One week ago, a beautiful, highly anticipated event occurred, one that had consumed a great deal of my time and energy for nearly four months. Our daughter got married, moved out of our house, and left us with an almost-empty nest. And we gained a wonderful son.
This was a very different event from 2018, when we celebrated the marriage of our oldest son after his time in the Marine Corps. He became a married man that summer, but he had been overseas for most of the previous four years anyway, so the change was felt much less in the Matt household. We did, however, gain a delightful daughter and eventually two granddaughters, as well.
I have a few thoughts after these two weddings, and I submit them here with the admission that a) due to my not-so-typical upbringing, I do not know what I’m doing with milestone events, such as special birthdays, graduations, and funerals—I was pretty much winging the whole wedding thing from beginning to end; and b) I have friends who have gone before me (even multiple times) and have helped me along the way, thank goodness. What I have observed from my wedding experience is that:
- “Mother of the Bride” is an entirely different ballgame than “Mother of the Groom.” That wedding five years ago when my oldest son got married was a piece of cake for me. Now, partly this was due to my own ignorance of anything I could or should have offered to do or contribute, and partly this was due to the bride’s mother and the bride herself being incredibly competent, organized, and gracious about doing 100% of the work and decision making. But event planning is not my favorite thing, so let me just say that God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave me a 3-to-1 boy/girl ratio.
- People want to help. Let them. If the planning is in your court, delegate tasks to others, accept their help with whatever it is you don’t like doing or don’t have time/energy/money for (décor, crafts, addressing envelopes, shopping, cooking, organizing and storing items, cleaning up), thank them profusely, and tell yourself how good it feels to let go of control and not be responsible for everything.
- You can have a wonderful, meaningful, beautiful wedding and reception for much less money than Google says you can. I’m not going to throw out numbers because different areas of the country have very different economics, but it can be done for less than you might think. Churches are usually inexpensive to rent, you can prepare and serve food with people who want to help (see above), friends and relatives can lend their talents and items they may have on hand, and word-of-mouth is a great way to find affordable vendors you may actually need to hire, such as the baker or photographer. You can also scale down your (or the bride’s) expectations because after all, it is only one day and that day is actually about a marriage, not just a wedding.
- There’s a lot to be said for a short engagement. Embracing the attitude of “why wait?”, agreed upon by all parties, we planned and executed a late spring wedding in less than four months. My mantra to myself during this time was, “When this is all over, I’m going to have a great summer.” And I will. More importantly, so will our daughter and her husband.