When I got engaged, back in the last century, I automatically turned everything over to my mother. Truly, it never crossed my mind to plan my own wedding.
As soon as we were engaged, my mom kicked it into gear. Seven months later, she pulled off the perfect wedding. She even got the rain to stop for the garden reception.
My mom really planned it all herself. From time to time, she would drag me somewhere to decide on something. But, she had it all under control. Early on, a friend advised, “I know it’s your wedding, but don’t get involved. Let your mom do what she wants and it will all turn out fine.” She was right.
This has an added benefit: my mother recalls that I was a delightful bride. Althought she hasn’t forgotten that I asked her a few days before the wedding, “What do you do all day when you aren’t planning a wedding?”
My uncle informed my husband that when asked for an opinion, he should just respond, “Whatever you want, dear.” Alas, he did not continue to follow this advice after the wedding.
So, thirty-something years later, my daughter announces that she is getting married. OK. I’m primed. I’m ready to kick it into gear. It’s my job to plan this wedding, right? Not so fast.
Guess what? The world has changed. Today’s bride doesn’t want to “be involved.” She wants to be in CHARGE. The groom is the one who is expected to “be involved.” As my husband reminded me repeatedly, “it is their wedding.” My rebuttal of “Yeah, but…” fell on deaf ears.
Both my daughter and I approached the wedding with certain expectations. She felt that since it was their wedding and it was taking place 500 miles away, in the town where she lived, she should orchestrate it … a perfectly logical point of view. Of course, that is injecting logic into a totally illogical situation.
I believed that since we were paying for the wedding, my vote superseded all others. This may be a more emotional point of view. A friend kept asking me, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Both! Being right makes me happy.
At one point, my son asked my husband how wedding planning was going. My husband responded, “There isn’t going to be a wedding. Your mother and sister will kill each other long before the wedding. So, one will be going to jail and the other one will be going to the cemetery.”
Fortunately, we did NOT kill each other. There were times that I thought she was “Bridezilla” and she thought I was “Mother From Hell.” We both might have been right. We both like being right.
So, if we had to do it all over again, which both of us swear we will never do, what would we do differently?
1. Try not to have any expectations.
2. When that doesn’t work, explain what you expect and LISTEN to what she expects. Try to understand their point of view.
3. Set a budget. A real budget. Check your expenses against the budget along the way.
4. Have a contingency budget for emergencies of for stuff that you really want that isn’t in the budget. This is the first that my daughter has heard that I did this. SURPRISE!
5. Be receptive to her opinion, even if you really think it is a stupid idea.
6. The Mother of the Bride doesn’t have to wear beige. I wore orange and my daughter approved.
7. Guess what? This a really emotional time. You both may have a tendency to overreact. It didn’t happen to either of us, but we have heard stories.
8. After you overreact, apologize. It helps — really.
9. Something ridiculous will happen. It will seem like a total disaster. And that’s the seed of the stories you both will tell over the years.
10. Have fun and enjoy the wedding.
It was a great wedding. My daughter did a fabulous job. The music, the venue, the food were all perfect. Her attention to detail paid off big time. Everyone had a great time. She was right about a lot of thins. And she even admits that I was right about a few things. It’s all good.
Kathy Koch Joyce is the mother of only one daughter, who notes that this is a nice piece of historical fiction. Her two sons plan to elope (not with each other!), as they can’t match the perfect wedding that their sister created.