While many wedding traditions have been updated, the father and mother of the bride still pay for most of the wedding, and therefore take on many of the planning and hosting responsibilities. The list of father of the bride and mother of the bride duties can range from researching vendors and family traditions to welcoming guests and giving a toast at the reception. But how do you know what wedding planning to-do’s you should hand off to your parents?
Here is an extensive list of father of the bride and mother of the bride duties to help the couple plan and enjoy the big day.
1. Make the in-laws feel welcome
Whether or not the in-laws have met one another, it’s a nice and welcoming gesture to invite them to dinner, along with the grandparents and other children so both families can get to know one another better. The father and mother of the bride can host the dinner in their home or at a restaurant and it can be as formal or as laid-back as they like. Ideally, the get-together should be scheduled within four to six weeks from when the couple got engaged.
2. Announce the couple's engagement
One of the first traditional father of the bride and mother of the bride duties is to formally announce the couple’s engagement in print. An engagement announcement can be published in a local newspaper or house of worship newsletter. They can also send a formal announcement in the mail, or via an online service.
3. Plan and host an engagement party
The parents of the bride traditionally host an engagement party for the happy couple, if the couple wants one. As the host they’re in charge of booking the venue and vendors, organizing the guest list, ordering the invitation and overseeing all the other details, including making a speech or a toast at the party, greeting guests, and paying the bills.
4. Determine the wedding budget
Before any decisions are made, the father and mother of the bride should determine how much they want to spend on their daughter’s wedding. Will they be giving the couple a lump sum to manage? Will they pay for specific items? Once the budget is determined – and how much the couple and the groom’s parents will be contributing – vendors can be researched and hired. They should consider managing the budget through an online Wedding Budget Tool to keep track of all expenses, deposits and balance due dates.
5. Be the unofficial wedding planner
The mother of the bride duties can include various wedding planning responsibilities if the couple is not hiring a wedding planner, and especially if the wedding will be in the bride’s hometown and she no longer lives there. If mom is on the ground, let her do the research to find a local venue and vendors for the couple to review. But on the wedding day, considering hiring a day-of planner so she isn’t putting out fires, or arranging seating cards, and can play the role of hostess.
6. Scout for wedding venues
The mother of the bride can help the couple find the right place to recite their vows and celebrate after by scouting out locations based on the estimated guest list, budget and wedding’s style. Start by getting recommendations from friends and family, look up potential wedding venues online, and go with the couple to check them out. And when speaking or meeting with venue managers, mom and dad shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions even if the couple is with them.
7. Research wedding vendors
Ask relatives and friends for recommendations of wedding vendors in the area. After all, mom and dad may have friends with kids who just got hitched and may be a great resource! Parents should find out from the couple if there are specific vendors they want help finding. Draw up a list potential wedding vendors to meet with, and mom and dad can also do preliminary interviews by confirming date availability, pricing and services over email or via a quick phone call.
8. Review all contracts
Even though the bride and her beloved are adults, it doesn’t hurt to have the father and mother of the bride review every vendor contract, especially if they will be financially responsible for the payments. Make sure everyone involved understands all the terms and services being provided before signing on the dotted line.
9. Be the go-to contact if the bride is unavailable
Mothers of the bride can be an alternate contact if the bride isn’t reachable. Make sure all the vendors know they can email or call mom if they have any questions, and that she has decision-making power too.
10. Organize a guest list
Mom and dad should draft a guest list of relatives and their friends they want to invite to the wedding. If they’re paying for most of the wedding then their guest list may be longer than the in-laws’ family. But be sure to check with the couple how many people can be added to the list. Once it’s confirmed who will be invited, start gathering mailing addresses for save-the-date cards and the wedding invitation.
11. Provide registry assistance
If the couple isn’t exactly sure what to add to their wedding registry, mom and dad can give them some advice as to which items are home essentials. They can also allow them to have items shipped to their home if the couple won’t be able to accept deliveries during the day, and they can, and if the couple’s storage space is limited.
