This Ain't My First Rodeo

 Thoughts from the Mother Of the Bride--  

          Weddings summarize the couple's initial love story, with future chapters in the cue.   One of the things I hate about weddings is that there are two stories, but we only see the obvious story-- the beautiful bride, the handsome groom, the gracious parents, the adorable flower girl who trips on her dress up the aisle, the dance between father and daughter, the cutting of the cake, the toasts with familiar humor. This story appears to be the same story as all other stories, and feels like a memorized custom, rather than an original romantic tale.

    I’m interested in the backstory, the juicy stuff—the messy parts of real living. Tell me about the bridesmaid who hates her dress, or the persistent mother- in- law to be who wants the groom's sister to be a bridesmaid, or the mother who’s divorced and has a biker boyfriend, and the transgender uncle who one never recognizes from one event to the next-- all the nuances that tell the whole enchilada.

   I guess I want to know those stories because the saying is true: Misery loves company. I am in the throes and woes of planning our family’s second wedding.

    No, this ain’t my first rodeo.  I see right through the wedding scammers. Those who prey upon good people’s emotion charging way too much for the ONCE IN A LIFETIME, YOUR SPECIAL DAY, Of COURSE, YOU WANT THE BEST…those professional sales people to have it down just like a good funeral director. Selling to vulnerable people who just want the perfect setting for the perfect day…cause let’s face it, no day after will be perfect. Am I a bit jaded? You betcha.

 And if my daughter says to me one more time she got a DEAL on this or that, I will scream, it is not a deal if it is still out of our budget. 

   We have survived both of our tantrums over who’s invited and who’s not, the price of photographers—I’ve got a camera for that price, if you get married here, you must use this list of caterers, this cleaning crew, and, oh, you have a band? Well, the music can only be .25 decimals and over by 11 p.m.  I remind her, and the various wedding vendors:  This ain’t my first rodeo. 

     Wedding conundrums exist, and can’t be shuffled under the rose petals, or Uncle Al’s toupee. Planning a wedding and still talking to your family by the end of it is the ultimate parenting challenge. You think potty training was bad? Middle school?

     A wedding is the last and final challenge of parenting, and I can promise you, I am trying to do it well. I wake up channeling Princess Grace but end up going to bed feeling like the Tasmanian devil in the endless cartoon of life.

    My challenge is to keep it affordable, and authentic.  It seems like all the vendors vie for the inevitable photo that will make it to social media. Photographers now stage getting ready, stage the moment you give your child a gift of jewelry to wear, stage getting hair done…I mean when does it end and real living return? And all this talk of her special day… We hope and pray! But let’s face it-- two out of five brides will have more than one wedding. I remind myself: This ain’t my first rodeo.

     No question my cackles are up. Wedding planning is strategic warfare. Yet, with each decision, memories of my daughter’s childhood emerge, floating through the air like a contrail of a plane.  I am holding my child wrapped in her pink blankie; her head tucked in the nook of my neck-- I can smell the baby lotion on her little body. I see her tap dancing as Annie for six nights at the local high school with the live dog wandering the stage as she belts…Tomorrow, Tomorrow!  I remember sitting on her suitcase trying to zip it up for her summer as a camp counselor.    

    Memories continue to drift in and out of my head as I shop on line for cheap plates for our BBQ. Nothing worse than a chicken leg falling through a paper plate on someone's dress.

   My memories of my sweet adorable, I love you and I want to live right next to you when I grow up, daughter, ease the resentment I have about spending hard earned money on a big party--I know I know, every girl wants a beautiful wedding--I’m just worried about spending too much.

    Deep in my resentments, and I mean way deep, my stone heart taps my brain with immense pride. I feel nothing but pride for my daughter and nothing but pure love--I only  want the best for her--not on the wedding day--I can't afford the best--I want the best for her LIFE.

       She is a strong woman. Organized, intentional, and will be a huge asset to her husband. As I click website-to-website ordering tablecloths, wine glasses, and other material items, I do the only thing I know to do: pray. 

      I pray that first and foremost she feels loved—always; that she feels protected, not smothered by a bully with weak ego, or someone who needs to be taken care of because someone has always coddled him.

    I hope she is supported to grow and to be creative, to live her best self.  I hope her husband challenges her to live with adventure, but never threatens, and they both direct their lives. I want them to own a mutual agenda-- to keep open minds and open hearts to always listen to each other.  I hope they live each day as the gift that it is, and to seek opportunities to laugh, and to share with others their gifts and talents-- to serve always. If they serve the world with humility, and a big sense of humor, then all should work out, whether I serve BBQ on plastic, or paper, or vintage china.

For there is another famous saying: Love conquers all. Even wedding planning.