Expert advice on how to support your daughter throughout wedding planning and on the big day
A wedding is possibly the biggest party most people will ever throw. It is an occasion that—even if the plan is to keep it simple—takes on the logistics of a theatrical production. Everyone has a role, but as traditions have evolved, those roles can be vaguely defined, especially as couples are marrying older.
While the bride and groom are at the centre, their family members are important players as well. Take the mother of the bride (MOB)—please! OK, all joking aside, the words “mother of the bride” conjure up a sliding scale of thoughts from heartwarming, maternal love to prescription-inducing, domineering mothering.
The reality is most MOBs have a mix of those characteristics in varying degrees and combinations, but what they do share fully is a desire for their daughters to be happy and have a joyful wedding.
Real Weddings spoke to four experts—a family therapist, wedding planner, stylist and makeup artist—to determine the most important dos and don’ts for the MOB to make it a wonderful experience for all—including herself.
1. DO: Be considerate
"Be self-aware," says Michele Kambolis, a Vancouver-based family therapist. “Ask how you want you and your daughter to feel during the planning of her wedding and ask if your actions are supporting that feeling. So if you want to feel joy, really think about what actions toward joy might look like and check yourself.” Kambolis underscores that it’s imperative to stay open and aware of the “core intention to support your daughter through a very important time of her life.” Be mindful of the impact your words or actions could have on both the bride and groom, “Weddings can be a very emotional time and they can light up a lot of unfinished business within the relationship. So it’s important to tend to that as it shows up.”
2. DO: Remember it’s not your wedding
Erin Bishop, owner and principal planner for Filosophi Events, says "... the single most important piece of advice is to remind them [the mother] that this is their daughter’s day, not theirs. It’s so simple but so often that gets forgotten once the planning is underway. Mom’s opinions are valued and ideas welcomed, but at the end of the day, we want the bride to have her dream realized and that discontent from mom can really sour the whole experience.”
3. DON’T: Try to outshine the bride
The biggest faux pas for a MOB, according to Diane Gagne, Personal Shopper Holt Renfrew Vancouver, would be trying to “outdress the bride.” Gagne says that as it’s your daughter’s day, she is the star of the show. “It’s a moment to celebrate your daughter, not compete with her.” This is good advice for the mother of the groom too.
4. DO: Be willing to share in decisions
“Many people may be involved in the decisions, and that is a reflection of the number of people who love your daughter and are excited for her," says Kambolis. "So take a step back. Understand that their desire to help is coming from a place of support and be willing to share in the process.”
5. DO: Communicate
Bishop says communication is everything. “For both the bride (or groom) and mother, it can be easy to get emotional; disagreements can lead to hurt feelings and often people will shut down. I encourage the family members to really try to communicate why they are feeling strongly about something and try to approach with an open mind why the other person feels differently.”
Kambolis concurs adding, “Arguments are almost always about fear or a need for control. A parent can ask ‘what is this about for me? What am I projecting from my own past and can I support my daughter without imposing my own views’”?
6. DON’T: Experiment with makeup
Look like yourself, says Simone Otis, makeup artist and spokesperson for beautyBOUTIQUE by Shoppers Drug Mart. “A wedding is not the right time to experiment with your beauty look or go over the top. You will be happy with how you feel during the wedding and when you look back at the beautiful pictures you’ll see yourself, not a trendy makeup look. Focus on doing a makeup look that creates the best version of you.”
7. DON’T: Argue with the any of the wedding party members
“In those situations it’s great to check in with the couple and clarify roles and responsibilities,” advises Kambolis. “‘How can I be of help? This is what I’m noticing.’”
8. DO: Dress appropriately for your age
“There are a lot of beautiful dresses in watercolour florals and soft prints with lots of lace and embroidery details this season that still look very modern and aren’t overly girly,” explains Gagne. “Also the high/low hemline is still a strong trend, so dresses can have a little more length but still feel youthful and appropriate. The bonus is that most of these dress styles can be worn again for other occasions.”
9. DO: Guide, not dictate
Bishop says that the mothers she has found to be “excellent influences are pros at letting their kids take the lead—being there to support and give input when solicited, but not trying to take over or railroad their ideas into play. Mothers have a lot of wisdom and their children value and appreciate their guidance, but it should be just that: guidance.”
10. DO: Go natural with your makeup
Otis advises, “Play up your natural tones, amplify your lashes and eyebrows, and define your features using shades that are believable for your skin tone. A pop of bright lipstick can work in a classic shade, say red or pink.”
11. DON’T: Pay for the wedding thinking it will guarantee control over everything
“Often problems arise when parents are paying for the wedding,” Bishop says. “In this situation, I’d advise mothers that if they’ve offered pay, it shouldn’t be with strings attached. If there are some expectations the parents have at the onset of planning, make them clear immediately. For example, problems often arise around the guest list. If the mother has offered to financially contribute to the wedding but expects this to mean she may invite as many people as she wants, this should be communicated from the get-go.”
12. DO: Keep accessories simple
Gagne suggests choosing to highlight your outfit with one key piece. “If your dress is a solid colour, a statement necklace, earrings or even embellished shoe add interest,” she says. “If you are wearing a print, maybe lean more towards something softer such as pearls or a delicate rose gold earring and bracelet with a tonal shoe.”
13. Do: Set them free
It might sound hokey but it really is imperative for a healthy relationship. Kambolis notes that as parents, we’ve nurtured, cherished and guided the child her whole life, but marriage is especially a time when you need to let them be their own person. “We’ve held an internal vision and narrative for what we have wanted for their life but it’s what we have wanted, not what they have wanted. This is a time to separate that and allow them to flourish into what they want for themselves,” she advises.
14. DO: Think about (don’t laugh), family counselling
It’s a “great time for therapy,” Kambolis says. “It’s a time when emotions are running high. If there is something we need to find and heal and move out of, this is the time to do it. “When the wedding is over, the emotional and psychological door is slammed shut again because we’re on to the next phase of life.”
15. DON’T: Prep your skin right before the wedding
After a facial, or even a at-home mask or treatment, skin can be a bit sensitive with extra redness or irritation, says Otis. But she advises using a light exfoliator or simple mask “to create a perfect canvas.”
16. DO: Apply your makeup in light layers
Otis suggests using “a foundation primer. Go with a good quality matte or semi-matte foundation and use a smudge-proof eyeliner and mascara (you can use a waterproof but make sure to have a waterproof remover).” To make lipstick last, use lip primer, and she recommends having two shades of lipstick: one for the day time and another “a little deeper or richer” for evening.
17. DON’T: Worry about matching your dress to the bridal party
“It’s important for the bridal party to dress for their own body type and personal style so they feel comfortable and can enjoy the festivities,” Gagne says. “I think a more modern approach is for the bride to choose a desired colour range as inspiration—that can be as simple as choosing the floral bouquet and highlighting a few key colours. That said, it's very important for all involved to choose looks that will photograph well as a group and that can also look fresh throughout the day—no loud/big prints or crushable fabrics.”
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