While it's far from common, everyone has heard at least one story about a mother of the bride or groom who tried to make their son or daughter's wedding all about them. Maybe they didn't have their own dream wedding, or perhaps they're feeling overwhelmed by the major change that's about to take place in their family. Whatever the case, if you're in a situation where one of the moms is trying to outshine the bride on the big day, it's important to take a step back and consider your options.
If you foresee issues with your mother or future mother-in-law before wedding planning even begins, one of the best things to do is a hire a wedding planner to do the dirty work for you. If that's not in your budget Ashley Anton, founder of BigDay Box, suggests delegating the responsibility to another outside third party. "Is there a close friend or relative that your mom or mother-in-law might be more receptive to?" she asks. If so, ask this person to act as your voice and mediator in tough situations.
It's also important to consider her intentions. "We always find that mothers who are very particular about the wedding plans just wanting the day to be perfect for their son or daughter," says Kristine Cholakian Cooke of Simply Charming Socials. "If your mom or MIL is attempting to take over the planning process, we recommend assigning or requesting they help with tasks that you know they'll be good at, such as planning the rehearsal dinner or organizing hotel room blocks." Most often, she says, this makes mothers feel useful and appreciated and they'll back down from making frequent (seemingly selfish) requests.
Remember that there's a reason one of the moms might be feeling inclined to outshine the bride—whether insecurities, need for attention, or because she's genuinely excited about your big day. "If it's the former, make her feel special by letting her know you'll honor her with a dance, a thank-you shout-out, or a song dedication," suggests Anton. "Give her the opportunity to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner or give her a gift that makes her feel included or special. If she has a personality that naturally outshines anyone, acknowledge her enthusiasm, thank her for everything she's done, and delegate someone that can help moderate her actions throughout the wedding weekend events—someone who will be there to listen to her that doesn't let it get to you on your wedding day."
When things are finance-related, however, the situation can get sticky. "In my experience, the only time the mother or mother-in-law gets in the way of wedding planning is when she's paying for the wedding," says Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design. "If one of these women is financially responsible, there really is no way around including her other than asking her to give opinions on only the items she is specifically paying for. If she isn't paying for anything, but she's still getting involved, you have to limit the wedding conversation. Anytime she asks questions, keep your answers short and sweet."
Day-of diva issues? The best thing you can do is ignore them. "Even if mom shows up in a sparkly red dress and attempts to steal the show, the fact remains that all eyes will be on the couple," says Cooke. "Even if guests are slightly distracted for a moment, they won't be able keep their attention away from you two for very long."