Mother of the Bride Etiquette: Advice for her Daughter

Everything you need to know about managing a stressful mother of the bride in the run up to your special day.
women helping dress a bride

We all know that planning a wedding is a wonderfully exciting time, but, with all that excitement brings with to keep up with, from balancing budgets to the mothers of the bride and groom any bride has a lot of her plate. 

Keeping your parents happy is a big desire for many brides, after all, they have probably been waiting for this day for as long as you have. But, knowing how to appease your mother without giving her too much control, letting this become her day rather than yours can be tricky. 

women helping bride dress

How involved should the mother of the bride be? How can you make her feel special? How to keep the day your own while making her happy? How can you best manage both the mother of the bride and mother of the groom? If you find yourself asking any of these questions then we are here to make your life a little easier. The advice in this article should help you keep everyone happy on your special day. 

Lauran Fraser, an author at Wedding Ideas, describes ‘somehow, though, weddings can bring out a side in 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 of how the day should be’. 

How involved should a mother be in the planning of your wedding day?

You may have been dreaming of your wedding day since you were a child, have everything imagined from the princess gown you are wearing to the tripled tired chocolate cake adorned with flowers. Or you may have spent much of your life without concern about where or how you will get married, only after your engagement are you aware of your desire for a less than a traditional ceremony. You feel you want something small on the beach where you both fell in love.


wedding cake

Whatever your style, we think that your wedding day should be just that, yours. It should be free from the touches of what your mother thinks will look great, or wishes she had on her wedding day. 

But, we are also aware that this is your mum we are talking about, you can’t simply look her in the face and bluntly tell her no when she suggests her romantic reasoning for you to have roses instead of daisies in your bouquet. 

Aviva Samuels owner of Kiss the Planner describes how ‘it’s easy for parents to get caught up in their children’s lives because, ultimately, they do it out of love and want you to have what they think is best’.

Especially, if you are one of the many brides who have accepted their parent's generosity to do a lot of the financial heavy lifting, which does tend to make these types of situations a little more complicated. As Susan Pevaroff Berschler says for many mother’s this can be ‘a rude awakening the moment you realise you are putting your money where her mouth is’. 

So unless you are one of the very lucky few who hears your mother say ‘whatever you want, it’s your day’ then we have some advice on how to manage this situation, to keep your mother happy while making sure your special day is better than you imagined.

wedding couple

As Samuels says ‘if the plan was for group decisions to be made but somewhere along the way it turned into a one-woman show, it’s time to remedy the situation’. 

The first piece of advice Samuels gives is to ‘ask her to change “I” to “we”. So if you ‘catch your mother saying what she wants for the wedding - and only what she wants - Samuels suggests asking her to change her language slightly’. 

This is regarded as the perfect opportunity to make her aware of her tendency to take over in a very nonconfrontational manner. As ‘she might not even be aware that she’s doing it. In the nicest of ways, bride or groom can say something like, “It’s so wonderful to have your help, mum, but can we make these decisions together? When I hear you say ‘I’, it sounds to me like your mind is already made up and I’d like to have a chance to express my opinion as well.’ 

Approaching the issue in this way gives your mum an opportunity to realise what she is doing, that she might have got a little carried away, and enables her to invite your opinion back into the mix. 

Another piece of advice Samuel offers is: ‘plan an outing and do something fun together. Stepping away from the wedding planning might be exactly what the two of you need to realize that this celebration is just one day in the scheme of your lives, but the love you have for each other is forever. Get back to basics, so to speak, and celebrate that special relationship between a mother and a child’.

wedding table

If all else fails, have a heart-to-heart conversations ‘if you’re having a particularly difficult time with your mum, see if you can get to the bottom of it with love and compassion’ Samuels says. She also suggests that you write down your points first so you are able to carefully think about what you want to say. You should also make sure that you keep calm and don’t say anything out of anger, and try to avoid placing blame. 

‘Even if it’s difficult for you to see where she’s coming from, remind yourself of the other loving gestures she has demonstrated throughout her life and recognize she may be having a tough time, for reasons you might not understand.’ 

How to help her with her dress

We all know that the most important outfit at any wedding is the bride’s, no matter what you want to make sure that you find yourself the perfect dress. This for some brides can often be more time consuming and expensive than they once thought. But, just because you have so much to think of with your own wedding gown and the bridesmaid dresses, this doesn’t mean you should forget about your mother’s outfit.

bride table setting wedding

SimplyBe research illustrates how difficult it can be for the mother of the bride to find her perfect outfit. The research states that the mother of the bride takes on average 18 days finding her dress, whereas the bride usually takes 12 days in total finding her wedding gown. 

