Your daughter has finally reached you on your cell phone to proclaim the news, “I'm engaged!” You are thrilled and eager to broadcast the engagement to your husband, your family, friends, and coworkers. Within the next few hours, you have already planned out the entire wedding with a reception in your garden. Wait! This is your daughter's wedding, not yours. She is allergic to your hydrangea bushes, and she did mention the art gallery downtown during her phone call. Reality sets in and you ask yourself — Now what? Since weddings have changed significantly over the years, this eternal question is not quickly or easily answered.
In the past, it was the mother of the bride's duty to take care of every detail of the wedding. The mother of the bride would make almost all of the decisions and the bride simply needed to pick out her dress and smile as she floated down the aisle. Oh how the times have changed! Extended and divorced families (along with the rising average age of a bride) have transformed a mother's role in planning her daughter's wedding. Real weddings are showcased on TV, in newspapers, online, and in pretty much all media outlets. Brides are now the focal point of the wedding planning process. This does not mean you will be banished from making decisions or offering opinions and advice; it simply means you'll need to find different ways to communicate with your daughter.
Some brides take immense pleasure in planning their own wedding — they may want it to reflect their sense of style and personality. On the other hand, many brides would be lost without their mother's guidance during the planning process. Perhaps you have entertained a lot, and she will be more than happy to let you make most of the plans. Just look at the two most important factors of the planning process: your relationship with your daughter and who is holding the purse strings. Remember, whether you do most of the work or only a part, it will help if you are prepared and knowledgeable.
The budget and the size of the wedding should always be the first two items discussed, since one depends on the other. There are traditional expenses for your family and her fiancé's family. However, tradition may go out the window depending on the type of wedding your daughter and her fiancé plan to have. They may pay for most of the items of the wedding or divide it with you. His parents may want to break tradition to contribute a significant amount to finance their son's wedding, or the opposite might be true. You may not be in a position to help much monetarily but can contribute in other ways.
After the budget is confirmed, you and the bride need to divide and conquer! You will spend countless hours discussing venues, colors, dresses, flowers, photography, cuisine, entertainment, and hundreds of other decisions. The time has come to do the research, interview the vendors, reconnect with family and friends, and prepare yourself and the bride for the wedding day. Take it one step at a time (and one vendor at a time), and you will enjoy the process more and delight in the results the day of the wedding. The role of mother of the bride is a hectic but rewarding one, so savor and remember it every step of the way. All of the planning and stress will be worth it when you see your daughter walk down the aisle with her new husband. Congratulations!