A friend's daughter is engaged. Joy to her world. She loves the guy her daughter will be marrying--a young man her daughter has been with for the past five years, the man she moved with post-grad from the east coast to west, then back east for grad school and now south for a new job. The wedding, scheduled for November, has been in the planning-works for several months now and my friend is wondering when she's going to have to start "doing stuff," wedding-wise. She's even put that question to her daughter.
This is not going to be a home-town wedding. The couple--both in their early 30s--are getting married in the southeast town where they went to grad school. That's where most of their good friends are and it's a picturesque town that reflects the couple's values.
My friend isn't complaining. She doesn't feel left out--her daughter keeps her up-to-date on plans as they progress: the place they've rented--a big barn on a farm; the bridesmaid dress colors she's thinking about. But it's the couple--not the mom and dad--who are making the choices and decisions. The parents are chipping in a defined amount of money but other than that, their role is small so far. The mother of the bride, an art director at a magazine, is helping out by reviewing photographer portfolios and giving her daughter a short list of the best of the bunch. But other than that, she and the dad just listen to plans as they evolve.
Does she feel badly about this? Not really. She's working full time and has never been a person who has lived for the day when she would plan her daughter's wedding. Besides, the daughter is 30, living 500 miles away and fully capable of taking charge. It is, in fact, her and her fiance's adventure together.
And that's the point. When our children marry young--early 20s would be young for this generation--we probably have a bigger role to play in wedding plans, especially if our daughters choose to marry in their hometown and we're cast in the role of active hosts. But once they've reached a certain age, they're mature enough to figure things out. They don't really need wedding-planner mom. And if they're living and marrying elsewhere, well, it's their party. (Of course, if we the parents are picking up the tab and the budget is unlimited--well,that's a whole other issue.)
Here's what I learned from hearing about my friend and her daughter's marriage plans: The key to familial happiness is inclusion--not being in charge.