Setting the Wedding Date

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photo from getwed.com

How do you begin to pick a wedding date? You (or your daughter) probably have some idea of the time of year you would like to be married, but the time of engagement may dictate whether or not that will happen. For instance, dreams of a June wedding may not be realistic with a January engagement—not enough time for THIS June, and too much time til next.

When looking at the suddenly daunting task of setting the date, the bride and groom should sit down together and ask themselves these preliminary questions:

1. What kind of wedding do we want? Religious or nonreligious? Large or intimate? Sooner or later?

2. How deep is our faith? Is a religious ceremony important to either of us?

3. Where will we do this? The bride’s home town? Where we live now? Our college chapel?

4. Who will pay? Are we OK with parental control, or do we want this to be all ours?

As you can see, this will lead to some bigger conversations—make sure you have them! Regardless of how well you know each other and how deep your love and commitment, prepare to compromise.

Following this conversation, several possibilities will unfold.

You will either

*start with your place of worship and go from there, or

*decide on a religious ceremony but not in a specific place of worship. In this case, your phone call should be to a priest, rabbi or minister and see what the “rules” are. Or you may choose to

*decide on a nonreligious ceremony, in which case you can start with reception venues and let them know you will also have the ceremony there.

This is often the point where girlhood dreams get a dose of reality. This isn’t necessarily a negative.

My daughter dreamed of a beach wedding at a relative’s remote beachfront home. But she also wanted a fairly big wedding with all her college friends, which didn’t mesh with the beach dream. She moved on, and because she met her fiancé in college and shared so many friends, they were married in their college chapel. Lovely!

Happy planning!

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Worth it or waste? Top “totally worth it” picks and 3 things you can do without

Make no mistake about it, weddings are BIG business. Pinterest and The Knot have shown us just how “magical” your big day can be, but all those details can really add up. Every bride (and bridemomma) that I’ve talked with has had ideas to share about which wedding elements were totally worth it, and which were something of a waste.

SO worth it:

1. Music! Everyone seems to agree that it’s worth it to get the best music you can afford. If you can’t afford the best dance band around, then hire the best DJ. Many of the wedding details will wind up being forgettable, but everyone will remember the great time they had on the dance floor.

2. A “day of” wedding coordinator or planner. Everyone I know who hired help for the day itself puts this in the “totally worth it” category. And those of us who didn’t, regret it! No matter how organized you are, MOB, you can’t and shouldn’t be in charge on the wedding day– enjoy it instead.

3. A great photographer is worth the money, but ONLY if he or she is open to your being a vocal partner when it comes to the shot list. Memories fade, but the pictures last forever.

A bit of a waste:

1. Save-the-dates — send it digitally or skip it all together! Those closest to you will know the date just as soon as it’s set, and the others, well, let’s just say you don’t want EVERYONE to save the date. You really don’t need to spend on this.

2. Ice sculptures and fancy cakes — yes, they can be stunning, but for what they cost, no one will miss them if they are not there. Put the money into music!

3. Favors — Those cute little theme-driven favors can cost you a bundle, and many will just be left behind. Why not make a donation to a favorite charity instead? Everyone wins– the charity and your pocketbook, because even with a generous donation, you will likely spend less.

Post-wedding blues can happen to moms too

blue image from rockmywedding.com

A year of high-octane planning, budget-busting shopping, parties, gatherings, good times and bad, and now it’s over. She’s off on a honeymoon, and you’re….. empty? Flat? Wondering what the heck this feeling is? It’s the post-wedding blues, and yes, they can hit moms as well as brides.

If you were heavily involved in the wedding planning, you may feel suddenly as if you have absolutely nothing to do– even if you get back into a life that was quite full before the engagement was announced. Imagine running full-out on a treadmill, not sure if you can keep up this pace, when suddenly the treadmill stops. Wait, what?

In addition to the significant shortening of the daily to-do list, there’s the complexity of the feelings moms have when their daughters marry; these feelings are as complicated and varied as the relationships themselves. Once she says “I do,” even if the couple has been together for a long time, the reality is that your baby’s attachment has shifted from you to him. And let’s face it, that is a weird feeling. I joked that it was a relief that the new groom would now be the sounding board for her rants, and the one who doesn’t sleep because SHE can’t sleep, but the truth is, I miss that shift in intimacy.

