Mother of the Bride Musings on How to Plan a Wedding

Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride

And so it happens, from pigtails to wedding veils. Your daughter becomes a bride. Just like that; you’re the mother of the bride. And in the moments before she says: “I do” – in those few moments when your heart swells as she takes that majestic walk down the aisle, you see the treasures of your lives together in a collage of memory. Then you take a deep breath and pass her hand to his.

I floated through that glorious day in a magical sort of way. It was dream-like. I wanted to take in every moment before a year of planning and engagements would overcome me with exhaustion. That was five years ago. Now, I’m in rewind. 

Yes! It’s the planning before the wedding. The months and months of planning that almost brings you to your knees on the big day itself. Think Murphy’s Law (anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong.) The question is, “Can you plan for when things go wrong?” And they will; a lot. Who knew? Weddings are big business. No – huge business!

Here’s the story of my first experience as the mother of the bride…

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Mother of the Bride Wedding Plan

Think money; money-money-money. You need lots of it. I was reminded of “Father of the Bride” with Spencer Tracy. Stanley (Spencer Tracy) frets and moans and mumbles about all the conspicuous consumption, about all the money being blown on musicians and flowers and caterers and booze. At one point he even seriously suggests to his daughter that if she elopes he’ll make it worth her while. Well, surprise, she didn’t.

And neither did my daughter who was never for a moment a Bridezilla but a beautiful, precious doll. Who, like most young women, dreamed of this day from the time she was a little girl. Her vision was elegant and clean and precise. Just like her. 

My daughter aged 5 and a flower girl

From the start, we knew we didn’t need a wedding planner. After all, the bride and the maid of honor were event planners. The mother of the groom is an interior designer and the mother of the bride, an organizer extraordinaire. We had it under control…sure we did.

The week before the Wedding

We rolled through a year of wedding planning bliss. Addressing who wants what and where and when and why? We had each given in to emotional wedding negotiation but no one could have prepared us for the week before the big day. It was the worst. Somewhat like you want to bury your head underneath the covers and wait until it’s all over. Think of it as a modern-day “Twilight Zone.”

Think Bodyguard. Yep, the maid of honor, daughter number two, protected her bride like the Secret Service protecting the President of the United States. You couldn’t get past her. It was ridiculous. She took her job very seriously as she did the “sister” thing; that sister bond. Something I encouraged from the time they were born. But now that I needed a pardon here and there, it wasn’t happening. 

All I had to do was part my lips to form a sentence and my daughters would say: “You’re making me tense!” Oh, how I wanted them to echo the line Reese Witherspoon wailed in “Wild” about how her mother was the love of her life. That wasn’t happening either. What was happening was: “What now?” One of the bridesmaids slipped on ice and shattered her elbow and broke her arm, just a few days before the wedding. But a trooper she was. We exquisitely wrapped her cast in tulle from the bridesmaid’s dress and honor her friend she did.

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Problems Planning a Wedding

But not every outcome was a “We worked it out ending.” Always get it in writing; everything, always. (I kept copious notes of every conversation.) Because in the end, people have convenient amnesia or they seriously don’t remember what they said. Like the owner of the restaurant where we had the rehearsal dinner – boy did he try to pull a fast one! In the end, he wasn’t happy and neither was I.

Ever played musical hotels? Until the very last minute, I wasn’t sure where everyone was staying because they kept changing the location. This made delivering welcome baskets a challenging activity. Next were musical chairs, with who was sitting next to whom? This went back-and-forth, back-and-forth. And then came musical tables (aka Table Envy) involving the strategic placement of tables. Deciding who sits at the table nearest the kitchen, near the band, the doorway, and the head table? We were all getting irritable by then, especially because menu cards, seating/place cards, table cards were waiting on final decisions and we were running out of time.

Musical rooms – that was a good thing because we did receive room upgrades. I happened to give the “Rooms Coordinator” (who was fantastic) one of the gift baskets, and she gladly gave room upgrades when she could. Nice perk; except, because the rooms kept changing, everyone was on a constant wild goose chase to find everyone else-and kept on being sent to the wrong rooms.

