mother of the bride …. or groom

by Sharon Santoni

I seem to be surrounded by friends preparing weddings for their daughter or son …. there is an air of excitement and anticipation in the air that is quite contagious.

Of course each family is different, and times are definitely a changing.  One girlfriend told me that her daughter had just gone on holiday with her boyfriend … and returned wearing a wedding ring!   No big party, no big fuss, they had just got married privately and chose to share the news with their respective families once home.

I joked with my girlfriend that at least that way she didn’t have to worry about table settings and seating plans, but I could tell that even though she is happy for the young couple, she felt a little cheated.

None of my children are about to marry – as far as I know! – but talking with my friend made me stop and think about how I’ll feel about the weddings, if and when they happen.  Because of course they may never marry, or they may simply settle down with someone ….

But if there are weddings, well, I am a bit of a control freak – ahem!  and I guess it will be hard for me to stand back and say “this is your day, you choose, and let me know if I can be of any help”, but of course that is what it’s all about.  Sharing their joy, being happy for them and with them without letting our own views and opinions show that much.

Last year I had fun taking a couple of mothers-of-the-bride shopping here in Normandy and also in Paris.   One was very organised, and had been sent to France with a shopping list by her equally well-organised daughter, they were planning a big and spectacular wedding, with preparations that a general would be proud to put his name to.   The other family was going for a quiet family wedding and the mum was simply happy to find a few little bits of treasure.  I saw pictures of both events , each divine and each very different.

I loved both their styles, and believe me we had great fun finding lace, and favours, and antique napkins with the right initials for the bride and groom and silver cutlery and an antique veil and … and … well the list went on for ever.

So I wondered what your thoughts or experience are of this, have you already been or are you about to be a mother or father at a wedding?  Is your opinion sought, do you feel involved, or are you actually quite happy to do nothing more than turn up looking lovely on the big day?

all pictures from pinterest


Emm February 19, 2014 - 6:55 pm

Oh my, I thought you were going to make some kind of announcement there.

I think mama really has to let the couple do whatever their thing is, with perhaps some gentle guidance if plans start to get too bizarre. And I *love* those napkin rings!

Peggy Braswell February 19, 2014 - 7:25 pm

hmmm since I do not have a son + daughter that is married yet. + I will expound on the wedding. I think mama should respect daughters wishes + only do things when mom is asked.

Jeanne McKay Hartmann February 19, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Sharon, this is a great question! I don’t have any little ones, and none of the children in my life are anywhere close to getting married, but one of my best girlfriends got engaged over the weekend. We are meeting up tonight to celebrate and I already have bought two wedding-style related books for her! Now, this is her second marriage and she eloped the first time around, so may want a very small affair, which would be fine. But already, I find that I can’t quite help myself, that small or large I hope she’ll have lots of pretty, personal touches for her day, and that she will ask me to help her. Of course, I won’t be pushy about it, but I’m crossing my fingers. There is just something about weddings….

Thank you so much for your sweet comment today! I really appreciate it.


kim lowrance February 19, 2014 - 7:36 pm

I tried to contact you about staying in the guesthouse on May 6. I could not get it to work so i am hoping this gets to you soon. Thank you.

Monique February 19, 2014 - 7:37 pm

I loved both my daughters weddings..One outdoors..tent etc..we got the flowers directly through a freind/florist and I had a ball..making the table settings etc..along with him..his wife..a daughters..husband.. went wedding dress shopping with both..adddressed their wedding invitations in calligraphy..
But left all the details to them..they were both in their thirties..old enough to know what their dream wedding would be..
I must say one thing I will never forget.. .is ..that when our youngest..married.. I was MOTB..but she also asked me to be a Bridesmaid.. she said you’re my friend would you?
I cried and was both MOTB and bridesmaid that day under a beautiful September sun~
Truly our children’s weddings are memories to cherish.You feel joy for them.

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon February 19, 2014 - 7:56 pm

Well, that made me tear up.

