The Ultimate Mother of the Bride Checklist

The ultimate checklist to help you master your mother of the bride duties.
bride putting flowers on her mother's wrist

Whether you are the mother of the bride or the soon to newlyweds, we know very well that the run-up to a wedding day isn’t always the happy-go-luckily romantic time it is pictured to be in Hollywood films. 

With so much to do and to organise the run-up to a wedding for the wedding party can seem like a marathon, with an evergrowing to-do list, you need to keep in mind everything from the cake and caterers to the florist and flowers girls. 

flowers on a table set for a wedding

As the mother of the bride, your role is particularly trickly, as we have talked about in this article. Of course, you want your daughter to have the perfect wedding day, but unfortunately quite often your idea of what makes a perfect wedding is not quite in tune with what your daughter has been picturing. 

This can be a tricky enough situation on its one, let alone trying to keep the peace with your daughter while managing all the other aspects that go into making a wedding happen. 

As Nancy Mattia says: ‘the mother of the bride traditionally plays a big role in the wedding, especially if she’s hosting. Guests will come to you before, during, and after the “I dos” for information and help. Consider yourself a manager with a slew of responsibilities’. 

bride and her husband embracing with flowers

It is easy for mothers of the bride to get overwhelmed by the amount they have to manage, and by the fear that they are oversetting their role and altering their daughter’s image of her perfect day. 

To help you manage this situation, to make sure that you are there when you are needed, to help with practicalities, thoughtful touches, and to ensure that any catastrophes are avoided we have complied the ultimate mother of the bride checklist. 

1. Support the Brides Decisions 

The first thing on any mother of the bride’s checklist should be supporting the bride's decisions. We know that you love her and you only want the best for her, for her to have the perfect wedding you weren’t able too. But, it is very important to remember this is her day and to listen to her (check out this article for more advice on how best to do this)

As Nancy Mattia writes for Martha Stuart Weddings: ‘unless she wants to get married underwater and expects her 100 guests to get certified in scuba diving, the bride should be the decider. Of course, if you’re picking up the floral bill and hate yellow roses, which the bride was planning for the centrepieces, there’s going to be some serious discussion going on. Try and compromise-maybe the bride could indulge her favourite flower by having an all yellow rose bouquet.’

bride and groom with yellow flowers

As Ms Mattia points out, you don’t need to keep your opinion completely to yourself, but just keep in mind that this is her day, and not too push what you think too hard. 

2. Be there as a shoulder to cry on 

Continuing in a similar tone as before, a piece of advice we are sure your daughter will be ever thankful for is this one: ‘be there for her when the going gets tough, like when the bridesmaids are acting up or she finds out her first-choice photographer is already booked.’ 

3. Help with the wedding dress shopping 

dresses hanging up

As Jolene M. Bouchon writes for ‘traditionally, mothers accompany their daughters in their search for a wedding dress, there to share in the joy and provide loving and honest feedback. There is no way that most mums will spend, or allow their daughter to spend, such a significant sum of money on a dress that makes you look less than your best’

It is true that the mother of the bride is often a very important part of the wedding dress shopping experience, providing insights that others wouldn’t be able too. 

Nancy Mattia offers some more advice ‘you should be one of the select few who gets to see the bride in variations of tulle and silk-satins, or whatever she chooses to wear. It’ll be an emotional time for both of you, and you’ll know when she’s found the right dress.’  

4. Researching traditions and finding family heirlooms 

bride with rings

This is a really lovely way of bringing yourself and your family into the heart of your daughter’s wedding. 

Jolene Bouchon outlines this process ‘it typically falls on your mum to uncover religious or cultural traditions you - or your groom’s family - might want to incorporate in the ceremony. She will also help you find the something - old or something -borrowed, such as a stunning piece of jewellery that’s been in your family for generations.’ 

5. Being the Go-To contact for vendors 

wedding cake standing on a table

Ms Bouchon describes this particular mother of the bride duty: ‘your mum should be the one who's name you give to the caterers, florist, planners, entertainers, and venue as your backup to field questions and assist in coordinating (Whew!) As celeb wedding planner Colin Cowie suggests, “set your mum up for success with a list of creative contacts and a message book solely for your wedding day.” She’ll most likely be the designated point of communication between the bride, the bride’s father, and groom’s parents on all things wedding-planning related.’ 

Nancy Mattia elaborates on this point a little further, it ‘often happens if the bride is getting married in her hometown, where you still live but she doesn’t. You should be prepared to answer any questions posed by the caterer, baker, florist, etc if they can't reach your daughter.’ 

6. Let the mother of the groom know that outfit you are planning

glasses filled with white wine

As wedding planner Cowie says ‘etiquette dictates that your mother follows your lead as to the colour and formality of the dress she picks… the bride’s mum buys her gown before the mother of the groom, and, once chosen, calls the groom’s mother to describe her dress.’ 

Although much of the expected wedding day etiquette is no longer a necessity in 2019, we do agree with Cowie that this one is still rather important. Really if only for one reason

‘This is to prevent a fashion disaster were both mums walk down the aisle wearing magenta gowns with short sleeves and silver belts. Awkard! Your dresses’ length and formality should match, though, so one of you doesn’t show up in a short cotton dress and the other in a lace gown.’ 