12. Go wedding dress shopping with the bride
Mom has probably been dreaming of shopping with her daughter for her wedding dress long before she has, and this once-in-a-lifetime experience is something she won’t want to miss. The mother of the bride should ask her daughter if she wants her to schedule appointments, and plan a fun-filled weekend of brunch, shopping and celebratory drinks after she finds the one. While at the salon, mom should be supportive but honest. If the bride and her mom don’t live near each other, ask the salon if mom can FaceTime in to see her daughter trying on dresses or have pictures emailed to her. Another option is for the bride to go shopping and narrow down the final dress possibilities and for mom to come in for the final wedding dress appointment.
13. Seek out family heirlooms
Let the bride know if there is a veil, garter or jewelry she may want to wear as her something old or something borrowed, such as a grandmother’s veil or an aunt’s earrings. If mom’s wedding dress or a grandmother’s is available, the bride may want to consider wearing it or incorporating part of it into her wedding-day look.
14. Shop for the mother of the bride dress
Let mom shop for a dress that complements the formality of the wedding, as well as her personal style. She can shop on her own and then show her daughter some final options, or go shopping together. Once she picks her mother of the bride dress, have her inform the mother of the groom so that their looks don’t clash or match exactly.
15. Dad's wedding day look should complement the groom and groomsmen
The father of the bride should try on and be willing to wear the suit or tux that the couple has selected. As the father of the bride, and not a groomsmen, his look should slightly differ by changing up his accessories.
16. Research cultural and religious traditions
The bride and groom may not be as familiar with religious and cultural wedding traditions, so mom and dad should inform them of some of the traditions you included in your wedding and other customs they may want to consider during the ceremony.
17. Co-host the shower
The mother of the bride can co-host the bridal shower with the bridesmaids and participate in a number of ways. In addition to financially contributing to the bridal shower, mom may have input on the venue (or host it at her home), the guest list, menu, décor and entertainment. In the situation where the bride doesn’t live in her hometown, the mother of the bride may host a bridal shower for relatives and her friends when the bride comes to visit.
18. Proofread all printed materials
The father and mother of the bride can be an extra pair of eyes for all printed materials, especially the wedding invitation. If the bride’s parents are hosting the wedding, their names should be printed on the invitation. Make sure all the details and names are listed correctly. If the wedding program will list descriptions of traditions, review them carefully so that they are accurate. And they should confirm the spellings and addresses of friends and relatives for mailing envelopes, seating cards and place cards.
19. Get hands-on
There may be a few hands-on jobs that the parents of the bride can help the couple tackle, including stuffing the wedding invitations and stamping them, assembling wedding programs and putting favors together. Not everything has to be done on the same night, but make it fun by ordering in a meal or snacks and opening up some bottles of wine to celebrate when the task is done.
20. Assist in organizing the seating chart
Father and mother of the bride duties include assisting the couple in organizing where everyone will sit at the reception, especially relatives and their friends. The couple may not be familiar with all family feuds and those who do and don’t get along.
21. Edit the photo shot list
Parents shouldn’t be afraid to put a few family shots that they want on the photographer’s shot list. Once the wedding-day timeline has been set, it may not be possible to add a bunch of shots on the day-of due to time constraints.
22. Confirm your photo album and video order
If mom and dad plan on ordering a parents’ album of the wedding, or a copy of the video, make sure their order is included in the photography and videography contracts. You’ll save money if you place all album orders in advance of the wedding, when everything is bundled together.
23. Run any last-minute errands
The week before the wedding, and especially the day or two before, can be a whirlwind of welcoming guests and last-minute errands. The father and mother of the bride can help the couple cross off their final wedding to-do’s by taking on some of the responsibilities. Or offer to help in other ways so they can manage all the to-do’s, such as taking their dog for a walk or picking up dinner one night.