Creative Problem Solving Skills Required

I do think at some point we started to lose control of our indoor voices. And you would have too. A few days before the wedding, I paid my insurance bill. But tech error have you, the insurance company debited my account twice, so I had a big chunk of money withdrawn right when I needed it most.

And then there was the issue of fraud. The credit card company (who was on their toes by the way) noticed that we were making charges for larger than normal sums out-of-state and issued a fraud alert. Well, that was embarrassing. It was fixed, it was corrected but it was momentarily embarrassing. Lesson learned. Always alert your credit card company when you are traveling or planning to make larger than normal charges.

Weddings are why they invented massages, spa days and Advil. In the process of carefully, gently navigating the backseat and trunk of my car, like a jigsaw puzzle, with the gowns, tuxes and everything else for the bridal party and rehearsal dinner (including an emergency kit with a static guard, safety pins, sewing supplies, first aid supplies, etc.) I forgot the flower girl gifts! It wasn’t totally my fault. Actually, it was the ‘Bodyguard’s responsibility. But she was too busy being “on-call” and quickly getting impatient. Thank goodness for FAO Schwarz – friendship bracelets to the rescue.

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And yes, we beat the snowstorm that prevailed throughout parts of the country that week. All the planes landed. It was January 2015 and really cold outside, but warm, loving and happy inside.

5 Year Wedding Anniversary

The first time that I truly, truly understood my purpose in life was the day my first daughter, Julia was born. I looked at her and I knew it had to be her, that she had to be the one. I looked at that angel baby and thought,” She’s mine.” Then, as she moved from Miss to Mrs, I knew I would have to share her.  If it wasn’t for that last week of hellish tension, that put a hole in my nerves, the hole in my heart might have been unforgiving.

As much as I adored the man she married, I love him five years more today. He has the most important qualities in a human being. He has integrity, character, and heart. And he treats my daughter so beautifully. Just as any mother of the bride would want.

They have had 5 strong years together thus far, as it should be. When you celebrate five years you celebrate with wood. The meaning behind wood for your 5th Anniversary is that it represents the roots that the two have grown and how their relationship has grown. My response? “Knock wood!”

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Mother of the Bride Reflections

It was my honor to be the Mother of the Bride. To help make my daughter’s dream come true. She has given me someone to love. It was a blessing, a real blessing. And now she and my son-in-law have given me another blessing. Like the profits of my investment, the most precious grandchild who fills my life with joy. This is the imprint right there and for everything to follow.

So, in answer to my earlier question, “Can you plan for when things go wrong as you organize a wedding?” No, you can’t plan for last-minute hitches, but you can learn to roll with them and do your best to resolve each setback one at a time. Just don’t panic, because the only acceptable drama on the day is how stunning the bride looks, and who will catch her bouquet!

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10 Important Ways to Organize Yourself for a Wedding in 2020

I’m not going to lie to you, planning a wedding is tough. It’s even tougher without a wedding planner. That’s why it’s vital for you to get organized if you’re to plan one in 2020. I have compiled some of my top tips on how to organize yourself for a wedding:

Get a Wedding Organizer

If you don’t hire a wedding planner, then you need a detailed diary or planner. This will help you keep track of your progress by keeping all your lists, receipts and documents in one convenient place. Meticulously take notes during meetings with vendors and refer back to your notes often.

Make Lists

This is essential for organizing all aspects of a wedding and as you cross done items off your list you’ll know that you’re making progress and feel less overwhelmed. Lists are the ultimate organization tool and will help you keep your head above water when the wedding planning chaos hits (and, it will).

Create a Timeline

Do this at the start of your planning process and include important dates and deadlines for each part of the planning process so that you can dedicate enough time to each. This way you can ensure that each aspect of the wedding is properly attended to and on time.

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Schedule Planning Time

By setting aside a certain amount of time each day or week you’ll be less likely to put things off because you’re busy with other tasks. Everyday life can easily get in the way of planning a wedding but when you schedule it you make sure to incorporate planning into your life as well.

