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Rules & Etiquette Advice for Any Mother of the Bride

The 10 personal "don'ts" of taking part in your daughter's nuptials.

Congratulations to your daughter and her future spouse! You're likely very excited for the happy couple, so you don't want to upset them leading up to the big day. Read tips for what not to do as a mother of the bride!

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Photo: KLK Photography

So, your daughter is getting married – what a happy time for you and your family! Your little girl is likely over the moon to be engaged to her sweetheart, and you’re just as excited about this new chapter in her life. That being said, it’s deceptively easy to fall into certain wedding etiquette “don’ts” as you take on the all-important title of “mother of the bride.”

If this is your only child who has gotten married, you may not be prepared for what's in store – from mother-of-the-bride responsibilities, to finding a mother-of-the-bride dress, to knowing what to do on the big day. Read over this helpful list on things to avoid saying and doing during your daughter’s engagement and wedding!

As the Mother of the Bride...

1. Don't overload the guest list.

Though there’s a chance that you’re contributing financially to some or all of the wedding, adding 15 of your coworkers to your allotted portion of the guest list is often a big faux pas, especially with a limited guest count at the chosen venue. Extending invites to very close family members, friends, or professional affiliations is fine – especially if you are paying – however, don’t let your guest count cause any major “bumps” from your daughter’s list.

2. Don't nitpick about wedding details.

As good as you think a certain color scheme will be, or a certain fabric would be perfect for the table linens, or your favorite tune for the first dance song, your daughter’s opinion comes first. Give your “two cents” when you feel it’s appropriate, but don’t criticize the details of her big day.

3. Don't expect everything to be “traditional.”

Your wedding may have followed certain customs, but it’s important to remember that each generation will have its fads and trends. Talk to your daughter about what kinds of traditions she might want to include – and which she’ll want to exclude. If there's something particularly important to your family, share your thoughts in an understanding way. She may come around!

4. Don't suggest family friends as free labor.

Though you may believe this practice to be cost-effective, making a friend or relative work for free right before – or on the day of – a wedding is rude. It doesn’t matter if they seem happy to complete the task: don’t ask your daughter to put extra strain on those your close with!

5. Don't purchase an outfit without consulting your daughter.

In all likelihood, she'll want you to wear something you feel beautiful and comfortable in, but that being said, giving her a heads-up on your preferences will make the process much easier. She may ask that you wear a certain color or style, but either way, collaboration is always key.

6. Don't withhold your opinion – if your daughter asks.

Surely your daughter does not want you to hold your tongue 100% of the time. Don’t be afraid to add in your concerns – hopefully followed by a potential solution – and thoughts or suggestions when applicable: she’ll be glad for your wisdom.

7. Don't create or add to tension with the groom’s mom.

If there is any bad blood between you and your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law’s mother, it’s your job to put differences aside for the sake of your children. Being best friends is not a requirement, but civility for all wedding events definitely is.

8. Don't have any “diva moments” the day of.

If you’re not pleased with your makeup, redo some of it yourself. If you can’t find your purse, ask for some quick help from a bridesmaid. If you don’t think the photographer is getting enough pictures of you, don’t say anything unless absolutely necessary. The calmer you are, the more relaxed your daughter will be on her wedding day.

9. Don't attempt any inebriated public speaking.

By all means, enjoy the party! Just keep any wedding speeches or toasts you might be making later in the night in mind. It’s not a crime to have a drink or two – especially to take the edge off of speaking in front of a crowd – but keep your composure and deliver the toast you know your little girl is dying to hear.

10. Don't spend the evening playing hostess.

It’s easy to feel like the “mom” of the evening, which can lead to you feeling the need to clean up here and there, make sure everyone’s tasted the hors d’oeuvres, or check in with each and every guest. Remember, this is your time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your daughter and her spouse’s labor throughout the planning process – and likely your own as well! 

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Opening photo by KLK Photography; From Real Wedding: Greek Orthodox Church Ceremony + Glamorous Purple & Gold Reception