2018-02-08 / Views

Embracing a new role as ‘mother of bride’

A column by Amy Hubbell

I don’t take much time off. I get plenty of vacation days but it’s tough, particularly during the summer, to get away.

So during the “off season” I take a day or two away, usually for a four-day weekend. Such was the case last weekend when I took off Friday and Monday. Mundane errands—getting my recalled airbags replaced and my dog to the groomers — was how I occupied my “days off.”

But I headed south Saturday morning with my daughter, Emily, with an assignment: to help my niece Alexis (Lexi) select a gown for the her September wedding.

I would have probably been tapped to lend a hand, but my participation was needed even more because my sister wouldn’t be there. I sister, Phil (short for Philomena), spends her winter’s in the desert southwest.

So, it was our own “Say Yes to the Dress” in Grand Rapids. Lexi had an appointment with a consultant. We met her and her soon-to-be mother-in-law from Chicago. Her best friend from childhood, Kelliann, also made a brief up-and-down trip from Traverse City.

While my sister couldn’t be there, she was able to participate via FaceTime. I also emailed pictures to my 90-year-old mother in Traverse City. Oh the modern marvels of our time.

Unlike the TLC reality show, there was very little drama and while no price range was discussed with the group, I’m pretty sure her selection was considerably less than the thousands and thousands spent by the brides visiting dress shops in New York City and Atlanta.

I say this or a couple of reasons. Lexi and my daughters have my mother’s DNA and something tells me Grandma Belanger wouldn’t go for one of her granddaughters spending a fortune on a dress that they will wear just for one day. It’s just not in their genes and directly conflicts with the “practical” bloodline, which I also share.

After the dress appointment, we parted ways with Lexi and her fiancé’s mother and headed to the part-time home of my youngest daughter Grace. I say part-time because Grace spends the week in East Lansing where she is a graduate student in chemistry at Michigan State University. Her fiancé, 2012 Glen Lake graduate and high school sweetheart Geno Peyerk, is a computer engineer and works for a company in Holland and purchased the home they will share in Fruitport.

Grace and Geno were engaged in October. But until last weekend, we hadn’t really heard a wedding date or talked much about it.

Emily and I had picked up some brochures at the bridal shop and these sparked an impromptu brainstorming session about the coming nuptials. I was surprised and pleased at the interest and enthusiasm shown by my future son-in-law.

When Joe and I were married a million years ago — not that long but well over half my life— he left most of the planning to me. However, I’m now embracing my mother-of-the-bride role, casting away my oft-opinionated persona, stepping back to serve only as a resource for information and a sounding board if need be.

When announcing their engagement Grace and Geno made it clear that the wedding wouldn’t be until 2019. That prompted joke from her Grandma Belanger who said, “I made it to your college graduation Grace (in April 2017), I wouldn’t bet on me being at your wedding.”

Now that we’ve begun the planning process, the lengthy engagement makes sense.

My four-day weekend came full circle Monday when I stopped in to see my mother.

Monday marked my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Their’s was a shorter engagement but not too short as she was taking religious instruction to join the Catholic church.

They were married in the rectory at St. Francis Church in Traverse City as she had not yet completed her conversion.

There was no fancy-schmancy gown because at that time, they didn’t have much money. She bought a nice dress suit but I’ve never seen what she was wearing as there wasn’t money in the budget for a photographer.

But they can’t say it didn’t last.

Mom and Dad shared 52 years of fun and laughs before he passed away in August 2000.

It’s my prayer that both of the young couples in my family live by their grandparents’ example and have long and happy lives together.

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