Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mother of the Bride, or Hostess of the Occasion?

So what is the BIGGEST regret I have of the day?  Here it is -- I think I forgot about my main role of being the Bride's Mother, and got a bit too focused on being The Hostess of the Occasion. (A dichotomy I had not really thought about before -- both roles are important, but if your ceremony and reception are in two different locations like ours was, for a while at least, you cannot be BOTH!)

And the weird thing is, we had hired Denise as the day-of wedding coordinator whose job was to help things go smoothly. But I don't blame it on her.  Things DID go smoothly...just without me in a lot of cases.  She definitely took up the slack and did what she needed to do, when I wasn't around.  The question boiled down to -- when did I need to be around, and when didn't I?

The main culprit was lack of planning and communication -- Denise and I and the Bride should have ironed out ahead of time who would be doing what, and who would take on what roles. In hindsight, I wish I had sent the coordinator over to the reception to be Hostess of the Occasion - and I should have stayed with my daughter!

I was being pulled in a lot of different directions --(wife, mother, hostess, caregiver to elderly relatives).  My elderly father-in-law, incapacitated by a stroke in recent years, had stayed behind with us to be in the family photos, so getting him transported to the reception as quickly as possible and comfortably settled in with family members weighed heavily on our minds. But mainly, if truth be told, I was anxious to get back to the reception venue to make sure things were going smoothly.

So, because we bailed out almost immediately after the family photos were taken, I missed out on helping to get the train of my daughter's gown bustled; it did not occur to me that the bustle would best be done BEFORE she and the bridal party got into the limo for the ride back to the reception. (For some silly reason I always envisioned that task being done at the reception venue.) It also did not occur to me that someone needed to make sure the limo arrived and all the bridal party were safely deposited within it for the ride over to the reception.
The coordinator bustling the dress.
Wedding Coordinator Denise Harlan poses with the Bridal Party

So, as you can see, guess who was NOT in the bustling photos? And who was in the photos of the bridal party lining up to get into the limo?  Not me.  The Mother of the Bride was missing in action, as far as the photographic history goes.  Oh well...I have to comfort myself with believing that I was exactly where I needed to be, and try not to feel too guilty for "abandoning" my daughter! With our coordinator Denise, she was in capable hands, after all.

My husband and I took some wrong turns going back to the hotel; I ended up having to put on my navigator hat to help us find our way there.  So ironically by the time we arrived at the reception site, we were too late to be of much use there either.  Our guests had been enjoying their appetizers and punch in the pre-function area, had figured out their table assignments, and were just starting to get seated in the ballroom.  I escorted my father-in law into the building and turned his care over to family members, while my husband parked the car.  By that time, the hotel staff had already started disassembling the appetizer spread in the foyer.  The guests had pretty much consumed all the munchies. (I never saw, much less got to taste, any of them!)

Donning the feather headpiece!
When the bridal party arrived at the hotel and my daughter was ready to change into the trendy feathered hair accessory I had made for her, it could not be found--it was locked in our car! Instead of leaving it with the bride or the wedding coordinator, I had absent-mindedly brought it back with me when I returned with my husband to the reception venue.

I was finally sitting down at our family table, after having been on my feet for hours, drinking my much-needed glass of iced tea, when one of the wedding coordinator's assistants notified me that the headpiece was missing in action. I had to literally run out to the parking lot (in my long taffeta dress) and run back in with the headpiece. I was so rattled, that once again, my brain refused to fire on all cylinders.  I suppose the wife and Hostess of the Occasion roles called to me, and I felt compelled to get right back into the reception room to join my husband and my guests, leaving the coordinator to clip the hairpiece on my daughter's lovely brown curls... So, guess who landed in the pictures of such? Again, not me.

I learned an important lesson.  The wedding planning needs to include that interval between the ceremony and reception.  Think out and communicate your plan of action to all parties concerned, especially if the ceremony and reception are in two different locations.  What are the logistics?  Who will be where, doing what, and who will ride with who? 

We had thought out our plan clearly for the bridal party.  We hired a limo expressly for the reason of transporting them quickly all together from the ceremony to the reception.  For the rest of us, I guess I figured we would just "go with the flow".  Big mistake.  I learned that the pressure of the moment fogs your thinking.  A pre-planned logistical map of the entire day is needed not only for the bridal party, but for the MOB, FOB, and the elderly relatives and young children involved with the wedding too. 

Now I see why David Tutera and most high-dollar wedding planners prefer that the ceremony and reception are in the same location. The logistics are just easier!  When they are in two different locations, the question becomes who will be staying with and assisting the bride and bridal party after the wedding, and who will be going to oversee the reception?  In my experience, if it is important for you to have those memories of being with your daughter during all the important moments of the wedding day, stay with the Bride, if at all possible. 

The best laid plans may fall through, however. A MOB must expect to be pulled like taffy in multiple directions.  She will face the decision on which role she needs to be playing many times during the events of her daughter's wedding day -- "Mother of the Bride, or Hostess of the Occasion?"

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