Without a doubt, when our daughters are ready to start their life as Mrs. “Je ne se pa quoi”, we, as their parents, know that the time for change has arrived, and that a somewhat stressful time is just ahead. A lot is expected from us. From the emotional to the financial, the commitment is huge, and at times, more than we can handle. An additional stressor is, of course, dealing with the nerves of the bride, the groom, and of everyone around them.
Some parents see this time as a time to make decisions: the ceremony, the venue, the guests, the food, the dress and the accessories, just to name a few. Other parents want to be hands off, they’re the “just tell me where to show up” type of people. They simply don’t want to be involved.
In my case, supporting my daughter was paramount. I wanted to be as involved as she wanted me to be; no more and no less. She, and my now son-in-law -, were the ones calling the shots.
We only had two months to plan the wedding due to a job offer they got in a far away and unexplored land (by us) called San Jose, CA, so things were a bit hectic. I’m happy to report that the bride-to-be and I, remained busy, and at the same time, emotionally stable (for the most part.) In full disclosure, I have to confess, that I had a few recommendations for her as we started the wedding planning journey. I knew myself, and I knew her well. I knew what we needed to do in order to maintain our sanity (as much as possible in such circumstance) so we could be able to function well and be efficient.
Here is what I suggested:
DO NOT LET DRAMA DRIVE THE PLANNING - In order to pull this off, they needed not to be capricious about stuff. She and I have planned many events in the past; from community events to fundraisers and family dinners, we’ve done it all. If we treated this as “another” event, I knew that things would gel just fine with minimal hiccups. To accomplish this, and due to the emotion involved, she would have to be as flexible as possible, to open her ears, and listen to suggestions first, then evaluate them, and then, make a decision.
CHERISH YOUR FUTURE MEMORIES - When she asked me to go with her to buy her wedding dress, I was elated. I also mentioned that bringing other people along was unnecessary. Despite what the show “Say Yes to the Dress” wants to drill in our brains about an “entourage”, having so many opinions can be detrimental, and slow down the process, plus it would have driven me crazy! Call me romantic, but to me, this should be a very intimate daughter-mother time, as opposed to a stage for personalities to compete.
BE PRACTICAL - I suggested to choose the color and the length for the bridesmaids’ dresses, but let them choose the model they preferred. Due to time constraints, and very different body types, it would have been difficult to choose only one style. This part always has the potential of becoming a real nightmare!
CHOOSE A CLASSICAL LOOK - Wedding portraits will be seen for generations to come. Modern looks won’t look as modern ten - or more - years later (just look at some of your friends’ old pictures!) I suggested a classical bride look as opposed to an “avant-garde” one; you know, hair in a bun, conventional jewelry and a professionally done, discrete make up.
FOOD – Since this is one of the focal points of a wedding, think about everyone. It should be well presented, tasty, and easy to eat and digest (so guests are not at risk of staining themselves, or be uncomfortable.)
I didn’t mention here the ceremony, the venue, or the music – the other focal points of a wedding – because the happy couple had made up their minds and I had nothing to do with that whatsoever. Their taste was impeccable!
You may be wondering if all my suggestions were put into practice. Of course, the answer is no, and it was ok with me. After all, this was their wedding, not mine.
I gave my daughter one last piece of advice. The same one that someone gave me when I got married some 33 years ago:
“In every wedding, there’s always something that won’t happen as planned. Don’t worry. You will end up laughing about it, and telling the story to your grandchildren.”
(I know all too well about things that don't happen as pIanned during a wedding, but that story will be for another day.)