33: A Mother’s Wedding Dreams

33: A Mother’s Wedding Dreams

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

A Mother’s Wedding Dreams

Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.

~Andrew Iskander

“Mom, I want to get married this weekend.”

“Oh… yeah…” I stammered, struggling to sound positive. They’d been engaged four years. Why the sudden hurry? I was afraid to ask.

“Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Mom, don’t you think that would be the best day for a wedding?”

“Yes, but it’s only three days away. Where would you go? Reno?”

“I suppose. It just hit me this morning as a great idea.”

“Why don’t we give it some thought and get together this evening for a family meeting?”

That night, we flushed out the real reason for the sudden elopement and long engagement. Jessica dreaded having a big ceremony. She’d seen her sister agonize over every detail of planning the perfect wedding. Even the thought of doing the same stressed her out.

Her sister, Danielle, is a professional meeting and event planner, so she wanted a big, fancy wedding. That’s her thing. She worked a year and a half carefully selecting everything from invitations and dresses for their large bridal party to DJ and candle-lit decorations. It was a fairy-tale wedding in a charming French restaurant, complete with gourmet food, champagne, and designer cake. We all had a great time.

Now, with the bar set so high, no wonder Jessica balked. As we talked and listened, we discovered Jessica’s idea of the perfect wedding was a simple ceremony and fabulous honeymoon. But to avoid the stress of planning, she would settle for a justice of the peace if they could then escape to a tropical paradise.

I was devastated at the thought of skipping my daughter’s wedding. I wanted to watch with joy and tears as my white-veiled princess floated down the aisle. I wanted to witness their sacred vows exchanged in the presence of God. I wanted to toast and celebrate and throw rice. But this wasn’t about me, was it?

“I know,” Danielle’s face lit up. “We could rent a cabin at Lake Tahoe just big enough for immediate family and a couple of friends. Don’t worry about the planning — I can do it all. It’ll be easy. What do you think?”

All eyes turned to Jessica.

“That sounds great if I don’t have to plan it.”

I breathed a sigh of relief — the essence of my dream revived.

True to her word, Danielle searched the Internet and found a suitable cabin overlooking the lake, available in April. Each week, she e-mailed Jessica two or three choices of items to pick from. Invitations, bouquet, food. Jessica selected each one with a simple click.

I asked Danielle to cc me on the e-mails so I would feel included. I wanted to at least see what they were doing. But on one matter I held my ground: Selecting the dress is a mother-daughter affair. I insisted on going with them to the bridal shop.

I knew from the e-mails that Jessica had decided to wear a bridesmaid’s dress because of the casual cabin atmosphere and the cost. When she stepped out from behind the curtain, we all agreed the first dress looked hideous. I’m convinced they make bridesmaid’s dresses look frumpy to guarantee no one outshines the bride.

I tried hard to muster an enthusiastic response when the second one looked just okay, then made a quick exit to search the racks for another choice. Glancing over at the next aisle, I saw a white gown encased in dry cleaner’s plastic, and I got an idea. “I’ll take this in and have Jessica try it on just for fun.” This was my one opportunity to see my daughter in a wedding gown. At least I’d be able to enjoy the vision for a couple of minutes.

On closer inspection, the dress I carried looked exceptionally gaudy, like a poufy wedding cake. Jessica is not a foo-foo kind of girl. She’s very down to earth. I chuckled as I imagined her in such an outlandish style. Back in the dressing room, I convinced her to try it on — just for me. Reluctantly, she agreed.

As the dress slipped into place, the gathers and pooches disappeared as the gown molded perfectly to her form. All chatter stopped, and our faces dropped. I stared in awe at my daughter adorned in regal splendor.

“Wow. You look beautiful. In a rustic setting, it’s okay for the bride to stand out. Imagine Jon’s face when he sees you in this.”

“You have to get it, Jessica,” Danielle said as she straightened the train folds.

Jessica had to agree. The choice was clear.

And so all the preparations came together. When we arrived at Tahoe the night before the event, crisp pine air filled my lungs and ribbons of smoke from neighboring chimneys hung all around. I was relieved to see the cabin looked as cute as the Internet photos. However, as I stepped into the main living room, my chest tightened.

“This room is smaller than I thought it would be. Danielle, do you think there’s room for everyone in here?”

“Let’s see. We can move the sofa over there, slide the table next to the wall and use it for the food. There won’t be much legroom, but we should be able to squeeze in all thirty rental chairs. Don’t worry, Mom, it’ll be fine.”

The morning brought a blur of hustle and bustle. But all details faded into the background when I caught that first glimpse of my radiant daughter strolling down the aisle. My little girl, all grown up. Years of triumphs and trials welled up in my soul as the past gave way to the future.

She stopped beside her beaming groom — so close I could have reached out and touched her. A spectacular panoramic view of Lake Tahoe framed the pair, with the pastor backed against the window.

In the cozy cabin, Pastor Dan’s sermonette sounded more like a chat among friends. “A successful marriage needs the support of family and friends. Do you agree to help Jon and Jessica’s relationship grow and flourish?”

“We do.”

When the couple finally turned to face each other, I had a perfect view of Jon’s face over Jessica’s shoulder. Too perfect. The passion in his eyes felt too intimate for me to view at such close proximity. But look I did as they exchanged their heartfelt vows.

Then they ducked and dashed amid confetti poppers and cheers. Joy filled the room.

Today, two wedding albums adorn my coffee table, each filled with wonderful memories. Both of my daughters had beautiful weddings, special in their own ways. We all have different dreams, and dreams don’t always come true. But Jessica and Jon got to enjoy a great off-season honeymoon package in Cancun, and this proud mother saw her dreams for her daughters’ weddings fulfilled.

~Kris Lindsey

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