On a quiet Saturday night, our twenty-one year old daughter sat us down and told us her boyfriend was coming home on leave, and they wanted to get married–in two an a half weeks. Once the shock passed, we convinced her it would be possible to have a full wedding in such a short time. How did we do this and keep our sanity? I’ll share how you can do it too.
1. Be Flexible
Yep, that was our biggest advantage. My daughter had ideas and yet was willing to allow something to slide. As parents, we didn’t hold tightly to our own desires, other than that her dad walked her down the aisle and they danced together.
2. Share Responsibilities
The next day after the decision was made, my husband, daughter, and I sat down with her future in-laws and did some planning. When we came away from that meeting, we each had a list of responsibilities that would be ours: from who was doing the meal to who was doing flowers.
3. Work with the In-Laws
Working with the in-laws enabled us to get a lot done. There were no traditional roles involved; instead we worked to make the bride and groom happy.
4. Hobby Lobby
Two days after announcing they were going to get married, my daughter, her future mother-in-law, sister-in-law, neice-in-law, and I drove to Hobby Lobby. What amazing memories came from that trip. Walking into Hobby Lobby I had the impression we’d focus on what we’d need and be done and gone. I soon realized that was unrealistic expectations. Instead, we traveled down each aisle and dropped in what would work. To my wonderful suprise the vast majority of the decorations, reception supplies, candles, and even the flower girl dress material were all on sale at 50% off!
5. Keep an Organizer
My poor little Blackberry cellphone took a beating when I discovered how to use the notepad. My phone kept me sane while my daughter used a spiral bound notebook. Without an organizational device we would not have been able to do near as much in so little time and still come out saying it was fun to do.
6. Keep it Simple
With a short time to prepare and do things, my daughter realized she couldn’t have elaborate plans. She used her in-law’s orchard and house with simple decorations such as bottles, lavender stalks, lace, tule, and wood rounds. Instead of trying to have everything, she looked at what had to happen.
7. Listen to the Bride
When in doubt listen to what the bride wants. Get the big picture. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to smile on the day of when my daughter came out to see the reception area and I asked a question. Her response was, “La-la-la-la-la, not listening. That’s not my job now.” At that point in time, I’d spent two and a half weeks with her knowing what she wanted. I was able to say, “I know what she wants,” and went with it.
Several times I had to sit back and let my daughter figure things out. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here. I allowed her to have her time and to plan what she wanted.
8. Enjoy Each Moment
From the bridal shower coinciding with decorating to watching my daughter’s sister-in-law realize her brother was getting married each moment was one to treasure. Watching the flower girls enjoy their dresses as they tried them on with my daughter there taking pictures helped the reality of the situation to sink in–my daughter was getting married! I will always remember the day before as we folded little boxes and filled them with candies and bubbles (only to forget them in the house the day of because we didn’t want the chocolates to melt).
9. Know How to Destress
This is good for yourself as mother of the bride, but also for your family members as well. As tension mounted, I needed to know how to care for myself and my family. The morning of my niece handed me a bottle of StressAway, an essential oil blend. I inhaled the vanilla and lime scent and relaxed as well.
10. Boost Your Immune System
With added stress, your body will be prone to any bug floating around. My daughter came down with a cold during those two and a half weeks. The day of the wedding she coughed and had sniffles.
11. Clear Your Schedule
Especially the last several days. With sewing two flower girl dresses and lace sleeves for my daughter’s dress, I was glad I had nothing else I needed to worry about. I could focus completely on the wedding without having to worry about anything else. If the groom would have come home on leave during the school year, the wedding wouldn’t have happened as easily. I would have needed to head my own advice of numbers 9 and 10 beyond anything I did for the wedding.
12. Don’t Neglect Others in the Family
A very wise mother of five once told me to not focus on one child over the other. In the middle of the wedding preparations, our youngest son had already planned going to a medieval event so he could compete in fencing tournaments. Between juggling sewing, we took several days to go spend time with and for him. We modified what we would have normally done, but it was a family decision.
13. Find Moments to Relax
Saturday evening we learned of the wedding. Sunday we made tentative plans, and Monday my two younger boys and I went out on the ocean all day. Yep, I put wedding on hold and enjoyed time alone. Another fun relaxing moment was just before the wedding. While others made some trips to pick up plywood for a dance floor, I collapsed on the in-laws’ couch and read a bit of a book lying around.
14. Prioritize Your To-Do List
Decide what has to be done versus what you want to have done. Then put those to-dos in order of priority. This will help you to not become overwhelmed.
Music creates memories in and of itself as I shared on my Facebook page earlier this week. While I sewed I listened to music. My husband was the one who made the connection that during our own wedding preparations twenty-five years ago, I had listened to Enya. Enya was one of the Amazon Prime stations I listened to while sewing.
16. Block Out the Last Four Days
We couldn’t have pulled off the wedding if the last four days hadn’t been devoted solely to the wedding. Monday we worked on decorations and had a bridal shower. Tuesday found us finishing out a dance floor. While Wednesday was devoted to the wedding itself and beginning tear down. Thursday morning my husband and a friend cleaned up the orchard where the wedding was. By noon the day after the wedding, everything in the orchard was back to normal.
17. Expect the Aftermath
With rushed wedding plans, there isn’t the time to come to grips with the fact that a family member is getting married. The emotional state of a wedding of a child is big anyway, let alone with everything squeezed together. Realize siblings will need to adjust as well. My daughter and her next younger brother have always been close. The night of the wedding, we took our new son-in-law aside so our daughter could chat with her brother.
Also realize your house will be a mess! We came home to leftover root beer from the root beer floats, while decorations sat in a chair for weeks waiting for our daughter to figure out where to put them before she moves to Germany to join her husband. Her dress hung over a rocking chair because there wasn’t another place to put it.
18. Utilize Your Friends
I didn’t say use your friends, but do make use of the relationships you’ve fostered over the years. My daughter had a dress because it was given to her by a friend eight years ago. The dance floor came together because our neighbor is a farm supply store with pallets, another friend had plywood we could borrow, and a third friend has horses and supplied the hay to go around the edge. The photographer, although hired, was a friend of my daughter, and the DJ was a family friend of the groom. When all was said and done, my daughter had a thank you list of people who helped make the day possible.
When it’s all said and done relax, enjoy, and have fun. It’s a wedding, a time of joy and celebration. A friend whose daughter got married a week and a half before my daughter told my husband she’d willingly trade our short notice to their year and a half engagement. The stress of a wedding can be overwhelming, but when pushed into two and a half weeks, you get that stress all done and over with. Enjoy. If you have questions, feel free to ask. Any suggestions for future brides? Add them to the comments.