Mother, May I...Plan My Wedding?
- Ginger Kolbaba
- 2004 11 Mar
Planning a wedding can bring you and your mother closer as you bond over choosing flowers and wedding gowns. It can also be the worst time of your life. You may entertain visions of wrapping an entire roll of duct tape around your mom's mouth - especially after the fiftieth time she says, "Well, if it were me..." or "If I were you..."
When I was discussing this book with my friend Amanda, she said, "Tell them to watch out for their mothers. She'll bulldozer right over you to plan your wedding." Amanda's mom didn't even bother with the phrase," If I were you." She just went ahead and took charge. For instance, Amanda and her fiancé wanted a low-key, informal barbeque reception. But to her dismay, she ended up with a second reception directly following the ceremony - something her mother had planned. "I admit," says Amanda, "in the end, I'm glad she helped out as much as she did because I couldn't have done everything. But it was definitely a bumpy road for us!"
While your mother may have a knack for finding your last nerve and tap dancing all over it, there is one thing you may want to keep in mind. When you started planning your wedding at the age of twelve, your mom was more than likely also planning your wedding and building her own expectations about your special day. After all, she's considered the official hostess of the wedding day. To her, the success of your day reflects on her as well. It's almost as if she's getting married again. Her friends celebrate her daughter's wedding with her. It's a joyous occasion in her life as well as in yours.
Your mother wants your wedding to be a success because then she's a success. She wants things to be perfect - just as you do. The problem comes when her idea of perfection veers away from your idea of perfection.
What should you do when that happens? You can take a deep breath and try to see things from her point of view. Why is she doing or saying certain things that bother you?
One bride, Mary, had always had a tense relationship with her mother. She tried to clear the air. They met, hashed out some issues, and forgave each other. As they turned over a new leaf, they began to call each other more during the week to try to create a mother-daughter connection that hadn't been there previously. When Mary became engaged, her mother was thrilled and said, "Oh, this is the perfect time for us to bond."
Instead, Mary felt as if her mother were trying to control everything. "She was trying to pick out my dress, tell me when to register, and choose my style of reception. She was making me insane!" says Mary. "Now that I look back, though, I think Mom saw it as an opportunity for us to draw closer. She just didn't know how to do it that well - and neither did I." What Mary did do, though, was to make sure she kept her mom abreast of her plans. When she found her wedding dress, she made sure her mom saw it right away. "My mom can be very dominating. She has a good heart, but she's dominating," says Mary. "I had to communicate with her that I appreciated her interest in my affairs, but that I was the one making the final decision."
The Bible talks about how to handle your mother. As a matter of fact, it's one of the top Ten Commandments from God: "Honor your father and mother." Unfortunately, it doesn't say, "Honor your father and mother - except when they drive you crazy." Go figure. However, the Bible offers a reward if you honor your parents: "Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you" (Exod. 20:12).
Honoring your mom doesn't mean you have to do everything she requests. It's not really about making her happy, it's about building a relationship with her.
It means out of respect for her position, you listen and hear her out and consider her request. Even if you choose not to agree with her opinions or take her advice, at least allow her to voice them. You can still honor her as well by communicating clearly your expectations and boundaries: "Mom, I appreciate everything you're doing for me by helping me plan my wedding. I understand this is an important day for you too. I will give your comments careful consideration, but if I don't follow them, I need you to understand it's not because they're not worthy of being heard. It's just that I have certain expectations too."
Then breathe again. Regardless of the type of mother you have, you can still make this time an enjoyable bonding experience. But that comes with sharing honestly your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Adapted from "Dazzled to Frazzled and Back Again: The Bride's Survival Guide" by Ginger Kolbaba. Used by special permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright © 2004. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company.