Mom of the Bride: Signs of Surprise

Welcome to Mom of the Bride, a new feature of Bridal Party from a different perspective. This week, Amanda takes a look back at the time leading up to her daughter’s engagement.

Tiffany and her fiancé, Mike.

I was talking to my daughter, Tiffany, after work one evening in early spring when she said, “Can I come over?” Duh, of course you can come over. But it did alarm me because with her busy schedule, I usually have to plan time with her weeks in advance. Or, if I really just need a “fix,” I can drop by her work for a quick hello. But a spur-of-the-moment pop-over is not typical.

When she came over, she told me the various “signs” she had seen that her boyfriend was going to propose. She had overheard a comment from a friend—“Let me know if you need help picking out the ring.” Something had arrived in the mail from a local jeweler. They had a weekend away planned for their upcoming anniversary. She told me all this as if she had been trying to ignore the signs—not because she didn’t want him to propose but because she knew it was supposed to be a surprise. But clearly she wanted to talk about it. She didn’t have doubts, but I could tell she needed to process the whole thing.

So I asked her if she loved him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She nodded. “Your whole life,” I emphasized. Yes. So I asked her, “Well, what would you say if he asked you to marry him today?” This may have been a more direct way of facing “the question” than she had actually considered. She crinkled up her nose, pulled her shoulders up, and said, “I wouldn’t say no.” I think she just didn’t want her mom to be the one she said yes to and so phrased it so as not to give me “the answer.” 

I told her she was still very young and that there was no hurry. She gave me “the look” when I mentioned youth. You know the look—chin lowered, eyes raised, the “who are you to talk?” look. I told her that we weren’t talking about me, and for that matter, having married very young, I was well qualified to speak about the challenge of it. So she said, “Maybe a two-year engagement then?”

I pointed out to her that whatever faults her boyfriend might have, she has to accept them. She has to know she will never change him. She has to look at whatever those faults might be and decide that she loves him enough to put up with his not taking the trash out. I made that up. I have no idea if he takes the trash out. Thinking this over, she decided she could totally live with him just the way he is.

So—she wants to spend the rest of her life with this man, she can’t imagine not being with him, loves him for his faults. I think my work here is done. If she wasn’t sure when she arrived at my house, then I think she’s sure now that her answer to him will be a confident yes when the “surprise” comes.

She quickly moved the conversation from the marriage to the wedding. With distress in her voice, she asked if she would have to wear a dress. Well, yes, I told her, it was traditional for a bride to wear a dress. I went to a basket and dug out some magazines and handed them to her—bridal magazines with pages flagged and comments written in her aunt’s handwriting. As I started pointing to some ideas and styles, she was a little in shock that I had these resources at hand. I told her that my sister had sent them a while ago. In fact, my sister had subscribed to a bridal magazine last fall.

The next time Tiffany and Mike came over, I was sure to have the bridal magazines tucked to the back of the basket, out of sight. It was still a month or more until their weekend away. But I knew Tiffany was now secretly buying magazines and keeping them at work so Mike wouldn’t see them.

Like a marriage, a wedding takes a lot of work to make it just right. I hope for my daughter a wonderful day and an even better life.


Amanda, a local mother of the bride, writes occasionally about helping to plan her daughter's wedding, which will be in the spring.

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