I Think I Can Talk About It Now – Wedding Lessons

Aaand….they’re off!

Over three months have passed since my oldest daughter got married. It has taken that long for me to get clear on what happened and what I learned from all of it. There were so many intense lessons of a practical and emotional nature. Hindsight is not 20/20 in my case. So much of it is still a blur. I’m deeply indebted to the moms that were ahead of me on the wedding path that gave me all the advice I could take in.  Now it’s my turn to pass on some of what I learned. In this post, I will focus on the emotional lessons. These are the things I learned in conversations; things they don’t put on the timelines and the checklists even thought they should. These are just for the MOB’s out there, especially the DIY-ers, who need a heads-up like I did.

You may be sitting alone at your daughter’s wedding. Chances are, your family will all be in the wedding – everyone but you! You might want to arrange for your parents to be sitting with you rather than behind you. If you are married to your daughter’s father, he will eventually join you, but be prepared to be seated alone while you watch your family participate in the ceremony.

I was so worried about crying too much. I am an easy crier, at weddings especially. The best advice I received, hands down, was to cry myself out before the big day. A wise friend told me to give in to the crying whenever I felt it coming on. On the drive out to the venue the day before the wedding, I was alone and thinking of how it would all soon be over. These thoughts led to tears and I remembered my friend’s advice. I pulled over in the parking lot of a tiny church and cried and cried. It was probably the most I have ever cried because I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned over my distress. More than that, I think I gave in to it so completely because I had permission and a legitimate reason to let it flow and cleanse all the tension and sadness. Let me tell you, it worked wonders! On the day of the wedding I barely shed a tear. I was free to be joyful because I had mourned already. Trust me – give in to the big cry.

Be sure to take a moment with the bride’s father to marvel at the beauty and wonder that is your daughter. Everything changes after this day, but you two will always be her parents. Embrace the transformation and really watch it all change right before your eyes.

You and your daughter may have been working as a team toward a mutual goal for several months. As soon as the reception starts to wind down, that is all over and you two are at cross purposes. She wants to leave. You want her to stay a little longer. Worse yet, she has an accomplice that likely wanted to leave an hour ago. This stings more than a little, to see the people you went to all this trouble for making a dash for the door. Brace yourself and try to remember when it was you. That helped me a little.

too late to say goodbye

Plan your goodbye time. We failed to plan and it all ended awkwardly with talk of paying vendors and taking care of business. A meaningful goodbye takes a little planning. You want your own private goodbye before the happy couple does the photo-op goodbye.

It all goes by in a blur. One moment I was deliriously happy that the ceremony was perfect and everyone I loved was in the same room and my daughter was so happy. The next, everyone was leaving, all 200 plates are dirty, and I was more tired than I can ever remember being. Make sure you have not depleted all your help before the wedding. Reserve a couple of friends to stay with you until the work is all done. I let all my hard-working friends go home when they offered to help. That left me, my husband, and two sisters to undo what it took months to pull together. I put this under the emotional tips because it was very depressing to suddenly be alone with so much to do. I had imagined a big after-party with music playing, dish washing and laughing….nope. You have to plan that too if it’s going to happen.

Remains of the Day

Then you are home and your life can get back to normal. Whatever that was. Only, you may find you don’t like normal anymore. There’s something addictive about having a project and a deadline. It took the wind out of my sails to be left with nothing pressing to do. Have a plan for this too. Buy a book to read or plan a little get away for you and your husband. Have something to look forward to after the wedding is over.

A few days ago, my second oldest daughter got engaged and they are planning a November wedding! Two weddings in one year – no problem, right? Most likely, I will need a lot more advice. Hopefully, I will learn many more lessons. If I can retain any of it, I will pass it on. In the meantime. say a prayer for us. It’s not easy realizing I am nearly done with my part of raising His child.

Parenting and Laying out a Fleece

My eldest daughter is getting married in nine months. I can still remember walking out of the doctor’s office smiling as my view of myself and the world was shifting with the news of her impending arrival. Those nine months dragged on and on. I have been warned many times that these nine months will be a blur. I am not prepared to host an event that holds such promise and potential for disaster at the same time. I am, however, more prepared to hand her over to the man I know God has chosen for her.

As my children started getting older I wondered how in the world I would know who they should date and who they shouldn’t. Should they even date? When they marry, there’s a 100% chance the groom will have problems. How will I know the good from the bad, the normal dysfunction from the absolute deal-breakers? Will I even have any say in the matter?

When this daughter of ours was growing up, she was a very spiritual child. She loved God in an intuitive way. From an early age, she dealt with God directly, not through us. It was an amazing thing to witness and comforting to know that her foundation was solid. I used to tease that the boy who came around to date her would have to know his favorite verse in Amos in order to impress us and her.

So fast forward to when she was 19 and we were going to hear her new boyfriend preach. We had not heard him preach before and, between you and me, I was hoping the preaching thing was just a phase for him. You see, I knew she really liked this guy and I knew I didn’t want her to have to be a pastor’s wife. He started out with a welcome and a little humor and then he told us he would be preaching on one of his “favorite” verses in all the Bible, Amos 4:12. I can’t really explain what I felt when I heard him say that. I had not repeated the warning about Amos to anyone in over ten years. I had forgotten all about it. Then with those few words, the memory of it all rushed back and I was floored. Fortunately, he could not see my eyes from where he was preaching or he might have panicked at the sight of me fighting off the emotions that came along with it all.  It was my sign, my fleece  that I had not purposely laid out, to answer all my questions about what was best for this precious child. God was telling me that she is precious to Him too and He had this taken care of long ago.

It was very clear from the beginning of the sermon that this was no phase for him. He has the gift and the calling. I can’t tell you what the sermon was about or how he applied the words of that verse to his message that day, but I know I think about it often. When they are sitting around unable to pick a restaurant because they are both people-pleasers, I am tempted to worry about how this will play out in the many decisions that will be swirling around them so soon.  When I think of what a suburban girl she is and what a country boy he is, I wonder if I failed to prepare her for life with him. He had such a great upbringing – he knows how to do just about anything. I should have taught her to can or sew or something. These are the worries you start to give into, but I have the great comfort of knowing he is the one and they will be as prepared for marriage as anyone can be.

I realize it is only necessary for my daughter to be sure. Ultimately, it is her decision. But God lovingly gave me a special confirmation for my heart to make letting go of her easier. I have thought about purposely laying out the same kind of fleece for my other children so that I will be pleasantly surprised again. I’m not sure it would work the same way if I set it up purposely. Part of the beauty is the serendipity. All I can recommend is that we keep our eyes wide open and know our children so well that the sign God gives will be neon. We must also believe that He enjoys giving us gifts like this. If you do put out a fleece for this or any other area, remember that the sign Gideon asked for was supernatural. Don’t pick something that could possibly be coincidence. Only God can do such unlikely works. Set your bar high.

The sign God sent was for me, but the marriage they enter into will be theirs. My work, such as it was, will be done.  The life she will start will be separate from mine because she has always been, and will continue to be His child.