Surely the joy of watching your daughter get married is one of the great delights of parenting. Yet, all too often, wedding planners see the mother-daughter relationship go through waves of ups and downs throughout the wedding-planning process. The struggle can run from something as benign as a disagreement over wedding colors to something as sticky as cutting down the guest list. More often than not, the spats that arise while planning a wedding are avoidable and easy to soothe with a few classic tips and tricks from the pros. For this study into mom and daughter dynamics, we turn to expert wedding and event planner Alison Rinderknecht of Alison Events for the full scoop.
Monitor your involvement in the planning
Alison recommends offering to be involved in the specific tasks you take an interest in. Alison says, "the worst thing is to get sucked into too many pieces of the planning because as a mom it can start to feel like you've taken over and you're over-involved which isn't good for you or the bride." Handling tasks one at a time can help you keep the peace.
There are plenty of enjoyable tasks that make up planning a wedding. If you're a tablescape aficionado and your daughter generally compliments your style, ask to be involved with the floral and design meetings. You'd probably be a welcome hand with selecting linens, glassware, and rental furniture. On the other hand, if design isn't your forté, you might find yourself more comfortable offering to coordinate the dinner menu or pull ideas for the wedding cake. Use the skills you have that you think your daughter would welcome, and don't take on any role you wouldn't naturally shine in.
Be a good communicator
So many emails go back and forth with the wedding planner, florist, designer, and many other vendors involved in your daughter's big day. It can get overwhelming for vendors and clients alike if there's not a clear point of contact set from the get-go. Have a clear conversation with the bride-to-be from the start to determine who will be the best to manage each vendor and take the reins as needed from there.
In email correspondence, be sure to always keep the bride cc'd on everything. Brides don't like surprises on their wedding day, especially when it comes to design elements or logistics. By keeping her in the loop, you'll also keep her stress level a tad lower since she can address any disagreements individually as they pop up.
Remain on neutral ground
Try to be a neutral party in any quips that come up throughout the planning. Whether the bride is dealing with a difficult bridesmaid or upset about a budget issue with your spouse, it's important for you to be a calming force. Your daughter has plenty on her emotional plate and sometimes she may need your voice of reason. Stay the neutral course, and it'll pay off in the long run.
It's okay to put your foot down
As Alison notes, "it's okay to say no sometimes." If you can't afford the private Coldplay performance at the reception, don't offer to look into it. If you think it's silly to spend a large chunk of the budget on a custom chandelier for the dance floor, put your foot down. It's natural to want to give your child everything they're asking for, but you may need to negotiate on some elements in order to splurge on others.
Your daughter likely understands that negotiating is an integral part of planning a wedding, but she may not be as focused on budget restrictions and realities as you are. It's good to be open and honest when the budget is getting tight, as this allows the two of you to work together to develop solutions that make everyone happy.
Giving in can be a really helpful solution to some conflicts. You can't always be the heavy hand, after all. Being flexible, compassionate, and understanding are some of your best mothering qualities and it would be a shame to give that mentality up now. Even though you've raised a wonderful adult, there are going to be moments throughout the planning when she may have a bratty response to your ideas or she may surprise you with how little she actually cares about the wine list.
The only truly predictable thing about being a mother of the bride is that you're in for a turbulent ride. You may luck out and not have any trouble whatsoever within your dynamic duo relationship, but limiting your involvement, being a good communicator, and knowing when to speak up or pull back is helpful in any coupled setting.