Marrying off the 'baby' of the family

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Several years back we had two weddings in our family.

Our oldest daughter married in June that year, our middle daughter in October. (Our middle daughter had said all she wanted was a new car. Her father helped her get one. Next thing we knew, she wanted a husband as well. You cannot trust daughters.)

After that busy year, I figured when the time came for our youngest daughter to get married, the wedding would be a snap. Not.

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It seems having two weddings in one year is a walk in the park compared to marrying off the baby of the family. It wasn't just that the price of weddings had skyrocketed. Marrying off the baby was significantly different from marrying off a regular daughter.

This was the wedding of the child in whose presence the word "No" has never been uttered. She's had the best her family could afford. No, she's had better.

And, as is the case with many last-borns, our youngest offspring had perfected the art of sweet-talking. By the time she was ready for her trousseau, we were tired. Worn down.

Besides, she had two older sisters standing in the wings to pick up anything the parents voted down. This girl always had her heart's desire. Her every whim.

She was, after all, cute. Eyes of blue. Hair of gold. And, the baby.

Just try reining her in when shopping for the wedding gown - the dress in which she would present herself to her young groom.

It was dress No. 3,000 to be marched into the dressing room at the eighth bridal boutique.

The heap in the chair was the mother-of-the-bride, propped up by the matron-of-honor who had already turned stony-eyed.

But the dress! Ah, the dress. It had billions of tiny seed pearls and sequins and a train that went to Chicago and back. What a find. Our girl whirled and twirled. She preened in front of those mirrors. Why, the dress was a buy at any price!

Now, finding just the right veil to go with this ensemble wouldn't be easy. It had to be frothy, but not too frothy. There could be no stinting. Even though it was but a simple bit of tulle, it would rest atop the bride's head like a halo.

Veil shopping went on for many weeks. Finally, the ultimate veil craftsman was located, thankfully within the state, and she was fitted with The Veil.

Next came the wedding cake. At the shop we were ushered into an elegant room where the table was set with lace and flowers and where wedding cakes clearly reigned. Cakes with flowers. Cakes with cherubs. We sampled. There were cakes with raspberries, lemons, almonds, fudge. There were any number of variations, all lip-smacking good.

"How can you count cost?" the father-of-the-bride whispered, "when it comes to the wedding cake? I'll take another piece of almond, thank you." The baby said it had to be many tiered. With fountains and ribboned pillars. It would taste delectable. And look spectacular. Atop this exquisite confection would perch a bouquet of fresh roses. And, so, our baby's cake would be the centerpiece of the celebration.

And then there was the photographer who would record this glorious event. The bride and groom would pose in the church and in the garden. In the reception hall and in front of a backdrop. With all the attendants. The parents. Grandparents. Alone. Together. With friends. With the flowers. Without the flowers.

And, speaking of flowers, did I say plenty? Make that plenty, plenty. Roses, gardenias, lilies. And baby's breath. Loads of baby's breath. Flowing from the pews would be yards of white frothy netting caught in huge bows. Did I mention centerpieces? Candles?

And as for the reception - say goodbye to the V.F.W. hall, the Moose Lodge, the Eagles club. It was on to the local jockey club.

The friends and relatives of our baby must dine in comfort.

They came from Boston. St. Clair Shores. Baltimore and Raleigh. There was the clan from Cleveland who cleaned up everything from the chicken to the quiche to the tortellini.

The bride was accused of being sensible only once throughout this joyous occasion - in her choice of a groom.

We've known him almost as long as we've known her. And we expect he will do what we've done for 23 years - love, honor, and "obey" her.

Parents: To submit a first-person essay on your own parenting solutions, send an e-mail to home@csps.com, or write to

Parenting, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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