You’ve stood by her side through months of wedding planning, bridal showers, fittings and, yes, possibly even a meltdown or two. The rehearsal dinner is over, your dress is perfect and all the out-of-town guests have made it. Whew!
Now the big day has arrived, and you want your wedding day to go smoothly. Here’s a checklist to help make sure you have everything covered. Keep in mind that many of these duties and expectations vary by tradition, budget and–of course–who’s paying, so feel free to adjust this checklist to your particular circumstances.
Before the ceremony
- Eat breakfast: It’s going to be a crazy day. Eat something healthy for breakfast, and try to make sure your daughter does, too.
- Help your daughter dress: Be there to help with her hair, makeup and anything else that will help her feel prettier.
- Prepare an emergency kit: Put together a bag or box that includes safety pins, a sewing kit, tampons, a snack, a bottle of water, antacids, ibuprofen or her preferred over-the-counter pain reliever, tissues, clear nail polish, non-drowsy antihistamines, fabric tape, stain remover, deodorant, gum or mints, bobby pins, extra makeup, and anything else you think you or she might need.
Keep your kit handy, but let her know where it is; she may need it when you aren’t immediately available.
- Arrive at the venue early. Get there at least 30 minutes before you need to be there. That doesn’t mean 30 minutes before the ceremony either — that would be cutting things too close. Stuff comes up, and this is no time to rush.
- Run interference: Handle any last-minute changes or problems yourself, or find someone who can. Try to keep things stress-free for your daughter. She shouldn’t be the one worrying about flowers being late or questions from the caterer.
During the ceremony
- Make your entrance: Unless you walk your daughter down the aisle, you’ll be the last person seated before the ceremony begins. Your entrance signals that the wedding is about to begin, so make sure everything is on schedule before taking your walk down the aisle.
- Lead the exit: According to tradition, you and your escort are the first to leave directly following the bridal party. Other family and close friends will follow, signaling it’s time to head to the reception.
At the reception
- Lead the receiving line: If you’re having a traditional receiving line, you are at its head, welcoming the guests and, as needed, introducing them to the groom’s parents. A traditional reception line’s “line‐up” is you, bride’s father, groom’s mother, groom’s father, bride and groom, then the attendants.
Be ready to play traffic cop. You need to keep folks moving!
- Dance! Tradition holds that you dance with the father of the bride and with the groom during the formal first-dance sequence. But a sweet new tradition seems to be emerging, especially when the father isn’t in the picture: a mother/daughter dance. And then, feel free to boogie with whomever you please!
- Be the hostess: Traditionally, you are the hostess at the reception–especially if you and your spouse are the ones paying for it! But even if the couple handled the wedding budget on their own and sent the invitations under their names, chances are you’ll still be functioning as hostess. You want to make sure the guests are comfortable, and you may need to make introductions. If there are place cards, help people find their seats.
Delegate some of the hostess duties to relatives or friends.
- Make sure the bridal party eats: In all the excitement, your daughter may forget to eat some of the wonderful food she spent so much time planning. It’s also likely that she and the bridal party are drinking a bit. Alcohol, excitement, and an empty stomach is not a winning combination.
- Keep running interference: Is Uncle Joe monopolizing the bride? Ask someone to gently pull him aside and engage him in conversation. Has your cousin Mary Anne had one too many to drink? Ask a relative to calm her down–or even escort her from the reception.
Deal with any trouble or difficult situation that arises. The same applies if the bar is running low or the photographer isn’t capturing the special moments of the evening. You can handle it, or at least find someone who can. Just don’t let your daughter worry about it.
- Manage the gifts: Many people will bring presents to the wedding. You want to be sure they end up in the right place and–this is critical–the cards remain attached.
Carry a ballpoint pen and a Sharpie. You may want to make a note on the bottom of the package about who it’s from.
- Don’t end up speechless: Are you making a speech or giving a toast (chances are that you might have to)? Be sure to bring multiple copies of your notes, and give one to your husband or escort; it’s good to not take any chances.
As things draw to a close
- Say goodbye: If the two of you want it, make time for a private conversation before your daughter and her beloved leave the reception.
- Settle up: If you’re paying for the reception, be sure to check with the caterers and other vendors about outstanding charges.
Prepare tips in advance for the servers and put them in envelopes.
- Collect the presents: Unless the couple has made other arrangements, make sure the presents get to a safe place (probably your house or hotel room). From there, you can make sure they get to the couple when they return from their honeymoon.
- Save the cake: Make sure any leftover wedding cake is appropriately packed and stored.
It all comes down to this…
Be mom. Make your shoulder available in a crisis or just as a place for your little girl to rest her head and be reassured. Listen, help, alleviate stress — be there for her. Taking care of your daughter is one tradition that will never change.