Carla Glaze February 19, 2014 - 7:46 pm

My son is to be married in 5 weeks in New Orleans, LA USA.. it has been good to be the family of the groom as this is our first child to be married. I can see that the bride’s mom has much more to tend to that that of the groom’s. There are many decisions and details to be taken care of for both families but the bride’s family takes the lead on most of the decision making. Her family has been wonderful to work with on carrying out the wishes of their daughter and our son. It has been a joint venture and one that I have loved being a part of.

Vicky from Athens February 19, 2014 - 7:46 pm

I think that Mom’s amount of input depends on who’s picking up the tab for the wedding and reception. And, of course, alot depends on the relationship that mother and daughter have. We want our daughters to have the wedding of their dreams but sometimes they need a gentle nudge in one direction or the other. I was very fortunate to be a huge part of the planning of my daughter’s wedding and we had an unforgettable time together, planning the music, colors, guest list, food, etc. (but always with input from the groom and his family). I would wish that for every mother who has a daughter. Being the mother of the groom, however, is a different matter. You just host the rehearsal dinner and otherwise, do as the bride wishes. No matter if you are the parents of the bride or the groom, it’s a very special time to be enjoyed by all!

Denise February 19, 2014 - 7:47 pm

Sharon, Those napkin rings are superb. I have a daughter who is getting married, my youngest. Shes in her 30’s Oh I would love for her to ask me for help. I am a chef and an innkeeper I work with brides a lot and I throw wonderful dinner parties at the Inn. I have wonderful ideas for her wedding but I agree a mom should stand back and maybe just maybe she will ask and than I can give her suggestions. It will be the last wedding for my children.

ann hodgkins February 19, 2014 - 8:48 pm

The napkin rings and napkins are wonderful.
A nice well done small wedding with personal touches of the bride and groom.
I do not understand the big, over the top events.
To each his own.

Penelope February 19, 2014 - 8:57 pm

Sharon, I am an experienced mother of the Bride, with three of my daughters who are now married and I also helped with my son’s lovely wedding! It is the most special day of a mother’s life….well maybe besides the birth of your child! For me, I was on go immediately, listening, planning and then listening, listening, listening and so much more. All three of my daughters had their own styles and each one was beautiful on their wedding day! I would say, decide on your budget, then plan to spend more because you will. Invite people who truly love the bride and groom. I will have one more as we have one more daughter and she is an artist, so I cannot wait for her day! The main advice is to enjoy!

Sue M. February 19, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Hi Sharon,
I’ve experienced both sides. My daughter got married first 9 years ago with a formal church wedding and my son most recently two years ago at the bride’s parents in an outdoor golf country club setting. Both equally beautiful but so different.
With some guidance from my future son in law’s mother at the time, as she had had a lot of experience with weddings she gave great advice and ideas. I told my daughter two things: it was her wedding and whatever she wanted, if we were able and within the budget we could do it and no matter if things got stressful, as there will be times…that we were going to have fun with it and know when those times came we would laugh about it and just move on. It was a wedding of 400 attendees (mostly the grooms side). To compensate for the additional people they helped where they had expertise….they provided all the flowers and invitations (they had a family floral shop). And everything went very well, except it rained (we had to laugh as we knew something had to happen out of our control).
So with my son’s more casual outdoor wedding, we agreed to help where we could and would let us (with the assistance of dear friends to get the food put out before the crowd appeared); besides the rehearsal dinner we took care of the cocktail hour(s) at their home while they took a lot of pictures and a good thing we did as we all know it seems to take a long time and people ate and drank until they all got to the clubhouse.
The only actual advice for the mom’s…if mother of the groom, let the bride’s mother get her dress first and go from there…if you’re the bride’s mother…show the dress to the groom’s mother as soon as you decide so she has time to find something that coordinates. And have fun…. looking back those things that stresssed everyone out won’t even be important or even remembered. Both our wedding experiences were fun…now we have to wait for our grandchildren’s weddings someday….who knows how they’ll be doing things then. ♡♡♡♡

