Duties of Mam & Dad at Weddings

As soon as your daughter/son and her/his fiancé have set a date, sit down with them and discuss how you could be involved in, and contribute to their wedding. By talking this through at the beginning, you will avoid any debate later, when stress and time pressure come into play.

Try not to be upset if they insist on doing everything themselves. One of two things will doubtless happen. Either:

a) they will soon run out of steam/time/funds/patience and come running to you to take over


b) they will organise everything their way, be radiantly happy on their day and you'll be saved from one of the most stressful experiences known to Man (i.e. planning a wedding) …

If you are to be central to the wedding planning, however, then our best advice is to treat your wedding like a business project. Make a list of what you have agreed to do and send it to the bride and groom. As the preparations continue, it will be your ability to communicate clearly, to keep things organised and to collaborate and consult that will ensure the success of the wedding. When it's all over, you can apply for a job as a management consultant!

The traditional responsibilities for the bride's mother are:

(In consultation with the bride and father of the bride) deciding on the numbers and names to be invited to the marriage and reception

requesting a provisional guest list from the groom/groom's mother, having advised her of numbers

finalising the guest list. It may require pruning and this is never an easy task! So be frank and be fair

getting the wedding stationery printed

keeping the groom's family in touch with the plans

liaising with the groom's mother over what to wear on the big day, ensuring no conflict of colour and style

sending out the wedding invitations, including those to the groom's parents - or the groom may wish to manage the invitations for his side

keeping a record of wedding acceptances and refusals

helping wedding guests to organise lifts to the ceremony and overnight accommodation if necessary. Alternatively, you could include local information with the invitations and leave it up to each guest to make their own arrangements

deciding, in partnership with the bride, plans for the flower arrangements at the church and reception

supplying the wedding gift list or details of where the couple have placed their list

taking in any presents that arrive for the couple

most importantly - in consultation with the couple and the father of the bride - organising the reception.

organising the reception
For a small wedding, you may choose to host the reception at the family home and do the catering yourself. Family, friends and neighbours may offer to help share the load, but the main task of planning the menu, buying the food and drink, preparing the food and organising and possibly borrowing or hiring the seating, china, glasses, cutlery etc may fall to you.

If you are holding the wedding reception in a marquee on your lawn and hiring caterers, you'll need to organise and co-ordinate the different suppliers so that everything goes without a hitch.

If hosting a wedding at home, always check that there are sufficient cloakrooms, heating and electricity supplies and rooms for the couple to change in.

You might want to provide someone to keep an eye on any babies and young children who have been invited. One good idea is to enlist the help of some young people who will take on the role of 'baby sitters' or entertainers, allowing parents to enjoy the event without worrying about what their kids are up to. Either way, let the parents of young guests know what to expect before the day.

If you are hiring an outside venue for your reception then be careful to get everything - costs, booking confirmations, menus - in writing and copy these documents to the bride and groom.

who sits where?
If the reception is to be a formal meal or sit-down buffet, you will need to set about drawing up a seating plan. This requires endless patience. It can become quite a juggling act trying to seat everyone in a position where they will be happy. Even the top table, which has a traditional arrangement, is complicated if parents have remarried or one or more parents are missing. Start agreeing your seating plan as early as possible and be prepared to make changes at the last minute, as some guests may drop out before the wedding day.

everybody mingle
Traditionally, members of the same family are seated together, but some families opt to inter-mingle the guests. It is a question of personal choice. The best way to make everyone happy is to make sure you meet the groom's parents prior to the wedding and discuss the issue.