24. Plan the rehearsal dinner
If the father of the groom and the mother of the groom don’t offer to host the rehearsal dinner, then the father of the bride and mother of the bride can add it to their list of wedding duties. At the rehearsal dinner, they should make a speech, which can be longer than a wedding toast, and include welcoming the groom and his family into theirs.
25. Help the bride get ready on the big day
The mother of the bride should get ready and dressed for the wedding with her daughter so she can assist her by zipping or buttoning her gown, helping her slip into her shoes or securing her veil. In addition to being an extra pair of hands, it’s also a time to make everlasting memories and get some great photos.
26. Drive with the bride to the ceremony
If the bride isn’t getting ready at the ceremony venue, it’s the father of the bride who will drive with her to the ceremony. Along the way, be sure to tell her how beautiful she looks, how much you love her and how happy you are for her. The father of the bride will be the last person she’ll be with before she recites her vows. Be sure to listen to her and be supportive on her way to saying, “I do.”
27. Escort the bride down the aisle
In Jewish weddings, both parents walk the bride down the aisle. In a Christian wedding, if the bride’s father isn’t able to walk her, the mother of the bride can escort her daughter.
28. Sit in the first pew
At a Christian wedding, the mother of the bride is seated in the pew in front of the altar. She is the last to be seated before the processional begins, and is the first to leave after the bridal party exits.
29. Stand in the receiving line
Receiving lines are not very common any more, but if you choose to have one, it’s one of the mother of the bride’s duties to be the first person who greets guests as they arrive at the reception venue, followed by the father of the groom, the newlyweds and the groom’s parents. Both dads may be excused from this to-do and the couple may greet guests with their moms on either side of them.
30. Sit at the parents' table
The father of the bride and mother of the bride may choose to sit with friends or relatives, at a dedicated parents table. The traditional parents table seats the parents of the bride and groom, grandparents of the couple and the officiant and his or her spouse if they were invited to stay for the reception. The couple may also choose to sit with their parents and siblings.
31. Parent dances
When the couple is organizing special dances with the band or DJ, they may decide that after the first dance they would like their parents to join them on the dance floor. Parents should be aware of when they may be asked to dance so that they’re in the room when the announcement for them to join the dance floor is made. The father of the bride will have a dedicated dance with his daughter, and the two of them should choose a song together. They may even decide to have one choreographed for them.
32. Make a toast at the wedding
Traditionally the father of the bride will make a toast welcoming family and friends to the wedding early in the reception. The mother of the bride can stand next to him or make a toast of her own. Unlike a speech at the rehearsal dinner, a toast should be short and sweet: Thank everyone for coming and those who helped plan the wedding, tell a funny story about the bride, welcome the groom into the family and mention how happy you are to have him in your family, and then toast the couple with well wishes. And no, you don’t have to be holding a glass of champagne, you can toast on any drink you enjoy.
33. Play the role of host and hostess
The parents of the bride are the hosts of the wedding, and the wedding weekend. The father of the bride and mother of the bride duties include welcoming guests when they arrive in town, and host events over the weekend. They may include a welcome dinner, round of golf, a spa day, and the post-wedding farewell brunch.
34. Tell her you love her
On the day of the wedding, mom and dad should let their daughter know how much they love her and how beautiful she looks. They can steal a few moments when she’s getting ready, or on the way to the church with dad. You can also write her a note and give her a small gift that she is sure to cherish forever.
35. Be the last to leave the wedding
As the wedding’s hosts, the father of the bride and mother of the bride should be the last to leave the reception, for two reasons: first they should make sure that all vendors have been paid in full and tipped at the end of the reception, and second, to ensure that their guests had a wonderful time and leave safely at the end of the night.
36. Be supportive
One of the most important father of the bride and mother of the bride duties is supporting the bride throughout her engagement. Be more than just a shoulder for her to cry on. Let her know she can come to you and talk about anything, whether it’s a planning decision or a relationship dilemma.