A dress and a promise

Yesterday I found myself sitting on a velvet-covered chair listening to quiet rustlings coming from dressing rooms on either side of a u-shaped bank of mirrors. The bridesmaids-to-be (Amanda’s 18-year-old sister and Ben’s 18-year-old sister) shared a dressing room and zipped each other up and came out first.

As they emerged, they tugged here and there at their dresses, managing somehow to look lovely in spite of various misfitting bits. We looked and admired and pulled extra fabric back, and discussed styles and colors and fit, and pros and cons of various choices.

All the while my ears were tuned in to the rustling of my other daughter in the other dressing room. She said she didn’t need help, but it seemed like a long time before she emerged, and I kept wondering if I should be in there helping.

Finally she came out from behind the heavy dressing room curtain wearing a dress that looked like she was in her own personal fairy tale. She quirked me a self-conscious grin and then her eyes went to seek out her own reflection in the big mirror.

I don’t know what I was expecting. A lovely dress on my pretty girl, I suppose. After all, I’ve seen hundreds of brides on the internet, and scores more on pages in bridal magazines, and dozens in real life, many dearly loved. And this wasn’t even the ceremony. This was just a shopping trip.

But seeing my girl in a white dress– the kind of dress so rich in significance and promise — felt entirely, throat-grabbingly different. I was choked up before the train of that dress got out of the dressing room.

Lovely? Yes. But it was more than loveliness. It was the sight of her teetering there on the edge of adulthood, so resolutely and happily planning on making a future with the one who’s stolen her heart.

I swallowed hard, and breathed deep and admired that dress. And the next one. And the next. But emotion kept catching up with me. The veil was the worst, for some reason. I blinked and swallowed and made silly jokes to talk myself out of a cry right there amid loose sequins and 6-month-old bridal magazines.

At the end of that session, my daughter walked out of that dress shop glowing, carrying the perfect dress zipped safely into a puffy white dress bag. And I rejoiced right alongside her.

I’m halfway hoping that I’m getting all my crying out ahead of time and that my typical tear-resistant nature might return before the wedding. But I suspect I’m going to need a lot of Kleenex to get through my precious girl’s big day.

When it comes down to waving Amanda and Ben off, I’ll be the one with the weepy eyes and the fistful of damp tissue. A typical mother of the bride, I guess. But for the record– along with the tears, there will also be a great joy in my heart for her.  Because she’s heading off happily, ready to write the story of her own life, with her own personal Prince by her side.

And life doesn’t get any better than that.


  1. I get all choked up just reading about your daughter. If I get so emotional about a family I’ve never met I can only imagine how I’ll be when it comes to my own children’s weddings – both sons and daughters.

    All I know is that I’ll be happy to have done half a good a job in raising them as you have, Mary.


  2. Having just got married last year, I have been exactly there, except I was the one getting chocked up at 37 yrs old because my mother was in Dubai and couldn’t be with me when I finally got to try on my first ever wedding dress. My best friend was with me and she cried too, it is an emotional time in a lady’s life, and I would be worried if there was no tears or emotion. You cry all you want and enjoy it beacuse it goes by so quick and then the day will be here and that will go by quick too. I remember my wedding day, should do it was only 4 months ago, but it has gone by so quick! Glad she was able to find a dress on that day.

  3. What? No pictures?

  4. Milestones

    Tiny baby dressed in pink, cocooned up in a shawl.
    As home from hospital we go, our family life to start.

    Little girl dressed in grey, today your starting school.
    While you feel very grown up, you are my baby still.

    Young woman now dressed in black, your off to get a job.
    I tell you that your outfits wrong, to wear to an interview.

    A beautiful bride all dressed in white, upon your fathers arm.
    I wipe away a tear, and think, where have the years all gone?

  5. Oh, Mary, we are ALL going to need a lot of Kleenex if you keep writing these touching posts (but please, do!)! I guess, too, that this is a little peek at what those of us with littler girls can look forward to. So pleased that we can all share these experiences with you – thank you!

  6. Yep, this left me teary-eyed too!

  7. I needed Kleenex for this one. And I don’t even have daughters! I suspect I’ll be sobbing at my sons’ weddings. Goodness, the thought of Kindergarten for our youngest this Fall sends me into teariness!

    PS You’ve been tagged at my blog! http://ramblinamblins.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/tagged-7-bits-of-random-info-about-amblin/

  8. Oh wow. My oldest daughter is only 10 and you made me tear up reading this. Looks like I’ll need to really prepare myself before making a similar trip one day (four times!).

  9. A word of warning, when my daughter got married, I wasn’t the only one in tears, so was her father in law.

  10. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!
    Ok, now! I’ve told you that I can’t handle reading this and thinking about my dd doing this exact thing. I does me completely in. So… you must have some kind of warning at the top of the blog: This is about my dd getting married. Or something. I simply can NOT bawl every time I read your blog.


    Very, very sweet stuff.

  11. How very beautiful. I have 2 daughters and I can’t even imagine the amount of emotion that will be welled up in me when that day arrives for them.

  12. Beautiful story! I know you are so proud and happy for her. I remember my mother and grandmother crying when I put on “the dress”. But more than anything that day I remember my future mother in law crying happy tears too. She said she loved me and couldn’t wait for her son to see the vision she was seeing at that moment. 11 years laters, I love that woman more than she can possibly know! I pray happy days are before you on this new journey.

