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Mother of the Bride Duties: What Does a Mother of the Bride Actually Do?

From wedding dress shopping and financial support to helping the bride get ready and hosting the reception - here's the all-important mother of the bride duties you need to know about

A bride's mother smiling and holding hands with her daughter on the morning of her wedding

When it comes to wedding rolesmother of the bride duties are up there with some of the most important.

Though traditionally you won't be walking your daughter down the aisle, or giving a wedding speech (though you might, we love when wedding traditions are broken!) - your role as the bride's mother will see you support your daughter through her wedding planning journey from start to finish.  

As we know wedding traditions around the world differ immensely, so mother of the bride duties in the UK will look very different to those in other countries. To help ensure that no job or task gets left off the list, we've created the ultimate mother of the bride duties checklist.

It's easy to follow and covers everything from mother of the bride tasks before the wedding to duties after your daughter's wedding day.

Mother of the Bride Duties Checklist Before, During and After the Wedding

Because wedding stress, unfortunately, is so prevalent amongst many nearlyweds, supporting both your daughter and her partner through this process is going to be an ongoing mother of the bride task you'll take on.

Aside from lots of emotional support and helping with general wedding planning tasks, there are a number of super fun tasks you get to do too including wedding dress shopping and potentially going on the hen do - if you make the guestlist...

What are the Duties of the Mother of the Bride?

A mother of the bride beaming and laughing as she sits at the top table during the speeches at her daughter's wedding

Unlike father of the bride duties which are pretty well-known, mother of the bride duties are less 'official' and set in stone. When it comes to the bride's mother and her tasks and duties, this should be heavily lead by the bride and her partner.

There are a number of traditional duties for the bride's mother such as being at wedding dress shopping appointments, attending the hen party and getting ready with the bride on the morning of the wedding.

However, each mother of the bride's checklist of duties will differ depending on how involved the bride wants you to be. Some brides will want their mothers there for every milestone wedding planning task from cake tasting to choosing the flowers, and others will be happy for you to be pretty hands-off during the process.

Below, we have the main mother of the bride duties and responsibilities, covering all bases. You can use this checklist as a starting point but to ensure your mother-daughter relationship during wedding planning stays secure, encourage the bride to add and remove duties as she wishes. 

Mother of the Bride Duties Before the Wedding

1. Congratulate the Newly Engaged Couple

Before any other mother of the bride duties commence, your first task is always going to be congratulating your daughter and her partner on their engagement. This sounds like an obvious one but we're not just talking about buying an engagement card and that's it... We're talking about a proper celebration!

As well as the lovely engagement card message and, perhaps an engagement gift, too, arrange some sort of celebration for the newly engaged couple. This doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, it just needs to be thoughtful. You may want to start planning an engagement party, or simply arrange some low-key drinks and dinner with the immediate family. 

2. Discuss Financial Support

Talking about money and who pays for the wedding is likely to be low on the list of things you, your daughter and her partner want to discuss, but being transparent about finances early on in the wedding planning process will really help the bride and her partner plan their wedding budget.

It's almost impossible for them to know how much money they have to spend on their wedding if they are unaware of what contributions they may have coming their way. You may offer to put some money behind the bar, buy the wedding dress or even pay for the whole thing! It doesn't matter what, or how much you are able to contribute, what matters is that you make the couple aware. 

Traditionally it used to be expected that the bride’s parents paid for the wedding in full but – thankfully for your bank balance – times have moved on and the majority of couples are now footing the bill for their big day.

If you are offering financial support then you will also want to discuss what this means – are you giving the money as a gift and transferring the full amount to them? Do you want the couple to send you the invoices to pay? These are all things that would be helpful to discuss early on to avoid any confusion or miscommunication and to manage expectations.

3. Check In With Your Daughter

A mother and her daughter on a walk catching up

If you have planned a wedding before then you will be in the perfect position to give advice on where to get started. But before any wedding planning talk takes place, check in with your daughter. Once the excitement of the engagement starts to die down, the overwhelming notion that there's a whole wedding to plan can cause wedding stress and anxiety - and no one needs that in their lives!

Your daughter may be absolutely killing it and feel super calm about the whole thing, but equally, she may not. Check in with her to gauge how she's feeling and if she needs any advice or support, be there to give it to her. Equally, if she needs space and wants to crack on, that's totally fine too. 

