Mother of the Bride

January 3, 2014 

The slow, rhythmic ticking of the antique clock echoed loudly in the awkward silence that followed the breathless announcement of our daughter and her brand-spanking-new boyfriend.

“We’re getting married!” they blurted out, then stood back, hand-in-hand, eagerly awaiting our reaction.

Feeling a rising panic inside, I glanced over at my suddenly dazed husband and searched for the perfect response in light of the fact that (a) the pair had been dating less than a month (b) we hardly knew the boyfriend, having met him on just one previous occasion and (c) our daughter had been fickle with her affections in the past.

The seconds dragged by. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

“Uh, congratulations,” I heard myself mumble as the fog slowly began to lift. “But I hope you guys plan to slow down and get to know each other better before planning a wedding.”

This impatient but very adult couple then queried, “Well how long do you expect us to wait?!”

Pausing again and carefully choosing my words, I replied, “Well, don’t you think it would be a good idea to go through all of the seasons together first?”

Countdown to the ‘big day’

Summer became fall and soon enough it was the new year, and their relationship continued growing stronger. Eventually, with our blessing, plans for the nuptials began in earnest.

The wedding would be small, family only, the two decided.

They chose The Conservatory in St. Charles, Mo., as the venue. Located in the heart of old town, this quaint greenhouse, overflowing with plants and romantic charm, provided the feel of the outdoors without the worry of adverse weather.

Although I’ve always felt my daughter and I were at opposite ends of the style spectrum, I was delighted with the choice. And I remained in accord with her other picks, from the unique, vintage-inspired wedding dress to the rest -- invitations to attendants’ attire to reception details. It was a dawning revelation for both of us over those many months of planning, that we really did have similar tastes after all.

A flurry of activity and anxiety

Lulled into the belief that everything was progressing smoothly, I was surprised by the frenzied activity in the month before the wedding. Two issues, however, produced most of the heart-stopping anxiety -- wedding dress alterations and cake delivery.

At the time she picked it, my daughter’s perfect wedding dress had been missing just one item on her wish list: a lace-up corset back. This was added during alterations, and all was well until the corset loops broke during the final fitting. The alterations staff said it just needed a re-sew. But what if that happened on the day of the wedding? It was the disaster scenario that would give both my daughter and I nightmares in the weeks leading up to the wedding.

And then came word from the cake baker that the wedding cake and cupcakes could not be delivered. Though there was disagreement about whether delivery had been promised at the time of the order, the reality was that we had to get them from the Metro East to St. Charles without scrambling them in the process, yet another thing to fret about in the last few days.

Time flies

While the bride and groom had spent more than a year thinking their wedding day was never going to arrive, it was suddenly the day, and the hours leading up to the evening ceremony flew by.

In an eyeblink, it was time for my daughter to get into her dress. With fumbling fingers, and baited breath, I laced the corset back, then stood back in awestruck silence. Like mothers of the bride the world over, I was stunned by my baby girl’s transformation.

A moment suspended in time

Soon thereafter, seated in the front pew, I watched the ceremony unfold - my daughter walking, no floating, down the aisle on her dad’s arm with her own husband-to-be growing misty-eyed, and, later, the two of them reciting the vows they had each painstakingly written.

Then, maybe it was the candlelight but I suddenly was not seeing them arm-in-arm at the altar any longer. Instead, I was gazing at my newborn daughter for the first time 27 years ago and again feeling that instant bond. Looking at that talkative toddler who invented imaginary playmates, the kid who loved art and music and friends, and, yes, even that headstrong teenager who tested my patience on many occasions.

Snapping back to the present moment, I heard the pastor announce the newly minted Mr. and Mrs., Mark and Sarah Baker. In that moment, I was sure of one thing -- that I’ve never seen anyone look happier or more in love. And what more can any mother ask?

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