16 Official Mother of the Bride Duties in Detail
There's nothing better than having your parents around to lean on for their planning advice, emotional support and helping hands. While there's a traditional list of mother-of-the-bride duties (which we've laid out for you below), your mom should be whatever source of help you need or that suits her strengths. If she's meticulously organized and loves to take the reins, let her handle some logistics. Is she more laid back about the nuts and bolts but gifted with an eye for design and aesthetics? Tap her for style decisions and mood board input. The goal here is for Mom to feel included in whichever ways make both of you comfortable. For a traditional list of mother of the bride duties, read on.
What Does the Mother-of-the-Bride Pay for?
While the bride's family (including the mother of the bride!) traditionally pays for the majority of the wedding, these days, it's actually more common for couples and their families to split the bill. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average couple's parents paid for roughly 51% of wedding costs, and the couple paid for 49% of expenses themselves.
Remember that if parents contribute financially, they're also given a certain level of control over wedding-planning decisions. So if the mother of the bride is providing financial support, she may be more involved in planning the wedding than moms who aren't chipping in.
Mother-of-the-Bride Duties and Responsibilities
While, yes, there is a long list of potential duties for the mother of the bride here, the main theme can be summed up in one word: support. "The ideal mother of the bride is supportive in every aspect of the bride's wedding journey," says Claudia G. De Velasco, lead event planner at A Day to Remember in Houston, Texas. "In the end, the happiest brides are those whose mom was emotionally supportive without overwhelming or overtaking the bride with her ideas. The planning should be left to the wedding planner, while the mother of the bride is there to guide her daughter on a more personal aspect." If you're looking for a more specific list of mother of the bride responsibilities, read on.
Research and scout venues.
The mother of the bride often helps the couple check out ceremony and reception sites. Whether she actually accompanies you on site tours or pitches in doing research, calling for quotes or asking friends and family for recommendations, it's up to you how hands on you'd like her to be in the venue hunt.
Act as a point person for vendors.
You and your partner are only two people (presumably with busy schedules), so the mother of the bride can be helpful by serving as either a main contact or just an extra point person for your wedding pros. This will be a huge help, especially if your wedding is taking place in your hometown where she lives while you two live elsewhere.
Provide input on the registry.
If you and Mom have similar taste, you might want to enlist her help as you're creating your wedding registry. The mother of the bride can accompany you and your future spouse if you're selecting registry items in person, or be a second set of eyes to review potential additions to your gift list.
Help choose the wedding dress.
Depending on how close you are with your mom, enlist her help on all things wedding attire related. Can't bear to make a dress decision without her? Don't. Definitely bring her with you to trunk shows, bridal salons and fittings for her expert eye, good judgment and motherly nod of approval.
Assist with guest list creation.
Of course, you and your partner should be the majority vote when it comes to your guest list—but the bride's mom can be super helpful by compiling and sending you all the names and addresses to be included on the master list. In addition, she can connect with your partner's family about who's on their list and manage the tricky task of limiting the number of guests, if necessary.
Give input on the ceremony program.
The mother of the bride is a great resource to tap for family, cultural or religious traditions to incorporate into the wedding ceremony. If she feels strongly about having you include something in particular—be it an important heirloom or a significant unity ceremony—have her do some research and help you plan the best way to infuse it into the program.
Find a look she loves.
Forget what you've heard about mother of the bride attire etiquette. If she wants guidelines, let her know what you'd love to see her in or what would complement the rest of your wedding details and overall vibe. Other than that, she's free to find a gorgeous gown, suit or other style that makes her look and feel amazing. To be courteous, the mother of the bride should stick to traditional etiquette here: Get in touch with the in-laws to make sure they don't either clash or match exactly (although, if they do, everyone will survive—promise!).
Attend or plan prewedding events.
It's no longer a faux pas for the bride's side to host the bridal shower (it used to be frowned upon because people thought it made the bride's family look greedy for gifts, but that's pretty much irrelevant now). So if your mom wants to throw you a shower (and it's okay with the bridal party), she absolutely should. If you feel that the mother of the bride is trying to exert too much control on the planning process, having her plan the bridal shower can be a useful way to channel her energy. "The mother of the bride can definitely plan and host the bridal shower," says De Velasco. "This is where the MOB can shine brightly and feel they have a sense of control."
