Planning a wedding is a lot of fun but can be quite overwhelming. You might be able to handle most of it without breaking a sweat: Botched invitations, feuding in-laws and a collapsed cake can largely be dealt with in the moment. But no matter how organized, well-adjusted and calm you might be, one factor could send you over the edge: a meddling mom.
Whether she's well-meaning or malicious, the meddling mom (or stepmom or future mother-in-law) can take garden-variety wedding anxiety and send it into the stratosphere. Even the closest mother-daughter bond might be strained by the stress of planning The Most Perfect Day Ever, and already tense relationships can be pushed to the breaking point. Things can be even more precarious if your mom is holding the purse strings for the ceremony, reception or honeymoon.
So, how do you deal with an interfering mother of the bride (or groom) without fighting, hurting feelings or causing permanent damage to your relationship? Here are five tips on how to keep her (and yourself!) happy -- while maintaining everyone's sanity.
First things first: Start off on the right foot. Even if you're pretty sure your mom's going to turn into Momzilla about a week into the planning process, try to be optimistic. Before you even think about going dress shopping or booking a caterer, you should have an honest conversation with her -- about budget, the guest list, whatever you think might be a stumbling block. But also give your mom the benefit of the doubt; the journey from engagement to wedding day will be so much easier if you begin at a place of mutual respect.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
After you've had the initial ground-rules conversation with your mom, keep the ball rolling. Don't assume everything's going to be hunky dory if you've had one good talk -- the lines of communication need to remain open. You'll make yourself crazy by reporting every single detail, but if your mom seems to need constant updating, humor her. Her urge to nag might be nipped in the bud if you keep her in the loop.
Tell Her What She Can Do
This might seem counterintuitive, but if you're worried that your mom will be a meddler, let her help. Ask her what parts of the wedding are really important to her, then hand her a list of tasks with very specific instructions and expectations. You'll give her a purpose, and maybe she won't have time to be a Nosy Nellie if she's knee-deep in flower arrangements and seating charts.
Tell Her What She Can't Do
Giving your mom a job is all well and good, but you might also have a pretty sizable list of tasks you'd rather she not touch with a 10-foot pole. So take a deep breath and be honest about it -- but watch your phrasing. "Mindy is going dress shopping with me tomorrow. Why don't we hit the caterers next week?" will go over a whole lot better than, "I don't want you to come dress shopping." If she's not getting the hint though, you'll have to be direct with her. Just remember our first tip of being respectful.
When All Else Fails…
Planning a wedding while dealing with a nagging mom can take its toll on your (and your betrothed) sanity. If your stress levels are through the roof, it might be time to enlist an intermediary to handle your mom -- and that's what your maid or matron of honor is there for. Your mom might be more likely to take direction (and less likely to take things personally) if they come from someone other than you. You'll owe your special attendant big-time, but it's a small price to pay for some peace of mind.
Making over your mom for your wedding day is a fun activity for both mom and daughter. Learn about making over your mom for your wedding day.
- Emily Post. "Tips for Mom: They're Engaged!" (Aug. 15, 2011) http://www.emilypost.com/weddings/youre-engaged/418-tips-for-mom-theyre-engaged
- New York Daily News. "Planning Your Wedding with Mom and Without a Fight." May 11, 2008. (Aug. 15, 2011) http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-05-11/entertainment/17897056_1_mother-daughter-wedding-mother-and-daughter
- The Knot. "Budgeting for the Wedding: Who Pays for What?" (Aug. 15, 2011) http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-bride/articles/wedding-budget-who-pays-for-what.aspx
- The Knot. "Mother of the Bride: Top 8 Wedding Tips for Moms." (Aug. 15, 2011) http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-bride/articles/top-8-wedding-tips-for-moms.aspx
- The Knot. "Mother of the Groom: Basic Etiquette Q&A." (Aug. 15, 2011) http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-bride/articles/mother-of-the-groom-etiquette.aspxh
- The Knot. "Wedding Traditions and Superstitions: 50 Facts & Trivia." (Aug. 17, 2011) http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/50-wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia.aspx?MsdVisit=1