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Tips for the Mother of the Bride

MOB: Those who sit and watchThe holiday season brings sparkle, often in the form of engagement rings, as December is the most popular month for getting engaged.

So moms across the country will be celebrating (we hope) with Hillary Clinton who announced last week that she was excited to be an MOTB, noting that it’s “daunting to plan a wedding.”  Veteran MOBs (we prefer the abbreviated form )  everywhere probably have tales from the front for Hillary, best summarized as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

 Side note: MOGs (mothers of the groom) have an easier task.  The usual advice is “Show Up, Shut Up and Wear Beige.”   Or as one MOG, brimming with wedding plans, was cautioned by her husband in police-officer tones: “Step Away From the Bride.”

At least MOGs don’t have to worry about centerpieces, the number of guests or a daughter trying out do Platinum Weddings.   Reality shows have set up some impossible standards for brides Say “Yes to the Dress”    features a New York City bridal salon where dresses start  around $3,000. 

Although Hillary probably has a six-figure event planned,  the average bride will stage a wedding for about  $22,000, according to The Wedding Report, somewhat lower, due to the recession, than a high of $29,000 in 2007.

 Mini history lesson: from Brides, Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition by Vicki Howard. The  trend of turning a wedding into a spending extravaganza took hold in the Depression  as department stores, restaurants, photographers and a slew of other merchants pushed consumers to start spending again.  Bridal magazines, which also began in the 1930s, helped create and solidify  the bridal industry.

For advice, Hillary and other moms can turn to more than two dozen books for the MOB alone listed on Amazon including two which give a hint of what’s to come:  “I Want My Mother’s Dress to Match the Napkins”  and “It’s Her Wedding But I’ll Cry If I Want To”

Of course, there are dozens of website to guide MOBs through the coming months, and sometimes, years.  One site on MOB dresses  cautioned against–in an attempt to look young–imitating the Mamma-Mia-Meryl-Streep-MOB look with a flowery hippie dress .

For some first-hand advice we turned to Denise who married off four daughters in the last five years.   Denise wears many hats—mother, wife, daughter, nurse, MOT (mother of twins) GOTP (grandparent of the princess)—so she does not regret putting away the MOB hat. (The MOG hat is still to come.)

 She offered some reflections just a few weeks after her youngest daughter’s wedding on Thanksgiving weekend:

 Savor the moments: “Enjoy these months with your daughter as a special time together.”

 Listen: “Remember that the bride often really doesn’t want your advice; she wants want someone to listen to her vent.”

 Whose wedding is it? “It’s not my wedding or the MOG’s wedding.  It’s your daughter’s and your son-in-law’s wedding.  It’s all about them, not anyone else.”

 What does she know about marriage? “Don’t be concerned about preparing them for marriage.  My daughters learned about marriage growing up in our family.  They learned about being a wife and mother and they got their expectations about what they wanted in a future husband by living in our house.”

 Welcome to the family: “With each marriage we acquired a whole new extended family.  We now have millions of new relatives.”

 The Father of the Bride: Don’t forget the FOB.  Everyone on the journey to the wedding day is at a different place.  Just don’t lose him.”

 What color are the flowers? “I learned after the first wedding not to get impatient with the minutia.  It’s so fleeting and it’s over in a flash. The upset over the details may not be the issue anyway; it may be something else.”

 The Bittersweet: “Life is a circle and we are on this journey and who knows what’s ahead.  Three months ago our oldest daughter and her husband had a baby girl so we’ve started a new chapter.”  

 The Takeaway:  “Because my daughters are highly organized and kept all the details on a spread sheet I learned how to use Excel. Now it’s on my resume!”

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