happen with others during the wedding planning process. I had seen how girls and their mothers almost always end up arguing about something (or should I say even more than mothers and daughters usually do?).

A wedding should be a happy time. What can we do to make it so?

Who is in charge?

The tradition is that the bride’s family pays. That immediately sets up a conflict. Who then is “in charge?” Is it the person who pays or the person whose wedding it is? (Of course if the bride has the means to pay for her own wedding, this makes it all a little easier. Nevertheless, some parents still think they have a right to run the show).

I think that regardless of who pays, the bride (and possibly the groom if he is at all interested) needs to have the wedding she wants without totally disregarding the feelings and pocketbooks of others. Little girls dream of their wedding all their young lives. I know that I would “plan” what I would do all the time throughout my youth. It was a constant source of daydreams.

It is not the wedding for the mothers (of the bride, groom, or otherwise – hereinafter “mothers of…”). I don’t care if the parents are paying for it. You had your wedding, let the bride have hers. It is not true that the one who pays should make the decisions. The one who pays may decide how much he or she will pay, but it is the bride who should be happy and satisfied, not the parents. Parents who love their daughter will let her have her day her way. If all parents do this, we will not later have these same brides trying to run their daughters’ weddings, because they had the wedding they wanted.

Every bride needs to take a stand to have the wedding she wants, within reason and budget. Think about what is really important. Realize that there are some tasks you don’t need to do because you want to enjoy your wedding day and the days right before it. Smile and make sure that others smile too.

Let’s sit back and think about what is most important to us and our loved ones. Let’s focus on what the guests really want: good times, good food, good drink (if they drink), and a nice setting in which to do all of this. Let’s spend our time and money on things that matter. But, most importantly, let the Bride have her day.

Mother of…

As I noted above, I have been a stepmother of the groom.

It is tough being a mother of … One must walk that fine line between appearing uninterested on the one hand and offering unsolicited and unwanted advice on the other. Being older than the bride, we know a thing or two and wish to share our wealth of knowledge but we have to learn to bite our tongues!  Hard to do!  Do we just agree with everything the bride says?  I really don’t know the answer to that, but I think we should if we want to remain on friendly terms with the bride. If she really wants your opinion, she will ask for it, and even then doesn’t she really just want you to agree with her?

I also suggest that you offer your services but offer to do only what you want to do. I have to say that I did not want to be decorating or putting the guests’ gifts on the tables on the day of the wedding. I wanted to be getting my hair done and making sure my makeup was correctly applied. Being the stepmother of the groom implies that there is a mother of the groom and I felt it my duty to my husband (and myself) to look better than she did. Okay, I said it! Anyway, this may not have been the nicest thing but I was honest with myself so I did not volunteer to do anything on the wedding day and I was not asked (thankfully). I did work hard to plan the rehearsal dinner. I bought two kinds of invitations and had the bride choose. I also helped to decorate the church during the rehearsal while some of the other parents were sure to “help” by telling the bride, the consultant, and the minister how things should be done. (See above comment about biting tongues.)

Anyway, it is not easy being the mother of anyone and a woman has to keep her mouth shut except to say pleasant things or “yes, I totally agree” and to offer to assist in ways she is willing to help. This will go far in keeping a good relationship between the mother of… and the bride.

The Dress(es)

I watch “Say Yes to the Dress,” the show set in a huge NYC bridal store where brides choose their wedding dresses. It is a very interesting peek into a lot of psychological issues but in this article we are addressing only the mother-daughter relationship.  

Again, the bride needs to LOVE her dress and the mom (and others) should offer suggestions only if the gown is totally inappropriate (i.e., boobs literally falling out). The bride needs to be happy above all else. If she wants a hot pink dress, then she should wear a hot pink dress and others need to let her be. Again, biting tongues is the best advice.

The mother of… dresses – UGH! They are about as bad as bridesmaid dresses except that you don’t have to match anyone. BUT you cannot clash and you must ask the bride what colors are acceptable. Otherwise, this is a place where the bride needs to step back and bite HER tongue! As long as she does not clash (or have boobs falling out – an even worse proposition for a mother of…), I really think the mother of … should be able to do what she wants. She is paying for and wearing the dress and she needs to feel that she looks nice.

Summing Up – Bite your Tongue and Agree

Can we all agree to this? Can we all help this to happen, to bring back happiness and reasonableness? I am asking women everywhere to join me in making weddings a happy time to celebrate what is really important. Let us let our fellow woman (and daughter) do as she wishes. Let us move forward to a more perfect union.