I have a wonderful daughter who is getting married this spring. I want this to be a special time between us planning her wedding. In seems I am always hung up on the cost of things and this takes away from the joy and fun we could be having together. I so want these planning stages to be a happy memory for us. I love my daughter and get very angry at myself when I reduce everything to a price. I am open to any advice you might have. Thank you.
Dear Wedding Mom,
Thank you so much for your letter. A lot of daughters are planning a spring wedding with their mothers right now, and even under the best of circumstances, there's probably a lot of stress.
Often, in our frustration with a situation, we tend to overlook our blessings or to minimize their importance. Let's take a look at some of the positive things included in your letter.
First of all you have a daughter. There are lots of women that would trade places with you in a heartbeat, just to be able to say, "I have a daughter." So congratulations - it's a girl!
Next you tell me she is wonderful and that you "love her." It seems that you have a relationship with her and that it is pretty good. She is getting married and that is also cause for rejoicing. She has included you in her wedding and in its planning. In addition to being a great responsibility, it is also a privilege.
There is much for you to be thankful for.
Next I want to talk a little bit about weddings. It's such an emotional time for everyone! Take a simple activity like buying a dress. It's likely that you and your daughter have shared this activity dozens of times. Only now, for the WEDDING, the importance of this simple activity, buying a dress, suddenly takes on epic proportions. The dress has to be special. It has to be perfect. It has to be the dress she has dreamed of. It has to make her look beautiful. I have seen mothers and daughters with very good relationships brought to their knees just by trying to purchase a wedding gown.
Not only are there lots of emotions, there is a great deal of tension. For many girls, a great deal of importance and significance has been placed on having a wedding and having it to be "just so." How many times have you heard a young woman say, "I want my wedding to be perfect!" No pressure there!
And the details! Planning every detail of a wedding can be a massive undertaking and it's sometimes overwhelming. To plan even a "simple wedding" takes a logistic expert and a Daytimer!
And then there's the price tag. And a hefty one at that. Any major expenditure is going to cause stress. Weddings are amazingly expensive. And there seems to be no end to how lavish some weddings have become. In an effort to make their wedding day special and unique, young women seem to go overboard with a desire for the unusual or the extreme. And it is all very expensive.
Let me remind you that money is an important issue. And not something to be brushed off with a casual, "Oh, money isn't everything" or maybe "The best things in life are free" or "You can't buy happiness." I have noticed that the people that try to shrug money off as unimportant, are usually not struggling with it.
Whether or not you can actually "buy happiness" is a moot point when you can't pay your house payment. And while all of those clichés might be true, it doesn't help to hear them when your finances are strained. No, money isn't everything, but it is important. We haven't dealt in sea shells for several hundred years now. Check your New Testament. Money is often a topic there and one that Jesus discussed a great deal.
So how should you deal with this for now? Here are a few ideas. As always, my suggestions are never the only ones, nor will they offer all that you need. But I send them with my prayer that they may help relieve some of your stress and let you enjoy this wonderful occasion. Shall I make a list? I think so!
1. Sit yourself down and either write or tell a friend what your expectations were for giving your daughter a wedding. Perhaps you've been planning this in your heart since she was born. Perhaps some of your expectations have grown beyond what is reasonable or affordable. Get your expectations out in the open where you can deal with them. You may not even have realized how great your expectations were or how much they meant to you.
2. Figure out the source of your tension. Is your daughter putting pressure on you to spend more or is the pressure coming from you and what you wish you could do?
3. Talk to your daughter. I suggest you do this in the form of a letter so you can be sure to tell her everything that is in your heart and have time to do a little editing. Have a friend read it before you give it to her. With feedback from your friend, make sure it comes across exactly as you mean it to. I am often surprised when my editor comes back and questions what I have written. It was perfectly clear to me when I wrote it! But she helps make sure it is clear to my reader as well. Your want your meaning to come across and be accurate.
Let your daughter know how much you love her and that if you could afford it, you would give her the world for her wedding day. If you have had dreams and hopes for this day, let her know that as well. Pour your heart out. Then let her know that while it is not as much as you would like for it to be, she is welcome to all that you have to give.
4. You mentioned the idea of "fun" in your e-mail and I think this is so important. You know in your heart that this has the potential to be fun and you are angry and frustrated that it hasn't been so far. But remember that no one can take this fun time away from you except you. The only person who has this power over you is you. It is easy to just "give up" when confronted with issues that deal with money and let this dominate everything else. So make up your mind that you are going to have the victory in this battle! And while it might not always be easy, you are determined to have a good time with your daughter.
5. Think of things to do that are not expensive; for example make her a cookbook in a notebook and collect recipes from all your family members. Or make her a scrapbook or photo album of memories and pictures of when she was little. These are things that don't have to be expensive and I think you may be surprised at how much these gestures might mean to your daughter. Perhaps you have a keepsake from your own wedding or even from your mother. Make it a special occasion when you present it to her. When you know you will be wedding shopping, include lunch or desert at a special place. Keep your activities festive and fun. Put humor in this event every chance you can.
6. Write down your plan for each detail you can think of. Put the cost beside each item. Add it up and confront it in advance. If the total is not affordable, make adjustments before you get to the baker or photographer. Work out the changes with your daughter and let her be a part of the solution.
So now we have come back full circle. You must focus on the positive aspects of this wedding. You may not be able to buy the most expensive dress in the store, but you are going to be there to help her pick it out. Each time you know that you will be with your daughter to shop or plan, pray and ask God for peace and for wisdom as you make these decisions. Ask Him to help you find the good in each choice, the joy in every decision.
In Acts 3, Peter and John approached a crippled beggar who expected money. Verse 6 says "Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.'" And the gift he gave was more valuable than any sum of money.
While you may never be able to give your daughter the wedding of your dreams, give her your best, your all. That will mean more to her than all the gold in Fort Knox and it's what she really wants and needs from you anyway. Do it with a loving and cheerful heart. And my guess is that on her special day, you will be a radiant Mother of the Bride.
With all my heart,