In All Things Are Ready, I included several bridal devotions to help your daughter glorify God and love her future husband, family and friends well while she is a bride. However, the bride is not the only one who may be tempted to lose perspective or turn a season of joy sour. The mother-of-the-bride is many times the hinge on which the joy of the bride and groom turns. Just as with every season of fruitful parenting, being the mother-of-the-bride requires a lot of prayer, wisdom and forethought.
The following is an excerpt from the Introduction to All Things Are Ready. It is a note I wrote just to the bride’s mother, sharing a few thoughts and encouragements to do Mother-of-the-Bride well. While this is by no means everything that could be thought or said on the topic, I hope these few words will encouarge those of you beginning this new chapter of mothering to grasp hold of this next task with faith, joy and love. Enjoy!
“Congratulations! Your daughter is getting married! My husband and I always say that one of the most important jobs we do for our five children is to help them to marry well. Years of working, praying, dreaming, and sacrificing for your daughter have brought you to the day of marrying her off. This is a time of joy and sometimes bittersweet sadness. There are few greater pleasures in life than participating in the happiness of a child who is marrying well. There are also few more emotional moments in life than giving a daughter away. These next few weeks and months are times to be savored with your daughter.
Savoring means enjoying and noticing each memory-making moment as it comes. Weddings are a lot of work and it’s easy to miss out on the joy and significance of what is happening. Don’t forget to step back and enjoy the journey. Have a few mother-daughter dates that don’t involve wedding plans. Take breaks so that you don’t become overwhelmed and start snipping at everyone involved. Go out to dinner with your husband. Be purposeful in stopping to savor this experience.
Take the time now to start building a close relationship with your future son-in-law if you haven’t yet. Learn his likes and dislikes and find little ways to bless him, just as you have for your own daughter throughout her life. Remember to ask his opinions on the wedding, and include him in the plans as he desires. Make him your son. Help him see “mother-in-law” as a positive relationship rather than the byword it has become.
Keep in mind that savoring also means not ruining these moments by fussing. We moms often turn opportunities for blessing our daughters into mother-daughter tiffs by our fussing, don’t we? It is, of course, a natural temptation after years of teaching and instructing them. We just keep on instructing them, forgetting that if she is getting married, she is all grown up! As mothers, we bless our daughters when we set them free and stand by them as their aid and cheerleaders, rather than shackling them by our fussing. By the time an engagement comes, the work of helping your daughter become a woman of beauty and character is done. Now is the time to let her character shine, not to continue shaping that character by shaping the course of the wedding events.
If you are receiving this “To Mom” note from your daughter, then you are probably the kind of mom who will be one of the key planners when it comes to putting on this wedding. In this job you have the opportunity to set the tone for what kind of mother-in-law you are going to be. Beware of being the proverbial mother-in-law by the way you handle the couple’s choices and decisions about the wedding. Hurt feelings are a big roadblock to relational peace and joy.
You may have been envisioning this wedding even longer than your daughter. It will be very easy to burden your daughter and future son-in-law with your desires for their big day. How will you respond if she doesn’t invite you to go dress shopping with her? What will you think if he doesn’t invite your son to be a groomsman? Being gracious and self-sacrificial in these situations requires a bit of forethought and a self-conscious decision to put on the mind of Christ towards your daughter and her fiancé.
Consider these areas in which you may be tempted to allow roadblocks to get in the way of good relations:
- Guest list (too many, too few, not the right people, more of his than hers, etc.)
- Whether or not your family wedding traditions are included in their plans
- Whether or not your daughter uses things you have saved up for her wedding day (your dress, Grandma’s ring, etc.)
- Who is included in the wedding party
- What kind of wedding celebrations are or are not held (bridal luncheon, dress shopping outing, bachelorette party, etc.)
Set your mind now to hold loosely your desires for this event. It is very likely that some of your hopes will be disappointed simply because the couple will not think of these choices as important as you do. Don’t take it personally when they make choices you dislike or disagree with. Don’t assume they are defining your relationship negatively by going against your preferences. Give up your desires for theirs.
Avoid even voicing your desires if it will pressure your daughter into making choices simply to please you. Our daughters want so much to know we are pleased with them. They don’t ever seem to outgrow that! It is much harder on them than we realize when we show even the tiniest amount of disappointment or disapproval. Be positive. Be liberal with sincere praise and appreciation of your daughter’s taste, choices, and people-handling skills. Praise her future husband to her. Let ten positive, encouraging comments pour from your mouth before you even consider carefully voicing one concern. Set the tone now for your coming relationship with them as a couple.
Someone else who needs your encouragement and blessing during this time is your husband. As much emotion as we moms bring into our daughter’s wedding, our husbands may have even more. Giving a daughter away is a life-changing experience for Dad. Help him do Father of the Bride well. Encourage and be patient with him as he struggles through this change of relationship with his daughter. Help him build a relationship with his new son-in-law.
Also be sensitive to his concerns about money if you are the ones paying for the big event. Be supportive, creative, and submissive in the wedding budget. Money is an area that may tempt you to be manipulative in order to have things you or your daughter desire. Be loyal to your husband. Avoid creating situations where you are working with your daughter against him to get your way, pressing him to spend more (or where he feels like you are). Most dads find a lot of truth in the movie The Father of the Bride. A little sensitivity from you and your daughter will go a long way toward bringing him peace. Be the one to consider and bless your husband, as Dad is often the most overlooked member of the wedding planning circle.
Many hours of praying over your little bundle of joy while rocking her to sleep each night are now coming to fruition in this marriage. Your role in her life will change in many ways after the wedding day, but you are still Mom. She still needs to be prayed over daily and she still wants your comfort and approval. Seek wisdom and godliness as you transform your place in her life so that each new season of your motherhood brings both of you joy and blessing. God bless you as you savor the joy of your daughter’s wedding day.”