4. Offer to Help With Planning Tasks

Once you've checked in, now is the time to offer your help and assistance with wedding planning tasks. As we said before, some brides are really keen to get their mothers involved. 

But your daughter may want space and a more hands-off mother of the bride approach, which is why it's important that this is an offer to help and not an assumption. Suggest some areas that you'd love to be involved in and then leave your daughter to decide on how much support she wants.

Practical tasks are often the best ones to help out with as these can take quite a bit of the heavy lifting off of the couple. You could offer to make appointments for your bride and her partner, enquire about wedding venues they like or even book in some wedding dress shopping appointments.

Nearer to the wedding day itself, you might want to be the go-to contact for wedding suppliers. Whether that be the florists or the entertainers, to ensure everything goes smoothly you should get all contact details from your daughter as soon as possible.

5. Help With the Guest List

This is a really tricky one - but with our advice you can get it spot on. It's likely that there will be relatives and old family friends who your daughter and her partner will invite to the wedding. To avoid missing anyone important off the list, you may want to sit down with the couple and go through their guestlist to sense check it and point out anyone who may have been left off by mistake.

However, we can't stress how important it is to ensure your suggestions are just that, suggestions. It may be that some people have been missed off by mistake, but it could also be that some people have been left off the list on purpose. Whether it's about budget and trying to keep numbers low, or the couple are merely being selective with who they invite, it's important to remember it's their day.

Having said that, as her mum, you are there to advise and there may be some names left off the list that she should reconsider and you're there to help her have that thought process out loud. Whatever dialogue you have about the wedding guest list should feel productive and helpful and ultimately, the couple should have the final say. 

7. Go Wedding Dress Shopping

A bride and the bride's mother having a special mooment as the bride tries on a lace wedding dress and veil ahead of her wedding

One of the most exciting things about being the mother of the bride is that more often than not, you get to go wedding dress shopping with your daughter. This will be a fun and emotional experience that you are always going to remember so be on hand to offer advice, support and to keep your daughter calm throughout the process.

You may also be asked to go bridesmaid dress shopping too, or be invited for second fittings and accessory shopping - but this isn't always the case. You can always offer your assistance and let your daughter decide if it's needed.

6. Check About Traditions

Not everyone is up for following every wedding tradition, so you'll want to check in about this. If your daughter is following tradition, it is the mother of the bride’s job to source the bride her something old and something new. If there’s a family heirloom or another specific tradition you think might be nice to incorporate, it is the mother of the bride’s duty to make this happen.

There may even be family traditions that other women or couples have adopted throughout the years that your daughter doesn't even know about. If this is the case, talk to her about them so she too can be a part of the family history if she wants to be. 

8. Liaise With the Other Mother

Although it is the bride’s job to organise the bridesmaids dresses, it is the mother of the bride’s job to liaise with the mother of the groom or the other mother of the bride about what they’re both going to wear. You won't want to be matching, but you both want to make sure you are following the bride and her partner's lead on style and colour schemes. 

The mother of the bride traditionally buys her own dress before the mother of the groom, and then contacts the mother of the groom to describe her dress. If there are two brides, or you fancy some bonding time with the mother of the groom, perhaps you could go shopping together!

This way, both mothers can ensure their outfits are complimentary of each other and don’t clash, and lunch out to goss about the upcoming wedding wouldn't hurt either...

9. Attend the Hen Party

Does the mother of the bride go to the hen party? This is one of the most frequently asked questions in wedding planning, and we can see why. The short answer is, it depends completely on the bride's preference, the type of hen party she's having and how many hen parties there will be.

It's fairly common these days for brides to have a hen party with all of her friends where they perhaps go abroad for a week of partying or hit the town for a long weekend. This type of hen party is often followed by a more relaxed, local hen party or bridal shower where the bride's mother and her partner's mother can both attend, along with other, older members of the family. 

Having more than one hen party can seem excessive, but it's very common nowadays as, let's be frank, not all mums would want a weekend of clubbing in Ibiza, but their daughters might!

Mother of the Bride Duties on the Wedding Day

10. Get Ready With The Bride

A bride getting ready with her mother on the morning of her wedding

When it comes to duties for the mother of the bride, getting ready with your daughter is by far one of the most special. The time you spend with the bride on the morning of her wedding will be one of your most treasured mother-daughter relationship moments. 

