Passing the baton…

They say that women spend the first part of their lives dreaming about their own weddings, and the rest of their days dreaming about their daughters’ (and if they’re lucky, granddaughters’).

That’s certainly been true for me.

From the time she was in daycare, holding hands with the little boy who lived next door to her care provider, to the wonderful moment this weekend when I saw that the hand her beau was holding sported an engagement ring, I’ve longed for my daughter’s betrothal.

Oh, the weddings I’ve imagined throughout the years! Sumptuous shipboard weddings with chandeliers and an orchestra… rustic barnyard receptions with hayrides, mason jars and square dancing… breezy, beachy blowouts at the Jersey shore, with clambakes and bonfires under the stars… wildly sophisticated New York galas, with white-gloved waiters serving pheasants under glass… tiny, intimate ceremonies at soulful little chapels with shimmering stained glass.

In order to practice for the day when I could plan my daughter’s wedding, I spent years trying to throw perfect parties for her. Every birthday became a challenge. I never had the money to buy magnificence, but the Lord blessed me with plenty of imagination, so her birthday parties were awesome. There was the year we rented out a small movie theater, so she and her friends could watch a movie by themselves, eating candy and popcorn to their heart’s delight (not expensive if you do it at 10:00 in the morning!). There was the bash at a local pizzeria, where a passel of 6-year-olds were actually convinced that they themselves had made the pie.

Best of all, there was the Sweet Sixteen party. For pennies… pennies!… I managed to secure a top notch catering hall, which served six foot subs and hot dogs to kids who preferred weiners to filet mignon. I designed and made her invitations, since she wanted gryphons as her theme, and nobody made gryphon-inspired stationery in those pre-Harry Potter days. I got two DJs for the price of one, since a local DJ wanted to train her very handsome son in the family business. And I made all the centerpieces… glorious vases filled with leafy greenery, each one holding a beautiful,  delicate betta fish, much to the surprise of many of the kids who attended.

Since so many people wanted to take the vases home, I spent the following week filling more vases with greenery and betta fish, and driving remembrances of my kid’s party all over town.

And now, she’s getting married.

And she and her fiance want to plan their own wedding.

Let me pause for breath before I continue writing.

They want to plan their own wedding.

I suppose I wanted to plan my own wedding, too, back in the day… but there were plenty of other women vying for the job. Not my own sweet mother, God bless her memory… she didn’t have a party-planning bone in her body… but there were plenty of others. There was my wonderful cousin, who designed my dress. I told her I wanted ivory satin and diagonal ruching, with no lace or train. She told me in no uncertain terms that anything other than white would mark me as a hussy, and designed the most magnificent white lace gown, with a majestic train that marked the start of my life as someone’s queen. I had never seen, let alone worn, anything more lovely, and I will be grateful for her input until the day I die.

Then there was my husband’s dear cousin, a jeweler, who asked what kind of diamond I wanted. I told her how much I liked emerald cut jewels; she found me a brilliant cut diamond that is lovelier than any other on earth.

And then there was my mother-in-law. She insisted on a wedding in North Jersey, because she didn’t want her family to travel (so my gang had to schlep an hour and a half to the ceremony). She insisted that all her nieces and nephews be included in the bridal party (I barely managed to sneak my siblings and three friends into the mighty entourage). She let me know in no uncertain terms that a small Saturday brunch was a crazy idea; we threw a Saturday night extravaganza that cost roughly what I made that year.

Oh, I got my own way on a few things. Jeff didn’t wear white, as his mother had wanted; I knew damn well we could never pass him off as a virgin. I got to choose the invitations and the bridesmaids’ gowns too… but wait… Jeff’s aunt had the dressmaker raise all the cousins’ necklines.

But all in all, it was a heck of a wedding… and fifteen years later, my husband and I renewed our vows in a tiny little chapel with just a few friends in attendance, getting the ceremony we’d always wanted.

So I’m going to let my daughter and her fiance plan their own wedding.

She’s seen how a party should be put together… how to get maximum bang for the buck… how to select a caterer that will please the guests… how to choose music that will be meaningful.

I have to trust that this magnificent young woman and her godsend of a fiance will design a celebration that they can remember joyfully throughout the rest of their lives.

Now I have to look for something new to obsess about.

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