By Barbara Falconer Newhall
My son Peter proposed. His girlfriend said yes. They set a date. Her mom and dad are delighted. Jon and I are delighted.
Now what do I do?
Aside from hosting the rehearsal dinner and showing up on the wedding day in a dress that is neither black nor white, that obscures the multiple necks and iffy upper arms and yet still manages to be pretty – what’s the mother of the groom supposed to do?
I asked the sweaty ladies at my Zumba class.
“Not much,” said one with a rueful smile.
“Avoid having opinions,” said another, zipping her lips.
There’s got to be something I can do to help with the wedding plans.
Won’t the bride be needing a wedding dress, for example?
I’ve got a wedding dress.
It’s pretty. It’s lacy. It’s creamy ivory. It’s got a flattering empire waist and just a hint of a train. It’s been worn only once – by me, on the day I married Jon thirty-five years ago.
I know what you’re thinking: Even if my vintage 1977 dress were to fit the bride, odds are it wouldn’t fit her sensibilities.
And you would be right. There’s a biggish taste gap going on here. My wedding dress was detailed and traditional. My daughter-in-law likes sleek and mid-century modern.
There’s also this to consider: How would Peter feel about seeing his bride come down the aisle in his mother’s wedding gown?
Still, I can’t help thinking about that dress.
It’s been hidden away in a fancy storage box high on a dusty shelf for thirty-five years now without anyone to enjoy it.
I last saw my wedding gown when I sent it off to be cleaned a few days after Jon and I returned from our honeymoon. It came back in an airtight “Keepsake Pak” sealed with plastic sheeting and heavy duty tape.
I never looked inside.
Isn’t it time I opened that box and took a look?
And wouldn’t it be a kick if Peter’s fiancée could be there when I did?
Yes, it would.
And so, on the Monday after Thanksgiving – just before Peter and his fiancée departed for San Francisco International and Minnesota, and just before our daughter Christina drove off to Southern California – fiancée, daughter and I gathered around the box and opened it up.
And there it was. My wedding dress, visible through a plastic window, stuffed with tissue paper and looking as fresh and perky as the day my father handed me over to Jon.
The three of us took the dress upstairs to a bedroom and closed the door. Peter’s bride slipped the dress over her head. Christina zipped her into it.
It didn’t fit, of course. But my daughter-in-law-to-be looked beautiful in it. Creamy and traditional and beautiful.
We laughed. We took pictures.
This was fun. Having this new person in the family was going to be fun.
Maybe that’s what the mother of the groom is supposed to do — enjoy her new daughter-in-law.
For more on being a mother-in-law-to-be, go to “I’m Thankful for a Clean Oven, Fresh Ice Cubes . . . and a Daughter-in-law-to-Be.” And for a story about my own mother, see “Write About My Aging Mother? I Don’t Think So.”
Since writing this, I’ve posted lots of stories about the wedding preparations and the wedding itself. To see those, go to “They Did It! They Got Married.”