Whose Wedding Is It?

It's so exciting to think about planning the wedding of your — er, your daughter's dreams, isn't it? Some moms are surprised to find themselves at complete odds with their girls when it comes down to even the most basic planning steps. Are you thinking of a white-tie affair with 300 guests, while your daughter is talking about a wedding in the woods with only immediate family in attendance? You must show her the error of her ways … mustn't you?

Pull Back

If the bride is planning on paying for most of this wedding herself, you really can't expect her to change her plans in favor of your wildly different ideas. This is her wedding, after all, especially in the case of the bride and groom who are doing all the legwork and footing the bill … they're in charge. Does this mean you can't offer any helpful advice? As long as you can remain helpful (and do not become a bully), you can certainly help out when and where the bride requests it of you. Otherwise, silence is golden.

On the other hand, if you (and/or your husband or the bride's dad — whatever the case may be) are paying for most of this wedding, you are entitled to some input. However, you should try to respect the bride's general wishes.

Remember, It's Her Party

This leads to a discussion on the wedding you wish you could have had — if only you and your family could have afforded it then. Now, you're rolling in money (or you have enough, at least, to make your daughter's wedding a lavish event), and darn it, this wedding is going to be everything you wanted, whether your daughter agrees or not. (She doesn't realize what she's turning down, and you know she'll be sorry if she misses out on having a huge wedding.) Hijacking her wedding to alleviate your own regrets is a bad idea; you had your turn to be the bride. Let your daughter have her turn now. If you do not concede to items that are important to your daughter, it will create tension and frustration for all.

If she's left the planning completely in your hands, you're technically free to do whatever you want. Unless she specifically tells you otherwise, it would be in your best interests to double-check certain details with her. (Chicken or beef for dinner? Buffet stations or sit-down meal?) And once you have her opinions, don't disregard them, even if you disagree with them. This is a leading cause of daughters and mothers not speaking to one another during the bride's engagement period.

Alert

First things first. You and the bride need to touch base on major wedding issues before anyone signs contracts with vendors. These include the size of the wedding, how formal an affair she's picturing, and her preferred season. The answers to these questions give you a baseline to work from.

You Aren't Made of Money?

You may find yourself talking to a bride who has absolutely no concept of the value of a dollar and/or no idea about how much things cost. She may be the one making out a guest list that seemingly includes a small nation, and you may be the one who has to break the news about the budget to her. She may retort with, “It's my wedding! We have to do it my way!” Mom, you've got your work cut out for you.

If you find yourself in this less-than-enviable position, break it to her gently — but firmly. Perhaps you can still pull off the wedding she wants if the two of you can agree on how to cut corners in some areas. (She wants 300 people at the reception? Fine. They won't be eating prime rib, and they may find themselves standing in a picnic grove instead of the hotel ballroom.) You'll find more tips for careful spending in Chapter 10.

Essential

Yes, you want to give her the wedding of her dreams, but realistically, you can only do so much. It's not wise for you to go into massive debt just so that your daughter can have the most opulent party your hometown has ever seen.

Dealing with the bride who has delusions of grandeur is sometimes tough, but if the two of you can put your heads together and get creative, she may be able to have a wedding worthy of her dreams — and you'll be able to sleep, knowing that you still have some money left over.

This All Seems Very Familiar …

If you've already planned a wedding or two for your other daughters, your first instinct may be to plan the exact same affair for this bride-to-be. What's good enough for her sisters is good enough for her. And besides, you can't very well show any favoritism between the girls, so you have to keep their weddings even.

That thought process is admirable; however, “even” doesn't always mean “identical.” Chances are, the same members of your family who were at the previous wedding will be at this one, too. You're likely to hear mumbles along the lines of, “Wow, they must really like this place,” and, “They must really like the fish here, because we had it at the other reception, too.” You're spending an awful lot of money on this — is that really the reaction you want?

Even if your daughter is comfortable with the idea of duplicating her sister's wedding, avoid the urge to do so. Your girls aren't carbon copies of one another, after all; even if they're very much alike, and they've both always wanted very similar weddings, your engaged daughter will have some ideas of her own.

Fact

Asking mothers of other recently married brides about their experiences is a great way to get ideas for your daughter's wedding. Magazines, websites, and blogs are all great resources for getting advice and ideas.

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