Know Your Budget

As I mentioned money is a big part of planning a wedding so you need to establish your budget first so you know how much you have to spend and don’t accidentally go over budget (it can easily happen). Your budget is a good indication of what you can and can’t do for your wedding and keeping to it from the start will help you avoid disappointment later on.

Book the Venue Early

Location is the first thing to consider after the engagement. Even if your wedding is months away; because venues get booked out quickly especially during popular times of the year. Otherwise, have your wedding during a less popular time if the venue of your dreams is already booked out for the busy season.

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Register for Wedding Gifts with Care

The process of registering for wedding gifts can feel either exciting or overwhelming. The trick to doing this properly is to take careful stock of what you and your fiancé already have. This gives you a starting point when it comes to registering for gifts as you can register for items you really need.

Get Recommendations

Asking for suggestions from family and friends is a great way to avoid wasting time while looking for vendors. Your first choice should be in-house suppliers provided by your venue, but referrals from someone you know is handy too.


You’ve probably got a Pinterest board full of wedding inspiration already. So, don’t let all that pre-planning go to waste. Use this to organize your thoughts and ideas before you get into full-on planning mode.

Ask For Help

Wedding planning takes a village and you definitely can’t do it alone. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Ask for help and delegate. Everyone wants to feel like they played a role in creating a successful wedding – so give them a role or duties.

Are you a bride or mother of the bride planning a wedding in 2020?


Comments 8

  1. I went through this a few years back. Ours was across the country in CA, so we definitely needed a wedding planner. She was ok, not great. I don’t think we caught the planner at her best, unfortunately. Almost everything we did was via the internet, and we knew there would be glitches. There were, including some loud people at a nearby restaurant while the ceremony was taking place. You can’t control everything. Best advice I got was to enjoy the day once it arrived, no matter went wrong. The bride had a great day, and that is all that mattered.

    1. Hi Seana,

      I love your best advice. As a matter fact, that’s the same advice I just gave Linda. The day will charge ahead no matter what! (By the way, we had loud banging from the floor above.) during the ceremony.


  2. I’m feeling the whirlwind of emotions as I read your post, Ronni. And, being that our youngest will be getting married this year, my heart is palpitating a bit too. One thing that has been a learning process for me is that my daughter and my future son-in-law are doing all of the wedding planning and arranging themselves. It’s how they want it. So while I am available to help in any way they want, they are the producers. My husband and I have been there to discuss all and any aspects. We go through the ups, downs, and glitches. We listen and advise when asked.

    I’m learning the lesson once again about letting go. And learning how to be there for Cassie as she wants.

    I know that there will be snags because when people, deadlines, and multiple vendors are involved, how could there not be? This will also be a good way for the two of them to practice how to navigate life’s challenges together. It’s one of the elements that build a healthy marriage.

    I’m looking forward to a beautiful, love-filled day with snags, surprises and all.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Congratulations! What happy and wonderful news. There seems to be a trend today where the bride and the groom are taking over and doing all of the planning for their wedding. Many are carrying a bit (or chunk) of the expense too.
      It is a whirlwind of so many emotions. My best suggestion, which is exactly what a friend advised me, try to be as present as you can during the wedding and enjoy every moment. You won’t believe how quickly it passes. It can be ever so surreal and you don’t want to miss a thing.

      When is the big day?

  3. Ronni- Thank you for sharing this post with me yesterday. Now that I read it, I remember reading it back in January….ten months ago. We never could have anticipated in January how their wedding plans would change so dramatically. The pandemic affected everything. The big wedding at the venue of their choice has become a small wedding at our house. It’s happening this weekend. We’re leaning into the joy, love, stresses that ensue, and all the magic that a wedding day and weekend will bring. I know it will pass in a blink, as you said. I’m doing my best to stay present and soak in all the moments.

    1. Linda, this is such an exciting time for you and your family. I can’t wait to hear all the beautiful details.

      So many weddings have been postponed or rearranged. One of my daughters was planning to attend 8 weddings this fall. Many of her friends were getting married. Every one of them had a change of plans.
      So far, the feedback has been how happy the couples, and their families, were to celebrate with intimacy.

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