When Miranda Wallace called her parents to announce her engagement, she expected what we all expect—whoops and hollers, maybe even a few joyful tears. "Instead, my mother reeled off the names of four sites she thought would be best for the reception," recalls the St. Louis attorney. "I knew right then that she'd want complete control of the wedding planning ."
Most of the time, your mom takes things in stride. She's raised you—and probably a few siblings—to adulthood without too many disasters along the way. She maintains a household, juggles family finances and very likely works full-time. Naturally she has her opinions, but she generally lets you live your own life. So what is it about your wedding that's turning her into a control freak? Why do you feel compelled to hide details from her for fear she'll derail your plans? And, most importantly, what can you do to keep your relationship from devolving into an endless string of arguments over the merits of engraved versus thermographed invitations?
Back in Her Day
Before working through your issues with Mom, try to understand what's behind this troubling shift from laissez-faire parent to wedding autocrat. It may well be the way she was raised. "Even if your mom's hip to 21st-century trends, a wedding—your wedding—is likely to bring out the traditionalist in her," warns Danielle Claro, author of How to Have the Wedding You Want (Not the One Everybody Else Wants You to Have) (Berkley). "Our moms grew up in families where their mothers did the bulk of the wedding planning. Since they didn't work outside the home, they viewed their daughter's wedding as a motherly duty—and as a right." Also, your mother was more likely to have been a younger bride than you are, and—unlike you and your contemporaries—more likely to have been living at home when she wed.
Teddy Lenderman, a wedding consultant from Terre Haute, Indiana, and author with Gerard J. Monaghan of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Wedding (Alpha Books), agrees. "Although today's mothers realize that times have changed and that they don't get to take total control, it's still a struggle for them to feel as important to their daughters' weddings as their mothers were to theirs. A wedding is a rite of passage for both of you. A bride who understands that will go a long way toward keeping the peace." In other words, your mother may simply be pining for her little girl.