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Your daughter's wedding should be the happiest and most memorable day of her life and yours. However, planning a wedding can be very stressful for both mother and daughter.

Today many couples are waiting until they have established careers and bank accounts before getting married and prefer to pay for their wedding themselves. This can be a mixed blessing. It does alleviate the financial burden of the parents, but it can also cause the mother of the bride to feel left out. However, regardless of who is financing the wedding, the mother of the bride must remember: this is your daughter's wedding, and while she will appreciate your advice and wisdom, only she has the final say as to what she wants. While it may not be possible to eliminate the stress, you, as the mother of the bride, can alleviate much of the tension and anxiety that leads to that special walk down the aisle.

First, do not offer advice until you are asked. Never use phrases like "When your cousin got married," or "You have to invite Aunt Elsie." This is her wedding not her cousin's and she will invite the people she most wants to share this special day with. If there was something special about her cousin's wedding, perhaps the cake, you might say to her, "Smith's Bakery makes excellent wedding cakes. If you haven't decided on your cake yet, you might want to check them out." If you are really worried that Aunt Elsie is going to be left off the invitation list, stop worrying. Chances are your daughter knows how important Aunt Elsie is to you and she will be invited – without your having to insist on it.

When your daughter is ready, she will ask for your advice. Be ready to offer it, but always be tactful and considerate. If she has chosen a wedding dress that looks absolutely hideous, tell her she'll make a beautiful bride in any dress and show her a few more that will compliment her. Also, it might be a good idea to talk to the bridal gown consultant privately. Sometimes suggestions are better received from a stranger.

Get to know her bridesmaids. While the bride may resent your many offers to help, the bridal party will welcome it. No one knows the bride better than her mother. This will be invaluable to the bridesmaids when it comes time to plan the bridal shower, from suggesting a shower theme to recommending gift ideas.

Be careful when choosing your dress. Yes, this is your daughter's wedding and you want to look fantastic. But, again, remember, it's your daughter's day and you never want to outshine her. Ask her what color she would prefer you wear. If it's a shade that looks terrible on you, opt for a compromise color, one that flatters you but doesn't clash with the rest of the bridal party. Show her the dress you have chosen before you actually buy it. If she really hates it, you may have to select another, but chances are, if you've taken her tastes into consideration, she'll love your dress.

Surf the net. In today's busy world it is hard to coordinate schedules to shop for reception sites, dresses and caterers. There are numerous websites dedicated to the perfect wedding. Do the preliminary investigation. Search for reception sites, availability, price, capacity, etc. Send the top five sites to your daughter if she, too, has internet access. You can also search for wedding gowns, your own dress and the bridesmaids' dresses. Start a "notebook" of your favorite dresses and suggest a get-together with your daughter and her bridal party to look at the dresses on-line to eliminate the need for visiting numerous bridal salons. It also is a good way to break the ice and get to know the different personalities involved in your daughter's big day.

As the wedding date gets closer, chances are your daughter's nerves will be frazzled and she will be very short-tempered. Unfortunately, you, as her mother, will take the brunt of her frustration. This is not the time for you to be overly sensitive. Bear in mind the pressure she is under and let her tirades roll off your back. Let her vent, scream and get angry with you. After the wedding, she'll realize how supportive you were and that support is the best gift you can give your daughter. During the final stretch, do not call her ten times a day reminding her of things she needs to do. Try to do some of the last minute confirmations for her. Even if they are repetitive, take the initiative and call the caterer about the entrée. It's better to have two people call, than have an important detail slip through the cracks.

Once the big day arrives, forget about all the bickering that has taken place the last few months. As your daughter prepares on this special day, I guarantee she will want your help. These last few hours are hours that you will treasure forever. Buttoning her dress, straightening her veil, fixing a stray hairpin, these little things are most pleasurable for both of you. Before she is ready to make her entrance, tell her how much you love her and how proud you are of her, and before you make your entrance, don't forget to wear waterproof mascara!