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The Mother of the Bride Duties: A Full Breakdown

There's a lot of wedding planning must-dos for the mother of the bride. Read on to learn the mother of the bride duties you need to know for the big day

By Deanna deBara

As the mother of the bride, you have plenty of to-do’s to check off your list in the days, weeks, and months leading up to the wedding—from taking your daughter wedding dress shopping to participating in the ceremony, to generally making yourself available.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled all the necessary mother of the bride duties you should plan on tackling (or at least offering to be involved in) before and on your daughter’s wedding day, as well as post-wedding.

16 Duties Every Mother of a Bride Should Know

Before the Wedding Day

1. Assist in looking into and scouting venues.

Traditionally, the mother of the bride will often help the engaged couple research, communicate with, and tour potential wedding venues. How hands-on and involved in this aspect of planning you are is entirely up to the bride and yourself. Your assistance may include tasks like asking friends and family for recommendations, looking into venues in the area of interest online, calling or emailing venues to discuss availability and quotes, and accompanying the couple on a tour of the venue.

2. Serve as a point of contact for vendors.

Even intimately sized weddings can involve juggling a lot of communication. Because the couple is likely tackling a lot of their wedding planning to-do list, offer to help by being a point person for all vendors (plus potential vendors). Whether you’re the main point of contact or an extra point person who’s CC’d on email chains, your involvement is sure to be a great help.

3. Be a supportive confidant throughout wedding gown shopping.

If your daughter is inviting people to go wedding dress (or suite, or otherwise) shopping, chances are you’re at the top of the list. Throughout this process—which can span multiple appointments and involve some research—you’ll want to be as supportive and helpful as possible. This part of the wedding planning process can be a pretty big deal. Offer to help by researching local bridal salons, boutiques, and trunk shows, setting up appointments, and (of course) attending. During appointments, stash your phone away (unless photos are requested), offering your most supportive opinions, and generally aid in creating a great atmosphere.

4. Attend and/or plan any pre-wedding events and celebrations.

Long gone is outdated etiquette that states the bride’s side shouldn’t plan celebratory events. In fact, most bridal showers are now planned out by a loved one, be it a bridesmaid, maid of honor, or the mother of the bride. Once your daughter has announced her engagement, ask if she’d like you to plan any of the events that are to come. This may include an engagement party, bridal party, and rehearsal dinner. Taking on the task of planning one or more of these events isn’t a small help—it can involve research, invitations, RSVPs, setup, and making everyone feel welcome. That being said, it’s one of the more paramount and appreciated mother of the bride duties. At the very least, plan on attending these events.

INLINE OneLovePhotography 1080x720 Fallon&Jeremy Photo Credit // One Love Photography

Before The Ceremony

5. Make sure the bride eats.

This may seem small, but is actually incredibly important. There’s a lot of excitement (and nerves!) on the day of the wedding, from top to bottom. In the midst of all that excitement, it can be easy for the bride to forget to eat breakfast. or lunch. As the mother of the bride, it’s your responsibility to make sure your daughter eats enough to sustain her energy throughout the day. Pro tip: Arrange the food situation beforehand. This can mean going to the store in the days leading up to the wedding and collecting food to bring to the getting ready session. This can also mean offering to have food delivered to the getting ready location. In any case, make sure you have a few snacks in your bag, just in case.

6. Help the bride get dressed.

Perhaps the most classic of the mother of the bride duties is helping the bride get dressed. We’ve all seen the classic images of a mother helping zip up her daughter’s wedding dress. Not only is this very helpful for the bride (wedding dresses can be hard to get into), but it’s also a great opportunity for you and your daughter to have a special moment before the ceremony begins—not to mention a great photo op. Take the moment to assist where needed, outfit-wise, but also don’t forget to offer some sweet words.

7. Keep the schedule moving along and on track.

There are a lot of moving parts throughout a wedding day. In order for the ceremony to start on time, all of those moving parts need to happen right on schedule. If you have a wedding planner or coordinator, it’s their job to keep things on track—but as the mother of the bride, you’ll also want to keep an eye on timing and make sure that everything is happening when/where/how it needs to.

Get ahold of a wedding day schedule before the day of and keep it on-hand throughout the day. Pro tip: There are plenty of digital schedule templates that make having the timeline on-hand super convenient. Look into purchasing or making one, if not copying the schedule down in your phone notes, if that makes keeping track of it easier. We recommend also providing one to the father of the bride, groom’s parents, and wedding party.

