My daughter was born when I was thirty-six-years old after thirteen years of various infertility treatments. Planning Katherine Harding Jones’s wedding didn’t start immediately. Sitting in church with my sweet toddler I can admit to forming mental images regarding my idea of the perfect wedding. These were complete with an organ fanfare, a gossamer wedding dress, an elegant bridal party and several smiling guests.
Type “A” women are visionaries. We constantly review every detail, organize them and work in the now, but we like to plan and prepare for events in the distant future. I’m sure several potential MOBS begin planning their little girls’ wedding before their darlings can walk. This past October, my twenty- three-year old daughter and I did create the perfect wedding. Katie is also a Type “A” and at fifty-nine patience is not my greatest virtue any more. Since I have retired, my Bi-polar disorder is easier to deal with although it is a concern. Time is the greatest asset. It is imperative to have a year to plan if you are in my situation. Also, my eighty-six-year old mother, Flo, lives with me so this combination of factors created unique situations and stressors that Katie and I were able turn into successes.
My mom is healthy and a great blessing. Flo and I take trips and have developed a bond that others envy; however, her short term memory no longer exists. This created several tense moments as I tried to keep up with Katie, all involved parties and suddenly I was playing the game of “Where’s my momma?”. Luckily, each time Flo turned left when she should have turned right, I was able to quickly find her. I asked my best friends, who have taken Flo to their hearts, to be on “mom duty” during the reception and I knew she would get her food, find her way to her seat, the bathroom and be present for all the big moments.
Now that my daughter is happily married and feathering her own nest, I wanted to share my experiences for other MOBS and who share my personality traits. Getting things right without collapsing in a corner the day of the wedding is possible. It’s also possible to avoid making it about your vision or becoming the center of attention by trying to micromanage the details or letting your inner leader run the show. So how do you and your daughter plan and execute the PERFECT WEDDING?
Luckily my daughter and I agree about style most of the time and are somewhat practical. From the start we had that as a planning plus. However, when conflicts in choices occur as the Type “A” MOB one phrase you will constantly hear that irritates you is: “It’s the Bride’s day and the final word belongs to her.”
My mental response and sometimes testy verbal response was: “Yes, it is Katie’s day, but I have to have a lot of input because my checkbook is the source of the funds.”
My observation for fretful Type “A” MOBS is that you may be the most vulnerable to stress. Everyone thinks the bride is the stressed one, but moms, if your daughter is also a Type “A” personality or you have other issues – you will find that you’re the one having the most sleepless nights. For the MOB and her daughter each decision is a potential emotional bomb that can easily explode.
To conquer this, I have borrowed a behavior modification technique from the old “Ally McBeal” television show. For those of you who are too young to remember, Ally was a young lawyer whose psychiatrist advised her to have a song that she put in her head whenever she was stressed. My song is “Mustang Sally” and it works very well. The tune works by overriding the stress signals your brain is sending out.
Also, my daughter and I worked out a topic/phrase that served as a warning when one or the other of us was getting upset or angry and needed a time out. We decided that if either of us talked about the weather in any way – that was our signal to talk about something else or wait until later to work things out.
I also tried to avoid negative feelings by asking for input from all the “stakeholders” and the usual response was the generic: “Whatever you do is fine with me.” This is frustrating because you know that later you are likely to hear some picky comment or some gossip will come back to haunt you. Accepting this as a fact of life can help the Type “A” person let go. Use what my daughter calls being the “bigger man” strategy. Each time you feel frustrated walk away and refuse to be drawn in. Then you have been “the bigger man”. I have found that simple phrase to be helpful for me not just for the wedding, but for many issues in my life.
The next step is set the budget, negotiate your plans with your daughter and let her know that the two of you are the final word. This doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t listen and incorporate good ideas into the plan. Just be tactful when it comes to folks with their own agendas. The phrase: “Mom and I appreciate your thoughts, but we’ve already made firm plans to do …”
This can be the simple response. Since Type “A” personalities can get irritated when others interfere with established plans, using this phrase as a simple mantra can keep you from losing your cool.
Finding the path to the Perfect Wedding has a few more steps and all of them involve research. I consider myself a bargain hunter, but after many years of trial and error, I have developed a list of rules that govern how I comparison shop. Price is not always the deciding factor for me when choosing a product or service. In planning Katie’s wedding, the Internet was the most valuable tool imaginable with multiple sites, price lists and reviews by consumers. I want value for my money and the cliché you get what you pay for is something I have found to be true after fifty years of shopping experience.
