Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

“Sorry Mom, This is Not Your Wedding!”

Dad’s too!

I once had a father tell me, “I’m paying for this wedding and it will be the way I want it!” I replied, “How sad that you cannot allow your daughter to have things the way she wants them,” and quietly walked away.

controllingMotherA bride’s mother once tried to change nearly everything the bride, groom and I had planned for her daughter’s wedding at the rehearsal. The bride and groom wanted the Maid of Honor and the Best Man to walk out first because there were nine bridesmaids and nine groomsmen on each side. Since the wedding was outdoors and the wedding party would be standing on grass the concern was that if (traditionally) the Maid of Honor and the Best Man walked out last, the girl and guy who walked in first might not be standing where they should be. By having the Maid of Honor and the Best Man walk in first, everyone would simply take their place next to the Maid of Honor and the Best Man and would know exactly where they are suppose to stand.

The Wedding Coordinator knew the couples wishes and at the rehearsal when she began to line the bridal party up the non-traditional way, the mother of the bride shouted, “No! No! That’s not the way is is supposed to be,” and began to line them up the traditional way. It became apparent the bride had not told her mom of her intentions and was not going to say anything. I got the mom’s attention and will a big smile on my face I said, “Come here, Mary. I must tell you something.” When she got close enough, I whispered in her ear, “This is not your wedding. This is your daughter’s wedding. You’ve already had your wedding and she would like it to be her way. Please let her have it the way she wants it.”

The mother stomped away, visibly upset but stepped into the background. The bride rushed over to me and said, “What did you say to my mother?” When I told her, she said, “YES!! Thank you!” and the rehearsal went forward the way the bride intended. I was invited to the reception and when I leave I make it a point to say thank you to the parents and was not quite sure what the response was going to be from the bride’s mother. She gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “I am so sorry I made such an ass of myself. The ceremony was unbelievable and everything was perfect the way my daughter planned it.”

I told the bride later that I was happy to step in and make things right because I would rather the mother be angry with me than the bride on her wedding day.

Talk about controlling mothers (and sometimes fathers)! You don’t need this wedding drama.

This phenomena is nothing new. It happens a lot. The mother’s traditional role was to plan the wedding for her daughter or son, but things have changed. Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of, “The Mother of the Bride Book,” explains, “One type of mom is the controlling type that is trying to plan the wedding she never had.”

wedding-stressWhether consciously or unconsciously, some moms start demanding that their daughter’s wedding fit into a certain mold – one that was missing at their own wedding. Kristen Harrington, a marriage and family therapist in Kingston, NY, has seen plenty of mothers who attempt to re-create their wedding day vicariously through their daughter. “The mother had disastrous things happen at her wedding and has now vowed that she is going to have the wedding of her dreams – which is her daughter’s wedding,” notes Harrington.

My belief is that mothers have the best intentions and really want what is best for their children. While the bride has been thinking about her wedding since the day her fiancé slipped that ring on your finger, your mom has been thinking about your wedding ever since she knew she was having a baby girl.

It’s critical to take a stand – to be strong and protect your plans for the wedding that you want. “It’s all about being diplomatic and assertive and knowing how to best talk to your mom,” says Naylor. With all the different feelings that a mother experiences during this pivotal point in her daughter’s life, everybody is really emotionally tweaked. And Naylor stresses that you have to take it upon yourself to be the leader in negotiating how things are going to go. “It’s important to set your foundation from the very beginning.”

My advice to mothers: Stand back and let your daughter and son have their wedding their way! Don’t act like a spoiled teenager “flipping out!” Never tell them that what they are doing is a bad idea or say, “I wouldn’t do that way if I were you! That’s silly!” or say, “That is not how it is traditionally done!” That kind of behavior is childish, inappropriate and will only cause hard feelings. Weddings and rehearsals are stressful enough without your interference. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but please back off. Only offer advice if you are asked for it.

My advice to the Brides and Grooms: Go with your heart. Do what YOU want to do. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your parents to tell them what you intend to do and hope for their blessing. Do not falter. Stand up for yourself. Understand that you are beginning a new phase in your relationship with your mother. It may take her some time to grasp this new concept. Take a deep breath and make a decision.

Let your mother know that you have decided to arrange some special seating for both parents at the wedding, one I’m sure they will enjoy. Read: “A Bright Idea for Seating the Parents of the Bride and Groom.”

Most important, give your mother something special to do that will help her to feel included. And… honor both mothers in a very special way during the ceremony. Read: “The Rose Ceremony” and note the special twist I have for that ceremony as the bride and groom walk out. Read: “Last Kiss… Before the First Kiss!

