Notes from the Mother of the Bride
As I mentioned two weeks ago in the introduction to my daughter’s wedding retrospective, Lyn’s big event occurred in the middle of The Wedding Series (begun on this blog nearly two years ago). There is no substitute for going through the planning of a wedding yourself to understand all the outcomes, consequences and ramifications of decisions, and which theories work well and which do not. Here are some of my Mother of the Bride notes, a few of which might overlap with Lyn’s:
The Wedding Planner
I heartily agree with the decision to hire a wedding planner! Although a bride (and her mother) might be highly skilled at event planning and well-versed in wedding etiquette, for an average-to-large wedding there are simply too many tasks and details of which to keep track. And those tasks and details become even more overwhelming if the couple wishes to have their wedding in an area with which they and their families and friends are not thoroughly familiar. To optimize the planning and execution processes it truly takes a professional with experience and contacts to help pinpoint the venue and vendors that fulfill the couple’s wishes and makes budgetary sense. The vast majority of vendors selected were local; as well as being top notch in their respective fields they also knew the area best and many had worked together many times. Buying local not only accomplished harmony and helped the budget, but it felt good to support local businesses
After seeing the remarkable results of the wedding planning team that Lyn and Paul hired, Every Little Detail, I am a believer on the value of a good wedding planner! In the final analysis, the wedding planning team saved everyone time, money and in no small measure sanity, while helping the happy couple realize their dream wedding.
Aside from the Save the Date mailings — which are usually less formal than the invitation but in keeping with the style and can often be DIY online — most invitations, even casual ones, are professionally designed and printed. Lyn and Paul had something very specific in mind and, fortunately, Paul knew just who could accommodate them: Stephanie Hincke Tothill of Thinkersdesign in Westchester County, New York. Together, Lyn and Stephanie came up with a beautiful invitation packet that reflected the bride and groom’s style, the wedding ambiance and the spirit of the autumn season.
The Wedding Cake
This was an item that might have been more important to me than anyone else because my mother, the late and great Carolyn Grunberg, was a well-known wedding cake artist in Chicago for three decades and was the pastry chef at the renowned South Side Swedish Club of Chicago. As such, Mom made the wedding cakes of many family members, including my own wedding cake. But while she lived a great long life, she did not live long enough to design, bake and decorate a wedding cake for her granddaughter, Lyn, whom she adored.
To my mind, then, Lyn and Paul’s cake had to be special to live up to the standards my mother had set for not only wedding cake design but also for the cake itself, as she developed her own recipes for the cake and icing. We also had to consider the proximity of the cake artist to the wedding venue and cost.
Chef Leslie Balassone of Calico Restaurant & Patisserie in Rhinebeck, New York, turned out to be the perfect choice. Chef Leslie listened closely to both my feelings and Lyn and Paul’s visions for the cake design, shape, number of layers, flavors, etc. The quality of the food was very important to the wedding couple. The result was an exquisitely designed cake that tasted out of this world. Separately, Lyn commissioned a cake topper from an Etsy artist who specializes in wire sculptures. The final creation was one of which my mother would have heartily approved, and which Lyn, Paul, my husband and I — and from the enthusiastic comments, the wedding guests as well — absolutely loved.
Knowing that my daughter and her groom are exceptionally discriminating in their food choices I had no doubts that their choice of caterer would be exceptional. And as I was raised by a woman who was a professional cateress and spent much of my professional life attending formal luncheons and dinners, I am also aware of the quality of food. That said, I was still rocked by the caterer they chose, Jeff Loshinsky Catering. To say that this company is a Hudson Valley treasure is the understatement of the decade; it is an American treasure that one must experience to begin to truly comprehend what fine dining really is!
The florist Lyn selected also exceeded expectations. Sara at Floral Fantasies could not have been more helpful. I met with Sara only briefly with Lyn as she was scoping out florists, but I was impressed with her attention to Lyn’s vision, my thoughts and the budget as well as her knowledge and creative suggestions. The result was a breathtaking array of autumn bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages, delivered on time and in perfect condition.
Keith Ferris, the photographer was outstanding and the array of photographs he and his assistant took really captured the story of this beautiful wedding celebration, as you can see from the sampling herein.
But if I had it to do over I would have been more proactive in ensuring that there were more photos of my daughter with my husband and me, separately and together. When one believes that everything has been addressed it’s still very easy to miss some important details. While we have the usual posed photos, there are not enough candids of those precious and intimate moments between the bride and her parents. So I would advise to make sure the photographer knows to look more carefully for those moments and, if necessary, leave enough time to gather the wedding couple and their parents together so that that at least some semi-candid shots can be taken in addition to the usual “line-up” shots for these once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Whether or not to include children is often a question that comes up when planning a wedding. Lyn and Paul chose to do so. But including children as guests depends, among other things, on the wedding budget, venue, time of day, number of guests to be invited and space considerations. Because Lyn and Paul chose an outdoor wedding venue at which theirs was the only one scheduled that day, there was plenty of room for children to run around and let off steam while allowing the adults to enjoy themselves. And there was no shortage of willing guests to take turns holding infants or keeping an eye on the children.
