Wedding Survival Chat with Washingtonian Editor Leslie Milk, Thursday, May 15 at 11 AM

Brides, are you running into mom-is-helping-too-much issues? Moms, are you getting misty during wedding plans? Washingtonian editor Leslie Milk, author of a wedding advice book for mothers and daughters, will answer your questions Thursday at 11. Submit a

Leslie Milk is the lifestyle editor of The Washingtonian magazine, where she has written stories about subjects ranging from climbing Mount Everest to losing weight. After extensive research, she concluded that losing weight is much harder.

Milk’s book, It’s Her Wedding, But I’ll Cry If I Want To: A Survival Guide for the Mother of the Bride, was released in February 2005. She has talked about mothers, daughters, and weddings on the CBS Early Show, The Diane Rehm Show, and Martha Stewart Radio, and has been quoted in newspapers and magazines all over the country.

At The Washingtonian,  Milk’s story on underage drinking, “Saturday Night in the Suburbs,” won the 1993 Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting from the City and Regional Magazine Association. In 2004, she won a Dateline Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for the best magazine sports story.
Previously, Milk was a weekly columnist for the The Washington Post and other local papers.  Her columns won two awards from the American Association of University Women. Milk was also honored for journalistic excellence by Capital Press Women.

Milk is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, which accepts no responsibility for anything Milk has written since.
Thanks for all of the great questions.  I love talking about weddings and you can always contact me at if you have more wedding stuff on your mind.

Evanston, IL
Any plans to write a book for fathers of the bride? They're so important that they've had not one, but two movies about them!

The father of the bride gets a starring roe at the wedding itself, but he doesn't have much to do before the big day — except sign checks and grumble about the expense.  I say that the father of the bride is like the corpse at the funeral — he has to show up but everybody hopes he won't do anything.


So, I can't see writing a book for him.  But I'm always open to suggestions. 

Arlington, VA
My daughter is a complete basket case over her wedding plans. As much as I try to reassure her that everything will be fine, she still goes crazy. What can I do?
Is she consumed with the details?  Worried about the money?  Worried about pleasing the groom's family?  Or just suffering from all of the above.  If you can narrow it down, you may be able to help with some specific suggestions.  If not, try to remind her that the wedding is just one day — it is the marriage that really counts.  And that nobody but the bride ever notices if little things go wrong.  
Washington, DC
What is your #1 tip for mothers of the bride?
It was my mantra during the planning for my daughter's wedding — "It's Her Wedding, It's Her Wedding…"  You can't do it your way.  You have to let her lead the way.  Even the groom may have ideas about the wedding.  The important thing isn't the cut of her dress or the color of the flowers.  The important thing is the relationship with your daughter and her groom.  After the wedding, the memories and good feelings are more important than the wedding details.
for a friend: she doesn't want to wear a veil, but her mom is insisting. how does she nicely get across to her mom that she REALLY doesn't want to wear it?

First, I do understand how her mom feels.  You've seen your daughter in a dozen prom dresses, but until she puts on a veil, she isn't a bride.


That said, the bride can remind her mother that the moment she picks up her bouquet, she'll look like a bride.  Or that Jenna Bush didn't wear a veil.  Or that the wedding is pretty informal and a veil just doesn't feel right.


Or the bride can compromise — wear the veil for the trip down the aisle and take it off right after for the pictures and the party.   

Nice to hear about your book—I'll have to pick up a copy. What sparked you to write it? Did you have a daughter get married recently?

My daughter was married in 2003 and the book is dedicated to her.  The moment she got engaged, I realized that I had a choice.  I could do what I wanted and get the wedding I never had —my inlaws ruined my wedding—but that is another story.  Or I could help my daughter get her dream wedding.  And strengthen a bond that had been sorely tested when she was a teenager.

Writing the book was a constant reminder of what was important.  It was also a lot of fun.  I heard the most amazing stories.  Relatives behaving badly.  Kids and pets behaving badly.  But also love stories that touched my heart. 


Washington, DC
How much say should I let my mom have in my wedding? She usually ends up being right about things, but we're disagreeing on food choices, even my dress!

Buy her a copy of my book!   She needs to understand that it is your day and most things should be your way.


That said,  you have to be certain that you are speaking up clearly.  If you usually go along with her, she may not realize how strongly you feel about the food or the dress.


I don't know your mother, but I do know that mothers and daughters often disagree about dresses.  When we were brides, it was often unthinkable to wear a strapless dress for a church wedding.  Now that is the norm.  A traditional mother and an independent bride may have very different ideas about what is bridal.   You might show her some bridal magazines to give her an idea of how many alternatives are acceptable now.


I'd love to hear more about the food disagreement.  

My mom is driving me nuts! Do you have any tips on how to be patient?

I know this sounds like a commercial — but get her a copy of my book.  Maybe she'll read it and get off your case.


Another suggestion — give her specific assignments.  Let her research some aspect of the ceremony or the reception—centerpieces, wedding programs, favors.  This may focus her energy away from you for a while.


Also, let her know how busy you are.  Much as you'd love to chat about every detail, you still have a job or school. 


And this is why God invented voicemail, email, and answering machines.  You don't have to be available all the time to talk about the wedding.


Do I sound heartless?  Anti-mother?  Yikes, I'm not turning on my own kind … I just know how obsessive I can get about little things.  At one point right before my daughter's wedding I said to my son, "Aren't you impressed that I'm not going crazy?"

    "But you are driving all of us crazy," he replied. 

Bethesda, MD
Thanks for taking questions! My mom and I are really close, but my mother-in-law is trying to get involved a little too much. I want to have a good relationship with her, but some things, like dress shopping, I want to be just me and my mom. How do I tell her this without ruining our relationship?

This is tricky!   Tell her that the shopping is still in the early stages, and you'll invite her along when the choices are narrowed down.  My daughter invited her prospective mother-in-law to the first fitting — after the dress was picked.


Is your fiance´ pushing you to involve his mother?   If so, you may have to find little ways to involve her.  Besides, you want to have a good relationship with her.  She'll never be your mother but she'll be in your life.   

McLean, VA
What's in style these days for mother of the bride dresses?

First of all, I haven't seen mothers of brides in pants.  This is one occasion where a skirt —either a dress or a suit—is still the rule.


But you don't have to look like the grandmother of the bride.  Never tell a salesperson that you are looking for a mother of the bride dress.  They immediately bring out dowdy outfits.  Tell them you are dressing for a special occasion.

n the other hand, a "Red Hot Mama " dress is never in style for the mother of the bride.  There are other times when you can show that you've still got it.  This is no time to upstage the bride.


Gaithersburg, MD
I'd love some advice on where to shop for a mother of the bride dress!

Start out where you normally shop.  You aren't looking for a "mother of the bride" dress — that is the kiss of death.  You want something pretty, flattering, comfortable, and in keeping with the formality or informality of the wedding itself.


There are stores that specialize in dresses for special occasions.  In our area,  Claire Dratch, Riziks, Saks Jandel, and both Nordstrom, and Macys come to mind.  I love the Back Room at Loehmanns.  


I know several mothers who have picked a style they loved and had a dress made.  It turned out to be cheaper and more reflective of their style. 

Arlington, VA
Hi Leslie! So, what's the survival plan if a family member gets inappropriately drunk at the wedding? (My father's side is 100% irish so this is a distinct possibility)
Etiquette expert Letitia Baldridge had a great answer.  Alert the bartender to likely offenders.  If anyone looks like they are heading toward over indulgence, the bartender can start watering the drinks.