Monday, July 16 , 2018, 10:15 am | Fair 69º


Karen Telleen-Lawton: Words of Wisdom from a Mother of the Bride

Enthusiasm and flexibility go a long way toward ensuring a smooth and happy beginning

Emily was 3½ when she said the cleverest thing. I was reading the evening newspaper, and she sidled up to watch.

Karen Telleen-Lawton
Karen Telleen-Lawton

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m reading the paper.”

“Why?” (You remember that stage.)

“So I can find out what happened today.”

“I know what happened,” my toddler asserted.

“Oh, you do? What happened?” I challenged, amused.

“Some people were good, some people were bad, and some babies were born.”

Over the years, I’ve often marveled at her prescient analysis of life. Emily and her brother grew, played, studied, graduated from college and transitioned to leading productive lives. Aside from some teenage angst, they pretty much fulfilled the “some people are good” category.

In due time, she became engaged to her delightful boyfriend of two years. I dashed out to buy a wedding planner and a survival guide for Mother of the Bride. The guidebook cautioned about brides’ hypersensitivities. On seeing her engagement ring for the first time, for example, the guide warned, “Ooh and aah and make the biggest fuss you can muster, or else you will later hear how your reaction was not what the happy couple had hoped it would be.”

A week after their engagement, I eagerly accompanied her to look at wedding gowns. On the way, Emily and I stopped by a jewelry store to see a ring similar to the one a friend was designing for her. It was lovely, and I told her so — effusively.

We met up with my mom and sister at the bridal store, where Emily drew the ring. Now, drawing isn’t Emily’s strong suit, so the stick figure she showed them was basically a circle with line segments protruding from the left and right. A few other squiggles represented some side designs. Grandma and Auntie nodded, smiled and ooh-ed. They may not have aah-ed.

After a long and exhilarating day of shopping, mom and my sister departed while Emily and I headed back to her house. In the car, Emily enthused about the gowns and wedding plans for a while before confiding, “Mom, I don’t think Grandma and Aunt Cindy liked my ring!”

Despite a few early trip-ups along the learning curve, the bridal season proceeded with grace and enthusiasm. My top four tips for mothers-of-the-bride:

» 1. If you’re helping with wedding costs, give the couple a check at the beginning and let them make decisions. This moves you from being the budget master to the adviser — a nicer role.

» 2. Be flexible if any “rule” doesn’t work for you. At this point, success is building the best adult relationship you can with your daughter and her spouse.

» 3. Remember, your child is simultaneously establishing her relationship with her future in-laws. Help make this a smooth beginning.

» 4. The wedding is just a day. God willing, and with grace and humility, the wedding day will lead to a marriage that is fulfilling for the next half-century or more. Keep that prize in mind.

Marriage is not for everybody. Some work to expand society’s inclusiveness of marriage, and others choose not to marry when others think they should. For those who value it and make it a top priority, it can be a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.

Twenty-five years after her clever life analysis, Emily has just added one more category to her insight: Some people get married.

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations supporting sustainability. Graze her writing and excerpts from Canyon Voices: The Nature of Rattlesnake Canyon at

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >