I thought I was done. The children are both paying their own bills now, and I just assumed that once that happened, the parenting part was over. I thought that after offspring finish college, parents get to look forward to dandling grandchildren on their knees, and that’s it. I was not prepared for the next stage of parenting.

The needs of adult children, as it turns out, take a big bite out of the empty nester’s schedule. I didn’t realize that our children would need advice on their retirement plans, whether or not they should buy houses now before the economic downturn ends, or if it is a good idea to get dental coverage. And I forgot all about weddings!

Within the next twelve months, there will be two weddings in our family. As parents of brides, we suddenly realized the enormity of what looms before us. Did you know that there are companies out there who specialize in LIGHTING for weddings? Apparently, these days, weddings include special effects. One of our daughters wants to get married in a barn in front of a horse, and the other will be tying the knot in a winery. It’s complicated.

The disappearance of dowries, which generated sighs of relief for parents all over the world, has not benefited my generation of parents. Back then, all it took to marry a girl off was a respectably put together hope chest. I would love to send both girls out with a few sheep and some chickens. I would even throw in a few pots and pans. Instead, we have to grapple with wedding planners, musicians, decorative hay bales for the barn wedding, and large wheels of cheese at the winery. Decisions about guest lists and bridal parties must be made, and save the date postcards sent out.

At weddings I have attended recently, there have been singing brides, indoor fireworks, multi media presentations, stand up comedians, gluten free wedding cakes, signature cocktails, and multi lingual ceremonies. Not to mention wedding singers, disc jockeys, vegan entrees, and cake balls.

As I recall, my wedding was very simple and inexpensive. We had a few people in a little chapel, I had a very attractive off the rack dress, and my mother planned a very nice luncheon afterwards. The whole thing probably set my parents back a couple of grand. These days, weddings have become extravaganzas. During this next year, I will be talking with florists, caterers, and seating planners. I will be sampling sushi and cake balls. There will be meetings, long distance phone calls, and dancing lessons. It sounds exhausting, expensive, and a little exhilarating.

It takes a village. To plan a wedding.

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