So, what to do when the blues hit? Here are a few suggestions:

Plan a post-wedding party when the pictures and video
Start a “wedding capsule” project or make a shadowbox for your daughter
Plan a spa day for you and your daughter
Plan a trip for yourself– you deserve it!

Above all, trust that you will gradually return to normal, and you will be happy that you once again have time for your friends, your garden, your yoga; whatever fills you in your free time.

Wedding Day Emergency Kit

The wedding day emergency kit— there are more than a few lists for brides out there (Philadelphia Wedding had the best one I found), but this one is more specific to you, the Mother of the Bride.

While the bride may have her own idea of what an “emergency kit” looks like (usually just more makeup!), it’s your job as her mother to “have her back.” And not only will you be the go-to source for your own daughter, you will be the one that every young woman at the wedding runs to when there’s an emergency!

So, here’s my list of must haves for every MOB’s Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

Tampons (not necessarily for you, but believe me, at least two frantic girls will ask you for these)
Spot remover (Tide stick)
Emery board (the girls call them “nail filers”)
Safety pins and/or mini sewing kit
Two-sided (tailor’s) tape or toupee tape
Extra reading glasses
Mints
Your own mini-makeup bag for touch-ups
Static guard (cool weather weddings)
Imodium (the big day has triggered many an IBS episode)
Tums or Pepcid AC

Stash these items, and anything else that you or your girl may need, in a small tote in the bridal suite. Whatever your venue, your coordinator or catering manager will find a place for you to keep necessities.

Prepare for everything, and hopefully you’ll need nothing!

30th anniversary musings: Thinking back to the good, the bad and the ugly of my 1983 wedding

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I was married 30 years ago today , so before we start celebrating this milestone, I thought I would blog about my own wedding– what was good about it (and probably still makes sense today), and what was bad– or even downright ugly about it.

What was GOOD, even great, about my 1983 wedding:

1. My dress was $600, and I loved it! Love still how it looks in pictures. Unfortunately it just hung around, uncleaned in a closet until one day I just put it out with junk. My daughters have not cried over this. My veil was simple, and I was thrilled to lend it to a friend a year later. I don’t even remember where I got our flowers, but they were just fine.

2. We had 90 people at our wedding, which we primarily funded ourselves. I have no memory of agonizing over guest lists, and invitation choices were white or cream. Hand calligraphy though. I received gifts from people who were not able to come, which seems to be a point of etiquette that has gone out of fashion (though it shouldn’t).

3. The after-party (which I believe involved a keg and cups) was awesome! That’s all I can tell you. I do remember that a bunch of friends who were not able to come to the wedding had a great time at the after-party.

4. I really loved my shoes. Women just plain love shoes. I do wish I’d kept those, but I have no idea what I did with them. I bought them at Saks in the city, and had my wallet pick-pocketed the same day.

5. Opening our gifts and envelopes on our wedding night was a blast! We culled all cash to bring with us to St. Croix. We sent out thank-you’s in a timely fashion.

What was bad– even ugly– about our wedding:

1. Well, it was HOT and HUMID, much like it is right now in the East. I only put this on the “bad” list because, even though it didn’t bother us, apparently it bothered everyone else because I hear about it every anniversary on facebook — “Happy anniversary! Wow, that was a hot one!” Our venue was not air conditioned and we figured on a breezy, humidity-free September day. Don’t count on the weather! It did, however, make our event super-memorable. For years we talked about one of my aunts bringing drinks out to my uncle, who would not leave his air-conditioned car.

2. Bridesmaids’ outfits were hideous. I’m so sorry. It was the style (think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Again, I’m very, very sorry. Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune, because 30 years later they will look at your pictures and think “hideous.”

3. The ice situation (see #1 above).

4. My wedding china. I did not give a hoot about china, so I let my mother bully me into choosing a pattern I have actually grown to loathe. Did I just admit that? Did I ever even NEED china? Is this an outdated concept? MOBs- don’t force your girls to register for china they don’t want.

