Text by Melissa Shook and Demi Austin-Thomas
Photographs by Laveta Rochelle Photography
For over a decade, I have witnessed countless weddings, watching the personal and sometimes dramatic relationships between mother of the bride and daughter (bride) and mother of the groom and son (groom). In many situations is more so a lack of communication or lack of understanding. We sat down with Podcast Host, Coaching Partner, TV Personality, and Mom Motivator Demi Austin-Thomas, for an up-close and personal view as a recent Mother of the Bride herself.
This is not my wedding, even though we were footing the bill. I had to keep reminding myself that although my husband and I were footing the biggest part of the bill, this was not my wedding. Initially, when my daughter became engaged, I was beyond thrilled. It was the day that both my daughter and I dreamed of! Within a couple of weeks of planning, I woke up on a Sunday morning with a nudge and a small voice telling me not to move forward with planning my daughter’s wedding. My daughter has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a young girl. I decided not to move forward because I didn’t want my daughter to feel the extreme pressure of bending to accommodate “my feelings and ideas.” I didn’t want to be selfish, and I didn’t want my daughter to resent not truly having the wedding of her dreams. So, I encouraged her to hire an experienced and trustworthy wedding planner, and she chose Stephanie Evans with WED. I think it’s so easy for Mothers to get so excited but become sidetracked by our desires and start vicariously living out our dreams through our sweet girls. I didn’t want my daughter to have that experience, and I certainly didn’t want her to resent me later.
I forgot about the groom; it might be a good idea to include him. I believe in the power of prayer and family. It was essential to making sure that my daughters’ fiancé felt included in our family gatherings throughout their dating and engagement process. Blending families can be difficult and uncomfortable. I can say that when you are leading from a place of vulnerability, empathy while extending grace, the process of becoming a family gets easier and becomes much more enjoyable. I think it can be difficult when setting high expectations, especially for the groom. You have to be willing to take perfection off the table and allow both the bride and groom to grow and build their own idea of marriage.
As a parent to the bride, I am no longer parenting her because she is an adult. Our role as her parents is to be advisors, supporters, and cheerleaders. Coaching and guiding, when needed, and advising from the sideline when invited to give my opinion. I’ll be honest, it’s been a process, as I believe as a mother, it is a constant reminder “to let them go.”
How did you decide on a budget? My husband and I had a meeting with our daughter and her fiancé to discuss all of the details and to talk about the role of financial responsibility that we would play. We decided to take on the more extensive financial obligations so that they would not have to deplete their savings account. It was important for us to do this because 20 years ago when my husband and I were getting married, our parents could not financially contribute. Hence our opportunity to pay it forward. Weddings are expensive, and after you’ve had that incredible celebration, you’re hit with the reality of having to start from ground zero, and we didn’t want them to experience that. On the first day of my daughter’s engagement, I purchased and presented her with a wedding planning journal and guide to write down all of her ideas and thoughts.
As a mom, what has been your favorite part of wedding planning? My favorite part of my daughter’s wedding planning experience is seeing it all come together and as a family unit, knowing that we worked together to manifest her special day.
Voice of Opinions. Planning a wedding is stressful and intense. Everybody has their own opinions and thoughts. For me, I had to remind myself to use a lot of emotional intelligence, even when I disagreed and even when I wanted to insert my opinion. I think disagreements are a part of the journey, but it’s about how you tackle and work through them! There were moments when we both had to have what I call “honest heart conversations” to share our hard truths about disagreements. I think there were also moments that I realized that my daughter is an adult, and as a parent, I have to respect what she wants. I encourage parents to set boundaries to maintain a healthy relationship with their adult children.
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