From what you wear to what you pay for, being the mother of the bride comes with a few etiquette rules that can be a little tricky to navigate. No need to stress, though. Once you understand the modern mother of the bride duties, there will be no faux pas or funkiness in your wedding future.
Your role is important, whether you're talking to the bride every evening about the wedding or taking a more hands-off approach. It's all part of the normal range of a mom's involvement.
What Does the Mother of the Bride Pay For?
There are no set rules about who pays for what at weddings anymore, but the family of the bride often contributes to the wedding budget. The old rules have gone out the window, though, and there's no reason the mother of the bride would need to foot the entire bill unless she feels comfortable. In fact, how much she contributes totally depends on her financial situation, her relationship with the couple, their ages, and the level of financial involvement she wants to have.
Does the mother of the bride pay for the bridal shower? Short answer: no. She can help financially if she wants to, but she isn't usually the host of the shower.
Six Traditional Mother of the Bride Duties to Plan On
Anyone who's been on this planet for a while knows that times have changed (with weddings and everything else). There are a few traditional duties that moms are expected to perform, though. These make a great starting point, and you can customize your role later.
Help the Bride Choose Her Outfit
Shopping with your kid might not have been super fun when she was a teenager (cue moody eye roll when you hold up a cute top), but things are different now. She needs your advice and assistance here. Usually, the mother of the bride helps with the dress shopping, sometimes including making phone calls to shops to set up appointments.
Consult on the Guest List
The mother of the bride often helps out with the guest list, whether that's as a consultant or the person who organizes it all. Take your cues from the bride here to determine just how much involvement you should have. She could probably use some help keeping track of RSVPs.
Help the Bride Get Dressed on the Wedding Day
When it's time to get dressed on the big day, it's traditional for the mother of the bride to be there to help. You'll hang out in the room with the bride and grab things she might need or help her fasten her dress. You might even help her with her hair or veil if she's not having her hair done professionally.
Find a Great Look to Wear on the Big Day
Traditionally, the mother of the bride has a special look for the wedding day. What you wear is up to you and the couple, but it tends to be a bit more formal than what other guests wear. You're a part of the wedding party, so you might choose an outfit in colors that coordinate.
Even if you're not the one officially hosting (read "paying for") the wedding, you can help host in lots of ways. The mother of the bride usually welcomes guests from out of town. You might also help out with greeting people at the reception and facilitating the seating chart.
Play a Significant Role in the Wedding
Your exact role will depend on the style of wedding and the traditions of your culture, but you'll probably have an important part. Usually, the mother of the bride gets seated first in the front row. Sometimes, she also helps walk the bride down the aisle. She might even help give the bride away. The specifics are up to you and the couple, but you'll be important.
Your biggest job is probably one you've been doing for years: you should support the bride emotionally through the planning process and the wedding. Be there for her as you've always been. Help her remember she is loved.
Bonus Duties for Modern Moms of the Bride
Let's be honest. The list of traditional mother of the bride duties is pretty short. There's a lot more you can do to help if you have the time and it works for the couple. These are more ways modern weddings can involve the mother of the bride:
- Find and suggest heirlooms the bride might want to include in her look or the ceremony.
- Organize a dinner or event that lets the two families get to know each other better.
- Make the seating chart for the reception or consult on that.
- Be available to field questions from vendors and guests and save the bride's sanity.
- Give suggestions for invitation and program wording and help with editing.
- Drive the bride and attendants around to appointments on the big day.
- Keep track of the registry and store gifts the couple receives early.
- Save the day with a wedding emergency kit that includes everything from stain removers to lipstick.
- Take tons of photos and videos to help the bride remember the behind-the-scenes parts of the wedding.
- Give a reading during the wedding ceremony.
Important Mother of the Bride Etiquette Tips
Being the mother of the bride is a big deal, but that also means there's potential for an etiquette misstep. The key to avoiding that (we promise) is just remembering how your actions can affect others. Etiquette is pretty much always about remembering how your actions affect other people. These are the basics to keep in mind.
Communicate About Your Role With the Couple
Always talk to the couple about how much you'll be involved and what they expect of you. Ask about specific duties you can take on and tell them about any boundaries you have or limitations on your time. Clear communication avoids any gaffes where they might feel like you're taking too much control or not doing enough.
Let the Couple Be in Charge of Social Media
While it's totally tempting to share those snaps you took at the wedding dress shop or the photo you got of the couple cake tasting, don't post anything on social media without the couple's permission. They should be in charge of how the message gets out (and if it does at all).
Do Everything You Can to Keep the Focus on the Couple
We've all heard about family members who steal the show at a wedding, whether by wearing something that's not wedding-appropriate or by doing something dramatic. The absolute best way to not be that person is to keep the focus on the couple with everything you do.
Wondering if you're going to have to give a wedding speech or toast? The mother of the bride doesn't do this traditionally, but today, it's fairly common. Talk to the couple to see how they feel about it and communicate your comfort level.
A Major Part of an Important Day
In today's weddings, the mother of the bride's duties go way beyond the traditional. Think about the role you're likely to have and talk to the couple about what they want. By communicating and keeping their wishes in mind, you'll be all set to be a major part of this important day.