Funny how my self-perception has shifted as the wedding plans progress. I rather like this identity as "mother of the bride." The term had a rather staid, matronly connotation in the past. Now I picture Diane Keaton in the 1991 remake of "Father of the Bride." Keaton was 45 at the time, a fine figure to emulate. Even today, I'm sure she is a fine figure to emulate.
Mothers of the brides are members of a Ma-Ma Sisterhood it seems and I'm looking forward to learning the divine secrets. The main topic of conversation when I discover a sister is The Dress.
"Have you found your dress yet?" they invariably ask, with the sympathy and excitement of one who has been through the drill. We all want a dress that is flattering, age-appropriate, the right color and the best style for one's particular figure - plus it must be unique. Is that too much to ask? The brides have it much easier - they choose between white and ivory, and they're young and lovely.
One woman advised me to go to a consignment shop. She'd found not one but two dresses that way for the weddings of each of her two daughters. But she admitted this takes checking back again and again until the right dress becomes available. Some found their dresses at bridal shops; others went to boutiques or department stores; some wore separates. And each found the "perfect dress." You'll know it when you see it, they tell me.
They also give me other tips. Buy one pair of shoes "for show," I've been advised, and another for comfort, to slip into after the first dance. I was pleased to learn that no women wear pantyhose anymore - summertime weddings mean strappy shoes and painted toenails exposed. I'm really more into comfort clogs these days but sandals with a little heel might work.
Of course the July wedding is really about Zoe and Jeff. The point of the celebration is to launch their life together as a married couple. The Catholic ceremony used to say that marriage will "profoundly influence your whole life." That is such an understatement - but how else to say it?
Jim and I married when we were in college. At some point - in our cute little duplex situated halfway between San Jose State (me) and Santa Clara University (him) - we had our first disagreement. I don't remember what it was about but I do clearly recall being aghast to realize that our marriage was a huge, huge mistake. A few hours later we'd made up and I was happy with my husband again but I had had an awakening: I now realized what a commitment it is to promise to form a unit together forever. Until death do us part anyway.
Today couples go into marriage better prepared than I was. They're older and more mature, plus they've usually been in a relationship for several years so they have experienced many of the adjustments that couples used to make only when they began living together after the wedding. Still, even today couples truly "tie the knot" on their wedding day. Such a leap of faith and commitment certainly deserves a celebration.
Zoe and Jeff's wedding plans are moving along smoothly. The minister has been met with; the venue is booked; the deejay confirmed; the cake and flowers chosen; the wedding dress is on order; the bridesmaid dresses have arrived.
I like the informal way brides today pick and choose the traditions they want to observe. There will be no garter removed and tossed to the bachelors. There will be a plastic bride and groom atop the wedding cake even though "this isn't done anymore."
From now on I will attend weddings as an "informed" guest. I'll notice the details, such as if the bridesmaid bouquets double as centerpieces on the dinner tables and what kind of music accompanies the bride down the aisle. I'll notice how the wedding party arrives and departs and their accessories. I'll pay more attention to any favors given out and how the cake is served - if there is a cake.
And I will definitely notice what the mother of the bride is wearing.
-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.