I've learned a few things over the past year about weddings:
For mothers-of-the bride: It's not your wedding. It's your daughter's. Even if you are remembering your own wedding and wishing you'd done something different -- forget it. It's still not your wedding. It's hers. Be there for her. Be helpful. Give advice when asked (unless it's something really ridiculous and you just have to say something!). This goes for grandmothers-of-the-bride, too. And everybody else in the whole universe.
Start planning early! The earlier you get things "locked and loaded", the easier it will be. You can plan things in a short amount of time but the longer you have, the less stressful it will be. We had a year -- and that was perfect.
Delegate when and where you can. And have someone who can direct the action on the wedding day. If not a professional, then someone fairly bossy. Neither the bride nor the mother-of-the-bride needs to be concerned with telling everyone what to do, where to stand, where to go or how fast to walk.
If there are elderly grandparents/relatives involved, make sure there is someone to deal with them. I gave this job to my brother and his wife and told them, when they hear my mother call out "Lynn!", at any point on the day of the wedding (or even in the days before), to respond immediately. And do not seek me out for anything other than an emergency.
If folks don't know how to use Switchboard.com and Mapquest.com, then they need to find out how to get to the church/find a motel well before the day of the wedding. Once the day gets here, no one is likely to be around to give directions and answer queries. There's absolutely no excuse, if you are able to use a computer, to not be able to find where you're going or a place to stay, if you're from out-of-town.
Return the RSVP card. Bridal invitation RSVP cards always have postage on them (or should) so there's really no excuse for not popping them back in the mail. I have been guilty of this and I understand so I won't complain too much. But, even if you aren't sure whether you can come, take an educated guess -- and, if turns out you can come after all -- or can't come when you thought you could -- let the family know. However, the week before the wedding is too late -- by then, the numbers have already gone to the caterer. However, you are not likely to be turned away if you show up anyway -- unless it's a sit-down meal and they have a precise number who will be served.
Weddings are expensive. Even a medium-sized, non-whoop-de-do wedding. New parents: Start a wedding fund right now!! Shannon's wedding is being paid for from her wedding fund -- whatever she doesn't spend, she gets to keep. And, yes, it was pointed out that if she eloped, she'd end up with more money.
Don't try to emulate someone else's wedding. Some people like huge, fancy weddings, Some people like simpler ceremonies. Do what makes you the happiest. And what will make you look back on the day and smile. Always remember, though, that costly doesn't always equal better.
When you're buying gifts for the bride, buy from her registry!! When you give a gift which isn't on the bride's registry, it may be very unique -- but it says more about you than about the bride and groom (unless you know them very well). Here's a clue: if it's on her registry, she wants it! And, if she doesn't get what's listed on her registry -- and she really wants those items -- she has to swap or spend money in order to get them. So, if you have a problem with being told where to buy gifts, get over it. It's not about you.
If you do buy something from the bride's registry, make sure the store takes it off the bride's list. If you don't, then the item will not show up as "fulfilled" or "purchased" and someone else may buy the same thing. Which means more stuff to take back to the store and swap. Also, if you buy something which is on the registry but you buy it from a different store (where there is no registry), then the bride is likely to get more than one of that same item. Which means, yes, you guessed it, more stuff to take back and swap.
And one more thing about gifts: most brides will be registered at the "usual suspect" places -- like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target and major department stores -- or perhaps a gift store, in your particular area, which might be popular with brides. Again, on the computer, it's very easy to check and see where brides are registered and takes about a minute of time. At any rate, the excuse of "I didn't know where she was registered" is hogwash, if I may be so bold.
Make sure that what's in a gift box matches what's on a gift box. I knew someone who thought she'd received a wok -- she either didn't want it or already had one, so she put it away. Later, she gave it to someone who wanted one -- but it turned out there were a set of silver candlesticks in the wok box. What I've never understood, though, is when she thanked the person for the wok, why the gift-giver didn't say, "hey, wait just a cotton pickin' minute..."
Don't sweat the small stuff. The big stuff is sweaty enough. If something goes wrong, chances are it will not be noticed by the attendees. The most important thing is the marriage, not the ceremony.
Enjoy it. For each child, it's once in a lifetime.
Well, you hope and pray it is. If not, tell them to send you an invitation and you'll show up at the appointed time. They're on their own.
*Mother of the Bride
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When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus