The role of the mother of the bride (or MOB) varies greatly depending on the type of wedding and type of bride. Now, with many couples financially independent before tying the knot or marrying far from home, in some cases the mother of the bride may simply show up on the wedding day in a fabulous dress and smile. But for many, especially in cases in which the bride’s parents are paying for all or some of the affair, the mother of bride may be just as involved as the bride in all of the details leading up to the big day.
Before the wedding
With many families now sharing the cost of weddings, the mother of the bride, along with the bride’s father should discuss the wedding budget upfront. Addressing any financial issues at the start of the planning process helps eliminate future miscommunication. All parties should decide on how much each will be contributing, if at all, and and if they expect their contribution to go toward specific aspects of the wedding. The MOB may also draft a guest list to determine how many friends, family members and business associates she will be able to invite.
Once the size and scope of the wedding are set, it’s time to get down to the fun part: the details. Some brides and MOBs who simply aren’t into debating the merits of orchids versus peonies may want to consider hiring a professional wedding planner with whom they will work closely to see the bride’s vision for the day come to life.
Many brides will consult their moms in choosing the ever-important wedding gown. This is the most important couture creation many women will purchase, and having Mom’s approval is a must when it comes to saying “yes” to the dress. The key to a successful shopping trip is to keep the bride’s taste in mind. The MOB can help her choose the dress that reflects her daughter’s vision, not her own idea of what she should look like or what Mom wore at her own wedding in 1975. What the bride needs most is emotional support, so the mother of the bride should be there to back her in her decisions (but help her steer clear of an utterly atrocious choice). If the MOB is an expert in stemware and place settings, she can also help the bride choose appropriate items for the registry (how many soup spoons does a newlywed couple need, anyway?) and spread the word about where the couple is registered.
One important role of the MOB is goodwill ambassador. If the parents of the groom do not reach out first, the mother of the bride may want to contact them to discuss any relevant wedding plans. The MOB should share what she plans on wearing with the mother of the groom so the two women can be properly coordinated. The MOB should also make a connection with the honor attendant, as they are the two most important women in a bride’s life. If the maid of honor is hosting the bridal shower, she will be able to share any important details about party, which the MOB will attend along with other special friends and family. At the shower, the MOB should introduce herself to guests and help them mingle with one another, and get to know the members of the wedding party.
If the bride’s parents are the wedding’s official hosts, the MOB is responsible for the wedding invitations. RSVPs may go directly to their home, in which case the MOB will need to keep track of guests’ replies and follow up with those who have not responded by the deadline. She may also see to it that hotel reservations are made for out-of-town guests, often by booking a block of rooms.
As the family historian, the MOB can help the bride with any special religious or ethnic traditions that the couple would like to include in the wedding ceremony, including choosing meaningful readings. She, along with the rest of the family members, should attend the rehearsal dinner and make sure things are set to run smoothly on the wedding day.
During the wedding
The MOB typically takes on a hostess role on the wedding day, whether in a formal or informal capacity. Most importantly, she will help the bride get ready before the ceremony, from zipping her wedding gown to pinning on any precious family heirlooms. Sometimes the MOB is the best person to calm the bride’s nerves or smooth out any wedding-day hitches.
Depending on the family’s traditions, the MOB may be escorted down the aisle before the processional to take her seat up front and center for the ceremony. In Jewish weddings, the MOB walks the bride down the aisle along with the father of the bride, and takes her place next to the bride and groom as they exchange wedding vows. In other faiths, the MOB may be involved in the ceremony by lighting a unity candle or reading a special prayer. If the wedding is to have a receiving line, the mother of the bride is typically the first person to greet guests.
Once the reception kicks off, the MOB can greet her special guests and see that things run smoothly. Depending on her level of involvement, she may do some behind-the-scenes work to ensure that vendors have been paid, the appropriate photographs have been taken and the cake is cut on cue. But above all, she can finally relax and celebrate her daughter’s special day.