Bernice and Elyse. Their names alone made them sound like a perfect team, and they looked that way at their first lunch alone, over two chopped salads, talking about their childrens' upcoming wedding, comparing notes, laughing. It looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Bernice (mother of the groom) and Elyse (mother of the bride).
But as time went on, and the wedding planning became more involved, a stake was driven right through the team of Bernice and Elyse. Instead of two mothers bonding and getting ready to share a lifetime of joys together, they became more like two prizefighters on opposite sides of the ring. Mother of the groom vs. mother of the bride.
On top of the differences between them, Elyse was Upper East Side New York and Bernice was beach-town California, problems arose. First there was the guest list problem, then the dress problem. Then, the zinger: Bernice thought that Elyse was taking over her son. Brainwashing, she called it. At the same time, Elyse thought that Bernice's relationship with her daughter, who had moved from New York to California to live with her fiancé, was too close.
Instead of the perfect examples they were supposed to be setting for their children, the moms were acting very junior high. The rift between them caused stress for everyone involved, especially the moms themselves.
All of you Bernices and Elyses out there, we can help you get along. And act your age. Take this advice toward building a harmonious mom to mom relationship.
Emotions run high during the planning of a wedding. Moms can get kind of crazed. Not only are there many details to attend to, there are many changes taking place. And change in relationships can be hard. Both moms are grappling with losing their beloved children to their future spouses. But moms are also worried about losing their son or daughter to the new spouse's family. Will they always be with them during holidays? Both moms should understand that stress levels are high. So one misstep, a few foot-in-the-mouth comments, should be taken lightly by both moms. Have an open mind, and let things go. An understanding of the big picture can help you get along.
Moms should make sure to alleviate the other mom's fear about losing her baby. Moms of the groom are usually sensitive about losing their sons to the other side, especially if the bride and her mom are close. Say things to the other mom to let her know that she will always be in the picture. Talk about sharing
holidays and special events together as one big family. Make sure that one mom doesn't feel she's being left out -- starting with the wedding planning itself. This especially applies to mothers of the groom, who often feel out of it while mothers of the bride are running the show.
This leads to the biggest tool moms have in building a positive and lasting relationship -- communication. During wedding planning, let the other mom in on what's going on. Mothers of the bride: a few simple phone calls or e-mails with wedding updates will suffice. Mothers of the groom: let the mom of the bride know early about any special concerns you might have. And tell her your rehearsal dinner plans. If something isn't working out for either mom, speak up. Don't let things simmer. You're going to be in each other's lives and dealing with sensitive family issues for a long time. Speaking up starting now is a good way to begin an honest relationship. Don't rely on your kids as go-betweens.
One mom is a socialite fashion plate from San Francisco. The other mom is a down-to-earth, sandal-wearing type from Oregon. There may be huge differences between the moms in lifestyles, but there is always a way to find common ground. Maybe it's a love for gardening, or jewelry, or your children. Build your relationship around things you share. Don't let the differences between you -- religion, age, socio-economic status -- drive you apart. Celebrate them, and once again, keep an open mind.
Your Jobs, My Jobs
Have a wedding planning powwow with the other mom early on. Discuss wedding-related duties. In modern weddings, etiquette is ever evolving. Duties can be as individual as the weddings themselves. So don't just go by the books. Find out what is expected of you. Setting things up in advance should help you avoid conflicts.
The War of the Dresses
Moms, watch out for a few sensitive areas. One is the dress. Moms should talk early about dress expectations. If mom of the bride is planning to wear an Oscar-caliber ballgown, mom of the groom should not be shopping for a simple suit. Talk about length, style, and color. This is not a fashion competition. Both moms should look fabulous, and their dresses should complement each other in style and color. Another hot spot: the guest list. Make sure that the mom of the groom knows exactly how many guests she may invite. But mom of the bride, be flexible if necessary. Also, don't let financial issues be divisive. Make sure everyone knows up front what they're responsible for to avoid bad feelings.
Friends and Family
Treat the other mom the way you would any friend. Call on her birthday. Send holiday cards. Don't criticize her to your child, or worse yet, to her child. In addition to being a good friend, be a good family member. Help out in times of crisis, big or small.
When Bernice and Elyse started acting like family, things changed between them. On the wedding day, when tensions between the moms were at an all-time high, Bernice had her hair done at a strange salon and hated it. Elyse had her favorite hairdresser come to the New York hotel where the wedding was to take place to style her own hair. A few hours before the wedding, Bernice cell-phoned Elyse about the hair problem. Although Elyse and her daughters made clear that their dressing room was off-limits to everyone pre-wedding, Bernice was allowed in. And Elyse's stylist did Bernice's hair beautifully. All it took was a little mousse and a blow dryer, and good mom-to-mom feelings were reborn.
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