Red Shoes

Photo Credit: Blair Gable

Red shoes and dogs.

My daughter wanted to wear red shoes with her beautiful cream coloured wedding dress. My future son-in-law wanted their dog to be the ring bearer.

I wanted neither. What’s a mother of the bride to do?

I did my best. Despite spending the better part of an afternoon in shoe stores in Montreal, there were no red open toed high heeled shoes my daughter was looking for. But we did see many lovely cream coloured shoes that I adored. I was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief when we decided to try one last store.   And there they were—exactly what she wanted.

She left that store a happy bride to be. I was… resigned. Although I was pleased with myself; I hadn’t said a negative word about red shoes.

The dog was another matter. I had visions of it jumping on my daughter’s dress, barking through the ceremony, or worse, peeing just as the young couple were saying their vows.

The last thing I wanted to do was alienate my wonderful son-in-law. He loves the dog and sees her as part of the family. I had a brief chat with my daughter but it was clear that the dog was as important to the wedding ceremony as the officiant.

It’s hard to bite your tongue while planning a wedding. Despite the fact that most young adults live together before they get married, the prospect of a wedding looms large in the consciousness of parents. Apart from love, the wedding symbolizes stability and hope and the possibility of grandchildren.

But with that day comes enormous pressure. Everyone wants the day to be perfect and perfection is in the eye of the beholder.

While words like “elegant” come from the mouths of moms (dads care much less), words like “fun” or “edgy” or “funky” come from the bride and groom. And that’s where clashes can begin.

Since we moms and dads often provide a substantial part of the wedding budget, we assume that we will do a large part of the planning. However, our children assume they will plan it since it is their wedding.

It’s all a matter of keeping our eye on the ball. Most parents want a happy bride and groom. As much as we might like the wedding to be a reflection of our good taste and filled with our friends and family, what should be upper most in our mind is that it is not our wedding, it is their day.

This means allowing the vast majority of decisions to be made by the bride and groom no matter how much money parents provide.

Photo Credit: Blair Gable

Photo Credit: Blair Gable

Perhaps the thorniest issue is the guest list. Because brides and grooms are often older than their parents were when they got married, they can have a myriad of friends and business associates to invite. This leaves less room for the parents’ friends and families. Some families decide on a percentage of the guests for the parents of the groom, parents of the bride and the couple. They allow half the guests to be the wedding couple’s friends and the other 50 per cent to be evenly divided by the two families. Sometimes this makes no sense, because one family is much bigger than the other.

Thus there is no standard rule, but if there is any dissension, the modus operendi should be in favour of the bride and groom. There is no point in inviting Great Uncle George at the expense of a relationship with a child.

I was very concerned about leaving out some friends. When I mentioned this to the bride to be, and even though I had offered to pay for this extra couple, she burst into tears.

“The wedding keeps getting bigger,” she said. And I can’t invite some people I want.”  “Let’s forget it”, I said, realizing I had a stressed bride on my hands. “I would rather upset my relationship with my friends than with you.”

And in fact, I didn’t hurt my relationship with my friends. Most people are surprisingly understanding about guest lists. I made sure to invite my friends for dinner so they knew I cared about them.

To avoid clashes over wedding costs, my husband and I provided a set amount of money to the couple as a wedding gift and asked them to decide how to spend it. They decided they wanted a bigger and fancier wedding than what our contribution would allow, so they coughed up the rest the money. There were no discussions on how much to spend on a photographer or flowers. If they had wanted a small wedding, they could have used the rest for furniture, a honeymoon or to help with a down payment on a house.

If we parents can put aside most of our own needs (it’s unrealistic to think we can put aside all), we will be on the way to ensuring a lasting, loving relationship with the couple.

After all, we should just be happy they are getting married. And besides, the red shoes did look lovely with the bouquet. As for the dog, she behaved herself beautifully for the short time she was on centre stage.

My daughter and son-in-law gave me permission to post this article. 

The Emily Post web site on weddings has a great article on this topic.

What lessons did you learn when your adult children got married? Please leave a comment in the Reply Box below. 

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