Betsie B Johnson February 19, 2014 - 9:38 pm

After planning lots and lots of charity events……and hundreds of big parties of all kinds, I looked forward to helping my daughter plan her wedding. But, alas she wouldn’t have even a hint of a suggestion. She took the check we gave her for her wedding and bought a condo in New York City. She married on the beach in Montauk with fifteen guests. It was small but over the top! Her list of touches and surprises was extraordinary. Infact, her wedding was so small and unusual that it was covered by the Vows column at the New York Times. I could never have pulled that off. It was so special. My daughter said, “see all that I learned, Mom.” It was a glorious day for everyone, especially me.

Lorrie February 19, 2014 - 9:59 pm

Another experienced MOB and MOG here. I loved working with my daughters on planning their weddings. But I tried to be careful about letting them share their ideas and then just talk about how I could help. We made the pact that when it stopped being fun we would just quit for awhile.
My eldest daughter’s wedding planning was so much fun. But a lot of work. When my son married, my DIL took charge and she had many great ideas. I helped when she asked for it, otherwise stayed out. She was super organized and I learned a lot from her. Their wedding was very relaxed for me.
We were in a rather stressful situation when our youngest daughter married. My husband started a new job, we had just moved, and I was not very happy with life. The engagement was short and that was also stressful. Still, we had fun and again, I helped out when asked.
Each couple is different and each one has expectations. It was hard not to jump in with my own ideas. In some ways, I wanted to put into play some of the ideas I had over the years that I wished I’d done at my own wedding. I think everyone’s ideas change over the years.
You seem to have a great relationship with your daughters. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.

Colleen Taylor February 19, 2014 - 10:36 pm

My only daughter (into her latter 30’s) chose to get married quietly without fanfare in another state. It was only the 2 of them & poof, it’s over. I fantasized always about the long train & all the pomp & circumstance that I thought should be, but NO & I felt cheated. I’m over it now but still….then comes along my son who marries someone who doesn’t want a cake, no flowers, except just for her, a very simple dress, nothing on her head, 12 guests but at a very expensive place. For me, the MIL, it was an unspoken word, wear beige & shut up which I usually do anyway!
I just can’t win when it comes to weddings.

Pam February 19, 2014 - 10:44 pm

Hi Sharon!!!

I’ve heard of quick marriages as you described your friend’s daughter did while on a holiday and then the huge lavish weddings that costs thousands of dollars(Which I think is crazy).

I love a simple wedding, but, with having two sons, their weddings will be what their bride wants. My husband’s nephew and bride-to-be chose to have a very simple wedding with the family giving them money towards buying a place. I think that is the greatest idea and they had a really fun wedding!!!

With my first marriage I eloped and filed for divorce 22 months later, but, with my 2nd marriage, we had the ceremony and then went over to my hubby’s cousin’s place for a great house party. I don’t like being displayed so a house party made it easier for me to sit and enjoy great conversation and dance with everybody.

I love the bouquets at weddings and the dress!!! There’s nothing like a bride in a beautiful gown holding a gorgeous flower arrangement!!!!!

Enjoy the rest of the week!!!


Marilyn Leslie February 19, 2014 - 10:50 pm

Hi Sharon,
My daughter married in 2012. She was very sweet to include me in on shopping for the dress, but everything else she and her groom chose. They had very firm ideas of what they wanted and I was just there for support.It was a lovely day and we had a wonderful time enjoying family and friends.


