Mother of the bride Gerri Mack designed her daughter Beth's wedding gown.
I don’t know what the statistics are, but I am pretty sure I’m in the minority when I tell you I had the honor of being a mother of the bride twice in one year.
Odds get even lower when you count me among the mothers who design their daughter’s wedding dress or host the event on the lawn. With each idea, I moved further away from comparisons to Martha Stewart and closer to those questioning my sanity.
Insane? Perhaps. But we (my daughters, Rachel and Beth, and me) moved so effortlessly into what some would consider “biting off more than we could chew” that when it was all over, I felt like I had to make up war stories because I had none to share. Granted there were some minor speed bumps, but just like the relationships with the men Beth and Rachel chose to spend the rest of their lives with, it evolved naturally.
It started innocently enough shopping for Beth’s wedding dress. Her wedding was planned for September in Vail, Colorado, and the mountaintop affair didn’t call for a cupcake of a dress. She shopped, we shopped, to no avail. I make my living designing clothes, but it wasn’t until we exhausted all resources that she called me with a request: Would I design, and oversee, the making of her dress?
I was flattered of course, and apprehensive for about a minute. Who better to design a gown then someone who has held her close for 27 years? I dove headfirst into sketching, sourcing fabrics and working with my patternmaker to create the plunging, form fitting simple sheath that Beth wanted. When it was all done, we made two trips to Denver, had three fittings and made seven mock dresses. But when she walked down that aisle looking radiant, I felt like I was holding her every step of the way.
Fast forward to Rachel’s wedding the following May. It didn’t take long for her to find a lovely gown off the rack, but her plan for a simple affair led her straight to our front door. Not that I didn’t have a hand in this decision. More than once in the 10 years that we’ve lived in our home, I would walk out on the lawn, look at the lake and swans and wonder out loud if one of my daughters would “find it in their heart” to have a wedding there. A mother’s guilt is a powerful tool, and Rachel took the bait.
Hosting a wedding at home sounds like a charming, Andy Griffith kind of experience, until the mechanics of it all sink in. Dishes? Tents? Dance Floor? Lighting? Parking? The extras you take for granted at a venue weren’t there. And I couldn’t count on the swans to do anything but look pretty.
But not unlike my experience with Beth, Rachel and I dove headfirst into the challenge. We scoured antique stores for dishes, enlisted the help of neighbors, family and friends and hoped for a sunny day. In short, we moved naturally through it all and in the end hosted a fun, memorable event that was unlike anyone else’s day.
I cried uncontrollably the first time I saw Beth, hair and makeup done, in her dress. I had to switch the music from Shawn Colvin to The Foo Fighters to get a grip. For Rachel I gained some composure, but it was still an out-of-body experience that screamed I was witnessing a major life event.
When I met my husband more than 30 years ago, we tumbled into marriage after a relatively brief courtship. But even back then, it felt like the most natural thing to do. I have one more daughter orbiting, Rachel’s twin sister, and I’m not sure how I will be involved in her big day when that comes. But I can guarantee that whatever I do in my final role as Mother of the Bride, it will play out quite naturally.
417-lander Gerri Mack (second from left) helped plan two of her daughters' weddings in the same year, and she even designed the wedding dress for her daughter Beth (second from right).
Gerri’s daughter Rachel got married in the front yard of the Macks' Springfield home. After three fittings and seven mock dresses, Mack created the perfect form-fitting dress for Beth’s wedding in Vail, Colorado. Gerri and her husband, John, enjoyed hosting Rachel’s wedding on their front lawn in Springfield.