Once upon a time, the wedding drama got so intense with the mom trying to control every little detail of the wedding that the bride and groom eloped! Not sure your mother would like that.

BONUS Articles: Who (of the bridal party) Walks Down the Aisle First?
Traditional Wedding or NOT!?
Choosing Sides!
7 Ways to Keep “Momthulhu” From Hijacking Your Wedding Plans
Your Wedding is Your Wedding

Have you had situations or know about situations where the mother or the father was trying to control the planning of the wedding? If so, let us know in the comments section and tell us how you handled this issue.


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Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

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  1. I love my parents, but it’s not their wedding. However, I also believe that the marriage ceremony is about everyone feeling included. I gave my mother the task of decorating the church and reception and that was plenty. Anything I didn’t like I didn’t purchase and when she got upset about the cake not being chocolate I told her. It’s not your wedding. My husband and I don’t like chocolate, but I gave her a Hershey bar at the reception so she wouldn’t feel forgotten. 😉


    Comment by livelylady — Sunday, July 27, 2014 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

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  5. My experience has been nothing but hell when it comes to picking the maid of honor. I asked my sister, my half sister, and 2 friends to stand up as bridesmaids. My half sister and I didn’t grow up in the same household, so naturally my parents thought my sister should be my maid of honor, no question about it. However, my sister and I don’t exactly get along very well from hurtful things she’s done in the past, so I decided not to ask her as maid of honor. My mom does not respect my decision or reason for not picking my sister as maid of honor, and I was constantly called up, yelled at, cried to, and given guilt trips for not picking my ‘one and only full blooded sister as maid of honor, the way it “should be!” I stood my ground, and picked who I felt was right to be my maid of honor, one of my friends. However, my sister, father and mother are not on speaking terms with me. I feel like my wedding is a hurdle to get past, and not something to look forward to.


    Comment by Worn Bride — Friday, August 2, 2013 @ 6:51 am | Reply

    • I’m so sorry that your parents cannot see that your wedding is “your” wedding. I’m proud of you for taking a stand for what YOU want! As best you can, just know that you made the right decision and do your best to not allow the actions of others to interfere with your celebration of Love! I you need some support or someone to talk with, I have sent my Cell phone number to you by e-mail.


      Comment by Larry James — Friday, August 2, 2013 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  6. My parents were trying to use their money to control my wedding. My mother was trying to make my wedding all about HER wishes. She wanted to pick my dress, venue and even my wedding party. My mother also wanted me to have a huge wedding so that she could look rich, so not ALL parents are a voice of reason. She did not care about the wishes of my husband and I. My mother told me that I was too fat to look good in a wedding dress. She also said that we were marrying like people who did not have their immigration papers. That was the final straw.

    We eloped to get away from my mom and also because we wanted something intimate. Although my parents were very upset, it taught my mother a valuable lesson. I will be renewing my vows for my fifth anniversary and my mother is wisely staying out of the plans for that celebration. I will not stand for manipulation and being controlled. I am a grown adult! I’m am so glad my mother knows what will happen if she tries to control any aspect of my life.


    Comment by Chris — Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

    • Chris ~ Bravo! Good for you! It’s a shame that more brides don’t stand up to their mothers for what they want their wedding to be. I’m proud of you. You are a great example to other brides.


      Comment by Larry James — Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  7. So, I’ve read lots and lots of these types of advice columns telling the mother or, the latest craze, the father to keep their mouth shut and frankly I’m sick of it. Yes, we are paying for this extravaganza so we have a right to voice our opinion. In my circumstance early in the process I tried to offer an opinion, was immediately shut down and have distanced myself from the entire process. Now, I’m being accused of “not being involved”. Listen, as “advisors” to these brides you can’t have it both ways. We raised them since they were babies (you didn’t!) and we did a pretty good job. Why are we being told by you (just met her a few months ago and is now a complete expert in everything about her) to step aside, shut your mouth and just let things happen because you clearly are the “expert” on my child. I believe the reason the parents are being told to steer clear is that brides and grooms are easily manipulated. Parents, are a voice of reason in sn overly elaborate circus. Because of the great advice on the web about how wonderful a destination wedding is, 20 of us are headed to a foreign country that has travel advisory. We are only staying the required amount of time and getting the heck out of there before someone gets mugged, kidnapped, or worse. Personally I would welcome an elopement!


    Comment by Mad Mom — Saturday, April 13, 2013 @ 8:15 am | Reply

    • Mad Mom ~ I appreciate your comments. I agree that you have a right to voice your opinion, however the Moms and Dads I am talking about are the “controlling” ones; the ones who “insist” about how things should be and even become belligerent about it. That’s just wrong.


      Comment by Larry James — Saturday, April 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am | Reply

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