My beautiful middle daughter is planning a July wedding. It is part of the Year of New Hope my family is relishing after a rather sad, long stretch of grief and loss. The timing is perfect; between the magical arrival of our family’s first grandchild, Jacob Quentin, in January and my youngest sister and her partner’s new baby, set to arrive in October.
Like most young women, I suspect Alecia has fallen asleep many nights in her 30 years with dreams of a dramatic walk down the aisle (there has to be an aisle, right?) in a flowing white lace gown through an audience of friends, to stand next to an adoring groom stunned by her beauty with both families standing by beaming with love.
Wait, maybe that is my dream….
This mother will confess it is sometimes hard to separate my wishes for my daughters from their own. But, I have always thought of weddings as not just a romantic ritual of love between two people, but as a coming-together of two disparate and unique families. Done with proper care and feeding, it should be the Happiest of Days; one that will stand the test of time and brighten any unforeseen dark hours ahead with memories of love and joy.
I understand that traditions are rewritten by each new generation; sometimes even ignored as couples create a wedding to fit their desires. However, in reading about weddings and in talking to women who cherish their own personal “bride” experience, there are certain traditions that I believe should be preserved:
A wedding is ALL about the BRIDE. In the name of Juicy Couture. AMEN. Weddings are and always have been female rites of passage, when the women of a culture come together to strategize and plan a celebration they believe will be worthy of the bride they love.
In days gone by, men were expected to arrange payment to the bride’s family (a groom’s dowry) for the honor of marrying their daughter; the lovelier the woman, the larger the dowry. While this tradition has gone the way of the dodo in most (but not all) cultures, it speaks to the worth of a woman’s heart and the treasure she represents to her family.
Weddings are NOT a joint venture. 99.99% of the time, men are thrilled to escape the details of event planning including the un-ending gatherings with discussions among the females about flowers, wedding gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses, make-up, hair, jewelry, shoes, food and shhhhh, bachelorette parties.
A man who really loves a woman views their wedding day as a priceless gift he is giving to the sweetheart he loves as her chance to SHINE.
Her colors, her dress, her bridesmaids, her venue, her photographer (after all, no one keeps 8 x 10 pictures of grooms on the mantle, right?) A smart groom includes her family where he can and if asked for input, gives it, but in the end defers to her decisions.
The groom, on the other hand, is only responsible to:
1. Propose with a diamond ring the bride will be proud to show to her friends
2. Show up on time to activities he is invited to participate in
3. Make sure he and his groomsmen have tuxedos that fit (after the bride and her female entourage has chosen the style and color)
4. Stay out of the way.
5. Show up on time on the wedding day with vows prepared (if appropriate)
There was an extremely popular show on television in my youth called “Queen for a Day”. The show opened with the host asking the audience—mostly women—"Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?"
Of course, every woman on the planet already knows her answer to this question.
But as non-royals, there is only one day for each of us that will ever come close to that. Is it wrong for me to want my daughters to each have that feeling for one day? I don’t think so.
In fact, this is one of those wonderfully rare times when her dreams and mine for her are the same.