I imagine that for the mother of a girl, there are years of tulle wrapped fantasies starring their daughter as a bride. But for those of us with boys, it’s a whole different ballgame. The wedding itself is not even part of the scenario. It’s the wondering: will my son ever find a girl good enough for him/who really appreciates him/or even, who can tolerate him?!
So although the wait seemed interminable, when the day finally came that my 41 year son, Adam, announced he’d found THE ONE, I felt relief and yes, euphoria.
I had already had ample exposure to THE ONE and witnessed how smitten they were with each other. Maybe besotted captures it better. Anyway, they were madly in love. Even better, they seemed perfectly matched and so happy and at ease in each other’s presence. My son and I were totally in sync for a change; PJ was everything I could have wished for in a daughter- in- law.
Once he put a (vintage) ring on it, the next step was meeting her family, who live in Atlanta. Shortly after they had made it official, we were invited to join the whole clan for Thanksgiving. It was clear that her family was a warm and welcoming one who seemed as delighted with our son as we were with their daughter (sister, niece, granddaughter etc.) and when I dove in to help with the dinner, we all got very comfortable very quickly. The highlight of the weekend for me was being present at the initial search for The Dress. As a mother of sons, I relished being included in this ritual usually reserved exclusively for the mother of the bride.
As the months went on, PJ and I forged a connection. Again, she invited me to join her and her bridesmaids in the hunt which took us to the legendary Kleinfeld’s in NYC. Suffice to say, it was not a rapturous “Say Yes to the Dress” experience. But PJ continued her search, undaunted, and finally zeroed in on a dress that she loved, fulfilled her desires, fit her budget and made the most of her assets.
Having been to umpteen weddings, Adam and PJ took the reins themselves and planned it all down to the last detail. As mother- of- the- groom, I had to learn restraint, which does not come naturally, and when to shut up entirely. Forwarding emails of Vogue-ish weddings was not welcomed. Little ideas were politely spurned. They were clear in what they wanted and emphatic in what they didn’t. The learning curve had started for “How to be a Mother- in- Law who does not induce eye rolling.”
The destination was chosen: Stowe, VT, a sentimental choice having been a frequent vacation spot for our family over many years. Fortunately, the bride responded to the natural beauty of the locale as much as my son. It was, quite frankly, a schlep for her family from Atlanta and ours from Washington State, California, New Orleans, Dallas, D.C. and Santa Fe but everyone got on board, most for their first look at Vermont and the glorious Fall color experience.
The time honored advice for the mother- of -the- groom is “Shut up, sit down and wear beige.” The first and second were possible. The third? Not a chance. Given the bride’s blessing to wear what I wished, I went the hunt for the ultimate mother- of- the- groom dress. Early October in a Vermont meadow suggested floral to me. But not summery, and not black.
I spent hours poring over websites looking for something that would capture my imagination and I found it at Neiman Marcus, god bless them, online, a Badgley Mischka gown of navy lace. It was sleeveless, the bateau neck and squared arm holes edged with faggoting, the fitted torso flowing into one long, slender pour to the ground. The back was cut out, but not too provocatively, and it swished into a train. The whole thing was covered with delicate hand painted flowers and embellished here and there with discreet clumps of navy sequins. Elegant, feminine, and just a bit sexy. Having not been made available yet, it had to be ordered and altered to the max, my 5’2” frame somewhat smaller than the designers had probably envisioned. When it was done, it was perfection. But SO perfect, that I dared not gain a pound before the wedding. Which was months away. Will anyone ever appreciate my sacrifice and deprivation? Unlikely. But I had extra strength Spanx at the ready for insurance.
I think I had as much fun making my fantasy come to life as the bride. As the day drew near, we were all glued to the weather projections. It was going to be cool. I was going to need a wrap. The dress was so gorgeous, the last thing I wanted to do was cover it up with a jacket or shawl. Enter my friend, Johanna, who took my somewhat vague comments about shrugs and stoles and came up with several websites with options. Ultimately, I chose a navy marabou stole that skimmed my shoulders and fastened in the front. It came from England and I sweated a bit the possibility that it might not arrive on time. But it did and it was sublime.
Having found some “statement” earrings, I opted to contain my unpredictable hair for the event to let them shine. I wore it middle parted and pulled back into a chignon which hid the elastic on a braided (hair) headband that matched my own tresses. Dare I say, vaguely reminiscent of the Von Trapp Family? But in good way. Sprayed within an inch of its life, my hairdo was going nowhere during the proceedings.
And then it was THE DAY. The excitement and stress were palpable. But the morning dawned sunny and calm and it all went off without a hitch. I dressed with the bride and her “girls” and after a little bubbly, we were all very sanguine. PJ was a vision of beauty and radiance in her gown, her hair in long, loose curls partly clasped back with a sparkling hair clip. No veil, no jewelry; truly, she needed no ornamentation to glow.
My son ultimately decided to have his dad and I walk him down the aisle. It was a transcendent moment in my life, leading my son toward the brink of his future. As the bride glided down the aisle on the arm of her beaming father, my eyes went to my son. I wanted to mentally record the moment he saw his bride. As I watched, his expression of nervous tension transformed into a smile of unrestrained joy. My eyes filled with tears. I saw his life on fast forward, bookended by the first time I held him in my arms with awe and the moment when he joined his bride under the chuppah to launch his own family.
A milestone moment in his life, and mine.