As a retired language arts teacher, my thirty-five years of teaching has given me valuable insight into researching quickly with accurate results. The secret is simple: Go from general, broad topics while quickly looking at web sites’ visual material and choose general sites while adding what you like to your favorites or bookmarks. If a site is too difficult to navigate, do not stay with it no matter what intrigues you because you can start spending hours on a dead end. Do not play with the links. Set a limit of two – or I can promise you that you will need a new prescription for glasses when the wedding is over. If I have to hit a refresh button to get a site to operate correctly or a site locks me in and doesn’t let me use my browser button (arrow at the top of the Internet page) to go back to a previous site, I will not save it as a favorite.
I found You Tube to be a valuable general site, as well as David’s Bridal Shop because of the quick searches I could do to check wedding scenarios, wedding dresses, bridal party looks, and their valuable links. Since my daughter was four hours away in Blacksburg, Virginia, attending graduate school the year before the wedding, she was able to do the same searches. Then we used e-mail, web sites and links to communicate possible choices back and forth.
Using the Internet and Katie’s input, I was able to obtain many wedding necessities and information while wearing my pajamas. I found the best price on organza, party favors, programs, place cards, save the date cards, invitations, décor, battery-operated lights to set under lotus bowls, glassware and much more. Additionally, I was able to read reviews about venues, the designer who made Katie’s dress, the caterer, the videographer, photographer, and lists of music for the various dances. 95% of the services that Katie and I chose for her wedding came from the Internet. We either found their site and liked what we saw or checked references and reviews and felt reassured that we were making the right decision. This saved us many frustrating hours of driving time. We narrowed things to one or two places since she could only come home four times during her year at Virginia Tech.
This doesn’t mean you should confine your research to the Internet. It is only one source. Type “A” personalities have an inborn urge to double and triple check their findings to ensure the best deal and the best service. I did go to a Wedding Show in Chantilly, Virginia and noticed that they have shows scheduled for locations all over the country. It was here that I found our videographer, but I used the Internet to check out his reviews and do cost comparisons.
Finally, word of mouth is a good source of information. I mentioned I was looking for a photographer while getting my hair styled and got a fantastic recommendation. I used my “Internet Rules of Research” to check out the photographer’s web site and her company had all the features that Katie and I hoped to find.
The day of the Katie’s wedding arrived and I had hired a wedding coordinator for just that day to take care of everything from A to Z. She took care of all the decorating details and got my vendors in the right spots. The companies we selected had to have the following traits: enthusiasm, professionalism and the ability to reassure me that we were communicating. I was a little worried when we got to Rose Hill Manor in Leesburg, Virginia because my natural instinct to take charge ramped up my already surging adrenalin. My coordinator knew about my Type “A” need to check up on things and kept leading me back to the bride’s room, reassuring me and magically, I did not have to lift a finger.
My coordinator, caterer, the venue manager, the florist, the DJ, the pastor, the linen service and everyone else who was involved made things run just the way Katie and I had planned. Not one hitch marred the day and we all know that Type “A” people are difficult to please. Our detailed plans were stored perfectly in both the left and right sides of our brains and we scanned everything comparing what we saw to what we visualized and specified.
As the ceremony progressed, I saw my daughter’s vision and mine meld into the perfect wedding. Not only that, but just as Katie and Billy said their vows, a Bald Eagle slowly sailed across the sky spreading his wings for all the guests and family members to see. Right then the dark, gray storm clouds parted and the sun cast varying soft-colored rays of light putting a spotlight on the magnificent bird as if to say this marriage is blessed.
Sharing this story means a lot to me because I had so many doubts about surviving the planning and the day. Hopefully, other mothers and daughters can successfully realize the dreams they lovingly build together and create lasting memories for both families at the start of a marriage.
So I want Type “A” MOBS and daughters to remember and repeat after me: Search the Internet and other sources setting strict time limits and parameters for yourselves, kindly let all third parties know you appreciate their advice and will take it under advisement, relax, find a song to put in your head when someone or something stresses you, be the “bigger man”, get vendors who will support you and best of all hire a day-of-wedding coordinator. I wish that you will have your Bald Eagle moment because with this kind of planning, you will have a blessed day that you and your newly-joined families will celebrate the rest of your lives.