A mother’s involvement when it comes to wedding planning can cause a million emotional variations. It can add joy and bonding, stress and concern or sadness and grief. While we all hope planning with our moms or future-mother-in-laws (FMIL) to be a carefree, fun process sometimes you will have to back up your decisions, be quiet when you want to scream or even remind them they are not the bride.
While there are a million and six scenarios of what can happen, the more common battles are:
Mom is taking over Your mom has planned and celebrated every birthday, every haircut, every good grade. In her mind it only seems natural to pick your wedding dress and venue just like she did for communion.
Someone feels left out You may be very close with your mom or your future-mother-in-law, but if you’re closer to one rather than the other someone may get upset. Be aware of this so you can avoid hurt feelings.
Your vision is gone Your families do not agree with your vision, décor, venue, etc. You will be battling the whole way through the planning process, but I promise, there are ways to make sure everyone is happy in the end.
You’re marrying the only son A mother’s love for her son is deep. If you’re marrying the only son or the baby be wary that your future mother-in-law truly believes she is “losing” her baby to you! God forbid, YOU!
Mom isn’t here Maybe your mom or your fiancés mom isn’t here. Planning will be difficult and there will be certain moments when your mom is the only one that could make everything go from wrong to right. No one can replace a mom, but people can and will help you plan, just ask!
To avoid the trials and tribulations of planning alongside a potential monster or monster-in-law and to ensure your wedding planning goes smoothly and isn’t completely hijacked or an emotional roller coaster prepare for everything.
Involvement vs. Decisions
There is a huge difference between letting a mom be involved, verses letting her make the final decision. Take your mom and FMIL to appointments with you, let them look, try and have their say to keep harmony – then you and your groom make the final decision on food, venue, attire, etc. If it’s not what they agree with – let them know you respect their input and are happy they are helpful and interested in being a part of your wedding planning, but then back up your choice and explain you’ll be happy with what you chose and you cannot wait for the wedding.
Even if you’re being assertive – you don’t have to be rude. Show and express your gratitude to your mom and FMIL. Even if they’re making phone calls and getting price quotes – that is saving you time and energy!
Don’t Lose Control (emotionally or of your vision)
Try to keep your cool, or else it may start some friction you’d like to do without. If you let your emotions run-high it can derail the planning or any progress you’ve made keeping the peace. Keep it real with your mom and FMIL.
Divide and Conquer
Delegate projects to your mom and FMIL. Find their strengths and let them shine. This will not only distract them, but let you focus on details that are extremely important to you and you want to stay in charge of. By delegating tasks you don’t have the time or energy to worry about – your helpers (aka mom/FMIL) will make sure not only the task is done, but done more efficiently then you had time to dedicate to it.
You’d be surprised how many arguments start from a miscommunication. By communicating with both families from the beginning your planning process should be peaceful. If you communicate roles and boundaries life will be easier, I promise!
You have every right to be excited about your upcoming nuptials. However, set wedding-free zones or even wedding-free dates. This should be with both families and your groom. You want to keep your relationships strong. Planning can strain a relationship when disagreements arise. By creating a wedding-free space or time you are focusing on what is important – the relationship post-wedding.
If you’re paying for the wedding yourself – momma’s input doesn’t have to be taken to heart. (Not to sound harsh, but seriously!) If your mom is footing the bill, she is seeing your choices as a reflection of her, and she wants to put her mouth where her money is, which she kind of has a right to. If your mom wants to pitch in and help pay for an element or detail of your wedding, such as your dress or flowers, discuss what she is committing to and what amount she is willing to offer. Don’t assume and be greedy, be thankful!
Recruiting other’s who will be sure to back your opinion up isn’t a bad idea – but make sure they’re coming from someone your mom or FMIL respect. Nothing worse than you trying to defend your chosen wedding color to have your bestie who your mother hates try to help you argue your point!
An excluded mom is a sad mom. If your super close to your mom and your planning process has become a bonding fest, chances are your FMIL feels left out and alone. (This sadness or frustration can multiply by leaps and bounds if you are marrying the baby or if your groom doesn’t have any sisters.) Take extra steps to make everyone feel loved. If you and your mom are going dress shopping alone, be sure to bring your FMIL to the bridesmaid’s dress appointment. Through the planning process, be sure to send a sweet text every now and then, pick up the phone and update her on your plans and have a few lunch or coffee dates leading up to the big day. This will eliminate any feelings of exclusion.
Celebrate it all. Enjoy the journey – YOU ARE ENGAGED and it should be a happy time. When you figure out your venue, celebrate. When you finish unloading your bridal shower gifts, celebrate. When you finally figure out the wretched seating plan, c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e! Your celebration doesn’t have to be elaborate. Have a glass of wine, watch a movie with your fiancé or eat a box of thin mints!
You and your fiancé shouldn’t have to pick sides. Don’t put your fiancé in a situation where he is making the decision between you and his mother. You don’t want to get hurt or fight over something that should be a happy time in your lives. If your fiancé is close with his mom it will most likely be very hard for her to let go, and you have to respect that too.
Don’t fight if you don’t have to
Pick your battles. If you don’t have to have an argument – DON’T! You will buttheads, but don’t chime in with any low blows when your deciding on something as simple as linen colors or fonts.
Know key words and phrases that are both assertive and respectful. “I know this is a big day for both of us.” “Thank you so much for your help. Your input has definitely helped our decisions.” “It is really important that our wedding celebration be a direct reflection of who we are as a couple.”
Steps to avoid conflict can happen as soon as you have a ring on your finger. If you proactively take these steps, it will be much easier to keep the peace and avoid any blow ups. Fires are hard to put out once they’ve already started and feelings have been hurt.
Traditionally, once a couple is engaged, the groom’s family is to invite the future in-laws to their home for dinner. This dinner is to meet one another (if they haven’t already) and celebrate their children’s engagement. Now-a-days the dinner isn’t mandatory, but families should still get together and communicate a budget, roles and the couple’s vision.
On the opposite side of things, moms may not be there for the wedding planning. You may have a very distant relationship with your mother or she may have passed. Wedding planning will not be easy for you either. While you don’t have to put out any over-bearing-mom fires, you do have to protect yourself, your relationship and your heart.
If your mom isn’t around mentally or emotionally, protect yourself when incorporating her into your planning. Be sure that others who are around you and love you know the situation. They will be able to help keep you positive and aloof from mom’s negative vibes. If you think she will flake out on a designated task, don’t give it to her. Remember that no one can replace your momma, for better or worse.
If your late mother isn’t around or maybe you aren’t close to your mom, realize that there are many, many people around you that love you and are happy to help take on the traditional mother-of-the-bride tasks. With or without your mom, you will get to walk down the aisle, I promise.
Through any planning process situations will arise where you will be frustrated, maybe even cry. Put your foot down but be grateful for the people in your life who want to help. Take time to look at the big picture and realize that everyone involved is helping so that you can celebrate the commitment of spending the rest of your life to your fiancé. If all else fails a glass of red & to-do list should get you through.