I once had a father tell me, “I’m paying for this wedding and it will be the way I want it!” I replied, “How sad that you cannot allow your daughter to have things the way she wants them,” and quietly walked away.
A bride’s mother once tried to change nearly everything the bride, groom and I had planned for her daughter’s wedding at the rehearsal. The bride and groom wanted the Maid of Honor and the Best Man to walk out first because there were nine bridesmaids and nine groomsmen on each side. Since the wedding was outdoors and the wedding party would be standing on grass the concern was that if (traditionally) the Maid of Honor and the Best Man walked out last, the girl and guy who walked in first might not be standing where they should be. By having the Maid of Honor and the Best Man walk in first, everyone would simply take their place next to the Maid of Honor and the Best Man and would know exactly where they are suppose to stand.
The Wedding Coordinator knew the couples wishes and at the rehearsal when she began to line the bridal party up the non-traditional way, the mother of the bride shouted, “No! No! That’s not the way is is supposed to be,” and began to line them up the traditional way. It became apparent the bride had not told her mom of her intentions and was not going to say anything. I got the mom’s attention and will a big smile on my face I said, “Come here, Mary. I must tell you something.” When she got close enough, I whispered in her ear, “This is not your wedding. This is your daughter’s wedding. You’ve already had your wedding and she would like it to be her way. Please let her have it the way she wants it.”
The mother stomped away, visibly upset but stepped into the background. The bride rushed over to me and said, “What did you say to my mother?” When I told her, she said, “YES!! Thank you!” and the rehearsal went forward the way the bride intended. I was invited to the reception and when I leave I make it a point to say thank you to the parents and was not quite sure what the response was going to be from the bride’s mother. She gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “I am so sorry I made such an ass of myself. The ceremony was unbelievable and everything was perfect the way my daughter planned it.”
I told the bride later that I was happy to step in and make things right because I would rather the mother be angry with me than the bride on her wedding day.
Talk about controlling mothers (and sometimes fathers)! You don’t need this wedding drama.
This phenomena is nothing new. It happens a lot. The mother’s traditional role was to plan the wedding for her daughter or son, but things have changed. Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of, “The Mother of the Bride Book,” explains, “One type of mom is the controlling type that is trying to plan the wedding she never had.”
Whether consciously or unconsciously, some moms start demanding that their daughter’s wedding fit into a certain mold – one that was missing at their own wedding. Kristen Harrington, a marriage and family therapist in Kingston, NY, has seen plenty of mothers who attempt to re-create their wedding day vicariously through their daughter. “The mother had disastrous things happen at her wedding and has now vowed that she is going to have the wedding of her dreams – which is her daughter’s wedding,” notes Harrington.
My belief is that mothers have the best intentions and really want what is best for their children. While the bride has been thinking about her wedding since the day her fiancé slipped that ring on your finger, your mom has been thinking about your wedding ever since she knew she was having a baby girl.
It’s critical to take a stand – to be strong and protect your plans for the wedding that you want. “It’s all about being diplomatic and assertive and knowing how to best talk to your mom,” says Naylor. With all the different feelings that a mother experiences during this pivotal point in her daughter’s life, everybody is really emotionally tweaked. And Naylor stresses that you have to take it upon yourself to be the leader in negotiating how things are going to go. “It’s important to set your foundation from the very beginning.”
My advice to mothers: Stand back and let your daughter and son have their wedding their way! Don’t act like a spoiled teenager “flipping out!” Never tell them that what they are doing is a bad idea or say, “I wouldn’t do that way if I were you! That’s silly!” or say, “That is not how it is traditionally done!” That kind of behavior is childish, inappropriate and will only cause hard feelings. Weddings and rehearsals are stressful enough without your interference. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but please back off. Only offer advice if you are asked for it.
My advice to the Brides and Grooms: Go with your heart. Do what YOU want to do. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your parents to tell them what you intend to do and hope for their blessing. Do not falter. Stand up for yourself. Understand that you are beginning a new phase in your relationship with your mother. It may take her some time to grasp this new concept. Take a deep breath and make a decision.
Most important, give your mother something special to do that will help her to feel included. And… honor both mothers in a very special way during the ceremony. Read: “The Rose Ceremony” and note the special twist I have for that ceremony as the bride and groom walk out. Read: “Last Kiss… Before the First Kiss!“
Once upon a time, the wedding drama got so intense with the mom trying to control every little detail of the wedding that the bride and groom eloped! Not sure your mother would like that.