Mother of the Bride
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

Mother of the Bride FAQs

(Courtesy wscottchesterblog.com)

What are the Mother of the Bride’s responsibilities at the ceremony?

The Mother of the Bride usually helps the bride into her wedding dress and veil on her wedding day and may even walk her down the aisle. Many brides ask their mothers to sign the marriage registry as a witness, but this is entirely up to you and your groom. The Mother of the Bride is usually responsible for bringing an emergency kit to fix up any hemlines, popped buttons or minor cuts which are almost bound to happen right before the ceremony. Some religions also require the Mother of the Bride’s involvement in the candle lighting ceremony. At the very least, the Mother of the Bride should sit and enjoy the ceremony and, although tears are not required, they are almost inevitable. For more details, check out this handy checklist. 

Can the Mother of the Bride walk the bride down the aisle?

This is up to you and your mother. Tradition states that it should be the father of the bride who gives her away. However, if you don’t mind bending the rules of tradition, you may prefer your mother to walk you down the aisle especially if you are not particularly close to your father or if he has already passed away. Some religions actually require both the mother and father of the bride to walk the bride down the aisle.

What are the Mother of the Bride’s responsibilities at the reception?

As hostess of the party, the Mother of the Bride has a large role to play at the reception, along with her husband. The Parents of the Bride should leave the wedding ceremony shortly after the bride and groom so as to be the first to arrive at the reception to greet the guests at the door. During the reception, the Mother of the Bride is expected to mingle and introduce guests to each other and may be expected to dance with the groom during the first-dance number. The Mother and Father of the Bride are also usually the last to leave the reception and make sure that everyone had a good time.

What are the Mother of the Bride’s responsibilities during the lead up to the wedding?

This is dependent upon how involved you would like your mum to be and upon how many other commitments she has at the time. Some Mothers of the Bride are very hands on and play a big role in the selection of invitations, bridal party attire, flowers, guest transportation, catering and the venue. Generally speaking though, the Mother of the Bride usually helps the bride to compile her guest list and may help with the seating arrangements (hopefully her seating arrangement skills will prevent her from having to step into the role of mediator between family members at the reception). She should also attend the wedding rehearsal and any pre-wedding parties, such as the bridal shower. Some smaller, but no less important, tasks include informing the Mother of the Groom of her wedding outfit, so as not to turn up in the same dress, and keeping the Parents of the Groom in the loop regarding wedding plan progress.

Should the Mother of the Bride throw the bridal shower?

There is no set rule on who should throw the bridal shower. The maid of honour may choose to do so. Communication is the key and the Mother of the Bride will need to discuss these sorts of details with the rest of the bridal party.

How involved should the Mother of the Bride be in compiling the guest list?

This is up to you and your partner’s discretion. Be prepared: this could be a point of contention. It can be great to have your mother and the Mother of the Groom involved in inviting guests as they will probably think of family members who you might have otherwise forgotten to invite. They will also have all of the necessary mailing addresses (probably stored in a real address book made of – oh what is it called – paper!). There may be times that you need to put your foot down and remind mummy that this is your wedding and that Agatha, your third cousin twice removed, whom you haven’t seen since you were three years old, doesn’t really need to be invited. A good way to get around this would be to ask your mum and your partner’s mum to write two lists – one for the guests they would LIKE to invite and one for the guests who simply MUST be invited.

Does the Mother of the Bride HAVE to wear a dress?

No! If she doesn’t feel comfortable in a dress, she can, by all means, opt for a two piece set. Mothers of the Bride commonly wear a top and skirt or top and dress pants combination. This style of outfit is especially useful for tucking tummies in and covering up problem areas, which a one piece dress may not do. Many Mothers of the Bride also choose to wear a jacket or wrap with their outfit. This will not only keep her warm but will also help her keep her modesty and cover up her arms if she is self-conscious about them. She can easily take the jacket or wrap off if she wants to hit the dance floor at the reception.

