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5 ways mothers of the bride and groom duties have changed

by | 1 April 2017 | Parents

The modern-day wedding has become a space in which tradition takes a back seat, with the happy couple calling the shots because they’re financing and organising it themselves. As such, mothers of the bride and groom find themselves looking at an entirely new way of getting (or not getting) involved in wedding plans – stuck between what they thought their roles were and what the bride and groom ask them to do.

So this week, we’re looking at the traditional wedding roles of mums and mums-in-law and how they differ from the roles they actually play in the modern-day wedding.

1. The wedding budget and co-planning

Traditionally: The parents of the bride used to always help pay for the wedding, and the mother of the bride became a co-planner for her daughter, helping to choose everything from the venue and caterers, to the flowers and centrepieces. While the mother of the groom offered the bride financial help with things like the bouquet and rehearsal dinner.

Now that more couples are choosing to pay for their own weddings, the modern-day wedding crushes the age-old tradition of the bride’s parents footing the bill (with help from the groom’s folks). As for the wedding planning, more grooms are stepping up to help their partners (and they’re having fun whilst doing it). So, more mothers of the bride are being booted as planning co-pilots…

Bride doing her mothers makeup

2. Compiling the guest list

Traditionally: It always used to be up to the mother of the bride to compile the master guest list, liaising with the groom’s family on who they wanted to invite, and then managing the difficult task of limiting the numbers.

Today: Now, couples tend to invite who they want to invite, which also comes with the daunting task of deciding who makes the guest-list cut. Oftentimes, this means most of the guests are friends of the bride or groom; the younger generation outweighing the older.

3. Hosting and being a go-to

Traditionally: Back when rehearsal dinners were more of a ‘thing’, it was down to the mother of the groom to plan it, pay for it and host it. While the mother of the bride was seen as the go-to for caterers, florist, and every vendor in between, on hand to answer any questions and coordinate things.

Today: Rehearsal dinners are now seen as an unnecessary expense (especially in cases where the couple are paying for their own wedding). So, the mothers of the groom are losing out on that duty. And, as we pointed out earlier, more couples are choosing to handle the planning and vendors themselves nowadays, or they hire a wedding planner, leaving the mother of the bride twiddling her thumbs. But that’s not always the case.

My cousin involved her mum heavily in the planning process: ‘Mum took care of my flowers, the venue, the cake, the food and the band because they were all local businesses in Wales. Because I live in London, organising things from afar would have been tricky. So having Mum there was a big help.’

4. Deciding on the attire

Traditionally: The mother of the bride always used to help her daughter choose her wedding gown. The mother of the bride then bought her outfit before the mother of the groom, making sure their outfits complemented each other’s and the colour schemes of the big day.

Today: Brides still go wedding-dress shopping with their mums, but it’s not the huge occasion it once was. Nowadays, brides’ shopping habits have changed. Some shop online, emailing photos to their mums. Others choose to go wedding-dress shopping with their friends or partner, like Popup Weddings co-founder Kerry – she took her husband-to-be Alasdair (the other Popup Weddings’ co-founder) because she valued his opinion and didn’t want to walk down the aisle in a dress he didn’t like.

As for the mothers of the bride and groom coordinating their outfits today – it’s unlikely. Brides might set parameters, like the level of formality or a colour they’d prefer them not to wear, but that’s about it. Plus, the expected wedding-day look isn’t as conservative as it once was, so mums and mums-in-law tend to pick their own outfits; ones they look and feel great in.

Groom with his mother

5. Hen parties and second dances

Traditionally: In the run-up to the wedding, both the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom were expected to attend the hen party (the mother of the groom with the added obligation of bringing a gift!). And come the big day, after the bride and groom had their first dance, the mother of the bride and her husband/partner were expected to hit the dancefloor to dance alongside the mother of the groom and the groom himself.

Today: These traditions pretty much remain unchanged, which is a first for our mums and mums-in-law who seem to have had their traditional duties stripped away by the nature of the modern-day wedding. But, in the case of the hen party, today, mothers of the bride don’t just attend, they also help the maid of honour organise it by suggesting ideas and themes, and sourcing childhood photos and anecdotes that are sure to make the bride blush.

Mothers of the bride and groom receiving gifts

Despite bumping mums and mums-in-laws of most of their traditional duties, the modern-day wedding isn’t all bad. Aside from the fact that mums are just as busy as we are nowadays, the modern-day wedding has actually become a liberating factor for mums.

Today, we see mothers of the bride giving speeches instead of, or as well as, the father of the bride; and mothers joining their husbands as they walk their daughter down the aisle (the norm in Jewish weddings). If you ask me, those duties are so much better than compiling the guest list or organising the rehearsal dinner!

If you’re having a modern-day wedding and financing/organising it yourself, how have you involved your mum and mum-in-law to be? Or, if your daughter or son is getting married, what part have you played in the organisation of the wedding? Let us know in the comments box below.


About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.



  1. Wedding day duties: Father of the Bride and Groom - Popup Weddings || Popup Weddings Blog - […] you don’t have to. Traditions aren’t rules, and they change over time. So you can assign whatever job you…
Parents 5 ways mothers of the bride and groom duties have changed