On the morning of her wedding, it's likely your daughter will be feeling exciting and nervous and the number one thing she'll probably want is her mum. Whether you are there to help her get into her dress, wipe her tears away or pour the champagne, just make sure you are present on the morning of the wedding.

To ensure the morning is all about your daughter, as the bride's mother, you should aim to get ready early so that in the hour or two before the ceremony you are there to help in any way that you can.

11. Share Some Words of Wisdom

Whether it's about marriage, life itself or just you telling your daughter how beautiful she looks, before the ceremony marks the perfect time for the mother of the bride to share some special words with the bride. 

12. Take Your Place in the Ceremony

A mother of the bride and flower girl walking down the aisle to their places ahead of the ceremony starting

Traditionally, the bride travels to the wedding with her father, but this isn't the case for many brides. Some choose to travel to the wedding with the mother of the bride, both parents or none at all. If you are not part of that commute, your next task on the wedding day is to take your place in the wedding ceremony.

You may have a few moments to greet some of the guests at the venue, but this is ultimately one of the ushers wedding jobs. During the ceremony itself, the mother of the bride traditionally won't have any particular tasks. However, for couples looking to break tradition, you may be asked to do a reading, witness the couple signing or even walk your daughter down the aisle, or walk with the bridesmaids. #

"At my sister's wedding, the mother of the bride escorted the three year old flower girl down the aisle," explains Zoe Burke, Editor of Hitched. "This helped to keep the flower girl calm and gave the mother of the bride a bit more of a role in the ceremony." 

If you’re not walking the bride down the aisle, it is one of the usher’s roles to seat the mother of the bride in the first row directly before the ceremony.

READ MORE: Why I Asked My Mum to Walk Me Down the Aisle

13. Stand in the Receiving Line

Once the ceremony is over you and your partner will be one of the first to leave the room. If your daughter and her partner have chosen to have a receiving line on the way into the wedding breakfast, it is one of the mother of the bride duties to stand and greet guests as they take their seats. 

14. Sit at the Top Table

Most wedding table plans will include a top table. If your daughter's wedding day involves this style of seating, it's tradition for the mother of the bride to sit at this table. This is something that will be planned way in advance of the wedding day itself so ahead of the big day, you'll know if she's having a top table and where you will be seated. 

Though this is tradition, the arrangements might differ slightly if the couple are having to seat divorced or separated parents.

15. Host the Reception

A bride with the father and mother of the bride on her wedding day holding a pastel pink wedding bouquet

At your daughter's wedding, the happy couple will be the main focus of the day but they might struggle to mingle and chat with absolutely everyone and this is where their parents can really help. A key mother of the bride task on the day of the wedding is to host the reception with the other parents.

Take the time to chat to guests, thank them for coming, ensure everything is happening as it should be and just generally make sure the day is running smoothly. In this moment, you should be doing your very best mingling, working the room and ensuring everyone has been welcomed and is having a great time. 

16. Check in With the Other Parents

No matter how long you've had to plan this wedding with your children, nothing can fully prepare you for the day your son or daughter gets married - and there's only one other pair who will feel the same as you in this moment. 

Take the time to check in with the other parents - they are likely to be feeling emotional as well and maybe even a little overwhelmed. The day whizzes by in a flash but if you can, take a moment to cheers with them and raise a toast to the years ahead and the fact you're now 'officially' family!

17. Take Part in the Second Dance

After the happy couple have had their first dance, it’s time for the bride's mother and the other mother to take a spin on the dance floor. Not only is this your time to shine, it’s also your chance to warm up the dance floor and get the party started!

Of all the duties for the mother of the bride, this has got to be one of the most fun!

Mother of the Bride Duties After the Wedding

18. Help With Thank You Notes

After the fun of the actual wedding is over, it's up to you and the other parents to help the couple write their wedding thank you cards and notes. Ever heard the saying, 'It takes a village to write wedding thank you cards?' No? Us neither - but it should be one because this is no small task.

You and your partner, along with the other parents will be able to fill in any gaps and you may even sign or address the cards if you were officially hosting the wedding. 

Now you’re clued up on the mother of the bride duties, why not take a look at our 17 step wedding planning guide? It’s full of pearls of wisdom which you may be able to pass onto your daughter.