When should the Mother of the Bride shop for her outfit?

As soon as the bride has chosen the bridesmaids’ dress colour and style, the Mother of the Bride can go outfit hunting. It’s best to go shopping as early as possible to avoid disappointment and allow time for any alterations that might need to be made. This will also give the Mother of the Groom plenty of time to shop for an appropriate outfit, once the Mother of the Bride has chosen hers.

Should I go shopping with my mum to choose her outfit?

This is up to you and your mother and the time constraints that you both have. It is always a great mother-daughter bonding opportunity to go outfit shopping for such an important event. It’s also a good opportunity to offer feedback on how well the outfit will tie in with overall the wedding theme. However, it can get stressful trying to find the perfect outfit and may take several shopping trips before you find the right one. Therefore, if you and your mum are prone to bickering, it might be a good idea to take along a fashion-savvy friend for advice and to give you an opportunity to go off on “bathroom breaks” (which we all know is code for “mum breaks”) while they continue shopping.

Who should pay for the Mother of the Bride’s outfit?

There is no tradition stipulating who should purchase the Mother of the Bride’s outfit and so, this will be up to your discretion. She may choose to purchase it herself or, if your partner’s relationship is a little strained with his future mother-in-law, you could suggest that he and his family purchase her outfit. This small gesture of kindness could result in a much happier family dynamic on the day and far into the future.

Should the Mother of the Bride’s outfit match the colour scheme of the bridal party?

The Mother of the Bride’s outfit doesn’t necessarily need to be the same colour as the bridesmaids’ dresses. In fact, it can be confusing if the colours are too similar. However, her outfit should blend visually with the rest of the bridal party members’ outfits. This can be achieved by wearing an outfit of a similar hue to the bridal party or by wearing neutral colours. The only colours that the Mother of the Bride (or any other guest) should not wear are white, cream or ivory – they are reserved for the bride on this special day.

Should the Mother of the Bride’s outfit match the Mother of the Groom’s outfit?

Not necessarily, but they definitely shouldn’t clash. Although it’s not necessary to turn up as twins, or even wear the same colour, it is a good idea to wear a similar hue and try to co-ordinate the sleeve length and skirt/pant length with one another.

Should the Mother of the Bride wear a corsage at the ceremony?

Traditionally, the Mother of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom wear a corsage at the wedding. These days, a corsage can take many forms. Classic pin-on corsages are still popular but many mums prefer to wear a wrist corsage or even a corsage which can pin on to their clutch bag. As the bride, you don’t necessarily need to order extra flowers so that the corsage matches the bridal bouquets - the flowers in your mum’s corsage could match the colour of her outfit, instead.

My mum is adamant that she wants to wear her own style but I’m not happy with the outfit she has chosen. What should I do?

Communication is vital in all aspects of mother-daughter relationships and is especially important in all things wedding related. If your mum’s dress choice is really clashing with your vision for the day, you may need to take her out for a coffee and have a heart to heart. Try to explain to her that Mothers of the Bride usually wear outfits which blend with the style of the rest of the bridal party. This not only looks nice at the ceremony but is also more visually pleasing in photos. Remind her that you respect her individual style but you don’t want her sticking out like a sore thumb in photos which you will look at for the rest of your lives. If she is still unwilling to compromise on her chosen outfit, you may need to yield to her wishes and just roll with it, knowing that the expression of pride on her face on your wedding day is more important than the threads she is wearing.

My partner and I are paying for our wedding ourselves. Should I still involve my mum in the planning process?

Many brides assume that their mums have a right to be involved in planning the wedding if they are contributing financially towards it. Things can get sticky when you are paying for your own wedding. This decision is, of course, completely up to you and your groom but you might like to ask your mum to assist you with certain decisions such as guest lists, invitation designs and/or seating arrangements. You could also help her to feel a little more included in the process by inviting her along to go wedding dress shopping with you.

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