Pre-Engagement Wedding Planning

mother-daughter-photo
Photo from bridalguide.com

Here’s a question I fielded recently:

“I’m not engaged yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be soon. Is it weird to start having conversations with my boyfriend and with my mother about the kind of wedding I’d like to have?”

No, not at all. In fact, the more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.

Most couples start talking about their future life together long before “the proposal,” and that’s a good thing. Once you start having those conversations, you will likely start to share your wedding thoughts with each other, and maybe even with your mom. This is good! The more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.

It’s especially helpful to open the line of communication about money so you can dream within a budget. Some questions to ask your parents: Have you thought about what kind of wedding I’ll be able to have? Will you host a wedding for me or should I plan to help financially? I’d like to start planning; is there a budget I should have in mind?

If you’re reading this as a future mother-of-the-bride, you know it’s just a matter of time until your daughter is engaged; otherwise, why would you be on this site? If you’ve been observant, you can tell it’s coming, so now is the time to have a conversation with your husband, or your daughter’s father.

Some things to discuss: Are we prepared to pay for a wedding? How much can we afford? Will we share this expense with our daughter and her fiancé? Be prepared when the happy day is announced so your daughter’s announcement isn’t received with a look of blind panic.

What I’m getting at is that if engagement seems inevitable, now is the time to start thinking about the financial aspects of a wedding.

The best advice at this stage is to communicate openly, honestly and realistically about money. When parameters are set and expectations are clear, everyone’s happy!

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As hosts of a wedding, are you responsible for transporting guests?

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photo from vailrides.com
If your wedding will involve a good number of your guests staying at a hotel, and the reception is at a different venue, consider arranging shuttle vans or a bus for your out-of-town guests.

We went back and forth on this, initially thinking that shuttling family would be the extent of our obligation. In the end, we decided to provide shuttle service for anyone who wanted it.

Whatever you decide, make this decision early on, and most importantly, communicate transportation logistics to your guests via wedding website, or in their “welcome” packets at the hotel.

If you’ve made the decision to offer transportation, here are some suggestions that I wish someone had shared with us:

1.Get a good estimate of the number of people you will need to shuttle, and check out the directions and mileage (including a realistic time it will take to cover that distance!). You’ll want to give accurate numbers to the companies you contact.

2.Shop around! Like so many wedding expenses, these estimates tend to vary widely. Be sure to ask about minimum and maximum time and mileage requirements. Ask if multiple vans or one large bus makes the most sense financially and logistically.

3.Remember to ask the hotel if they would be willing to provide shuttle service for your wedding. Most have vans for airport runs, so be sure to ask. If a hefty number of guests are populating their hotel for the weekend, they may work with you on discounted transport costs.

4.When you book the transportation, get everything in writing, including the schedule (departure times, pick-up times, staggered times if you are moving a large group of people, etc.). Put the plan in writing, and give someone – not you, MOB, that schedule along with driver contact information.

5.Type up all transportation information and put it on the wedding website and in welcome bags for hotel guests. If you are not doing welcome bags, print plenty of the itineraries and ask the hotel to give them to your guests as they check in.

6.If you decide NOT to take on the expense of shuttling your guests, arrange to have taxis waiting at the reception to transport any guests who does not want to drive home after your party. In this case, communicate to guests ahead of time that their will be taxi service, and give them some phone numbers as well.

This is a bit of a project, and not a small expense, but if a great party is your goal, you want to take care of your guests and keep them safe! One more thought: Sometimes when the groom’s family offers to “pay for something,” why not suggest transportation?

Wedding Day Emergency Kit

The wedding day emergency kit— there are more than a few lists for brides out there (Philadelphia Wedding had the best one I found), but this one is more specific to you, the Mother of the Bride.

While the bride may have her own idea of what an “emergency kit” looks like (usually just more makeup!), it’s your job as her mother to “have her back.” And not only will you be the go-to source for your own daughter, you will be the one that every young woman at the wedding runs to when there’s an emergency!

So, here’s my list of must haves for every MOB’s Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

Tampons (not necessarily for you, but believe me, at least two frantic girls will ask you for these)
Spot remover (Tide stick)
Emery board (the girls call them “nail filers”)
Safety pins and/or mini sewing kit
Two-sided (tailor’s) tape or toupee tape
Extra reading glasses
Mints
Your own mini-makeup bag for touch-ups
Static guard (cool weather weddings)
Imodium (the big day has triggered many an IBS episode)
Tums or Pepcid AC

Stash these items, and anything else that you or your girl may need, in a small tote in the bridal suite. Whatever your venue, your coordinator or catering manager will find a place for you to keep necessities.

Prepare for everything, and hopefully you’ll need nothing!

Guest post from a mother of the groom: a good perspective for every bride and her mom

MOG
Mother of the Groom (MOG)….ahhh! As the mother of two sons I didn’t really knew what to expect when the first son announced that he would marry. Would I be invited to be an involved MOG or would I have to wiggle my way in any time the window was haphazardly left open?

We mothers of boys do chat about these things, and believe it or not we do worry that we will be the odd woman out.

The first wedding for us would be out of town. What would we be asked to do? What would our involvement be? MOG’s are sensitive and do have feelings. Please share with us what you would like us to do. Solicit input. It will make us feel good. Here are a few more tips for brides and their mothers:

Be thoughtful when establishing the wedding date. If you have always dreamed of a fall wedding and the brother of the groom is a college football player, a weekend in the fall could be difficult.

Don’t assume! I have seen several “lists” stating what the bride pays for and what the groom pays for. Sit down and talk about it. We all know that sometimes, in some circumstances, bride and groom paying for things really mean parents are paying. Be open, realistic and open-minded when having these conversations with each other and with both/all groups of parents.

•Just what should the MOG wear? Again, have a conversation! If you know that your future MIL loves the Lily Pulitzer look and thinks it can go anywhere, anytime, reel her in early and make suggestions that would complement your color palette. Is it really detrimental to the wedding if she wears knee length or long? Must she wear her hair up? Let her know the most important aspects of what you are looking for and don’t sweat the small stuff.

•Traditionally the parents of the groom provide a post-rehearsal gathering. If you know your future in-laws well, and trust that they will do a nice job no matter what, then let them offer ideas and let them run with it. Being from Italian descent, our DIL suggested a nice Italian Bistro. Perfect!

Who attends the rehearsal dinner? We had budgeted this as one of our big ticket items. Since all of our family and friends were traveling great distances to the wedding we invited all out-of-towners from both sides of the family. We provided a wonderful dinner venue that set the stage for a special weekend.

•Don’t have wild expectations, but do be grateful. Several years ago, a MOG friend told me that the groom’s family pays for the honeymoon. Yikes! I had not heard that one before. So that we wouldn’t be caught off guard, we began saving for a honeymoon. Of course the couple planned the destination and we surprised them with the airline tickets and hotel. This was NOT expected, and I’m not sure it’s even really a “rule,” but the kids were very grateful.

Being the MOG was a special privilege. I learned so much about weddings and my DIL. What a blessing she is. I know that I will be better prepared for the next wedding as it too will be a travel wedding once again.

Thanks Bridemomma, for allowing me to post my perspective!

~ Ally V.