Celebrate and Include Your Mothers in Your Wedding Ceremony

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (09/05/2020)
Categories: | Inclusive Weddings | Wedding Ceremony |
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Mother pinning
                      boutonniere on groom's lapelIt used to be that the mother of the groom had no real role in the wedding. In fact the oft-repeated advice was that she should "wear beige and shut up".

Although those days are long gone, neither mother tends to get much of a role or a mention in the wedding ceremony. And while it is becoming quite usual for a bride to be walked down the aisle by both her mother and father, in a heterosexual wedding the mother of the groom still tends to be very much in the background. Definitely time for a change!

There are so many ways to include both mothers in your ceremony. For some of these ideas I've looked to same sex weddings, where things tend to be different, as couples side-step traditional wedding planning advice and create their own traditions.

The processional


In a traditional Jewish wedding, the parents of the groom walk him down the aisle, followed by the bride who is escorted by both her parents. That's lovely. So why not do the same?
  • It honours all of the parents, not just the mothers
  • It works brilliantly regardless of whether there are two grooms, two brides, or a bride and groom
  • It is great for everybody's nerves
  • It gives a real boost to the anticipation and sense of occasion at the beginning of the ceremony
  • It works whether or not you have bridesmaids and/or groomsmen, and whether you decide to have two processionals, each including their own wedding party, or have the bridesmaids/groomsmen walk down the aisle in pairs before either of you makes their entrance

Parental affirmation

Giving the bride away is so old-fashioned. The alternative, asking both sets of parents to give their blessing to the marriage, is not only bang up to the minute and inclusive, it works regardless of whether you are bride and groom, bride and bride, or groom and groom

Mothers as bridal party

Perhaps not something you have thought of. But having both mothers fulfil the role of bridesmaid, is a warm and loving way to acknowledge how much they mean to you both.

Mothers as flower girls

Send your mothers down the aisle first, scattering rose petals. Not only is it fun, I can guarantee that neither will get stage fright, have a tantie, or do weird things with the petals. They will be scattered expertly and with aplomb. The reaction of the guests is always so much more excited than when children fulfil this role. So the photos will be fabulous.

Mothers as witnesses

More and more couples are opting to have their mothers act as their legal witnesses and sign the marriage register and certificates, regardless of whether they have a wedding party or not. It's lovely. And the mothers always feel touched and honoured, and they show it.

Last kiss before the first kiss

I love doing this! I say nice things about the mothers and then invite them to come forward to give their child a "last kiss" before they share their first kiss as a married couple. Best done before the vows.

Presentation of the rings

Invite your mothers to present your rings to you. It can be done in more than one way, each of which has its own inclusive feel because, when the rings are presented each of you will be receiving the ring you will place on your beloved's hand
  • Your mother presents to you the ring that you will place on your beloved's hand
  • Your soon-to-be mother-in-law presents to you the ring that you will place on her child's hand.

Including both mothers in a ritual

There are a number of rituals (sub-ceremonies) that are a perfect way to include both mothers
  • Rose Ceremony
    One version of the Rose Ceremony involves presenting roses to both mothers as an expression of gratitude
  • Handfasting
    Have your mothers do the actual handfasting - tying your hands together with cord(s) or ribbon(s)
  • Unity Candle
    Both mothers light the taper candles that represent you as individuals and the families you come from
  • Sand Ceremony
    There are numerous ways the mothers (and other members of the two families) can be included in a sand ceremony
  • Warming of the Rings
    The rings are passed hand to hand so each person can hold them and warm and bless them or make a silent wish for your marriage. This ritual can involve everyone present, close family, or selected persons. Having your mothers singled out to warm and bless your rings has a very intimate feel.

First look

The First Look is a very popular photo-op. Before the ceremony, in private, the groom gets to see the bride and the moment is captured by the photographer. It is a wonderful way to calm wedding day nerves. And there is absolutely no reason why it has to be reserved for heterosexual couples! It works, regardless of gender. Going one step further and having a first look with the parents, is pretty special too. What I rarely hear of, and I can't imagine why, is adding to this by having both sets of parents involved, so that after you have had your first look moment, your mothers (and fathers) are brought into it, giving the groom's mother a chance to see the bride before she walks down the aisle, and the bride's mother a chance to see the groom, and share a few words, before other guests see him.

When your mother has passed away

Getting married without your mother present is always bitter-sweet. You can honour her in numerous ways
  • Have your celebrant say a few words
  • Her photograph on the signing table (so you put your bouquet near it while you sign the documents)
  • Light a memorial candle, incense, or lay a flower in front of her photo at the beginning of the ceremony. I usually have the couple walk to the table, stand with their backs to the guests, and do this silently and without comment before we start the ceremony. Playing her favourite piece of music at that time adds to the moment
  • Leave an empty chair and lay a flower on it

PS No-one has to wear beige

Keeping both mothers in the loop about your colour scheme, and encouraging them to consult one another about what they are wearing is a great way to signal that both are equally important.


It is the relationship you have rather than whether you share DNA is important. But it can get a little (or a lot) complicated when both your biological mother and your stepmother are in the picture.

In recent times, however, rigid approaches to wedding planning, which could be described as do what has always been done or what other people want/expect you to do, has been thrown out of the window. And not before time. So I'm seeing loving and creative ways of including all parents. So far, the record has been 9 parents - biological and step - shared by the couple. They included all of them! Love and inclusion adds an additional layer of magic to your wedding. So think outside the traditional box!

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