And so it happens, from pigtails to wedding veils. Your daughter becomes a bride. Just like that. And in the moments before she says: "I do" – in those few moments when your heart swells as she takes that majestic walk down the aisle, you see the treasures of your lives together in a collage of memory. Glorious. From the wedding procession on, a beyond wedding spectacular that you float through in a magical sort of way.
And then there's the planning before the wedding. The months and months of planning, that almost brings you to your knees on the big day itself. Think Murphy's Law (anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong.) The question is, "Can you plan for when things go wrong?" And they will. A lot. Who knew? Weddings are a big business. No – huge business!
Think money. Money-money-money. You need lots of it. I was reminded of "Father of the Bride" with Spencer Tracy. Stanley (Spencer Tracy) frets and moans and mumbles about all the conspicuous consumption, about all the money being blown on musicians and flowers and caterers and booze. At one point he even seriously suggests to his daughter that if she elopes he’ll make it worth her while. Well, surprise, she didn't.
And neither did my daughter who was never for a moment a Bridezilla but a beautiful, precious doll. Who, like most young women, dream of this day from the time they are little girls. Her vision was elegant and clean and precise.
From the start we knew we didn't need a wedding planner. After all, the bride and the maid of honor are event planners. The mother of the groom is an interior designer and the mother of the bride, an organizer extraordinaire. We had it under control...sure we did.
Though we rolled through a year of wedding planning bliss. Addressing who wants what and where and when and why? We had each given in to emotional wedding negotiation but no one could have prepared us for the week before the big day. It was the worst. Somewhat like you want to bury your head underneath the covers and wait until it's all over. A modern day "Twilight Zone."
Think Bodyguard. Yep, the maid of honor, daughter number two, protected her bride like the Secret Service protecting the President of United States. You couldn't get past her. It was ridiculous. She took her job very seriously as she did the "sister" thing. That sister bond. Something I encouraged from the time they were born. But now I needed a pardon here and there. It wasn't happening.
All I had to do was part my lips to form a sentence and my daughters would say: “You’re making me tense!" Oh how I wanted them to echo the line Reese Witherspoon wailed in "Wild" about how her mother was the love of her life. That wasn't happening either. What was happening was: "What now?" One of the bridesmaids slipped on ice and shattered her elbow and broke her arm, just a few days before the wedding. But a trooper she was. We exquisitely wrapped her cast in tulle from the bridesmaid’s dress and honor her friend she did.
But not every outcome was a “We worked it out ending.” Always get it in writing. Everything. Always. (I kept copious notes of every conversation.) Because in the end, people have convenient amnesia or they seriously don't remember what they said. Like the owner of the restaurant where we had the rehearsal dinner - boy did he try to pull a fast one! In the end, he wasn’t happy and neither was I.
Ever played musical hotels? Until the very last minute I wasn't sure where everyone was staying, because they kept changing the location. This made delivering welcome baskets a challenging activity. Next was musical chairs, with who was sitting next to whom? Back-and-forth, back-and-forth. And then came musical tables (aka Table Envy) involving the strategic placement of tables. Deciding who sits at the table nearest the kitchen, near the band, the doorway and the head table? We were all getting irritable by then, especially because menu cards, seating / place cards, table cards were waiting on final decisions and we were running out of time. Musical rooms - that was a good thing because we did receive room upgrades. I happened to give the “Rooms Coordinator” (who was fantastic) one of the gift baskets, and she gladly gave room upgrades when she could. Nice perk! Except, because the rooms kept changing, everyone was on a constant wild goose chase to find everyone else-and kept on being sent to the wrong rooms.
I do think at some point we started to lose control of our indoor voices. And you would have too. A few days before the wedding, I paid my insurance bill. But tech error have you, the insurance company debited my account twice, so I had a big chunk of money withdrawn right when I needed it.
And then there was the issue of fraud. The credit card company (who was on their toes by the way) noticed that we were making charges for larger than normal sums out-of-state and issued a fraud alert. Well that was embarrassing. It was fixed, it was corrected but it was momentarily embarrassing. Lesson learned. Always alert your credit card company when you are traveling or planning to make larger than normal charges.
Weddings are why they invented massages, spa days and Advil. In the process of carefully, gently navigating the backseat and trunk of my car, like a jigsaw puzzle, with the gowns, tuxes and everything else for the bridal party and rehearsal dinner (including an emergency kit with static guard, safety pins, sewing supplies, first aid supplies etc.) I forgot the flower girl gifts! It wasn’t totally my fault. Actually, it was the ‘Bodyguard’s responsibility. But she was too busy being “on call” and quickly getting impatient. Thank goodness for FAO Schwartz - friendship bracelets to the rescue.
And yes, we beat the snowstorm that prevailed throughout parts of the country that week. All planes landed. It was January 2015 and really cold outside, but warm, loving and happy inside.
Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why". The first time that I truly, truly understood why I was born was the day my first daughter, Julia was born. I looked at her and I knew it had to be her that she had to be the one. I looked at that angel baby and thought," She's mine." Now, as she's moved from Miss to Mrs, I will have to share her. And that’s wonderful because I absolutely adore the man she married. He has the most important qualities in a human being. He has integrity, character and heart. I know they will have a magnificent life together and as it should be.
It was my honor to be Mother of the Bride. To help make my daughter's dream come true. She has given me someone to love. It was a blessing, a real blessing.
So, in answer to my earlier question, “ Can you plan for when things go wrong as you organize a wedding?” No, you can’t plan for last minute hitches, but you can learn to roll with them and do your best to resolve each setback one at a time. Just don’t panic, because the only acceptable drama on the day is how stunning the bride looks, and who will catch her bouquet!
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