7. Being the second most important lady on the day itself - playing hostess

wedding table setting

From the very beginning of the wedding when the guests arrive, through to the end of the night, you as the mother of the bride want to be playing hostess. 

As Diann Valentine, event maven ‘receiving lines are not as customary, so making a point to greet or visit with each guest is important.’

Making sure all the guests feel welcomed will create a wonderful atmosphere to the wedding, while doing your bit in these proceedings will take a little pressure off the bride and groom allowing them to take in their soundings and fully enjoy their wedding day. 

8. Organise a meet-and-greet with the groom’s parents

If you have never met your future son-in-law’s parents then it is advisable that you ‘take the lead and plan a get-together with them (as long as it’s feasible from a travel point of view). It doesn’t have to be a formal dinner-cocktails or even getting together for coffee would work. The point is to get to know one another before the wedding so you’re not complete strangers on the day your children wed.’ 

In addition to your role of playing hostess, Valentine ‘suggests that the mother of the bride host a dinner party for the groom’s family or an afternoon tea for just the ladies of both families. “This goes a long way to help them welcome the bride and her family into their family with open arms” 

9. Help your daughter get dress and ready the morning of her wedding 

woman dressing bride

As the mother of the bride, it is really worth dressed and ready in very good time. This will enable you to have precious moments with your daughter such as this one

‘Helping the bride into her dress and placing the veil is, and will always remain, such a sweet, time-honoured tradition [for the bride’s mum], says Lynn Easton, owner of Easton Events.’ 

10. Be ready to take charge of the morning of the wedding 

bridesmaids sitting with flowers

As Bouchon describes, there are so many things that can go ary on the morning of the big day ‘a passport was left at home. The lipstick fell out of the makeup bag. Someone need deodorant, like, half an hour ago. In all these scenarios and more, rely on the mother of the bride to save the day like some wet-wipe wielding Wonder Woman.’ 

For the morning of your daughter’s wedding taking charge at the house or venue should really be the biggest thing on your mother of the bride checklist. ‘Make sure the bride stays calm, make sure the makeup artist and hairstylists see to everyone and make sure any young bridal attendants are kept occupied. You should also receive the flowers from the florist and ensure they’re handed out to all the bridal party.’ 

We are sorry, we know that it does sound like an awful lot, but we promise it will be over before you know it and you will be wishing you could do it all over again. 

11. Get your dancing shoes on for the second dance 

After the bride and groom get their traditional first dance, it is then your time to shine. Bring your daughter’s father, or whoever accompanies you and join the newlywed couple on the dancefloor. 

12. Offer yourself as a second pair of eyes 

bride and groom embracing

Whatever it is you are asked to look over, whether it be the fine print of a vendor contract, the wine pairings with the meal, or whatever other numerous fine details need your approval. It is always a good idea to offer the couple a needed rest from worry by being a second pair of eyes. Such a process will stop issues from arising before they happen, and possible, avoid disaster. 

13. Attend bridal-shower 

bridesmaids laughing together

Although you might not be invited to the hen party - don’t be offended, chances are you probably wouldn’t love it anyway, the bridal-shower is definitely mother of the bride territory. 

Following tradition, the hosting of the bridal shower would be on the checklist of a bridesmaid rather than a mother of the bride. Bouchon describes why this is ‘since the party’s purpose is to bring the bride gifts (the idea was that it would be tacky for you to essentially be saying, “bring my daughter nice gifts, people!”). 

Although she does continue to mention how ‘times have changed, and it’s becoming more acceptable for the mother of the bride or a relative of the bride to be involved in hosting duties. You can offer to help with making decorations, food, or favour bags, or contribute to the shower without being named on the invitation.’ 

14. Witness the Register being signed 

If the couple is choosing to follow traditions the father of the groom and the mother of the bride would both be witnesses of the signing of the register. Many couples nowadays choose to invite all of the parents in to watch this special moment. 

15. Helping to find the perfect wording for the wedding invitation 

wedding invitations

Jolene Bouchon describes how ‘if you’re opting for a traditional wedding invitation, those technically come addressed from [the brides] parents. Since her name is literally on the thing, it’s nice to have her opinion on the wording - particularly if your parents are divorced. She also may offer to chip in and help you afford a nicer card stock o some fancy gold leafing when the invites are coming from her, she’ll want people to know she has excellent taste.’

Although we realise that most couples no longer want their wedding invitations sent from the mother and father of the bride, it won’t hurt to be there as a helping hand if your daughter needs as chances are, you will have seen a few more wedding invitations than she has. 

16. Leave the ceremony after the newlyweds

people standing on steps outside a church

As Zoe Burke writes ‘after the newlyweds have left the ceremony as newlyweds, and the bridal party has followed the mother of the bride will need to lead the guests out fo the service. Everyone exits from front to back, so along with the father of the groom, you will be the first to exit after the bridal party.’

17. Reminding your daughter how loved she is 

We know that this can often be a stressful time for families, there's so much to think about, it is a time when emotions run high. There may well be tensions, between you and your daughter, the couple and their parents or your family and the grooms, but as the mother of the bride remember, this will pass. 

Remember that you need to be her rock, and at the end of the day, whatever disagreements you have, try and make her feel as loved and heard in the run-up and day of her wedding.

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