April Showers Brings Wedding Flowers
…and Kate Ancell has some advice about how to weather the joy, wonder, and flat-out agony thats about to become a part of your life.
So this issue, as a service both to the brides in your lives, and to you, I’m doing the dirty work for you and spelling out the answers, shoulds, and should-nots to a few common bridal “situations.” Pass this along to your beaming, lovely bride-to-be, leave it open on the kitchen counter, pop it in the guest room as a nighttime read…and rest easy, knowing that this advice most certainly did not come from you. Feel free to blame me.
Fashion for the Over-40 Set
There’s a reason that people sneer when they describe “mother-of-the-bride” gowns—so often they look like something that Bea Arthur would have sported in an early Golden Girls episode. Which is why it’s very important that not only the bride, but also her mother (and his) feel beautiful on the wedding day, and not like someone who’s frumping along behind, carrying all the packing tape. And seriously: Unless your mother is a former Vegas showgirl with a figure and taste to match, there is little chance that she’s going to outshine the bride on the day, so let her pick something she really, really likes. Make a day out of shopping for the dress, with brunch and mimosas (this will help later when she’s looking in the fitting room mirror). This is also an opportunity for a bonding experience, and to escape from the phone. And consider staying out of the dreary “mom sections” in the department stores, and hit some fun boutiques instead, where they have flattering, pretty clothes which are appropriate for all ages. If she feels like she looks great as you waltz up the aisle, the rest of the day is going to go much more smoothly. Take my word for it.
The Invitation List: Making the Cut
Every family has them: old friends of your parents from way back in the mists of their bygone college days, who arrive for semi-regular visits and insist that you call them “aunt” or “uncle.” These people are merely facts of life, and the short answer about inviting them to your wedding is: Yes. You have to. Otherwise it would horrify your mom, and her old sorority sister, and there will be tears and silent treatments and, well, you get the picture. Also, if they live far away, they probably won’t be able to make it, but they might send a gift anyway…so, no harm, no foul.
However, when you’re trying to control your numbers, there is such a thing as realism, and you are quite within your rights to suggest a limit on work colleagues (who usually feel awkward to be put in that situation anyway), or on fourth cousins with whom you never correspond, or with that odd woman your mom met in the hat department in Bloomingdales in ’73 and who still sends Christmas cards each year.
Again, here, compromise will be the key to saving your sanity, and everyone’s feelings. Consider dividing the list into thirds—a third for the bride’s parents, a third for the groom’s parents, and the final third for the bride and groom to invite their friends and colleagues. But, if mom and dad are paying for the wedding and want to invite more people, let them (unless space really is too tight). The truth is, if mom insists on inviting her book club, and she’s paying for them, let her. It’s not worth an argument. Besides, really, what will it hurt? The more the merrier, and at this rate you really might finish your china pattern.
The Mother-in-Law (Care and Feeding of)
This little landmine can be quite a problem come wedding time. Your future mother-in-law is turning her son over to your (possibly, in her eyes, dubious) care. And planning a wedding is stressful and people’s nerves do fray. So let her be involved in the planning, too—after all, without her son, none of this would be happening. So be grateful for that, and take at least some of her advice. My mother-in-law and I—surprisingly—bonded over an argument with the cake maker. She stood up for me; I gained respect for her. And my MIL and I still laugh about several fairly major disasters that took place on the day, and stories of the planning, the preparation, and the day itself have now entered family lore.
Also, remember that your future MIL will be in charge of the rehearsal dinner (or, at least, traditionally this is the groom’s family’s responsibility), and this can be an area where you two can bond, and where she can feel in charge, involved, and a part of the action. Be gracious, and give this to her. After all, you two will most likely be sharing a name from now on, so try to present a team front. And if all else fails, grin and bear it. That’s what brides do.