The cure for shopaholics may be planning a wedding because even the most passionate consumer gets weary of the number of purchases and decisions required to make up the coronation level event celebrated in today’s culture. 

The U.S. market for weddings brought in more than $70 billion in 2022 and this year, I did my part. Being the mother of bride is a lot like being a train conductor on a choose-your-own-adventure roller coaster that you bring to a sudden stop in high heels. Hopefully with style.

One of my favorite things about the wedding my daughter and I spent a year planning was preparing a family table with pictures not only of her and her now husband but a display for their future family wall, framed wedding photos of parents and grandparents, all smiling in that kind of deliriously happy way that you grin on your wedding day. For me, it’s been more than 30 years — or was it yesterday. 

But the wisdom on that table with hundreds of years of collective life experience – married experience – will be a resource for them of incalculable value, because there is a big difference between a marriage and a wedding. Memories – good and bad – are important, and a wedding is just one of them. But marriage is a foundational friendship that builds a world and benefits the people in it. 


So with the confetti barely swept and the thank you notes yet to go out, here are four things I’ve learned about surviving and thriving in both marriage and a wedding:

Enjoy the gift of your guests. What makes a wedding special is the people who come to celebrate, your own community forged in blood, in friendship, in good times and bad. The bride and groom are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who will see them through the ups and downs. Not everyone will be able to make it, and that’s OK. But having a sense of the people who are on your side is something we all need as the years go by. The people in your life are part of the magic and mean more than the flowers.

Trust your judgment. Making decisions is about accepting that with imperfect knowledge you’ll make the best pick you can and live with it. There is a virtual media assault of “the perfect,” especially with weddings, and frankly Instagram and social media don’t help. But whatever you’re deciding – flowers, chairs, invitations, dresses, hair, place settings, easels, signs, lights, music (do I go on?) — there comes a time to rest in a job well done. And a wedding is a good time to be reminded that perfect is the enemy of the good. There is no perfect house, no perfect school, no perfect life, but there is joy in each and every thing if you can stop yourself from second guessing your perfectly good decision.

Ignore the naysayers. Nothing draws out the Eeyores of the world – that sad donkey friend of Winnie the Pooh – like a major life event with stories about a disaster that they share like a pending cloud for your silver lining. Get used to it and don’t listen because it won’t stop with your wedding. Is there a secret contingent of Botox marketers determined to plan worry lines on everyone’s faces? Unsolicited negative predictions are as welcome as a telemarketer’s pitch. Don’t buy in. 


Invest time in your partner. It’s not the photos, it’s the enduring friendship that matters, and that’s as true for the mother of the bride as for anyone else. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of these cataclysmic changes and neglect the reason for it. Underneath it all, there is a relationship, a partnership, and friendship that really matters.

I recently picked up the wedding dress from the cleaners. Not all the stains came out, but the party was amazing. A life well lived leaves marks – smile lines, stretch marks, scars – and that’s OK.

I’m still sifting through post-wedding projects, including things like reorganizing my entire freezer to accommodate the exceptionally tall cake topper that tradition demands they eat a year later. It was too high for the container I bought, leading to an urgent online purchase. (After a year of wedding shopping, I am beloved across the internet.) 

But as I lowered it into the container with the special little plastic handles provided, one of them broke, dinging the cake against the side. I patched it up. Encased it all with plastic wrap and good wishes and stored it away.

When they see it a year from now, I think it will be something to laugh about. After one year of marriage, they will know as well as the rest of us that they don’t need the perfect cake. At least I hope that’s how they see it. It really is too late to fix that cake.