8. Help keep the bride cool, calm, and relaxed.

As you’re likely well aware, the bride will probably be feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves in the hours leading up to the wedding. As her mom, it’s your job to make sure she stays as positive and relaxed as possible. Keep the mood happy and light and try to solve any issues that arise without the bride even realizing it.

During The Ceremony

9. Participate in any planned ceremony events.

If there are any parts of the ceremony your daughter has asked you to be a part of (for example, walking her down the aisle, doing a ceremony reading, or participating in some sort of unity ceremony), obviously, that will fall under your day-of mother of the bride duties. At this point, you should have gone over these happenings during the wedding rehearsal.

10. Sit back and enjoy.

If there isn’t anything for you to do during the ceremony, your only responsibility as the mother of the bride is to sit back and enjoy (typically, in the first pew). This is a huge moment in your daughter’s life, so make sure to be present and soak up every second. If you’re in the processional and/or recessional, be prepared to step in when it’s your turn.

Between Ceremony And Reception

11. Help the bride bustle her dress or navigate any outfit changes.

Depending on the complexity of the design, bustling a dress can take one or multiple people. So, if your bride’s dress needs to be bustled, make sure you’re on hand to help it get done. If you anticipate this being a responsibility of yours, request to join your daughter at her dress fitting or final alterations appointment so that you can be instructed on how to bustle the gown. And if your bride has an outfit change between the ceremony and reception, make sure you’re there to help her get changed quickly and easily (and don’t forget to stash her ceremony attire somewhere safe, preferably in a garment bag!).

12. Make yourself available for photos.

The wedding photographer might want to snap family photos between the ceremony and reception. Make sure you’re available to track down any necessary family members (a task that may be easier said than done) and pose with the newly married couple.

13. Greet the guests at cocktail hour.

This is one of your mother of the bride etiquette responsibilities. Traditionally, the bride’s parents are considered the hosts of the wedding. While this may or may not be the case, it’s still important to carve out some time to greet guests and thank them for coming. If the newlyweds aren’t having a receiving line, you’ll be acting as their representative (along with your daughter’s in-laws, the father and mother of the groom). Make the rounds and briefly speak to as many loved ones as possible. If you were busy helping the bride get ready before the ceremony, the cocktail hour is a great opportunity to connect with guests.

INLINE Kivus&Camera 1080x720 Sarah&Monty Photo Credit // Kivus & Camera

At The Reception

14. Give a welcome speech.

Again, the parents of the bride are typically viewed as the hosts of the wedding—and part of your mother of the bride duties as the wedding host is to give a speech or wedding toast at the wedding reception to welcome guests. Prepare your speech well ahead of time and ask your daughter if she’d like you to run it by her beforehand. And, no matter what, make sure it’s genuine and full of love and support.

15. Get out on the dance floor.

The newly married couple will have the first dance of the night. Once their dance is wrapped up, though, it’s traditional for the couple’s parents to take a spin on the dance floor and encourage the other guests to get up and start dancing.

After The Reception

16. Make sure everything is taken care of before you leave.

Before you head out, make sure that anything that needs to be wrapped up or taken care of—like packing up any wedding decor or tipping vendors, such as caterers and wedding planners—is all settled. Most vendors call the act of taking things down and putting them away “striking” and might have it in their contract that they take care of their share. That being said, take a final look or two around and assist in collect forgotten items if needed.

Mother of the Bride FAQ

What does a mother of the bride wear?

First and foremost, what anyone (or, at least, anyone in the wedding party) wears should reflect the couple’s wedding vision. Ask your daughter for some assistance on what to wear, here. Briefly ask for the formality level, preferred colors or patterns, and silhouettes. Then seek out an outfit that you’re comfortable in that also fits the desired look.

What should she gift her daughter on the day of?

Often times, the mother of the bride will gift their daughter with something the morning of their wedding. Consider presenting her with a beautifully customized hanger for her outfit or a piece of jewelry she might want to wear. You can also gift a family heirloom, which perfectly fits the qualifications of something old (as in new, borrowed, and blue).

Should she assist with the guest list?

This entirely depends on the bride and her significant other. If they’d prefer to compile it themselves, it won’t require your assistance. However, if your daughter requests some help with remembering family members or family friends, you can aid in creating it.

As the mother of the bride, you want to make sure your daughter’s wedding is as happy, memorable, and stress-free as possible. Now that you know the mother of the bride duties you’ll need to manage on the big day, you have everything you need to make that happen!

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