I’ve been to many weddings. Cried at them. Laughed at them. I’ve listened to long speeches and short speeches. Humorous toasts and heartwarming toasts. I’ve watched a flash mob and participated in one. I’ve danced to Party Rock Anthem.
But no matter how many times I’ve watched someone break a glass and yell, “Mazal Tov!” nothing could prepare me for making a wedding for my own child.
It’s been a few weeks since I was the official Mother-of-the-Bride and since I’m pretty sure most of the confetti is out of my hair by now I figured it was time to sit down and write out the important lessons I learned from this whole experience. I kept a document through the whole process with reminders for myself for the next time (which I would love to share if you want them), but I narrowed the list down to these ten. If you’ve been down this road before or if you’re about to step into this new world, I hope these few “precepts” help you navigate the new terrain you’ll find yourself in:
- The desire to have people come to your wedding is absolutely equal to the desire you will have for them to send regrets. I call this the “Wedding Paradox” and I kid you not, I cannot explain it. I really, whole-heartedly and fully, wanted certain friends at my daughter’s wedding and I also, whole-heartedly and fully, was kind of relieved when some of them declined. I’m not sure if that is a consequence of the economics of the party or the genuine fear that there would not be space for everyone to sit, but I had a hard time balancing the two completely opposing feelings occurring at the same time and with equal intensity. The Wedding Paradox – it’s a thing. Be prepared.
2. Along the same lines, there will be people you will be so grateful for having at your wedding to share in the joy and celebration, but you will also have relatively zero interaction at the actual event. It isn’t for lack of trying. It’s just that you are pulled in so many directions at once with so many people that there is no way you can spend time with each person. I found myself apologizing to people at the end of the affair for not being able to hang out with them as much as I wanted to.
3. You cannot invite everyone and there will be people who will get insulted (and there isn’t much you can do about it). A wedding is the most expensive party you’ll probably ever throw and it isn’t even all yours – you share it with another family who you just met. This was a hard spot for us and I spent weeks running into people I had wanted to invite but couldn’t. (There were also people we completely forgot to invite, but that’s a totally different Blogpost ‘O Guilt.) We came up with some unspoken system for deciding who to send invites to and it usually had to do with how much they knew our daughter, but regardless, I dealt with a lot of guilt and worry. The consolation was that people who have made weddings totally understood and explained to me that most people realize that a wedding is different. Yay. Didn’t help that much but it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in it. At a certain point you just need to make peace with it and realize that when they have to plan a wedding, they’ll “get” it.
4. That being said, you’ll think you will have more people than you actually will. This was shocking to me even though I was warned in advance. We were so worried that we would have too many people at the wedding that we dramatically cut our initial guest list and then couldn’t believe the last-minute cancelations and worse, the people who just never showed up. So yeah, it’s usually less than you think.
5. Also, people will say they will come and not show up, and people will say they won’t be coming and actually show up. And then there will be people who feel bad about saying no and won’t actually reply. Ever. All three of those people are equally horrible. And that brings me to my very public apology for being one of those horrible people at one time or another. So if you see yourself here in item #5? Just stop. Send in the reply. And stick to it.
6. Number 3 was the reason we didn’t do one of those cutesy “wedding countdowns” that people tend to have on their social media pages. I figured if I can’t invite everyone and people are getting insulted, barraging them with 14 days of “Get excited! Only ______ more days until the wedding that you aren’t invited to!” was probably not a good idea.
7. Something will go wrong and you just need to hope it isn’t catastrophic. It usually isn’t, but a wedding is basically a performance that you run through without a real dress-rehearsal. So when something goes off, don’t sweat it and keep moving forward. Just also want to add that while I believe that is the healthy way to go, I also am almost a month past my daughter’s wedding and I’m still trying to move past a few things that went wrong. So yeah – I believe my advice, but I’m also not really taking it. (Maybe this is a Post-Wedding Paradox? Hmm.)
8. It will go by faster than you think. I know, blah, blah, blah, everyone says this. Still, I knew this, but I wasn’t prepared for exactly HOW fast things flew by. There is so much build-up from the months before that when you finally get to the hall and into the bridal suite the whole experience feels surreal and before you know it, you’re drunk on the dance floor. Grab the moments when you can and remind yourself to be present.
9. Give someone your phone password and let them take pictures with it for you. I cannot stress this enough. Someone else had my phone for the evening and returned it filled with pictures he had taken throughout the night. It was probably one of the best gifts ever.
10. There will be moments where you may be overcome with emotions – walking down the aisle, that first dance, sending them off – but nothing comes close to that moment when you add your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law to the family WhatsApp chat a few days later. For real. Be prepared.