I’m switching gears briefly for this post and not discussing hormones.
My oldest daughter got married on Saturday. Hers was the second wedding of our four daughters. The third wedding will happen in October. That will be TWO weddings in 2019! Yikes!
I have learned a lot going through the planning and ceremony process with my first two daughters.
Nothing prepares you for your daughter’s big day. No matter how many daughters you have, each wedding day is special and unique in its own way. The emotions of the mom are real and it doesn’t get easier to hold back tears with the next wedding.
The mother/daughter bond can be very strong. The bond I have with my three biological daughters is unbreakable. My mother died when I was 24 so I didn’t have the privilege of having her around through most of my young adult years. My big wedding was over 30 years ago so my memory of it is a blur. I want to remember my daughters’ wedding days and do not take for granted that I get to walk with my girls through this stage of their life.
As young adults we dream of getting married and having a family. I never imagined that I would have an all girl household. It was fun watching and hearing my girls fantasize about their future husbands and lives when they were growing up. It is even more fun to watch them come together to plan and support each other as they were/are going through the planning process of their own weddings.
Here are 10 things I have learned from being the mother of the bride:
- IT’S NOT YOUR WEDDING! It is your daughter’s wedding. I wasn’t a momzilla, but I had preconceptions and visions of how things should be. Thankfully, I have self control and am able to keep most of my opinions to myself. The reality is your daughter has a vision for her big day will ask you for advice when she wants it. You are simply there for moral support. And, just when you think you know what your daughter wants, she will surprise you and go the opposite direction. For instance, my oldest who just got married, was never a formal person. Even her prom dresses were short dresses and were not anything close to being flashing. It surprised my daughter herself when she decided that she wanted a princess ball gown as her wedding dress. I cannot tell you how many times I told her over the course of planning her wedding that she was turning into the bride she said she would never be. Her response: “I get it now. I want to be that bride.” So, when your daughter and her groom decide that Dominoes is going to deliver pizza for the wedding reception meal, and that they will be serving said pizza out of the boxes (gasp), you keep your thoughts to yourself. In the end, does that really matter?
- THERE’S A THIRD PARTY INTRUDING ON THIS MOTHER/DAUGHTER BOND — THE GROOM! When I was planning my wedding, my groom could care less about the details. He just wanted to show up. However, today’s grooms seem to be more hands on. At least two of our grooms are very hands on. My first son-in-law really didn’t care. He stood back and offered moral support and only voiced his opinion on what he wanted his groomsmen to wear and the music that needed to be played as the boys made their entrance. End of story. For weddings two and three, I had/have very hands on grooms. Again, it’s not my wedding. I am learning to sit back, listen and keep quiet unless my opinion is requested. I never want to start out being “that” mother-in-law. Do you?
- THE DIY WEDDING – IT’S A TRAP! Pinterest is awesome on so many levels, but it can be evil when it comes to wedding planning. Everyone wants a Pinterest perfect wedding, but with that comes a lot of do it yourself projects. Yes, DIY might save money, but after two weddings, I am wondering if all of that work is worth the savings. If you can afford it, pay the extra money to have the venue decorated for you. Someone else can easily implement your daughter’s vision leaving you with one less thing to stress about. I have now shopped for decor and set up two weddings. My home office was filled floor to ceiling with wedding decor for weeks and I was getting claustrophobic. We survived both, but it definitely would have been less stressful to have someone else do the hard work and keep up with those decorations. And, after the wedding is over you have to find a place for all of those decorations that you worked so hard to make. Go easy!
- TO CATER OR NOT TO CATER? THAT IS THE QUESTION. I’ve now experienced a fully catered wedding and a semi-catered wedding (meaning Dominoes delivered the pizzas, but we were responsible for setting it out, serving and monitoring portion control. Also, our bottled soft drink station had to be monitored). While delivering Dominoes pizza and serving soft drinks was a huge cost savings, we didn’t think through the actual service of the food line. Thankfully, I had young relatives at my beck and call that monitored the drinks and pizza for us. They were life savers! So, for wedding #3 in October, we will serve what my daughter wants within reason, but if it’s not a fully catered company, then I will pay attendants to serve the food so that it is one less headache we have to scramble to solve on the wedding day. Full service = less headaches!
