Mother of the Bride Versus the Wedding Planner: A Lesson in Letting Go

From the ecstatic moment of my daughter’s engagement to her college sweetheart in October of 2021, I had a precise vision of how the wedding planning would go. Since Sophie, my first born of four, had declared in this Grown and Flown piece from 10 years ago that I was her most valuable asset in college, I assumed that my “most valuable asset” (MVA) status would naturally transfer to Sophie’s wedding planning.

As Sophie’s MOM and MVA, I would of course be the person who would co-plan everything with her and be her first call to discuss all her ideas, thoughts, questions about all things wedding, big and small. 

Or so I thought.

Did we really need a wedding planner? (Photo credit: Lahzeh Photography)

I cringed at the suggestion that we needed a wedding planner

During our introductory Zoom meeting with the wedding planner, I could barely conjure up a smile. Who was this woman who “knew best?” I cringed at her suggestions and the way Sophie hung onto her every word and dismissed many of my ideas before I even finished explaining them. My heart and subsequently face turned to stone and all I heard was the wedding planner’s voice in the form of fingernails on a chalkboard.

“Mom!” Sophie’s voice and facial expression glared through my iPhone screen as I answered her FaceTime call immediately after exiting the Zoom meeting. “Your eyes looked like they were throwing daggers at the wedding planner the whole time. What is going on with you?!”

A lump formed in my chest and moved up to my throat. I couldn’t access words that made sense. “I just don’t know if I like her,” was the only sentence I could form, and our call ended shortly after.

I was thrilled to hand over my wedding planning to my mother

As a 25-year-old public relations account executive in 1991, I was thrilled to hand over my wedding planning keys to my mom almost immediately after my exciting engagement. My mom excitedly and eagerly, and with my blessing, planned nearly my whole wedding. I didn’t care about all the bells and whistles the way she did, and still does at age 82.

(Photo credit: Julie Burton)

She worked with our wedding planner, aka, one of her best friends, and curated a magical wedding as I knew she would. Together, we worked on the guest list, picked out my dress, enjoyed the menu tasting, talked about what flowers I liked, discussed the aspects of the Jewish wedding ceremony that were important to me and my then fiancé and now husband of 32 years.

She would occasionally call for my opinion on a color or a napkin style. But most of the time, I deferred to her to make the decisions. She was in charge. I trusted her. And it worked for both of us.

Staring through the Zoom screen at our potential wedding planner and seeing the banter between her and Sophie, I knew one thing for sure—I would not be in charge. Yes, maybe on paper I would “control” the budget (if that is ever really a thing with a wedding) and would weigh in on things that I felt very strongly about (mostly in regard to the Jewish ceremony, which again was the most important thing to me). But this spreadsheet loving, generation-skipping-bells-and-whistles-loving daughter of mine was in full alignment with this, highly experienced, take-charge-and-make-it-all-happen wedding planner extraordinaire. They were two peas in a pod—a pod of two.

My daughter convinced me that I was too busy to plan her wedding

“Mom, you are the busiest person I know,” Sophie said to me as we had a few more discussions about how this was all going to work, and as I continued to find words to describe my mixed emotions about giving up my MVA role. “You do not have time to pour over all the details and track and organize everything the way I like things done,” she said in her very logical way. “But of course we will do a lot of this together!”

In launching my own company 6 years prior, with two kids still in the house, Sophie had seen a change in me from afar as she had moved to a city even further away from home after college. She noticed that I was not always able to immediately pick up her phone call or spend whatever time needed on helping her solve a pressing issue at hand. 

I still desperately wanted to be able to do it all. To spend hours on the phone with Sophie, walking her through a friendship or work issue, run my new co-working business, teach my writing classes, be there for my other three children, one who was now adulting in another state, one in college, and one finishing up high school. 

I called the wedding planner and made sure we understood each other

Was Sophie right? Would I really have the extra time needed to co-create and execute the wedding of Sophie’s dreams? 

I picked up the phone and dialed the wedding planner’s number. With a shake in my voice I told her how I was feeling. I told her that while I did not want to admit it, I did understand that Sophie needed her expertise and her organizational skills to make this process seamless and to end up with the results that we all wanted. I told her what the most important aspects of this wedding were to me. And I told her what I absolutely wanted and needed to do with just Sophie.

I stepped back and let my daughter and the wedding planner plan the wedding

And then I did what did not come naturally to me but what I realized was exactly what I needed to do in my role as MOM and MVA. I stepped back and let Sophie and the wedding planner create a bells and whistles wedding extraordinaire, which was beautifully laced with meaningful traditions, and turned out to be one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

And yes, throughout the planning process, Sophie did call regularly to discuss colors and napkins. She counted on me to visit the venue options as she was not in town to do so, and she trusted my instinct when I arrived at a venue, with her on facetime, and said, “Yes, this is it.” We did pick out her wedding dress together, laughed our way through the menu and cocktail tasting, and studied pinterest boards of flower arrangements over facetime.

And yet, Sophie and the wedding planner beautifully drove the wedding planning bus, dotting the t’s and crossing the i’s, methodically, planfully, dutifully on the Monday app, which made me cringe every time it pinged me to announce a new task. The wedding planner went above and beyond to make sure Sophie was the happiest bride in the history of brides. Or at least in my history book.

The wedding planner allowed me to take a step back and be fully present at my daughter’s wedding

And the wedding planner allowed me to show up at my daughter’s wedding and be fully present. Knowing that each and every detail was thought through, planned for, and executed masterfully. I was able to take in the magic of the day. The beauty and awe of my daughter marrying the man of her dreams who loves her the way I prayed she would be loved by her life partner, and then some.

I realized that hiring and trusting the wedding planner, and willing myself to let go of what I thought would be my role as the Mother of the Bride, allowed me to truly be Sophie’s MVA throughout her wedding planning journey.

More Great Reading:

How to Be a Great Wedding Guest: 6 Essential Tips For Young Adults

About Julie Burton

Julie Burton is a mother of four, a wellness expert, speaker, and award-winning author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being.You can connect with Julie on her website,, on Facebookor twitter and instagram.

Read more posts by Julie

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