Being the mother of the bride comes with many responsibilities. Moms are often relied upon to help select the perfect wedding dress, throw a bridal shower, serve as a sounding board for key décor and food decisions, and deal with relatives who won't stop pestering you with questions. But their chief responsibility, says lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann, is to be supportive. Explains the pro, "You should look for every opportunity to be a listening ear and be there for your child as opposed to being a problem—steer clear of being a problem." In other words, don't stress your daughter out because planning a wedding is tough enough, Mom!
Unsure if you're making any missteps? Swann, author of Let Crazy Be Crazy: Then Politely Get What You Want, Get Your Point Across, and Gently Put Rude People in Their Place, outlines what you definitely don't want to do before your daughter says "I do."
Make any changes.
Seriously, any. Swann recalls a bride who was once crushed when her mom swooped in and altered the color scheme for the reception: "It took her a lot of years to get over that." While that's an extreme example, you don't want modify any details—from the cake flavor to the hue of the linens—without the okay from your daughter and her fiancé.
Insert your wishes.
If your daughter asked you to handle floral arrangements or truly has no opinion on the menu, then by all means, have at it. (Though it never hurts to make sure she's cool with your choices.) But unless given express approval, don't reach out to wedding vendors, says Swann, and if you do, "make sure anything you say is really more an extension of what your daughter wants as opposed to your own opinion."
Plan the wedding you never had.
Maybe you always wished you'd traded vows outdoors or had the cash to completely cover your venue in flowers. But it's key, says Swann, to understand that this is not your do-over day. "A mistake that moms tend to do is they will live out their wedding wishes vicariously through their daughter," she says. "Don't do that. You've had your moment, this is hers. Just roll with it."
Choose a show-stopping dress.
Listen, it's fine to be proud of how hard you work for a healthy figure or to really love your Michelle Obama-esque arms. But you want to be certain that your daughter's dress is the most talked about one in the room. While you don't need to go matronly, you should opt for modesty. "Find something that is nice-looking and complements you," says Swann. "As great as you look, put forth the effort to actually look like the mother of the bride and not one of the bridesmaids."
Invite your entire social circle.
While you should absolutely be able to include your nearest and dearest in the day, don't use the occasion to show off to your entire office. A key criterion, says Swann, is that your invitees have heard you talk so much about your daughter and her partner that they're psyched to share in their day. "You want to fill up the guest list with individuals who really are there to wish the couple well," Swann notes.
Fight with your future in-laws.
No, you don't have to be besties. But it's key to make the peace with your daughter's future mother- and father-in-law. "Walk into this in hopes that you will have a lifetime together to develop a family unit," says Swann. "It's important to realize that it may not happen right away. But just go into it with what I call my three core values of etiquette, which are respect, honesty, and consideration. Respect the individual. Be honest with people without being brutally honest and then just be considerate of other people's feelings."
Treat your daughter like a child.
Sure, you remember when she was tiny and needed your permission to do literally anything. But now she's a grown woman planning one of the more special days of her life. So, if she throws out a plan you don't love mid-vendor meeting, take a pause before sharing your disapproval. "Don't address conflict in front of others," advises Swann. "I think it's easy to do that when you want to voice your opinion, but we have to recognize that they're adults and we don't want to embarrass anyone. If you feel very strongly about something, try to talk about it when you're alone."