- VENUE SELECTION. Next to the dress, the venue is probably the most important decision to be made. While cost will mostly drive your venue decision, I recommend that you find a venue within your budget that is all inclusive. Meaning tables, chairs, linens and maybe a few other decorations are included in the rental cost. I’ve now done one of each. All inclusive is easier, less stressful and cheaper in the long run.
- WHAT TO WEAR? Follow your daughter’s lead and take her shopping with you if you can. I was very formal for the first wedding and was pretty casual for the second wedding. Both dresses and shoes approved by my brides, and both very different. Go with what you and your daughter want. No one else’s opinion matters.
- WHERE TO SEAT THE MOTHER-OF-THE-BRIDE DURING THE CEREMONY. You’re probably thinking this is a no brainer. But, I learned this last weekend that you need to set those boundaries at the rehearsal. The mother-of-the-bride ALWAYS gets the front row isle seat. Period. End of story. We are a divorced family so my daughters have two sets of parents and have a great relationship with their stepmother. I am so very grateful for that. However, it is MY daughter getting married and I am the one that has the privilege of getting the front row view of my daughter walking down the isle. I shouldn’t be seated in the middle of the front row where I have to stand on my tiptoes to be able to see my daughter as she makes her big entrance. Make sure everyone knows this. It happened to me this past weekend. Thankfully, the stepmother realized what was happening and pulled me to the isle so I could see (she redeemed herself). Also–and this is important–we learned from wedding number one that the parents/grandparents should sit on opposite sides than traditional seating. Why? Because if you are sitting on the “groom’s” side of the ceremony space, then you get to look at your daughter’s face instead of her back. Same for the groom’s family. It’s genius and it’s beautiful. You only get to witness this sweet moment one time so why would you want to stare at your daughter’s back as she is reciting her vows? Sit on opposite sides! You can thank me later for that advice.
- WEDDING COORDINATOR. I have paid a lot of moola for two wedding coordinators now and I can guarantee you that I will NOT be paying for another one. They were both either associated with or owned the venues we used and both were completely worthless when it came time to “coordinate” the weddings. First, getting in touch with one was almost impossible. The other was just scattered. One didn’t even show up to the venue until about 5 minutes after the wedding was supposed to start. What the heck?? So, instead of paying a “professional” coordinator, I will pull in my most trusted, assertive friend and have her take charge of coordinating the wedding. Make sure you get what you are paying for–read reviews and ask for references. I thought the first wedding coordinator was a fluke. The second time it happened was lesson learned. Be wary of venue owners who call themselves “coordinators”.
- DAY OF WEDDING. Be by your daughter’s side every single step of the way! Again, you only get this privilege one time. I gave my first two daughters space with their bridesmaids the night before the wedding, but I was present from the get-go on the wedding day. I wanted to witness the makeup, hair, all important mimosas and just be there to share this day with my daughter, her sisters and her friends. Next to breastfeeding, sharing this time and helping my daughters into their wedding dresses on their wedding days were two of the most tender moments I have had as their mother. Don’t miss it! It’s a privilege.
- MOM TIME. The wedding and festivities may be your daughter’s big moment, but it’s also kind of a big deal for us moms. Take it all in. Feel the emotions. Cry. That is YOUR beautiful daughter walking down the isle to join hands with the prince of her dreams. There’s nothing like watching that special moment! (I’m getting all teary eyed typing this paragraph.) The wedding will come and go in the blink of an eye and will be a blur for you and your daughter. After it’s all said and done, rest and treat yourself to a spa day or go on a vacation. Drink a glass or two or maybe a bottle of wine. You earned it!
That’s my advice for you new mothers-of-the-bride. Enjoy this time and try not to stress too much.
Feel free to offer your own advice in the comments section below. I still have a wedding to plan for October so am open to any advice from other veteran bride moms.
Live healthy, my friends, and remember that age is just a number.