Is your child getting married soon? If so, you may be feeling:
A bit sensitive.
You’re not alone. A wedding is a pretty dramatic event for the entire family—especially for mothers.
At least is was for me.
When my daughter Caroline walked down the aisle, it was a profound moment for both of us. We had planned this day for months—well actually, for years. Everything was perfect (except for the rain). Candles flickered. Guests were seated. Her handsome groom was beaming.
As I watched her walk down the aisle, I couldn’t stop the tears. As the music resounded through the church, reality resounded through my heart. No wonder I felt a bit emotional:
I was letting go of her (at least a little) and she was letting go of me.
One short ceremony symbolized the seismic shift that had been building through the long months of her engagement.
She was leaving our family and starting her own.
This is God’s beautiful plan for marriage: “For from the very first he made man and woman to be joined together permanently in marriage; therefore a man is to leave his father and mother, and he and his wife are united so that they are no longer two, but one.” Mark 10:7-8 TLB
But sometimes, letting go—when you’ve held on tight for so long—is tough.
I learned that loosening my grip is the best thing a mother of the bride can do. Planning the wedding together actually helped us make this transition. I made some mistakes, and I am still working on letting go, but here are a few things I learned:
1. It was not “my” wedding…
A wedding is a celebration of the union of two people. Even though we were footing the bill, I was not part of that union, so I couldn’t go around saying it was my wedding. It wasn’t really even about me, nor was it my place to call all the shots.
Actually this worked out so much better, because weddings have changed:
• “Here Comes the Bride” isn’t played much, anymore.
• Those little plastic bride and groom cake toppers are out (thankfully).
• Receiving lines are boring, so nowadays couples ditch them, so they can enjoy themselves.
• Throwing rice has been replaced by waving sparklers, blowing bubbles or tossing rose petals.
Weddings are more personal, up-to-date and fun than I knew they could be. Caroline chose to have a dance contest, a photo booth and marshmallow roast. We autographed a huge message board, instead of a bridal book. We formed the longest “love train” I’ve ever seen on the dance floor.
It was a real celebration. Who knew weddings could be so fun?
2. There was a groom…
As we planned the wedding, sometimes I forgot to consult the groom on certain decisions. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind, but this could have had devastating repercussions.
If a groom feels like mother-in-law is trying to run over him, he will put up barriers quickly. He will either avoid Mama like a speeding train or work to derail her for good. Neither option is a good one. This verse helped me keep my role in perspective:
“Love does not demand it’s own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 TLB
3. Respect makes the best wedding gift…
All of our kids’ lives, we encouraged (required) them to treat us with respect. But actually, respect should go both ways. When making wedding, honeymoon and future decisions, adult children deserve respect (and a little room) from parents.
This includes using respectful words, as well as vocal tones and facial expressions. It probably means giving my opinion only upon request (I’m working on it). Respect is a form of love and it’s one of the greatest wedding gifts we can give to our children:
“Honor others more than yourselves.” Romans 12:10 NIRV
4. Planning a wedding can be a great bonding experience…
Many of our sweetest memoires aren’t in Caroline’s wedding album:
Shopping together for the perfect wedding dress in Birmingham.
Sampling a warm piece of wedding cake with buttercream icing at the caterer’s.
Hugging each other and jumping up and down the first time we saw her wedding invitation.
Wedding planning can help mother and daughter shed old childhood patterns and begin a more adult relationship. Trying to be “mother-as-a-resource” was so much more positive than being “mother-in-charge.” Being Caroline’s assistant was a very valuable role, but it was different for me.
“Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. . .” Philippians 2:4 NLV
5. The wedding day may surprise you…
As the music starts and you walk down the aisle, the enormity of the occasion will probably wash over you. In that moment, years of preparation and God’s provision collide. A wedding is a beautiful thing—a new family is being created—and fathers and mothers get a front row seat.
Afterward, as you hug the bride and groom, your heart may be overwhelmed. You might get choked up, wondering: what will their new family be like? What blessings does God have in store? Why am I crying again?
The bride and groom may look at you curiously, wondering why you’re still so emotional—as if maybe you’ve lost your mind—but someday they will understand. Even though the wedding aisle is a very short walk, it’s also an enormous step.
If your child’s wedding seems a bit overwhelming, remember that most parents feel this way. Don’t bottle up your feelings—find someone (besides your child) to talk to. Pray a lot. Intentionally let go. Seek God (for help with this, click here). Pursue peace. Choose relationship over ritual. Try to be one of the bride and groom’s greatest blessings.
Ever need meaningful words to pray at a wedding? Download this wedding prayer by subscribing in the blanks below. Add it to your next wedding card or share it with someone whose child is getting married.