by TRACEY BARNES PRIESTLEY
IN MY FIRST "GOOD NEWS" COLUMN, I WROTE that this would be the place where you would find "something positive, a story that is constructive or inspirational, happy, or maybe just downright fun." I have a story for you now that manages to do all that. Allow me to share a little of my own good news -- my daughter's wedding.
The best news of all is that she married a man we treasure. But I won't bore you with all of my mushy maternal stuff because I'll just start crying again. What I want to tell you is that, in spite of what you may have heard about putting on a wedding, don't believe it! No matter what may come your way (and believe me, we faced a few snags), you can have the experience of a lifetime.
Let's begin with "constructive" tidbits about weddings, now that I am a veteran mother-of-the bride and wedding planner.
Know what the bride and groom want, and make it happen. It's their day. It's also not about what anyone believes should happen. (Pity the families who go by that mysterious book of rules and thereby deny themselves the real pleasures of a personal celebration.) It all becomes quite a bit easier if people follow their hearts and unique desires. (I know a few people thought my daughter and her fiancé were completely nuts for having eight children in the wedding party, five of whom were 5 years old or less. But family was what this wedding was all about and these little cousins were absolutely delightful!)
Become the list maker of the century. Write it down and you'll know where you're going every step of the way.
Until, that is, virtually every detail you assumed was nailed down with the place where the wedding is to be held -- a place you reserved 10 months in advance -- changes weekly, daily, even minute-by-minute. When that happens: vent, regroup, make your needs clear, find the humor, and trudge ahead. (The place in our case was located in Sacramento and will remain nameless, as this is a positive column. Just know that the lack of organization and the even worse communication hit ludicrous mode months ago and continued right through the reception itself.)
Do recognize and appreciate the dedicated, hard working staff. (A special thank you to Charles at the front desk, Charles the bartender, David, Harry, Jeannette, Josh No. 1 and Josh No. 2, Jerome and John, the housekeepers and banquet crew. They were extraordinary and the people who really made this wedding happen.)
Most important of all? Don't sweat the small stuff because it's all small stuff when it comes to two people joining their lives. (OK, so we did get a little worried when bizarre thunderstorms dropped 1.6 inches of rain in the 36 hours preceding our garden wedding. Plan B was definitely in the works. But really, when Harry, the sincere engineer old enough to have already retired once, stopped us in the middle of a downpour to tell us "I prayed for sunshine last night," how can you get too worked up?) Throughout all of your planning, remember what the day is truly about.
What will make your particular wedding inspirational and happy? That which holds special significance for you and you alone. For my daughter and her husband it was their families and neither side failed them. This wedding drew relatives from Pennsylvania to Texas, Seattle to San Diego, and all points in between. That kind of support is truly inspirational.
Our personal "work crews," all family members and friends, were heartening and a whole lot of fun. Both of my other children were there to help their big sister. And Sarah, one of my daughter's dearest friends, never stopped. No job was too small and she did every one, usually with a quick joke. (I'd adopt her as daughter No. 3 if I could.)
Then there was the night a few of us were assembling the programs for the ceremony, when the groom's parents arrived at the door. His mother immediately pulled up a chair and started helping.
And what about those 300 roses my daughter and I ordered over the Internet and had delivered directly to the hotel? (Take note, it saved us bundles of money but I know it isn't for everyone.) Over the course of a couple days, we had a number of different women gathered around the dining room table helping make the floral arrangements. Our dear Aunt Nancy had never made a boutonniere in her life but she was willing to learn. One of the bridesmaids happily announced: "I don't have a crafty bone in my body but surely there is something I can do." There was. My sister-in-law, a real artist, not only made one of the flower girl dresses but also spent every minute with us doing flowers and anything else we needed. It doesn't get any better than this kind of love and support.
There are far too many memorable moments to mention but my husband's toast, both poignant and amusing, comes to mind. The master of ceremonies (my remarkable big brother, who did an even more remarkable job with his duties, none of which are a regular part of his normal job description), had all of us laughing as he shared favorite memories from the lives of the bride and groom. I enjoyed a fantastic dance with my son and later shared the dance floor with the bride, my mother, the aunts and women friends. All of these moments meant happiness beyond words.
And now, my daughter has a fine husband and I am a mother-in-law. My goal is to support them and stay out of their way so that someday I'll be the grandma out on the dance floor, surrounded by my happy, loving family.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.