How to deal with a difficult mother of the bride, without ending up super stressed or falling out!
Mums; to have yours in your life as you plan your wedding together is a blessing that not everyone is lucky enough to enjoy. It’s such a special and fleeting time. From your mum’s perspective, it’s wonderful to see their child so settled and happy, about to marry the person they love.
Somehow, though, weddings can bring out a side to people that had never before breached the surface. All of a sudden, even brides with the best relationships can end up with a difficult mother of the bride on their hands. Maybe she’s a stickler for tradition or is the reason your guest list and budget are being blown beyond all proportion… or maybe you just have different visions for how the day should be.
Whatever situation you find yourselves in, we’ve pulled together some of the most common solutions to help you manage a tricky mum. You’ll soon be planning happily and, ultimately, you’ll have the wedding you’ve always wanted.
“Help! My mum is taking over our wedding but I don’t want to fall out with her. What should I do?”
Set the ground rules early, ideally as soon as you start planning. Establish whose call will be final and where you would and wouldn’t appreciate advice. If that doesn’t work, rather than battling with each other’s ideas, why not give your mum responsibility for a chosen element?
You could try the flowers, cake or RSVPs, for example. They can source suppliers, attend consultations with you, or even surprise you (if you’d like!). All of these will help your mum to feel special and involved, while also letting you gently guide how that involvement actually materialises. Try these options that are traditionally organised by your mum!
“My mum doesn’t seem that interested in our wedding! How can I get her involved?”
Maybe she doesn’t feel included, or weddings are out of her comfort zone. Perhaps she’s already maxed out on bridal talk? Any which way, fitting in wedding-free conversations and social visits is essential. Stepping back for a bit doesn’t mean you can’t get her back involved later (try these ideas). You could use the time to work out what areas of the planning might appeal more. Or, you could simply stay close without the wedding dominating, particularly if big events just aren’t her thing.
“How do we politely tell our mums that we don’t want to go with all of their ideas?”
For the sake of a happy planning period, it may be easier to accept that you will win some and lose some. Is it really worth starting a family feud over the types of flowers in your bouquet? You can gently remind your mums that you’d like to take the lead when needed, but also know that acknowledging and receiving ideas gratefully doesn’t mean you ultimately have to go with them.
“They just invited their friends without asking us first! How do I tell them that it’s up to us who joins us for the wedding?”
Keep talking – it sounds like you’ve both got your wires crossed as to where the guest list boundaries lie. Wedding traditions and etiquette have relaxed greatly in recent years, so while in the past parents tended to have more of a say, increasingly couples are organising their weddings independently. Your mums might not expect this, though, so – as before – just keep talking!
You could sit down together and crunch numbers over a glass of wine, working out how many guests your budget will allow. If the number is lower than the number of people on your provisional list, make sure the people who make the cut are those closest to you as a couple. They’re the ones who will make your day brilliant. Doing it together with your mums (and indeed dads) present gives you the chance to field any questions and understand each other’s reasoning behind who is or isn’t invited.
“Our parents are very kindly contributing to the wedding. Does that mean they should get to make decisions too?”
For some, a financial contribution is rewarded with the right to make choices or at least to influence them – be that over the guest list, venue or ceremony type. But there’s no rulebook, so it’s best to work out what you each want and expect at the beginning and go from there.
If you have non-negotiables that you don’t want questioned, decide now. Likewise, if you’re set on an intimate wedding, whether at home or abroad, then let your parents know before they accidentally invite someone who isn’t meant to be. The last thing you want is to have any unexpected and awkward “you’re not actually invited…” conversations.
Want to make sure your wedding is magical for both you and your mum? Make sure you do these five things together! And whatever you do, do not at all costs say these six things to her if you want to keep the peace…