Marian from UK February 19, 2014 - 11:01 pm

Hi Sharon. I was MotB last August. My daughtet is in her 30’s and she and her now husband had been together for a few years and had two small children! They planned the wedding together and she showed me things she was thinking of as she went along, but I was aware that it was their occasion and they were paying for most of it themselves so I offered my opinion only if asked (not always easy!!) My special job was buying her her wedding dress and going shopping for that was great fun. I felt special to be able to do that. As it was slightly back to front, we looked after the children for two nights and took them away on holiday the day after the wedding, where my daughter and her new husband joined us for the rest of the week! We stayed in separate luxury lodges near the sea and I decorated their lodge for when they arrived – Welcome Mr & Mrs…etc. They loved it and we all enjoyed a fabulous week, with my husband and I being able to babysit our gorgeous grandsons while the newly weds had some much needed time on their own! An unusual wedding, but a beautiful family occasion. You just have to let it be what they want and sit back and enjoy their happiness! Oh, and I also love those napkin rings!!

Marilyn February 19, 2014 - 11:11 pm

My daughter married in January 2012 in Scotland which is just up the road!! She and her now husband organised it all themselves with help from both families. I made the buttonholes for our side, red roses and her MIL dealt with their side, thistles. The theme was England/Scotland. I made the table favours–200 gingerbread people. She had her dress made to her own design and I was with her all the way from the first consultation to the final fitting. It was a beautiful frosty day with clear skies. Although they had definite ideas we were consulted and our help appreciated and it was a lovely family day.

Pamela February 20, 2014 - 12:40 am

Grand expensive weddings are no indicators of future happiness. My brother’s first mother-in-law worked at three jobs to pay for an extravaganza. Lots of stress and pressure and they quarrelled badly on their honeymoon. It ended in divorce. So Betsie’s daughter was very sensible in investing the money in a home and having a beautiful small wedding that brought such happiness.
When our son got engaged I told our future DIL I’d be happy to help with their wedding if she wanted me to, it was up to her. As her mother died a long time ago she was grateful for ideas and help. Was quite horrified when I heard how much the gown was costing but she told me it had always been her dream to have a truly beautiful wedding dress made specially for her, and she had the money to pay for it. So I replied “Well if it’s always been your dream, then you should follow it.” She even asked me to come with her to the key fitting. At that time she was a little shy. She told the designer the dress was too long but the woman disagreed and tried to tell her it was fine. I could see our dear future DIL was getting upset about this as her views were being ignored so I stepped up and supported her and told them they would have to take it up. She was so relieved.
It was a very romantic wedding, she wore the fabulous traditional white gown and our son wore the dress kilt and sporran my husband wore at our wedding (husband’s father’s family were from Scotland). Most of the men wore kilts and full highland dress, also the pageboy. Two pipers led the bridal party down a long avenue of trees in the grounds of the National Gallery of Australia, with the marriage ceremony on the edge of the lake. Later the pipers led the guests to the shore of a smaller pond where the fog sculpture was billowing mist in and out of the trees. Drinks and canapés were served here. It was all very relaxed. Guests later told us how much they loved the romance, saying it was like Brigadoon. The dinner was in a little covered pavilion, open at the front to the gardens and pond. Lovely and really quite simple. Afterwards our DIL said it was the happiest day of her life. Now my wish is to live long enough to see my darling little grand-daughters’ weddings!

Sarah Malone February 20, 2014 - 1:01 am

Hi Sharon!

I am currently planning a wedding with one of my twin daughters (remember the one that kept asking me to send photos while we were shopping with you in Normandy, LOL) Anyway, the wedding will be in 2015, so we are looking for a venue at the moment. What we want is what Tom and I haven’t built yet, boutique french themed winery with beautiful picturesque grounds, but perhaps in 2016 we’ll be a bit closer to that reality and I can come shopping with you once again. It’s a very delicate balance for me between being the Mom and the decorator/organizor. I naturally want to take over, so I must excercise patience as I try to outline for her the types of things to think about so all details are consistent with overall look and feel. This is easy for me, not so easy for her 🙂 Wish me luck-
Sending hugs,

Design Chic February 20, 2014 - 3:21 am

I have one daughter (we do our blog together) and she married on December 29, six years ago. It was a magical time, both the time of year and to watch the happiness of the two of them. We loved the whole process – so much fun to plan and watch unfold…can’t wait for you to experience the same!!

