Your mum wants to help and you want her to feel included, but how do you strike the right balance between helpful assistance and Zen-busting interference?
“Maximise the enjoyment for both parties by involving her in the areas she’s most interested and experienced in,” advises wedding expert Charlotte O’Shea. “If your mum’s a keen gardener, she’ll be a real asset when it comes to choosing the blooms. If she’s a foodie, the menu is the perfect area for her input.” Play to her strengths and work the following strategies into your planning, and hey presto, a happy mum…
Take the lead on your dress
Worried you and mummy dearest have, urn, slightly different style aesthetics? “It’s good to do a dress recce first with your friends, especially if your mum is quite opinionated and has a clear idea of what she wants you to wear but it’s not what you have in mind,” suggests stylist to the stars and dress designer Kate Halfpenny.
“For clients in this situation, I’ve even pretended it’s a first visit, when really it’s the first visit the mum’s been invited to. I go through the whole process and present dress options when, of course, I’d already shortlisted them with the bride. So don’t be afraid to ask suppliers to help you out.”
Embrace her perfectionism
“I’ve got lovely memories of me and my mum coming to blows over dresses and shoes,” jokes Vici-Jane Kohring of eco-cool stationers Artcadia. “If it had been my choice, I’d probably have worn jeans, so on reflection I’m glad she got her way.” From a professional standpoint, the Artcadia team are massive fans of the mumzilla, who can help you find appropriate wording and steer clear of any etiquette blunders. “Plus, if there’s a typo on your invitation proof, you can guarantee she’ll find it!” says Vici-Jane.
Limit her choices
A-list wedding planner Mark Niemierko has seen his fair share of ‘zillas on his trademark big-budget affairs. “In the worst-case scenario it’s like a movie, where mums try to upstage their daughters and make it all about them,” he says – but he’s also developed a fool-proof way to wrest back control. “Narrow down decisions like entertainment or invitation design to just a couple of options you’re already happy with. It’s all about making her feel it’s her choice, when really it’s yours.”
Find a tasty compromise
Celebrity cake master Peggy Porschen knows tensions can run high during tasting sessions if a mother-of-the-bride insists on fruit cake but the couple is craving something more decadent. “There’s often a battle of wills between the different generations and I’ve learned to suggest a compromise,” she says. “Offer to have the top tier in fruit, then choose a different flavour for the rest of the layers. This way, everyone feels their preferences have been taken into account.”
Keep her occupied
“Give your mum lots of jobs to help her feel involved, from little things like writing the invites to bigger things like making the favours if she’s crafty,” says Kate Halfpenny. “I’ve got my arty mother making miles of bunting and she’ll also help me with the flowers, so she’s got plenty to do!”
Treat her like a queen
“It’s easy to forget that your wedding is a momentous day for your parents too,” points out Devon-based wedding photographer Rosie Parsons. Pull out all the glamorous stops to get your mum looking and feeling her best by booking her in for a hair and make-up session the morning of the wedding, Rosie advises, and surprise her with a special corsage based on your maids’ bouquets. ·~so remember to ask your photographer to take a shot of just the two of you togethersomething that can easily be overlooked in the long list of must-have family formals.”
Don’t forget your mother in law
N.B. If you’re spoiling your mum, try to include your man’s mum too – it’s only fair, after all, and it will lay the groundwork for a strong relationship for years to come. “I found it very important to involve my husband’s mum, as she was living in New Zealand and felt very left out,” says Peggy Porschen. “I made an effort to include her and ask for her opinion as often as I could, which helped keep everyone happy and on track with the plans.”
Enjoy the quality time
Remember that even occasional disagreements often come from a good place – your mum wants your day to be amazing for you, after all. So give her the benefit of the doubt, keep calm during any bad-behaviour flare-ups and cherish this chance to work together as a team. “We’re working with a lovely mother at the moment,” says Mark Niemierko, “who told me privately, ‘I’m just looking forward to having these months and spending this time with my daughter’.” And really, when she puts it like that, it’s tough to argue. .