Navigating Mother Wedding Planners

By Evan Kanarakis

We’ve undoubtedly heard horror stories of overly interventionist mothers and soon-to-be mother-in-laws that threatened to derail a couple’s wedding. Planning nuptials can be stressful and overwhelming regardless of the event size or scale. It’s often the first time either party has ever looked into organizing such an event.

So it is understandable that loved ones might want to lend their assistance in making the entire process run more smoothly and efficiently by sharing the benefit of their own past experiences.

Most couples will find they are eternally grateful for the extra advice, support, and sets of hands to make the wedding happen. But what isn’t as welcome is unsolicited advice coming less as suggestion and more as expectation.

Here are three tips to managing the role of mothers in wedding planning.

Include Your Mother

This may sound unexpected but sometimes it really is as simple as just including one’s mother in the actual conversation. Lest we forget that for many moms, this is a day they have been looking forward to since the day you were born, perhaps nearly as much as (gulp) getting to hold their first grandchild.

Even if you’re terrified by the notion of letting your mother anywhere near wedding plans, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that all she wants is to be included in the discussion. Unnecessary friction could come from excluding a mother without good cause.

Let mom know that her opinion counts and merits a listen. She may have something to say, or not. What counts is that you cared and respected her opinion enough to ask.

However, pause for a second and contemplate all the oft-forgotten elements that can go into a wedding, from managing out-of-town guests to seating plans, bridal registers and returning formal hire after the wedding, especially when you could already be en route to a honeymoon destination. Mother may just know best.

Recognize What It Is That You Want

It’s inevitable that some mothers are always going to run away with talk of wedding plans from the moment you’re engaged. It’s a natural expression of excitement and to be expected. After all, were you hoping people wouldn’t be happy and looking forward to your Big Day?

What you can do, though, is at least contemplate a few key elements in advance of what you both want for your wedding. That way, if your mother starts talking wedding plans and running away with it all, you can gently assure her that plans are already afoot.

If you haven’t thought that far ahead, once again gently suggest that you aren’t talking plans yet and just want to enjoy the engagement for a while. It’s a reasonable request. If you remain polite and measured in rebuffing overtures you shouldn’t encounter too much resistance. Each partner should deal with their own mother, rather than the (potentially prickly) other way around.

It generally won’t take that much for a mother to remember that the wedding isn’t about her; it’s about you.

Lay the Foundation

Should matters sadly become seriously strained, consider a mediator; perhaps another family member or your celebrant. The endgame of a wedding is to spend the rest of your life with a partner. That means their parents are likely to remain a key part of the years ahead, too.

Now just might be the time to lay down the foundation on what for you is acceptable and what isn’t, and issues in the planning phases of a wedding from a mother could well signal further troubles down the line. The future peace of family gatherings, holidays and other special occasions is at stake.

Nip things in the bud can save you from a great deal of discomfort later, let alone a wedding that you hadn’t really wanted. Also recognize this is an exercise in forging a stronger partnership with your fiancé as well. Stand up for yourselves as a team. Don’t let a mother’s grievances become a dividing wedge in your own relationship.

With enough patience, diplomacy and love, this will be an entirely wonderful period in your lives as you plan the wedding, and sharing in the joy of it with all of those around you — and particularly with your mother — will be one of the most cherished memories gained.