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MOBs deserve extra flowers this Mother’s Day

If you know a mother of a bride-to-be, put her on the top of your Mother’s Day shopping list. These days, MOBs (as they’re referred to on wedding websites) are increasingly involved in the planning of increasingly elaborate weddings.

The inherent emotion of a daughter’s wedding is often intensified by the amplified expenditures and expectations attached to contemporary weddings, rendering many MOBs into under-rested, overworked leaky faucets.

“When my daughter got engaged, I was blown over,” said Terri Finley, an administrative assistant from St. Paul whose firstborn, Celeste, was married two years ago. “As a mom, it just hits you: ‘Oh, no, no, no, no — you’re too young to get married. You’re a baby!’ For the first month she had that ring on, I teared up every time I looked at it.”

But the tears quickly turned into tasks. “She had this big, long to-do list from a magazine and she’d go, ‘Mom, you have to do this. Mom, you have to do this.’ “

That’s not unusual, said wedding consultant Mary Olson of Roseville-based Saratoga Weddings. “Mothers are more involved, and brides have more choices than ever before,” she said.

Francie Cutter, a Spanish teacher from Inver Grove Heights, played a key role in wedding planning two years ago; her daughter Kaitlin, 26, was living in New Zealand when she got engaged.

“The wedding planning had to begin, so I got to do that, and I considered it a real privilege,” Cutter said. The middle-aged mom met with caterers, checked out reception sites, compared prices, copied web links and emailed detailed reports to her far-off daughter.

Having been a key player heightened her appreciation of the occasion, Cutter said. “I felt very attached to her wedding. It was one of the happiest days of my life.”

The enormous meaning of the day crystallized when Cutter created a slideshow of her daughter and future son-in-law, playing pictures of them growing up to the “Fiddler on the Roof” song “Sunrise, Sunset.”

‘Emotions run high’

The increased mobility of Gen Y members helps explains their reliance on mothers to plan hometown weddings. So does the generational report that Gen Y is more likely to have Ma and Pa on speed dial than Gen X. It’s not surprising that the baby boomers who inspired the phrase “helicopter parents” among college professors would be in touch with the wedding florist and caterer.

The intensity of joint wedding planning can rupture a mother-daughter bond, Olson cautioned. “Regardless of what you’re relationship is with your mother, as the wedding gets closer and closer, the emotions run high, and you might say something that’s totally innocent but is taken the wrong way.”

“There’s the mother-daughter thing,” Finley acknowledged, “and it wasn’t too bad — until it got really close to the wedding and you’re fine-tuning things and you’re getting stressed as a bride.”

Finley’s taste periodically diverged with her daughter’s. “There are certain things you like as a mom because they’re traditional, but your kids say, ‘Mom, we don’t do it that way.’ And you’re thinking, ‘But, but you’re supposed to do that…’ ” she said. “For moms, you just have to take a step back and let them plan the wedding of their dreams — not yours.”

Looking back, Finley said, the invitations that initially seemed too modern were “perfect.”

A quick cure

Managing a MOB has become such a common issue that the high-traffic wedding site The Knot created a talk board dedicated to “mothers of the bride and groom,” where, by in large, brides-to-be vent, often with casual attention to punctuation and spelling.

“Is anyone elses mother driving them crazy!!!” one Knottie lamented last month. “I love my Mom she is amazing and she is paying for my whole wedding but she is sooooo stressed, more than me, And I’m the one who’s getting married!”

The first response: “Same thing here. My mom definitely stresses more then I do … she takes on too much, then complains about it. My mom has been involved in every step but still feels like I leave her out.”

A little pampering is a swift way to smooth a rift — and a wrinkle, said Angela Elser, the owner of Stonewater Skin & Laser Center in White Bear Lake. “We get these calls: ‘OK, two weeks before my daughter’s wedding and everything’s under control, so what can you do for me?’ The mother’s been going nonstop and looks haggard.”

With wedding’s high season around the corner, have mercy this Mother’s Day: Treat your favorite MOB to some TLC.

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