As mothers, we are always teaching — and learning.

I didn’t get a guidebook on how to be a mother-of-the-bride (MOB) when my first daughter got married and, in retrospect, I made some rookie mistakes.

But I got a second chance when my younger daughter walked down the aisle earlier this month (a year later than originally planned, due to the pandemic.)

Every child and wedding is different. But here are my big takeaways from my MOB duties.

  1. Even if you’re paying for some of the festivities, defer to the wishes of the couple. After all, it’s THEIR wedding and not yours.
  2. Be sensitive to the fact that the planning, activities, and event itself may be stressful. Remain calm. The last thing your kid needs is for you to be part of the stress ball. Attempt not to do anything embarassing or annoying. Yeah…that’s a pretty broad statement. The definition depends on your child. Be open to feedback and be respectful. Hold your tongue even when you’re dying to blurt out something that could be potentially volatile.
  3. Make every effort to get along with the other parents. In my case, it was super-easy. I love, love, love (did I say love?) my daughter’s in-laws. The mother of the groom and I totally respected each other’s talents and planning styles. As in any great relationship, we became collaborators and communicators rather than competitors. My daughter (the matron of honor) also weighed in on some of the planning and we each took on tasks that played to our strengths.
  4. Use technology to its best advantage to communicate and collaborate. Whether we were sharing visual ideas on Pinterest or building a shareable spreadsheet of shower guests, we were able to streamline. I had to plan a couple of events and activities from cross-country and I have no idea how I would have functioned without Ms. Google by my side. That said, don’t post tons of pix on social media without your family’s permission. That applies to ALL family activities and not just weddings.
  5. Dress shopping can be a great opportunity to get in shape. Due to the pandemic, I had something of a time advantage. I went shopping for the first time well over a year ago and wasn’t thrilled with what I saw in the department store mirror? Do they arrange the lighting and 3-way mirrors to encourage wellness among 65-year-old women? Perhaps! But that trauma inspired me to drop 30% body fat. Speaking of which, if your daughter/son is interested, ask them their opinion of your attire. And take pix of your final selection. It’ll give you a better sense of how you’ll look in the photos on the day of the event.
  6. Avoid family drama at all costs. See #2. Remind yourself that gatherings of friends and family to celebrate special events are rare. Limit your own alcohol consumption so you can remain focused and engaged.
  7. Use the wedding — and related festivities — as an opportunity to bond with new family members (and reconnect with old ones you may not have seen in a while).
  8. If you have to attend solo, find dance partners early on in the evening. Even if you wind up in a circle with the bridesmaids or a random stranger, enjoy the tunes and rock on!
  9. Volunteer to help whenever possible. You may not be assigned your dream job, but take on the tasks that will be most useful to the bride and groom.
  10. Above all, refer back to #1 often. At the end of the day, you want your child to think, “Wow…mom was really a big help!” rather than “I wish I didn’t have to invite my own mother to the wedding. She was a pain in the butt.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the professional pictures of that amazing evening and have avoided the temptation to e-mail my daughter while she’s on her honeymoon. She and her husband have been kind enough to upload pix to Google Docs so I know that they didn’t crash while parasailing.

Once a mom…always a mom!


  • Nancy A Shenker

    The Silver Hair Playbook: How to Be a Bad Ass >50™

    Nancy A. Shenker is a marketing innovator, brand builder, writer, speaker, and self-proclaimed rule breaker. Over the course of her 40-year business and marketing career, she has been a C-level executive, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to hundreds of small businesses at all stages. Founder of theONswitch marketing, Nancy was formerly a senior executive for major consumer and business brands, including Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions. She has written four books, and publishes a women’s entrepreneur community (, as well as AI/machine learning/robotics site and travel and lifestyle site She also wrote a column for called Bots & Bodies (about the human side of tech) and is a contributor to a wide range of consumer and business media. She recently won the "Killer Content Award" for a major project for a fast-growing technology company.