All in all, it was a great memory that has given us all kinds of reminiscing pleasure these past 30 years. For all you brides and MOBs out there, RELAX; soon it will all be a wonderful memory. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Guest post from a mother of the groom: a good perspective for every bride and her mom

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Mother of the Groom (MOG)….ahhh! As the mother of two sons I didn’t really knew what to expect when the first son announced that he would marry. Would I be invited to be an involved MOG or would I have to wiggle my way in any time the window was haphazardly left open?

We mothers of boys do chat about these things, and believe it or not we do worry that we will be the odd woman out.

The first wedding for us would be out of town. What would we be asked to do? What would our involvement be? MOG’s are sensitive and do have feelings. Please share with us what you would like us to do. Solicit input. It will make us feel good. Here are a few more tips for brides and their mothers:

Be thoughtful when establishing the wedding date. If you have always dreamed of a fall wedding and the brother of the groom is a college football player, a weekend in the fall could be difficult.

Don’t assume! I have seen several “lists” stating what the bride pays for and what the groom pays for. Sit down and talk about it. We all know that sometimes, in some circumstances, bride and groom paying for things really mean parents are paying. Be open, realistic and open-minded when having these conversations with each other and with both/all groups of parents.

•Just what should the MOG wear? Again, have a conversation! If you know that your future MIL loves the Lily Pulitzer look and thinks it can go anywhere, anytime, reel her in early and make suggestions that would complement your color palette. Is it really detrimental to the wedding if she wears knee length or long? Must she wear her hair up? Let her know the most important aspects of what you are looking for and don’t sweat the small stuff.

•Traditionally the parents of the groom provide a post-rehearsal gathering. If you know your future in-laws well, and trust that they will do a nice job no matter what, then let them offer ideas and let them run with it. Being from Italian descent, our DIL suggested a nice Italian Bistro. Perfect!

Who attends the rehearsal dinner? We had budgeted this as one of our big ticket items. Since all of our family and friends were traveling great distances to the wedding we invited all out-of-towners from both sides of the family. We provided a wonderful dinner venue that set the stage for a special weekend.

•Don’t have wild expectations, but do be grateful. Several years ago, a MOG friend told me that the groom’s family pays for the honeymoon. Yikes! I had not heard that one before. So that we wouldn’t be caught off guard, we began saving for a honeymoon. Of course the couple planned the destination and we surprised them with the airline tickets and hotel. This was NOT expected, and I’m not sure it’s even really a “rule,” but the kids were very grateful.

Being the MOG was a special privilege. I learned so much about weddings and my DIL. What a blessing she is. I know that I will be better prepared for the next wedding as it too will be a travel wedding once again.

Thanks Bridemomma, for allowing me to post my perspective!

~ Ally V.

How hard is it to drop a reply card into the mail? Top frustration of MOBs and brides!

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Yesterday I checked in with my friend Jamie, whose daughter is getting married in September. I asked her, “what is stressing you out the most RIGHT NOW?” This was one part shameless mining for blog material, and two parts that I really care because I know what she’s going through right about now.

Jamie’s response: “My biggest wedding worry right now, which is totally stressing me out, is people not responding to the invitation!” She went on to say that the responses were due a week ago, and they still haven’t heard from 20 people. We experienced the exact same thing, down to the numbers. So what to do?

First, when selecting your “respond by” dates, allow three weeks before the final count is due to your caterer. We allowed two, and it wasn’t enough. weddingwire.comsays three, and I would go with that. You want to minimize stress, not court it.

When the RSVP date comes and goes, get on the phone with the nonresponders right away— within a few days of your deadline date. Split up the task between bride, groom, moms, and even maid of honor, if she’s a pitch-in-and-help type. If someone says they’re not sure yet (yes, this will happen, believe it or not), politely tell them that it’s time for a final count, and the RSVP date has passed, so perhaps you can get together after the wedding to catch up. Use the old “it sounds like you have a lot going on right now, but our numbers are due now.”

Be ready too to deal with those who are not up on their wedding guest manners (because, oh, they live under a rock or something); these are the ones who ask if they can bring a child/new boyfriend/random date (whom you did NOT include on the invite).

Polite and firm. You’ll get the hang of it!