Wife With A Life: How My Mom Planned My Entire Wedding and Nobody Got Hurt

I worship my mother. She’s smart, funny, annoyingly good at most things she does, determined, stylish, everything. And I’m still kind of scared of her. We’re talking about a woman who booked the date of my wedding before I even knew I was going to get married. That’s right—between the time that my soon-to-be-fiance Steve asked for my parents’ blessing and the time that he actually popped the question, Mom made a few phone calls. She already knew she wanted the wedding to take place in the fall. Many years earlier, she had told me this, and I had casually mentioned it to Steve in one of my casual reminders during the home stretch of our five-year courtship that I was ready to move forward. When he spoke to my parents, Mom asked what time of year he was thinking for a wedding.

“Fall?” Steve said.

“What a great idea!” she said. Of course it was a great idea—it was her idea. The day after Steve proposed, we stopped by my parents’ house to celebrate. “How does October 11 sound?” Mom asked before we’d even finished our champagne.

“Uh, I’ll have to check my calendar but I guess that sounds fine?” I said.

“Good,” she said, “Because I already booked the Catholic center on Northwestern Campus and the Evanston Golf Club. Tentatively.”

I admit, for a second, my dreams of having a reception at a chic downtown Chicago locale were dashed. Then I realized that this wedding was going to rock no matter what because I was in good hands. I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

From that point on, that was it — I was totally spoiled. Surrendering (some) wedding control meant I never had to worry about the headaches of vendors, scouting out the best deal, reading over contracts. Not that I was indulged, however. In between giving me her thoughts on dried wreath centerpieces and a piano playing “Clair de Lune” during cocktail hour, Mom gave me her input on how not to be a bridezilla. She forbade me from dictating anything other than my bridesmaids’ dresses. She suggested the girls would just want to wear black dresses of their own choosing, but nobody, even the bridesmaids, seemed too excited about that idea.

Along the way, we did bicker from time to time. Mom was convinced, perhaps correctly, that her big house on a quiet street was a safer place for packages to be delivered, whereas gifts could be stolen more easily from in front of my city house. But I kind of wanted the presents to be delivered to me. Some passive-aggressive mumblings led to me exploding: “Fine! You want me to change the delivery address? I will. Why didn’t you just say so?”

“Because I didn’t want to be too controlling,” Mom said. I bit my tongue. (At a later date, I made sure to make fun of her for this statement.)

I made a point of telling everyone I knew my wedding would be great in her hands, to assure people that I wasn’t just some weakling giving in to a “mean” mom, and to give her some credit, too. Mom has “strong opinions,” as the guy who sold us my gown put it, but she has excellent taste, and, moreover, the whole thing meant a lot to her. She just didn’t like to be teased about her controlling ways.

The morning of the wedding, we took a stroll around the Northwestern University lakefill. I told her one of the groomsmen had mentioned how wonderful it was to attend a fall wedding, and I told him to compliment my mom, not me, on the choosing of the date.

“You don’t have to tell everyone about that,” she said.

“But it’s a funny story,” I said.

I had to convince her that I was telling the story with love. If I’d really felt like I was being steamrolled, I wouldn’t be bragging about it to everyone. Mom grudgingly accepted that I was serious when I told her how much I appreciated and loved her for taking the reins on the wedding. We finished up our walk, took showers, and went to the beauty parlor. I was starving by that point, but Mom had thought to have box lunches delivered.

See what I mean?