Wedding Dress Shopping, From a Mom’s Perspective

The skirt of a white wedding dress with floral appliques

Last week my daughter and I went wedding dress shopping (socially distanced – by appointment only, fully masked, and for the most part, we were the only customers in the stores).

Naturally, as I waited between dresses, my mind time-traveled to shopping for my own wedding dress. I lived more than an hour from my mom, so my first time trying on wedding gowns, I was alone. Not willing to make the decision without Mom, I narrowed it down to two and dragged her to both stores to get her opinion.

One was an elegant satin gown; the other a lighthearted, flirty taffeta number. Both were very pretty. While the cost difference was considerable, I was assured that price shouldn’t sway my decision. I’m pretty sure I know which one she preferred, but she left the choice to me. I chose the other one – while I loved them both, they had different vibes and one was more “me.” (Plus I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t physically be able to stand all night under the weight of all that satin!)

As often is the case, I decided to follow Mom’s lead as I parent. I shared my general opinions on each dress my daughter tried on, but made it clear the decision was hers to make. I saw her in about a dozen dresses, and they all looked beautiful on her. (And for those wondering, yes, I did tear up.)

That night I dreamt about wedding dresses, and making choices. It was the sort of dream I have when I’m under pressure, but it made no sense – I had no decision to make. I woke up with two realizations: I am more like my daughter than I realized and I have to listen to her more.

Our children inherit much from us – not only in appearance, but also personality traits, temperament, and ways of looking at things. I see much of myself and my husband in each of our four children (though none is close to being a mini me – or him).

My wedding gown dreams pointed out a trait I have somehow been unable to express, if not been outright oblivious to – a need to complete things in order to feel settled. When things are undone, I feel out of sorts. It’s difficult for me to relax when something is hanging over me; I want to plow through and reach the end result. I won’t say I never procrastinate, but I like to start working on things right away and have a hard time leaving big decisions to the last minute. When I am able to have things done in advance, I can relax and enjoy the details. I have time to focus on the fun.

Wedding planning is a lot, under the best of circumstances. I’ve been impressed with how much my daughter has accomplished so far and how little drama there has been. For the past few months, I have been encouraging her to slow down and worry less, to enjoy the process more. She and her fiancé have made the big picture decisions – the ceremony and reception are set, everything is booked. I now realize that she hasn’t rushed through things, but has methodically evaluated her options and made decisive choices. She has tried to tell me that she needs to have these things set, that leaving things undone is not relaxing.

I finally get it, and feel sort of silly since I really should have understood this right away. I also realize I have been frustrating her by telling her to relax (which is really dumb on my part because I feel the same way when people say that to me).

I’ve often been amazed at how much my children have taught me over the years. I didn’t really consider that they could also teach me things about myself. I guess I still have much to learn.

[photo of wedding gown skirt with lace . Full disclosure: it’s mine – hers is under wraps until the big day.]

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