If the maid of honor and bridesmaids are hosting the bridal shower, the mother of the bride may also host the engagement party or the rehearsal dinner (though the groom's family typically hosts the night-before celebration). At the very least, the mother of the bride should attend these prewedding events.
Follow up with guests and handle sticky situations.
Once the RSVPs start rolling in, you may be faced with some etiquette dilemmas. Aunt Matilda wants to bring her new boyfriend. Cousin Roger hasn't RSVP'd. Your old neighbor wrote her kids' names on the RSVP card, but they're not invited. If issues arise with guests on the bride's family's side, it's the mother of the bride's duty to handle them. This may require her to have some uncomfortable conversations, but her goal should be to ensure that your and your partner's wishes are carried out.
Help create the seating chart.
While you and your partner will likely take the lead on creating the seating chart, the mother of the bride may be tasked with arranging the seating assignments for the bride's family members. If the bride's parents will have their own table, the mother of the bride should decide who she'd like to sit with.
Take charge of out-of-towners.
If many out-of-town guests are on the bride's family's side, the mother of the bride should serve as their hostess and point of contact during the wedding weekend. Another possible mother of the bride responsibility? Creating the welcome bags for out-of-towners and ensuring they're dropped off at the correct hotels.
Join the getting-ready fun.
On the morning of the wedding, the mother of the bride typically joins her daughter to help get ready for the big day. Yes, mom can help adjust your veil and zip up your dress, but she can also be a source of support during those last, potentially nerve-wracking moments before the ceremony. Not only will this be an emotional moment for Mom, but it's also a great opportunity for your photographer to capture some truly special mother-daughter photos.
Know what to do and where to go at the ceremony.
Your mom can escort you down the aisle herself or with your father. In a Jewish ceremony, both parents often accompany the bride down the aisle. At Christian ceremonies, if the father of bride is processing with the bride, the mother of the bride can take her seat in the first pew directly before the ceremony. You can also make your mom part of the processional lineup, even if your dad is walking you down the aisle. The mother of the bride can process first before the wedding party, or follow the wedding party and come down before you.
It's the mother of the bride's responsibility to greet all the guests she knows, and introduce herself to those she doesn't. The MOB should be part of the receiving line (if the couple is having one), and if not, she should go table to table to say hello to guests and thank them for attending.
Enjoy the party.
The mother of the bride sits at either parents' table, the head table with the couple or mixes with other immediate family or good friends. Chat with your partner and your parents about how you'd like to seat everyone for dinner. If you're doing a more formal first dance sequence, the mother of the bride typically shares a dance with both the father of the bride and your partner after the newlywed first dance. While the mother of the bride doesn't traditionally give a speech, she may join the father of the bride for his toast and say a few words as well—or give her own solo speech.
Be your rock.
The mother of the bride is just that—your mom. She's a well of wisdom, solid advice and emotional support and her biggest job throughout the wedding planning process is to be the amazing mom she's been for you all along.
What Should the Mother-of-the-Bride Not Do?
Having a child get married is a huge milestone for any mom, but it's crucial to remember that this is her child's big day, not hers. The mother of the bride's role is to support the couple in their decision making and provide input when asked, not take control of the wedding, or be overbearing. And on the wedding day, the mother of the bride should trust the vendors and not try to micromanage the professionals.
"The MOB should never take on the burden of planning a wedding," says De Velasco. "Quite the contrary, they should be immersed in the joys and excitement of the experience. When moms take the supportive role, they are much happier and have less disagreements with their daughters regarding planning ideas. On the day of the wedding, we as planners, want our moms to be in the moment and actually be a mom—vs being a mom and planner."
Is the Mother-of-the-Bride Supposed to Give the Bride a Gift?
Not necessarily. "In this day in age, we don't really have rules about gifting," says De Velasco. "We always say, gift if it is in you to give. Ideally, if the parents are already financing the wedding, that alone is a generous gift. If we are looking for a more sentimental gift, we recommend a thoughtful piece of heirloom jewelry. We also encourage our brides to give a special and personal thank-you gift to their moms."