May February 20, 2014 - 8:38 am

Great post with a great question
I believe couples who want a private wedding should have a gathering to share the event with their parents, family and friends. A private wedding not shared with the parents especially is a sad event, and a heart break that I feel will never completely heal in families that are close.

denise@magnoliaveranda February 20, 2014 - 9:42 am

Having been the Mother of the Bride twice and Mother of the Groom twice I have enjoyed all four very different weddings. I would have felt very disappointed if any of my children had gone off and married secretly, although at some stages being involved with 4 weddings I did once wish they had eloped! My children all different chose different weddings but all beautiful … are there any weddings that are not beautiful. One was a big italian affair absolutely spectacular. Then two in one year October and December, one a city glamorous cocktail party, the other a stylish country affair in a meadow with music gently in the background, the last equally glamorous greek extravaganza with Greek dancing (no plate smashing) but no expense spared. They are all very independent children with their own style – no organising from me just support to make their dreams come true!

Dorka February 20, 2014 - 10:17 am

When my oldest married the half of the guest were from Austria (she and her future husband wer living already in Vienna) I and my youngest had to organize everything on weekdays before the great day.As the youngest is a mice mamger in a famouse hotel here she ahd the experience and contacts to shops on site.We choose a country spa hotel where all the incoming guest could stay overnight, the decoration flowers etc were cosed according to the taste of the bride( working in finance very-very simple) The only surpise was a real hungarian dance show as to involve the guests from Austria.This was a real country wedding typical for Hungarian countryside.
When the youngest married two years later we had the experience, she still mice manager so all her collegues helped and this wedding was a great party how both of them wished. Two different personalities two different great days. With love from the Puszta in Hungary Dorka (renewed website)

Dorka February 20, 2014 - 4:03 pm

sorry mice= MICE meeting-incentive-congress-event manager

david terry February 20, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Dear Sharon,

Well, as usual, your posting has inspired a lot of really lovely (and interesting) comments.

I’m not getting married anytime soon and, given some (two, to be exact about the matter) biological limitations of my partnership with Herve, neither am I likely to be producing any marriageable offspring anytime whatsoever.

That said?….I’ve been to some really wonderful weddings over the past decade. Actually….not any genuine weddings….but celebrations of those. In each case, friends (or the grown-children of friends) simply didn’t want the fuss and EXPECTATIONS involved in a big wedding ceremony. So, they were all married quite simply….and with only VERY immediate family members as witnesses (a distinction that’s become increasingly blurred, these days, when the majority of folks are either the children of re-married parents or are, themselves, marrying for the second time).

In the cases I’m referring to?……the married couple simply let one or both sets of parents throw a fine party for them a month later………eight months later, in one case. It works out well for everyone, including friends.

That, actually, is how weddings traditionally used to be observed here in the American South….at least in the class in I was raised. “Nice” people had very quiet weddings (often at home, although a minister or Episcopalian priest would preside, right there in the family’s main room/parlour/whatever), there was no such thing as a one-off “Wedding dress”, and then they’d go off on a trip. LATER, there would be a reception (usually thrown by the Groom’s family)….when they returned and had set up house….and that was the public event.

Oddly enough (in the sense that I wouldn’t have predicted it), that seems to be the practice being adopted for most gay weddings (I’ve been to three in the past two years) these days…..a quiet, simple, and very private (if equally meaningful) ceremony, followed sometime later by a public party/celebration.

MUCH more interestingly (and in regard to “Dorka’s” comment…….what is a “mice manager”? I’m hoping that’s not just yet another thing that’s been lost in translation, but in my experience the “mice manager” (at both country hotels and urban houses) is usually an unsalaried housecat.

Perhaps this just another example of how things are managed somewhat differently in Hungary and North Carolina.

