Susquehanna Style - Expert Advice

January 2014

By Susan Moran

Reprinted with the kind permission of Susquehanna Style

Mothers and Brides and Grooms, Oh My! Your daughter said Yes. Your son popped the question. Congratulations, you are now an official mother of the bride or mother of the groom, and your world has changed in the most wonderful of ways. Allow me to send you on this journey with insights as both a former mother of the bride and mother of the groom and as a professional wedding planner.

Likely, you have envisioned this role in your child’s life since your early days of motherhood, most certainly comparing it with your own experience as a bride. While the traditional dynamic (the mother of the bride in the lead, as she and the bride work together throughout the planning process; the mother of the groom providing her part of the guest list, organizing the rehearsal dinner, wearing beige and being quiet; the groom simply showing up in a tux on the wedding day) may exist somewhere, today’s weddings have departed from the time-honored ways of the past. What is the new norm? Simply stated: whatever works. The relationship between the bride and the groom, their specific wedding vision and their respective relationships with their families are the key elements in determining how the planning will move forward. Every wedding experience has its own distinct “planning process personality” and the roles of the mother of the bride and mother of the groom will reflect this.

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The first step is to define and verify your expected part and function from the outset. I strongly suggest that you initiate this by asking for clarification rather than assuming anything. Your participation and involvement are critical to the success of the process. Setting off on the proverbial “right foot” with sincere respect, freely given assistance and plenty of unconditional love is not only a gift to them, but a gift to yourself. Although the obvious goal is providing everything to fulfill the wedding dreams of the bride and groom, the mother of the bride and mother of the groom are actually laying the foundation for all the holidays and family gatherings in the years to come.

The next step is to take a moment to explore your own feelings about the wedding experience. In your heart, there may be a picture of this important day. Honor these thoughts and feelings. Emotions, long-held and new, positive and negative, are heightened and must be creatively and constructively handled. Everything will be magnified and you must be aware that this is both extremely normal and totally common. It is how you factor these angels and demons into the mix that is important. At the end of the day, literally your child’s wedding day, everyone you (and your child) love and everyone who loves you (and your child) will come together for this one moment in time. Your countenance and attitude will be pivotal to its joyful outcome.

Here’s a list of important things to have during this journey:
1. Clear focus Remember what this is all about: Two people met, fell in love, decided to spend their lives together, plan to share a sacrament of this commitment and celebrate this with all those significant in their lives. Two families and “families of the heart” are going to be indelibly joined forever.

2. Reality check There are endless ideas and examples in the media that supposedly define the “perfect wedding.” When bombarded with this, immediately refer back to number one and re-focus. This reality check will put everything in proper perspective.

3. Team adventure This is an opportunity to bond with your child, members of both families and friends old and new. Good sportsmanship should be practiced by all concerned. You are literally a team experiencing an adventure together. Inclusiveness is a fabulous precedent to set. This is about a collection of opinions and talents reflecting the bride’s and groom’s wedding vision and bringing it to life rather than any territorial considerations of “right” or “wrong.” Go team!

4. Unique vs. universal Remember that although every “planning process personality” is unique to its own wedding experience, hopes and dreams, laughter and tears, and expectations are universal to all weddings, and a very specific set of these feelings are found within each person involved.

5. Management style With 24/7 communication via voicemail, email, texting and conversation, be aware the there is only one chance to have your message correctly received. Words may never be taken back. Always think before you speak, virtually or otherwise.

Enjoy this ever-so-special journey. It will exceed your expectations and you will cherish your memories forever. Bon voyage... off you go!

One final take-along to make your wedding experience extraordinary are some helpful tips shared from others who have already been on this journey: Becky, Brigid, Debbie, Dee, Donna, Dyan, Joan, Kathleen, Marcy and Sharon.

Strokes of genius: Listen, support, release control and stress, step back, respect and remember that it is the bride’s and groom’s day.

Remember that this day is equally important to everyone, just in different ways.

Schedule time for special pre-ceremony family moments.

Have more than one person who knows how to bustle the bride’s gown.

Have a sense of humor.

Hire a wedding professional in whom you place your full trust. Then turn it all over and enjoy the beauty and joy of the day.

Could have done without: Worry.

Time flying by.

Unhappy Feet: wore killer new shoes, but needed to break them in.

Should have done: Relax and realize, really realize, that perfection doesn’t exist. Unexpected things will happen. It’s the overall outcome that counts.

Who Pays for What? Suggested wedding financial responsibilities

You're engaged! It’s time to begin wedding planning, and also time to decide who pays for what. Whether you dream of a lavish, formal event or a small, intimate affair, there are expected expenses to consider, as well as a myriad of necessary details.

Before going further, know that there is no normal, and there is no right or wrong. Every relationship dynamic and set of family expectations is unique. The goal is finding a plan for financial responsibility best suiting your specific situation. This takes patience and unconditional willingness to compromise from all involved parties. These decisions should be made before actual planning commences so that everyone is in agreement from the beginning.

Today, one of these approaches is typical:

Traditional (bride’s family assumes majority of expenses)

Families evenly share

Bride and Groom assume full expenses

Reguardless of your choice, families must understand that offering financial assistance for your wedding in no way gives them permission to choose how their money is spent. It should be freely given, no strings attached. While input and ideas should be a happy part of this process, it’s essential that everyone involved concur that final decisions belong to the bride and groom. It comes down to this: create, celebrate and cherish. It’s time for stress to go away and fun to begin as you plan your wedding, your way.

Keeping in mind that this is merely a guide, here is a list of suggested wedding financial responsibilities:
groom’s wedding ring
wedding gifts
-her wedding party
-her parents
gown preservation

Bride’s family
engagement party (optional)
bride’s wedding attire
entire cost of ceremony and reception
-wedding designer/planner
-venue(s) fees
-paper suite
-bride’s wedding party bouquets and corsages
design elements and decor
security/insurance (optional)
gift for newlyweds
marriage license
officiant’s fee
bride’s engagement and wedding rings
wedding gifts
-his wedding party
-his parents
wedding flowers
-bride’s bouquet
the honeymoon

Groom’s family
rehearsal dinner
gift for newlyweds
their own travel /accommodations

Wedding party
bachelorette/bachelor party
wedding attire
their own travel
gift for newlyweds

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