A mother of the bride or groom not only will want to find a dress that suits their body and their personal style but since they have a role in this special day too many spend a lot of time trying to find an outfit that suits the day itself. 

It can be a hard task for many women to find an outfit they love, that also is the perfect level of appropriateness for the day, while being complimentary of the colour scheme. The worry this creates of some brides is that their mother struggles with this balance and ends up wearing a dress that rather too closely matches that of the child bridesmaid dresses. Meaning the whole group begins to look rather odd and unbalanced.


To help you avoid a situation like this and other maternal sartorial mishaps we have some advice. 

Firstly, we suggest that you give her the information about your day as soon as possible. By information we mean; your colour scheme, dress code, venue are the three big ones and the very least you should tell her for her to be able to best pick an appropriate outfit. 

It will also help to let her know if she will be talking outside (on grass) at any point, what the bridesmaids will be wearing, what the flower choices are and any other little details you feel will be relevant. Although this may feel a little unnecessary it can all be very helpful when choosing a mother of the bride gown.

flowers on table

If you are still worried about your mother matching too closely with the dresses you have chosen for your bridesmaids, or doing the complete opposite and dramatically contrasting your lavender colour scheme with a bright red number then here are things you can do. 

You can help to make your mother feel more included in your special day by helping her pick a colour of dress that compliments the wedding party. This will mean that you can make sure that her dress is in the same tonal family but does not directly match any other. If you approach this in a slightly sensitive manner it can be a great way of making your mother feel an important member of the wedding party. To find a colour that will suit your chosen theme as well as compliment your mother check out this article. 

In making your mum know that you are aware that finding the perfect mother of the bride dress is hard and you want to make this process more fun by helping her, then it isn’t too hard to make sure that she is able to find a dress you are happy with and she feels great in too. 

Managing the Mother of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom

three glasses

If planning a wedding, finding your dress, and helping your mum isn’t enough for you to deal with, there is one more person (apart from your groom!) that needs to be considered, and this is, the mother of the groom. 

Although the mother of the groom doesn’t traditionally have as much say in the weddings arrangments as the mother of the bride, it is still a good idea to keep her on side, why not start this new familiar relationship and smoothly as possible! 

First thing you should keep in mind is that it is always best to keep an open line of communication between all parties and if you can introduce your mother and your partner’s as soon as possible. This is really in the mindset of starting as you mean to go on. 

bride and bridesmaid with flowers

One of the trickiest things you might have to deal with when it comes to managing the mother of the bride and mother of the groom is their outfit choices. As we outlined above, choosing a dress to wear to your child’s wedding can be rather difficult as you have a lot to think about. 

Traditions state that the mother of the bride should get the first choice of outfit, once she has made her decision she would have been expected to inform the mother of the groom of her choice. 

But nowadays, as wedding guests are being encouraged to wear black, and the majority of ceremonies are no longer being held in religious buildings, many of the old traditions are being left behind. Although it is wonderful the freedom that this brings to the individuals getting married, to have a day that accurately represents them, it can make a few things a little harder to manage.

wedding table setting

So, we recommend that if your mother doesn’t feel comfortable, or for whatever reason isn’t able to call the mother of the groom (although the mother of the bride advice suggests she should if she can) then you should have this conversation instead. 

Keeping an open line of communication will help keep everyone happy for your special day, and although it can seem like an added effort, we can assure you that it will be well worth it in the long run. 

How to make sure she feels special 

No matter how irritating your mother has been during your planning process she only does it because she loves you and wants the best for you and although sometimes you may not have wanted quite as much help, she has really made your wedding day extra special. So, how can you make sure your mum also feels special on your weddings day?  

Provide her with a custom corsage or nosegay of flowers, by incorporating flowers that are part of your bouquet and some that compliment her skin tone or dress colour will make sure she feels like a very special member of the wedding party.

flowers of table

Or as Nancy Mattia at Martha Stewart weddings suggests why not walk down the aisle with her? ‘Giving away’ the bride is usually reserved for your dad, but there’s no rule that says your mum can’t be part of the tradition, too. (Just make sure your dad is on-board with the idea!).’

Another idea of Nancy’s that we think is a great way to make your mum feel extra special is to ‘surprise her with a mother-daughter dance’ because why not put her in the reception spotlight! If you ‘pick a song she loves any initial hesitation to strut her stuff in front of an audience will evaporate quickly.’

people dancing

We know that planning a wedding can be a very big task, and to then have your mum making the process more tricky is the last thing many brides would wish for. But, remember that she is only doing because she loves you, wants the best for you and is probably really rather excited too. When things get too trying you now have the tools you need to help keep everyone happy for your wedding day. 

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