—-david terry

Linda February 20, 2014 - 6:48 pm

Hi Sharon,
I have been the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom. Both weddings were beautiful, but both of them were vastly different. Our daughter was married in a traditional church wedding with the church filled to capacity with friends and family. Our son was married on the beach on the island of Kauai (Hawaii). I loved being involved in both weddings, though I did not have much to plan for our son’s wedding – only the rehearsal dinner. Since we do not live there, a friend who had spent years on the island gave us suggestions as to a venue for the dinner, and it turned out to be a wonderful restaurant. I was heavily involved for our daughter’s wedding planning, though she made most of the choices and I came along to be supportive and to open my wallet!
I love the photos – the napkins and napkin rings are fabulous!!!! I would be thrilled to have something like that grace my table.

Linda February 20, 2014 - 6:50 pm

P.S. this is an addendum to my last comment. I forgot to mention that my husband was heavily involved in both weddings, since he is a minister and officiated at both ceremonies.

david terry February 20, 2014 - 7:06 pm

Oh, Linda…not one, but TWO of my friends (both the daughters of clegymen) have found themselves engaged to a men who ALSO had fathers who were clergymen.

In each case, neither of the clergymen (Father of the groom and Father of the Bride, respectively) presented any real difficulties… was their WIVES (2 in the case of each wedding) who, from their lofty positions as “The Rector’s Wife!”) went all-aggressively-territorial.

In each case, the couple wisely decided to hold “THE” wedding in a church presided over by neither father. It was all very Trollope-ian.

Amusedly (if sincerely),
David Terry

Linda February 22, 2014 - 2:50 am

Well, David, your comment gave both me and my husband a laugh. If our children had married someone whose father was also a clergyman, my husband would have welcomed the help from that pastor father. After all, he and I had two pastors officiate at our wedding – back then that was very unusual. And, at our daughter’s wedding, a second pastor (the father of our daughter’s friend) helped out by welcoming the guests at the beginning of the ceremony, asking, “Who gives”, and then singing at the end of the ceremony. What a welcomed addition he was.

Christine Hooker February 20, 2014 - 8:28 pm

My first thought? What a wonderful charge to be given to collect beautiful and, hopefully, meaningful momentos for such lovely occasions. While the wedding is no guarantee of future happiness or success for that family, the inclusion of traditional keepsakes may represent a deeper commitment to the successes of past family members and nostalgia connected with family.
xoxo, Chris

Deidre Groundwater February 20, 2014 - 11:40 pm

Thank you for the laugh David Terry. I need more of you in my life. Regarding weddings. Whatever the couple wants. It’s their day. Deidre.

Teresa O February 21, 2014 - 12:39 pm

The napkins and rings are such lovely touches for a wedding. I was the mother of the groom just a few months ago after a year of wedding planning. My sweet daughter-in-law included me in the dress selection and I was delighted to be a part of this very important detail of the bride. Both my son and daughter-in-law came to me from the start for advice in organizing the entire extravaganza and creating the floral designs. All went off wonderfully well and it was a beautiful, romantic October wedding. I feel blessed to have been so big a part of my son’s wedding. Sometimes, the motg steps in when the motb is not available.

sharon santoni February 22, 2014 - 9:13 am

thank you for all these lovely stories, I can see some very wise and happy people among my readers!


Alison February 22, 2014 - 9:21 pm

Hi Sharon,

My thoughts on this topic come from a slightly different angle. I got married four years ago and had help from only my best friend,Dad and fiance. We all had fulltime jobs(mine being shift work) so accepting help from Mum or Mum-in-law would have been lovely but they had both died many years ago. My best friend helped me choose a dress as I have little sense of what suits me and pointed me in the right direction on time scales for sending out invites. I got my Dad involved in the invitations and who we were inviting.My now husband helped with booking the ceilidh and disco,along with his stag do and I had a day in a spa with my best friend as my hen do. Even the Icelandic ash cloud couldn’t spoil the day. But it would have been lovely to have had input from Mum or in-laws.

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