My daughter invited us to join her, her fiance, and her future in-laws to brunch at one of the places they are considering for their reception.
As we walk up the path we see a white-roofed gazebo in the middle of a manicured lawn, dotted with chrysanthemums of gold, bronze, and burgundy. The deck is lined with white rattan love seats overlooking the Assonet Bay. The place has country charm with an elegant feel.
Inside, the low ceilinged room feels cozy. To the left, the stone hearth glows with the warmth of a roaring fire, adding to the charm. White wooden columns line one side of the ballroom, creating a homey feel. The cushioned chairs are made of a warm wood which adds to the warm feeling. It's a lovely place to have a wedding.
“They usually seat the bride and groom along that side,” my daughter says as she points to a long row of windows that allow natural light to flood the room. “But we think we’ll have a sweetheart table just for us.” For just a moment, I had a vision of my daughter and her intended sitting at a table, gazing into each others eyes, while friends and relatives clink their glasses, expecting a kiss from the newly married couple. I turn quickly away to clear the vision and keep my composure.
"That room over there is for the bride and bridesmaids to wait for the ceremony to start." I picture the scene with Emily surrounded by her closest friends, anxiously primping and making sure every detail of her hair, dress and makeup are just right, while her dad and I look on--part of this moment, but decidedly on the outside, for though she is our baby girl, this is her moment, not ours.
As I turn back to the table I notice my husband’s face. Clearly he has had a vision of his own, imaging the reality of why we are here. All along he has taken his role as the manager of funds for the wedding seriously, but clearly he has just had a taste of reality. All of this talk of money and budgets belies the facts that this really is about planning the day our little girl will officially leave us and become his number one--the man of her dreams--her one and only. He will come first in her eyes always, as she has come first in ours since the day she was born.
Clearly it is bittersweet. We are very practical parents. We have done our duty well, to prepare our children to be independent-to make their own choices and live by their decisions and responsibilities. But this is one of those moments where the transference from being your child, your baby, to being an adult is so finite, unmistakable. She will of course always be our little girl, but she will be his first, and ours second. And while we have worked hard to make this day possible, it is with a mixture of joy, melancholy, and disbelief, that we watch our beautiful daughter, who we still see in our mind's eyes in pigtails and purple Osh Kosh B'gosh overalls, plan to become a wife.
If you are planning your wedding, be strong in your desire to make the day your own--make the decisions you feel are best and make the day whatever you want it to be. But be sure to be kind to your parents. Let them in on some of the planning, for they need this time to see you be in charge, and begin to put in perspective that their children are grown, and it is time for them to step back. Some may travel this road gracefully, others may go kicking and screaming. Just realize that this is a very emotional time for them, a big change in their lives as well as yours, and give them the benefit of the doubt when you can. And don’t forget to give them each their moment that day-that moment to remember their little one, hold onto that little girl or boy for the last time, and then they will be able to let you go, to make your own way into your adult life, with joy.