  13. Exactly this time last year I was the mom in the bridal shop with my bride-to-be daughter and her 3 bridesmaids sisters. When my daughter stepped out of the fitting room in the dress we would eventually buy, the 4 of us inhaled deeply with emotion and realized she had found the perfect dress. And yes, it’s the veil that makes it so real! I’m looking forward to reliving the wedding journey with you.

  14. Hillary, I could show you a picture, but then I’d have to kill you.


    Kidding of course.

    But I have not been given permission to blog the dress, as the groom visits this blog from time to time, and my girl wants to surprise him.

    I’m sure y’all understand. But there WILL be wedding pictures on the blog, you can be sure of that!

  15. But what better reason for tears? They can be both bittersweet and joyful. And really, what a gift of God that is, that we humans can feel so deeply.

    As Paul Simon sang, “sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears…”

  16. Mary,
    What a sweet post…. It brought tears to my eyes too. Made me realize in not too many years I will be doing the same thing with my 2 daughters. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks for sharing this lovely moment.

  18. This was a beautiful post. This is just a thought, but it’d be so neat for your daughter to have this written and other thoughts written in a journal; have your husband write in it also. This way, things that weren’t shared before the big day are known. She’ll always know how happy and excited you were for her to be going through this wonderful, exciting time in her life. Look forward to other wedding posts…

  19. Brings a tear to my eye, and it’s not even my daughter!

  20. That was beautiful.

  21. *sniff* I can’t even imagine, what a shift in the mother-daughter relationship. How exciting for you!

  22. Beautiful. OH but you are making me cry too. I will be just the same. It’s a beautiful heart wrenching glorious thing. All of it. God bless you all and what a great mom you are!

  23. Mary, I can’t imagine how your heart must have swelled! Beautiful!


  24. Oh man, send the kleenex my way!

    So glad she found the perfect dress!

  25. My girlies got a dress up box for Christmas this year. For some reason I thought it a great idea to put a wedding gown and veil in there for them. My older daughter put it on Christmas night and it was all I could do to not start weeping then! Over a cheap little gown and 10 minute veil! I cried when my furutre sister in law was trying on dresses las year. I will be a sloppy disaster come wedding dress shopping day, let alone the weddings. I’m weepy reading your post. You mention a “tear-resistant nature”…that would be helpful to me!

    Sounds like a wonderful day you ladies all had! Thanks for sharing so eloquently.

  26. A mother’s heart is a deep ocean. I don’t think you’re going to run out of tears, Mary. May they all be the happy type.

  27. plans seem to be well in place. when, prey tell, is the wedding planned?

  28. Well, my goodness–to be able to try on a dress and walk out with it right then.
    My sister had to special order and have alterations, adding weeks to the final sigh of relief.

    A really touching moment= all the gals together.

  29. “…She quirked me a self-conscious grin…” What a perfect description; I can so see that happening and i don’t even know your daughter. What a wonderful description of the whole experience. I remember the first wedding gown I tried on; not so emotional, and then they put a veil on me and I nearly lost it right there in the store.

    How lucky your daughter is to have you preserving these moments for her on your blog…

  30. I keep thinking that it must be such a relief for you to finally get to blog this stuff. 🙂

    And, water proof mascara.:)

    I can imagine how beautiful she looked, just from the photos.

  31. oh, the veil always does it, huh?

  32. Ok, now I AM crying…I can’t even imagine that day to come! My oldest is only SIX!! yet, I know it will come before I can blink.

    Also, I wanted you to know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog (so do many of my friends!) you have SUCH wisdom and knowledge, but you NEVER EVER come off as a no it all. I know too many people who are wonderful examples of Christ is so many ways…and then its dampened by there superior, no it all attitude. I appreciate you!

  33. I got to see the pictures… hee hee hee

    written by the mother of the groom unable to attend due to being in Taiwan

  34. You are a FANTASTIC writer my dear. My eyes are overflowing and my daughter is just 4 years old. But I became you in your writing and my heart wrenched and then exploded with love…this feels like it is happening to me! You have a gift—both as a writer and a phenomenal mother, what a blessing you are to your family of children!

  35. Praying her beautiful day is as beautiful as ours was. She was our cute little baby just a little bit ago wasn’t she? Sniff. Love you!

  36. Amanda showed me her dress and she looked absolutely stunning! Love you too Amanda!

  37. K, now I’m going to cry after reading John’s comment on top of yours. This is really going to be an awesome time.

  38. Lovely, Mary.

  39. You are so right! It doesn’t get any better, especially when God brought these 2 together and her fiance’ is a man of God. That is such a huge blessing, as I am sure you know. But it also doesn’t get easier! Be sure to have tissue with you – I’ve cried at all 3 of our girls’ weddings but not quite as much on the day of as I did in the days preceding the weddings. And now our son is getting married in March and I think the tears will flow for that too. He is 32 and they both adore each other – and God is with them too! Weddings – so much joy and so many tears!! I look forward to hearing about all the plans!

  40. *sigh* I missed this. I’m on the other side of the world and will return a few weeks before my daughter’s wedding. Her sister & mother in law to be are taking up the slack. But, she wouldn’t let MIL go dress shopping. Just her & sister, and tiny cell phone pictures sent to me after the fact.

    I cried anyway.