In the post I wrote before this one, "Ten things to tell an engaged daughter" my first piece of advice was "Be who you are." Someday I may write a piece called, "Ten things to tell a mother-of-the-bride." The first piece of advice will be "Look like who you are if at all possible."
Here is a little story of how to do that:
1. Find out your daughter is getting married. Learn that she is going the traditional route, in a mammoth cathedral. Realize that because a) you got married twice, and, b) one of those times was in a restaurant, you will learn a lot about traditional wedding preparation .
2. Learn that part of traditional wedding preparation includes having hair and make-up artists come to the hotel to help everyone "get ready" for The Photos. Be unnerved when hair and make-up experts tell you that if your make-up is not artfully applied, you will look like you are missing some of your facial features in the The Photos.
3. Doubt that you are supposed to be one of those "everyones " being prepared for The Photos.
4. Find out you are supposed to be one of those "everyones" being prepared for The Photos.
5. Don't give this much thought because in no other way have you been expected to behave like one of the twenty-something attendants, why would you be expected to let some twenty-something make-up artist mess with what you have been doing for, well, decades? Dismiss the idea, Photos or no Photos. Be who you are.
6. Close to the wedding when you are asked by your hair stylist how you'll do your hair and make-up for The Photos, don't say, "like I always do" because if that were a given, you wouldn't have been asked this by your stylist, who has had much influence over how you "always do" your hair. Feel a little defensive about being who you are.
7. When you are booked by your daughter for a hair and make-up trial with her, don't say you don't need one because if that were a given, you wouldn't have been booked - by your daughter. Wish to assert who you are, but choose not to for now.
8. Very close to the wedding, sulk in your next appointment with your stylist because you don't know how to do your hair or make-up other than the way you always have and now you're feeling pressured and you know a stranger will make you look like a stage actor. When she says, "Oh. Trust me. You want the professional make-up. And the hair. You're having The Photos professionally done right?" feel compelled to discuss who you are, but pledge to stop making this into a stupid issue because that's not who you are.
9. Go out for dinner with your friend Sandy who is smart, and classy and elegant and complain about not looking like who you are when your daughter gets married, and when she says, "You don't want special hair? Don't get special hair. You don't want make up? Don't get the make-up. Why are you making this hard?" or words to that effect. Feel grateful for Sandy's friendship which you have because of who you are.
10. Forget about this issue completely until two days before the wedding. Then, when you arrive in Cleveland and you and your daughter have a huge, weepy, joyful hug at the sight of each other, realize that you will do anything to make her happy including this trial thing. Under the circumstances, feel okay about not looking like who you are for a couple of hours.
11. Arrive at the trials. While the bride is having her practice wedding hair arranged, sit on the other side of the room and map things out with the make-up artist. When she asks you careful questions about your likes and dislikes, give vague answers ("Sure, a little more eyebrow pencil, what the heck." And, "Okay, let's go with the melon eye shadow." And, "Okay, yeah, I'll have some of that eye-liner.")
Then, when you are handed the mirror to have your first look at yourself, suppress your urge to shout out, "I look like Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest!" Instead, tell the make-up artist what a great job she did and then switch places with your daughter so you can have your hair teased and styled and sprayed like a housewife in Madmen to complete the entire look. Be very glad that who you are, is not the person in that mirror.
12. The next day, like you wanted to all along, do your own hair and make-up, look in the mirror with approval, get dressed for the wedding and allow your husband to tell you how fantastic you look.
13. Now, with your stupid issue out of the way, take care of business. Go down the hall to where the twenty-somethings are having such a noisy, boisterous blast "getting ready", they will probably draw complaints from other hotel guests. Stay for a while and watch the fun.
Tell everyone how amazing they look because they do.
14. Let it take your breath away that at the center of this joy is your daughter, who has been asked to stop laughing long enough to have her eyeliner applied.
And, finally, realize that - looks schmooks - who you are is the grateful mother of this beautiful bride, who is experiencing more Photo-perfect joy right now than either of you could imagine back when you were consumed with details, like hair and make-up.
And that is what will show in The Photos.