You hear horror stories, or at least I did. A young girl meets Prince Charming, and finally has a chance to plan the wedding of her dreams, but before she can even get down to the corner drugstore to pick up the latest issue of "Brides Magazine,” big brassy Mama’s got her meat hooks into everything and pretty soon she’s running the whole show! Well not this Mama. Nobody was going to accuse me of being a pushy mother-of-the-bride. So the very minute Lauren got engaged I made up my mind that I was going to stay completely out of it. And that’s exactly what I did.
Not that it was always easy. Take the bridesmaids’ dresses, for instance. She’d narrowed her selection down to about six, I think, and I remember the morning she stopped by to show me the photographs. I was just finishing my French toast as we spread the pictures out on the table between us.
"Oh they’re all absolutely beautiful!” I told her. "No wonder you’re having a hard time deciding. Of course, I can’t help noticing that they’re all sleeveless.” I paused to wipe some powdered sugar from the corner of my mouth.
"Personally, I prefer a dress with at least some sleeve to it. Otherwise, when the girls put their arms down, there’ll be that little roll of flab that sort of oozes out from under their armpits onto the dress.”
I gathered up the photographs and handed them back to her. "But that’s just my opinion. It probably doesn’t matter anyway.” Then I added with a faint smile, "The wedding won’t be ruined just because all our guests have to look at a little armpit flab. The important thing is, if you like the sleeveless dresses, then you should get the sleeveless dresses. After all, it’s your wedding.” And that’s why I didn’t get in the middle of it. Like I said, I’m not one to go poking my nose in where it doesn’t belong.
Not that I didn’t have plenty of opportunity. A couple of weeks later, we were having lunch together when the subject of music came up. She announced, "I’ve decided to come down the aisle to ‘Trumpet Voluntaire’ instead of the traditional wedding march.” Her words had the effect of dropping nine drops of red food coloring into a mixer of white cake frosting.
I stopped right in the middle of my turkey croissant and stared at my daughter in disbelief. "No ‘Here Comes the Bride’? How can you have a wedding without ‘Here Comes the Bride’?”
"It’s easy, mother,” she replied evenly. "People do it all the time.”
"I know they do,” I snapped. "‘The Sound of Music’ is a perfect example. They didn’t play ‘Here Comes the Bride’. They played, ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Diarrhea?’, and it completely ruined the whole wedding scene.” I munched on my sandwich for a minute or two and then I said, "Did you ever wonder why Julie Andrews made those poor nuns watch her wedding from behind bars?”
Lauren didn’t answer. She was just sort of staring at me blankly. I guess she was probably wondering about the nuns. Or she might have been wondering why I wasn’t behind bars. I patted her hand and said softly, "Never mind. It doesn’t matter. If you want that Trumpet Whatever, then that’s what you should play. Our family and friends will just have to get over it. After all, it’s your wedding.”
And I meant it, too. The last thing I wanted was to be one of those pushy women who went around telling other people what they ought to be doing. No thank you. From here on out I was just going to mind my own business.
Lauren was under enough pressure already. She didn’t need more from me, so I didn’t get involved, even when it came to what she wore. Of course, I guess like every mother, I was sort of hoping that she might want to wear my wedding gown. That’s why I left my bridal portrait on the coffee table for weeks, so it would be out when she came by. She must have seen it there half a dozen times, but she never said a word about it. Finally I brought the subject up myself.
"It’s not a turtleneck” I answered stiffly. "That neckline happens to be Victorian. But listen, I understand. It was just a suggestion. After all, it’s your wedding. You probably want to pick out your own dress and I don’t blame you. Don’t give it another thought. Really.” So she didn’t. Which is fine. I mean, just because I’m her mother…and she’s my only daughter…and the dress is beautiful…and already paid for…well she certainly needn’t feel obligated.
Not long after that, we were in the bridal shop trying on veils when the saleslady asked her, "Have you decided how you’re going to wear your hair?”
"Up,” I blurted. "She needs to wear it up. After all, she’s got that lovely Audrey Hep…”
"I know Mom,” Lauren interrupted flatly. "I have a lovely Audrey Hepburn neck. You’ve told me that a hundred times.” She turned and faced me squarely. "What is it with you and Audrey Hepburn anyway? It’s like you’re totally obsessed with her neck!”
"I am not obsessed with Audrey Hepburn’s neck. I just happen to feel that when God gives you a beautiful feature like a lovely long, slender neck, you should show it off, that’s all. Not that it matters what I think. The important thing is for you to be happy. If you want to hide your beautiful neck, then by all means wear your hair down. After all, it’s your wedding.”
I said I wasn’t going to run this show, and I meant it. I wasn’t saying a word. Not one word. Although I have to tell you, sometimes I had to bite my tongue to keep from it. Like the day she brought over a copy of the program for the ceremony.
"This is it?” I asked after reading through it not once, but twice. "This is all there is to it? There’s no soloist? No Unity Candle? No doves released at the closing benediction? No lyrical sign language rendition of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’?”
"We wanted to keep it simple,” she explained.
"Let me get this straight,” I said. "We’re paying more for this wedding than we did for our first house, and the whole ceremony is shorter than my last ATM transaction?” Lauren nodded, so I replied, "Well if that’s what you want, who am I to suggest otherwise? Never mind that your Aunt Grace and Uncle Warren are driving halfway across the country just to be here for this special occasion, I’ll just phone them and warn them not to dilly-dally around in the parking lot or they’ll miss the whole thing. But heaven forbid you should worry about them. After all, it’s your wedding.”
And it was, too, so true to my word, I kept my big mouth shut. Of course, naturally, I offered a little advice about her going-away outfit (you wouldn’t believe what she had picked out!), and I believe I suggested a different sterling pattern than the one she selected (after all, she’ll have to live with this choice the rest of her life!) I suppose I was the one who recommended that she adjust the number of girls in her House Party (you know you never can have too many cake servers), and I casually mentioned that her heels should be a little lower (we certainly couldn’t have her towering over the groom, now could we?) I gave her my opinion, just for what it was worth, on the shape of her bridal bouquet (I think simple nosegays are so lovely, don’t you?) and what type of altar flowers might look best (roses, naturally), and how many pew bows she needed (too many is ostentatious, but too few just smacks of "afterthought”). I did change the time of the wedding from four to six o’clock (so the lighting would be softer). Oh, and I sort of enhanced the wording on her invitations just a teeny little bit, too.
But other than that, I stayed completely out of it. After all, it was Lauren’s wedding, not mine. And nobody was going to accuse me of being the kind of mother-of-the-bride who just didn’t know when to butt out! You know, you just hear horror stories about that sort of thing…