Damnit, my mom was right… (don’t tell her!)

Updated May 8 2016
Guest post by Cat Cenedra
My mom apparently thinks my necklace is hilarious
Moms: super helpful in so many ways! Photo by Dominique Mediak-Pirigy

Over the last few months I've come face to face with the fact that the shape that my wedding is taking is completely different from what I originally thought it would be. Most of that evolution was the product of the sharp learning curve of wedding planning. Until now I had absolutely no need for information such as the price/shopping locations for linen rentals, bubbles, or peacock feathers. I knew that weddings were expensive, but I thought the expense was attributed to pricey perks like dresses made out of Swarovski crystals and 500lb twelve-tier cakes, not the sheer cost of simply feeding your guests.

You know who did know some of this stuff? My mom.

Eventually I came to realize that her advice, which at times irritates the hell out of me, is not an attempt to rain on my parade or rein in my creativity, but can be a little sprinkling of reality.

She tried to tell me, but it took me forever to hear her. That's because I was too busy rolling my eyes at her shock over some of my choices, deleting the emails she sent with pictures of big poofy dresses, and dismissing the idea of wedding packages.

Eventually I came to realize that her advice, which at times irritates the hell out of me, is not an attempt to rain on my parade or rein in my creativity, but can be a little sprinkling of reality. That's not to say that her advice is always correct, and shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt, but sometimes my rebellious heart needs to slow down a little and actually listen. I need to calm down the sixteen-year-old me that comes out whenever my mom tells me something I don't like, and rationally weigh my options.

Here are some things my mom was right about:

  • Knowing your budget and costs really is important. Yes love is free, but everything else costs money.
  • It rains sometimes. So, if you're looking at an outdoor venue, you need to either be okay with it raining or have a rain plan. Or, if it's not worth the risk, make another plan.
  • Finding a wedding dress isn't like finding a party dress. You can't just go find a full-on wedding dress on the rack. Unless what you are looking for is the kind of dress that lives on racks, you need to plan ahead to allow for time for alterations or the time it takes to have something custom made.
  • There are a lot of pieces to even a simple wedding. You don't have to think about them all at once, but they exist.

So, okay okay, sometimes my mom is right. And my learning curve has led to a complete evolution as I realized that the simple backyard wedding I initially dreamed of was actually pretty complicated when I factored in catering, rentals, tents, lighting, etc. And it's completely exposed to the elements. I am indeed better off with my Meat and Three barn venue with a full rain plan, my more realistic budget, my dress ordered with plenty of time, and a checklist of to-dos (tailored to me and my priorities).

The lesson for me is to not block out messages I don't want to hear, and to not be hasty to dismiss advice. Don't get me wrong: I still stand my ground, I will respond to situations/limitations in my own way, and there are many aspects of my wedding that are 100% my own and I expressly do not want input on. I drew a few lines, and communicated those lines with my mother, to avoid confrontation and to also make sure that when we discussed other parts of the wedding I would actually listen without becoming defensive.

Because, in the end, I know that she is telling me these things because she loves me and because every once in a while she is indeed right.

  1. Damn mothers and their being right!
    It's a fantastic reminder though that sometimes sprinkled in all the stuff we don't want to hear is stuff we need to hear. While I was right and we had a ridiculous amount of alcohol (which was kinda my mum's plan), she was right about adding a 5th pizza. Luckily I started listening to her (sometimes) a while ago. But it's hard. Especially when you're busy struggling against expectations of things you don't want.

  2. I had a moment like this before my wedding!

    When my fiancee and I planned our wedding, I tried really hard not to involve any of the women in my family. While my sisters and my mother are all wonderful people, we are all very strong-willed, we all have our own opinions and ways that we think things should be done, and we all tend to burst each other's bubbles on a regular basis. I was finishing nursing school and planning a wedding in five months and didn't have the time (or the stomach) to defend every decision I made six ways to Tuesday.

