Summer is fast approaching and my daughter—my beautiful, kind, generous, outgoing daughter—will soon become a Mrs. She met her beloved at the college youth group at church. He’s not exactly what her father and I had pictured for her.You know how it goes, we moms create a composite list of traits and accomplishments that any Marvel superhero would be hard-pressed to possess. However, God knew best and our future son-in-law has been a joy and a great addition to our family. He is exactly what our daughter needed. God is good and always, always has a plan that is better than ours.
Kari is our only daughter (we also have two married sons) and she and I have been planning her wedding for almost a year now, since her engagement last June. I have certainly heard stories of the stress and anxiety that wedding planning can bring and the tension and volatility that many moms and daughters experience in the process. But, I have to say, working with my daughter this year has been a joy. How have we navigated the treacherous waters of wedding planning with such peace? I believe there are several key factors:
- Mutual respect. My daughter did not just appear on the scene. We have spent many years as mother and daughter, growing, learning, bonding and developing our relationship. As my daughter reached each age and stage of life I tried to give her appropriate guidance and ultimately, freedom, to make her own decisions (and mistakes). In doing so, my daughter learned that I value her ideas and opinions—that I respect her. No, it hasn’t always been easy to let her make her own decisions and mistakes and sometimes I just couldn’t keep my teeth clamped tightly enough on that tongue of mine! But, as she got older she knew that certain decisions would be hers to make, without my interference. Mamas, that is why God blessed you with your little girl in the first place—to grow her into a wise, mature and independent daughter of the king. By the way, as you show your older daughter that you see her as an intelligent being separate from yourself with her own dreams, ideas and personal strengths, that respect will be returned.
- Ownership. Allow your daughter to have ownership of her wedding. Understand that this is her wedding, not yours. This was a bit of a hard lesson for me to learn but I did come to this understanding very early in the process. Perhaps you didn’t have the beautiful wedding of your dreams when you got married…doesn’t matter. Or, you just can’t stand the color peach…doesn’t matter! Or perhaps you had always dreamed of hearing “The Way You Look Tonight” (Frank Sinatra) played at your daughter’s reception…give it up. This is your daughter’s big (if not, biggest) day and she has a vision for what she wants it to look and sound like. I know you may be thinking, “Hey, we’re paying for this wedding!”, and maybe you are but you are paying for (or contributing to) the wedding because you love your daughter and you want her to celebrate the beginning of her married life with a beautiful day that makes her happy and sends her off feeling loved and supported. You are not paying for the privilege of making the decisions! It’s not the end of the world if she doesn’t agree to have your 85 year old former pastor say the opening prayer during the ceremony. You’ll get over it.
- Expectations of perfection. In today’s world of Instagram filters, selfies and social media, we have come to view everything through the lens of how perfect things look to others. If you want everything to be absolutely perfect, you will probably be disappointed. Understand that life isn’t perfect and neither the wedding planning nor the day itself will be perfect either. We had to order a second batch of invitations for my daughters wedding because I made a mistake when ordering them. Then, the second batch had a small issue, too. We sent them anyway. Most people won’t even notice, and if they do, hopefully they will keep their judgement to themselves. Expecting perfection leads to stress, pressure and anxiety. Try to look at the big picture and understand that when all is said and done, what’s important is your daughter enjoying a beautiful day of joy and celebration—not whether the chargers match the table runner.
- Prayer. Successfully navigating wedding planning with your daughter takes a lot of prayer. Pray with her, and for her, and pray for yourself. Pray for patience, wisdom and strength. And as you pray for the wedding planning and wedding itself don’t forget to pray for the marriage! Pray that the new couple will keep God at the center of their marriage and that they will surround themselves with other Jesus-loving, family-honoring couples with whom to do life. Pray that they will find a Bible-believing church to become a part of where they can grow and serve together.
My daughter has amazed me during this process. She has been very organized, developing a calendar of when things need to be done and making sure they happen as planned, contacting vendors and keeping up with payments. She is doing all of this while simultaneously completing her last year of college. And something about my daughter that is such a gift—especially during this time—is that she is very low-key about life in general. She is not particular about most things. We only visited two shops before she found her wedding dress. She loves it! It did not need to be “designer” or flown in from Italy. She has learned that people are more important than things and that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable. What is she most looking forward to about her wedding? Hanging out with the friends and family who will attend, dancing to her favorite music, eating the macaroni and cheese that we chose for the wedding dinner, and heading off to a tropical honeymoon with her beloved!
Hopefully, moms of daughters, you will take my advice and remember the pointers above when it comes time to help your daughter plan her wedding. Help her when she needs your help or asks for advice, support her with love and prayer, and then enjoy her beautiful day! Moms of younger girls, begin now to build that mutual respect with your daughter by giving her more responsibility for her own decisions as she reaches each new stage of life. And when the time comes to cut the apron strings, do it with joy and a sense of accomplishment. You have done your job well!
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3