5 Time-honored Traditions for the Bride and Her Mother

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Deciding to get married is the easy part. Planning the wedding and paying for it -- well, that's the overwhelming part. That's where your parents come in. But while planning involves many activities moms and daughters typically enjoy, it's not all fun and games. With tradition as your guide, you and your mother can navigate the wedding planning process to ensure every detail is handled to perfection.

What role will your mother play in this joyful/stressful time? And, how can you honor her at the ceremony in way that will make her feel particularly special?

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The Dress and Veil

Perhaps the most sentimental tradition is for the bride to wear her mother's wedding gown -- with updates and alterations, of course. But if the bride is selecting her own dress, she usually brings her mother along to say "yes" to it. After all, you can always count on Mom for an honest opinion. In fact, visit any bridal salon today and you'll not only find mothers, but also grandmothers, several bridesmaids and sometimes even a father and grandfather on hand to give the bride a thumbs up (or down) to a gown.

If wearing Mom's dress doesn't work, perhaps wearing her veil will. Today, a veil may range from a mantilla, which shrouds the bride, to a simple and sweet flower tucked into a chignon. Incorporating part or all of a mother's veil or headpiece into yours creates a special bond between mother and daughter. And that bond will come in handy when the planning process becomes more stressful.

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Dressing Your Mother (and His)

Once the wedding gown has been ordered and the colors for the bridesmaid's dresses and flowers have been determined, the bride can give the go-ahead for her mother to start looking for her outfit. It's OK for the bride to suggest colors and styles that will compliment her wedding style, bearing in mind what her mother will feel comfortable in and look great wearing.

Traditionally, once the mother-of-the bride has selected her outfit, she tells the groom's mother what she'll be wearing, so the groom's mother can then shop for an ensemble that will blend well with the mother-of-the-bride's. As long as the mothers don't try to out-do each other, it's hard to go wrong.

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Please Be Seated

Tradition plays a big role in the wedding procession. If the mother-of-the-bride is not part of the bridal procession, she is usually the last person seated before the ceremony begins. In Christian wedding ceremonies, she sits on the left side in the front row. In Jewish ceremonies, it's tradition for the bride's mother and father to process up the aisle with their daughter and remain under the huppah through the wedding ceremony.

However, that's just tradition, and today's families don't necessarily always follow tradition. Even if you follow the specific rules your faith dictates for the actual ceremony, you can always bend the rules a bit for the processional. For example, if your ceremony is Christian, you could still ask your mother to join your father in walking you down the aisle.

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Honor Thy Mother

Many brides take time during the wedding ceremony to honor their mothers. For example, some couples present their mothers with a flower during the ceremony. Others plan a unity ritual to symbolize the blending of the two families. A popular practice is for the bride and groom to light a candle from a candle held by their mothers and then to use the flames to light one central candle. Adding special songs, poems or readings to the service is a touching way to pay homage to a mother.

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The Reception

After the bride and groom are hitched, it's time to celebrate. The reception includes a few more rituals for the bride and her mother. Traditionally, the bride's parents are the reception hosts, so they head up the receiving line -- meeting, greeting and welcoming guests to the celebration. If the wedding party will be formally announced during the reception, again the bride's parents are first.

The final tradition involving the bride and her mother is the first dance. The bride and groom dance together first. Then the bride's parents join in. The bride is paired with her father, and the groom is paired with his mother-in-law. After a few turns, the groom's parents join the dance and eventually the rest of wedding party and guests hit the dance floor.

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And everyone lives happily ever after.

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Sources

  • Hawes, Elizabeth. "Martha Stewart Weddings." Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1987.
  • Roney, Carley. "The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World." Broadway Books. 2004.
  • Post, Anna. "The great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post tackles wedding decorum for the next generation." Insideweddings.com. Spring. 2009. (June 22, 2010)http://insideweddings.com/articles/anna-post-on-etiquette-modern-invitation-rules
  • Post, Anna. "Etiquette Expert: Anna Post" Brides.com. (June 22, 2010)http://www.brides.com/etiquette/family_friends_guests_etiquette/feature/article/180066/.
  • "Parents' Roles in Your Wedding." Yourweddingplace.com. (June 20, 2010)http://www.yourweddingplace.com/wedding-planning/wedding-articles-parents-bride.htm.
  • "Time Honored Wedding Traditions." Bride&Groom.com. (June 21, 2010)http://www.brideandgroom.com/wedding-articles/tradition.asp.
  • "Wedding Traditions & Superstitions: 50 Wedding Facts & Trivia." The Knot. (June 24, 2010)http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/50-wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia.aspx.