The Mother of the Bride

My daughter did it her way—and I couldn’t be happier

By Patricia Volk
Photograph: Illustration: Juliette Borda

 “You are the mother of the bride,” Akira says. “The mother of the bride needs a cape. Then later, the mother of the bride can take the cape off.”
 “Can I have the dress for less if I get it without the cape?”
 Akira squares his shoulders: “You are mother of the bride! People should oooh and ahhh!”
 “They can oooh and ahhh at my daughter,” I say.
 I find the perfect dress at Dolce & Gabbana. Almost perfect. It’s short and white. Akira copies it long and black. I love it.
 Around this time, Polly and I are invited to appear on a panel of modern mothers and daughters. At one point, the moderator says, “Patty, your daughter is getting married. What’s it like planning a wedding these days?”
 “Well,” I say, “my daughter knows her taste and has planned the wedding entirely herself with her fiancé. I’m going to her wedding as the most loving guest in the world.”
 It helps that I like Polly’s fiancé and his family. Of all the young men who pursued her, Mark’s the one best suited. Not that the Head Counselor wasn’t adorable. I was charmed by the manners of the Ivy League Muslim whose mother gave Polly a shalwar kamiz to wear. I liked the Hedge Fund Body Builder, the Russophile, the L.A. Trust Fund Baby and, until we had to call the DA, the Stalker Lawyer too.
Mark is smart and bighearted, a product of his parents. They have full-blown lives and won’t intrude. Unlike my in-laws, who loathed each other, Gale and David will not involve Polly in their spats or drop in unannounced several times a week or when not on speaking terms, ask to move in.
If I can’t throw my daughter a wedding, I can throw her an engagement party. This I do my way, at home, inviting 60 or so friends. Then Gale and David throw an engagement party at a private club. Then they host a shower near their home. Then Polly has a bachelorette weekend with her bridesmaids. All of this is larger than life. I wonder if Polly’s compensating for her early birthday parties, where I’d cover the floor with brown paper and give the kids crayons. Is this my daughter’s way of making up for never having Buzzy the Clown?
Two weeks before the wedding, Polly makes appointments for Gale and me to get “hair trials” at a fancy salon. I emerge as Madame de Pompadour, and Gale is Veronica Lake. We laugh our heads off and go shopping.
Through it all, I get to witness Polly’s remarkable organizational skills. She and Mark pick the flowers, the music, the invitations, the menu, the everything. Polly finds a pair of iceberg green Louboutin stilettos and falls in love. Who am I to say you can’t wear iceberg shoes with an ecru wedding dress? She wants her father and me to walk her down the aisle together? Okie-dokie. When she decides that she’d like a topiary made out of Mark’s favorite cookie, I’d have to be an idiot to say, “But you have to have a cake.”
Polly sends her courtship saga to the New York Times. They call. The Times wants to feature Polly and Mark in their “Vows” column. I feel like I’ve snagged an invitation to the most fabulous party in the world. The night before, Polly and Mark’s nearest and dearest gather for the final pre-wedding bash at a new hot spot. More Champagne! Sliders! More toasts! Truffled french fries!
And then it is August 9, 2008. I wake up and put my dress in a garment bag. Akira says the dress is alive and must breathe. I’m hoping it won’t suffocate while I get my hair done. The wedding party converges at Louis Licari, my favorite salon. Limos wait to whisk us downtown. I share mine with two bridesmaids who compare epidurals. It occurs to me thatin a year I could be a grandmother.
In the room where we get our makeup done, I take my dress out of the bag and give it CPR. As Polly mingles with the bridesmaids and her beloved nanny, Beatrice Gage Fletcher, we munch tea sandwiches in our bathrobes. Polly’s makeup is applied by Mally Roncal, who does Beyoncé’s. Her hair is pouffed by Ted Gibson, who does Angelina Jolie’s.

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