Children and infants also attended the rehearsal dinner on Friday and farewell brunch on Sunday. As with all tiny humans there will be times when a crying jag or outburst will interrupt the proceedings, and there must be quick-acting parents and a tolerance among the guests for such occurrences.
All such elements must be in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for both adults and children.
While the inclusion of children might not be practical or desirable at every wedding, for Lyn and Paul, their families, friends and guests, such inclusion added an aura that was warm, loving and joyful.
The Walk Down the Aisle
Lyn left it up to my husband and me to decide who would walk her down the aisle. I always liked the idea of both parents walking with their daughter, but in the end we decided that Dad should have the sole honor. Mothers and daughters often spend a lot of time together because of shared interests and that certainly has been true in our case. And while father and daughter do have a lot of shared interests that don’t always include me it just seemed right that they should have this special once-in-a-lifetime moment to themselves. And a wonderful moment it was! (More about that later.)
One thing I would advise wedding couples to check on is what else might be going on in the area they plan to have their wedding event! Lyn and Paul chose to celebrate their wedding in one of the most beautiful and popular Hudson Valley villages, where in the spring and autumn there are few weekends that do not have multiple events planned! Although they began planning more than a year in advance, their vision of putting up their guests at the various charming B&Bs that dot the area vanished quickly as those filled up in a blink of the eye. Even the hotel block they reserved fell short — literally — on enough rooms to accommodate all of their out-of-town guests! We played a frantic game of musical hotel rooms before sorting everything out, with the help of the excellent wedding planning team.
The Mother-Daughter Planning Experience
Whether it’s a small, modest gathering or a grand affair, working with one’s daughter to plan the event that marks a major turning point in her life is an intensely emotional experience. As young adults, Lyn and Paul took charge of their own wedding planning, but Lyn included me on a number of decisions and the journey was a highlight of my life. Shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress; helping to decide on the wedding cake and flowers; being taken along with my husband to see the breathtaking location that was a finalist for the wedding venue; watching the unveiling of the unique wedding cake topper that Lyn designed and commissioned; helping to assemble gift bags for the attendants, centerpieces for the reception tables and guest welcome bags; proofreading (again and again…and again) invitations and guest list; listening to her and Paul’s ideas and going over details was sometimes an adventure, often emotional and always enjoyable. Even the two, brief and quickly resolved, meltdowns resulted in bringing us closer together. And, trust me, a wedding planning process that does not involve at least one minor or major meltdown is highly unusual! However, as of this writing I can’t recall what one of them was about!
Part of the mother-daughter relationship is also about both sides letting go a bit — of ideas, preconceived notions and each other. There is nothing as profound as a wedding to make a mother realize that her daughter really is forging her own life, separate and apart from her parents. But it’s also a time to form an even more exciting and meaningful relationship.
Those Special Moments
There are many memorable wedding moments that I cherish. They include welcoming into the family Lyn’s new husband, Paul, who her dad and I would have chosen for Lyn ourselves; getting to know Paul’s terrific parents, Valerie and Robert; discussing the moms’ wedding outfits with Valerie (who upon arriving with Robert to toast the couple’s engagement announced to Ted and me, “we’re engaged!”), seeing Lyn and her attendants get ready the morning of the wedding; watching my BFFs, Lyn’s godparents, Shane and Heath, walk down the aisle with all of us; being escorted to my seat by their son, Mark; and having my husband’s BFFs, Tania and Robert, join us in celebrating. Dancing with my husband, daughter, friend, cousin and doing the Hustle with Lyn and many of their guests was more fun than anything. And seeing how much the guests and especially the bride and groom and their friends enjoyed themselves and each other was priceless. But the most profound moment came as Ted walked our daughter down the aisle; that was when the tears flowed for us, while in contrast our daughter’s face was alight with laughter and joy as her just-moments-away-husband held out his hand to greet her.
Planning Your Own Wedding
As I mentioned many entries ago, it’s important to start out on the right foot in making some key decisions before planning your wedding. What kind of wedding do you want? What can you afford? What is important to you? If money is no object then you can reach for the stars; if finances must be stretched perhaps coming down to earth is the better decision. After the stardust has settled you want to be happy with your choices and enjoy the memories of that wonderful day for years to come. In our case, although both sets of parents thought the wedding was the best ever, there was concern over the cost; we wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if our children started their lives together without those wedding expenses. Perhaps. But life is also made up of experiences and memories; and Lyn and Paul’s wedding was an investment in what will become part of their family tapestry to be treasured for years to come.
So, dear readers, that’s a wrap on The Wedding Series. All the very best to those of you who will be embarking on — or are in the process of — your wedding planning. And don’t forget that we welcome you to share your experiences and ask any questions in the “Post a Comment” section below.
Until next time,