It's an unfortunate fact of human nature that, in most cases, we're not as aware of how VERY much our parents love us until we become parents ourselves. (At least, that's been my experience).
As such, when a childless couple gets married, I think that, often, finding special ways to honour their parents on the wedding day goes by the wayside.
Today (as I write this) is Mother's Day, and I wanted to give you a few suggestions and thoughts about how to make your mom (or moms, or stepmom, or mother-in-law) feel special too. I often see the mom of the groom feeling left out, so don't forget to include her in your special plans.
Of course, families are complicated, and you'll need to be sensitive to your particular dynamics. Be thoughtful when you're approaching mom/stepmom dynamics, and consider the relationship you have with each. If it's an equal relationship, and stepmom has been just as involved in your upbringing as mom, by all means, honour her in the same ways. If the relationship is different, though, make sure you approach how you include mom and stepmom on your day differently to avoid possible hurt feelings on a day when emotions are running high.
As you read, please know that when I use the term 'mom', I mean bride's mom(s), groom's mom(s), and any step parents, god parents, or honourary parental figures you may have.
- consider writing a letter, from the heart. Most moms would much rather receive a heartfelt, thoughtful note than any expensive gift you could give. (Just make sure you have her read it pre-makeup!!).
- give a gift, such as an engraved necklace or bracelet, that will always remind her of your wedding day.
- have her with you while you get ready, and include her in special moments like lacing your dress or putting in your veil. Make sure you get photos!
- ride to the ceremony with her - she'll appreciate those last few minutes of quality 'you' time.
- have her walk you down the aisle. Grooms often seat their moms as the last event before the formal wedding procession begins. Grooms can also seat the bride's mom, OR she may walk with the bride down the aisle (depending on your relationship with your dad, and between your parents, it's totally acceptable to have one or both of them walk you down).
During the Ceremony
- wear a piece of her jewelry, or attach it to your bouquet.
- use part of her dress or veil as a bouquet wrap, or have a bolero made out of the lace of her wedding dress. You could also make a pocket square for your partner, if they're wearing a suit/tux.
- have your bouquet made with some of the same flowers as were in her bouquet.
- have mom act as your matron of honour. She may or may not stand with the rest of the wedding party, but will have the title.
- consider switching the traditional sides the parents sit on. Traditionally, your parents would sit on the same side as you stand at the altar. If you change them, so that your parents are sitting on the opposite side, they will actually have a full view of you when you turn to face your partner to do your vows, rather than seeing the side of your face.
- have mom do a reading. You may even wish to ask her to choose something special and not tell you, so that it's a surprise at the ceremony.
- do a 'rose' ceremony (or something like it). Have your officiant say words about your mothers' impact on your lives, then give them each a rose to signify their role in where you are today.
- have your moms light a unity candle, or participate in the unity ceremony somehow (signifying the coming together of two families, not just two people).
- have each mom hold the ring for her future son or daughter in law.
- have your moms sign the marriage license.
- hug your moms before the recessional begins.
- make sure to get photos of just you and your mom, and just your partner and their mom.
- one of my personal favourite photos (that I didn't get on my wedding day!) is a closeup of yours and your mom's hands, showing wedding rings. If your grandma(s) is also present, include her too.
At the Reception
- create a photo display with childhood photos of you with mom.
- many couples have their parents seated as part of the grand entrance, as a gesture of appreciation for their role in getting to the wedding day.
- consider seating, if you're assigning seats. Make sure moms are positioned so they can see your face at the head table!
- it's pretty traditional, but if you're doing speeches, make sure you ask your mom to give one!
- in your speech, ensure that you take a few minutes to thank your parents for everything they've done to make you the person you are today, and to thank your new in laws for their role in raising the person you just married. Make sure to give them hugs after!!
- Father/daughter and mother/son dances are pretty traditional, but there's nothing saying you can't do a mother/daughter dance!! (Even if it's not part of the 'official' dances, just have a song played during the rest of the dance).
- instead of tossing your bouquet, give it to your mom.
Honouring Moms Who Aren't There
If your mom has passed away, or otherwise can't be at your wedding, it may be a very emotional time. Even if you think you'll be OK, be prepared for it to hit you in the feels at some point during the day. You may choose to honour an absent mom overtly, or just do something that only you know about - whatever your choice, make sure it's comfortable for you (and your other guests - if someone has passed away recently, perhaps putting up photos will be too emotional).
- wear a piece of her jewelry, or attach it to your bouquet.
- leave a seat for her (with a photo and a sign, if you want) at the ceremony or at the reception.
- create a memorial table with her photo, and a flower.
- have a corsage made and take it to her grave early in the morning (if you can handle it)
Regardless of who you honour, your mom, stepmom, foster mom, godmother, or other special person in your life, know that even a little effort on your part will make her day. (You'll get it if you have kids of your own!!).