    In spite of this, my mom actually found my wedding location. She called me out of the blue and said, "I found the perfect place for your wedding!" So my fiancee and I went to look at this location with her, mostly just to humor her, because we didn't expect to find anything we'd want. Surprisingly, it fit all of our 'wants" exactly, and we even got a discount on use of the location, because it was still under construction when we first looked at it.

  3. OH MY GOD THIS IS SO TRUE. Except that no one was really telling us this, it just kind of happened. We are 17 days out now (WTF??!?!?!!?) and the "simple backyard thing" has turned into all of the things you said – tents, draping, etc. But it's good, and I'm glad that there are people who have thrown big parties helping and doing stuff with and for us.

    And it's hella expensive to feed 200 people, no matter how you slice it.

  4. My mother is delightfully hands-off. My MIL is the one who's hands on, but then it is her money. I don't mind it at all since my mom hardly knows ass from elbow of weddings but the MIL has been to a million and knows exactly what to do.

  5. On the other hand, not all of our mothers are always right, especially when they become obsessed with the more (current) "traditional" idea of what a wedding is supposed to look like and be. Sometimes they fight hard hard for crap that doesn't fit in the budget, perhaps hoping for a do-over of their own weddings.
    That's not to say that many other mothers are right about things – they definitely are! But don't forget to listen to your own voice too 🙂

  6. Agreed, I couldn't have done all the planning for our four-month-engagement, other-side-of-the-world wedding without my mother. She's been great finding the only hall in all of the Brisbane CBD that isn't full of yoga yuppies on a Saturday afternoon for our rain plan, has been amazingly supportive of my desire for a marching band, and agreed with my desire for a non-sit-down reception. Unfortunately, she's also determined I need a spray tan, a pouffy dress and also seems completely incapable of dressing herself. Bizarre.

  7. During my wedding planning, I couldn't understand why I was so overwhelmed with such a simple wedding, but an (older, maternal) friend of mine told me one day… "it doesn't matter how big or small your wedding is, you're still dealing with the same amount of decisions. You're just ordering less." It made me feel better.

    • ABSOLUTELY. My fiance would say, "why are you so stressed out? That's why we kept it small!" but there are still a million decisions to make. Whether 20 people or 200 (the # at our wedding, vs the number we anticipate at our anniversary party next year, yipe!) you are still deciding what to feed them, where it will be, who will officiate, what kind of music to have, how to decorate, what to wear, what invitations will look like, what your name will be after it's all done, etc ad nauseum.

      In other words, just as there are baseline financial costs that are the same regardless of the size of the party, there are "sunk costs of worry" that happen regardless of size.

  8. agreed. My wedding did a 180 and went in the opposite direction I had hoped for. But it's because my mom was right about an outdoor fun small circus wedding being too expensive. Now I'm having a vintage wedding, which is still awesome and my idea instead of traditional. It's hard fighting my mom about 'traditional wedding' stuff though, because that's not me. I love her, but it's sooo hard.

  9. "I knew that weddings were expensive, but I thought the expense was attributed to pricey perks like dresses made out of Swarovski crystals and 500lb twelve-tier cakes, not the sheer cost of simply feeding your guests."

    OMG, yes! Glad to see it wasn't just me…

    -and-

    "The lesson for me is to not block out messages I don't want to hear, and to not be hasty to dismiss advice.

    Double yes! I was stubbornly fixated on an aspect of my dress that my mother kept steering me in another direction for. Truth is, she has way more experience with color theory and fabric; in the end, she managed to create more of what I was hoping for. I'm glad I listened in this case.

  10. I also recently realized that DIY is not necessarily cheaper than a nice package offered by one place. We're coordinating everything from about 10 different vendors and buying a ton of stuff ourselves. Even though we're finding the cheapest options, all those costs add up — we'll spend at least as much as we would have spent at a more inclusive venue that would have coordinated most of that stuff for us. Oh well! Too late to go back now.

    • I've just been figuring this out too. Of course, I've been enjoying the planning process and I'm really thrilled to be able to use the caterer that we have.

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