Being Mother of the Bride on Mother’s Day is the ultimate Jewish mother treat

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Being Mother of the Bride on Mother’s Day is the ultimate Jewish mother treat

My daughter is heading up the aisle on Sunday 10 March

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

Mother’s Day is going to be rather different for me this year. No breakfast in bed, no lunch out with the kids, no bunch of flowers… instead I am buying a ballroom full of them. For this is the day that my daughter gets married.

It was in December 2022 that my daughter’s boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage. Old-school style, he first asked the father. Jewish style, the father told the mother. And then we waited. And waited. For it took four months for everything to fall into place for him to pop the question. ‘Everything’ involved having a ring made in Israel, some clandestine tactics to guesstimate her ring size, and relying on someone flying over who could bring it.

He asked, she said yes, and then the fun began.

To complicate (but massively enhance) matters, our son had got engaged just three months earlier, and had booked his wedding for June 2024. Daughter and fiancé didn’t want to wait that long and mooted March 2024. Was there a broiges? No. Did I lay awake at night worrying there would be a broiges? Of course.

This wedding has been a team effort. We’ve ALL been involved. And that’s been one of the best things about it. Venue visits, meetings, phone calls, WhatsApps – we’ve spent so much time together with the bride and groom either in person or online and it’s bonded us all beautifully.

There are many, many things to think about but very quickly certain options were narrowed down by default. If you want to have the chuppah at the venue (which the kids did) and you don’t want the chuppah in the dinner/dance room (necessitating a very long reception while the room is flipped), there are only a few venues that have a separate, large enough chuppah room. If you want to get married under the auspices of the United Synagogue you cannot have the chuppah at the venue unless you have licensed kosher catering. If you have licensed kosher catering it looks very expensive at first but once you consider that all drinks are included it’s not as much of a jump from non-kosher as you might think.

My son Daniel (back left) and my daughter Georgia (front right) are getting married this year, to Megan and Tom

Right at the start my daughter announced that she’d found her dream dress… in Manchester. “I’m sure it’s lovely darling but we live in London with more wedding dress shops per square mile than Indian takeaways so I’m sure we can find one here,” I said.  Obviously we ended up in Manchester. This meant lots of divine day trips – non-stop chatting on the journey there and back, coffees and lunches. I’ve loved it.

We’ve done a mother-daughter spa day to de-stress and to have a sneaky body scrub all ready for the de rigeur spray tan. I had a Mother of the Bride lunch with all my girlfriends where they showered me with love, words of wisdom and ‘survival kits’ (tissues for my happy tears, sleep spray, handbag mints and my very own Mother of the Bride mug and tote bag).

We went shopping for a new dinner suit and bow tie for my husband only to realise that none of them are as nice as his existing set, but we did buy him a fabulously shiny pair of shoes. I, on the other hand, didn’t buy new shoes. I’ve opted for a comfortable pair that I already own.

Collecting the wedding dress

I do have a new frock though. I had great fun trying on all the evening dresses I’d lusted after. There was the Jenny Packham ‘cape dress’ that Kate Middleton wore for the Star Wars premiere that was so heavy I couldn’t wait to take it off. Then there was the Vampire’s Wife dress that looks stunning on statuesque Trinny but was so clearly wrong for my short, curvy Jewish body. There was the “Mum you look like you’re going to a 70s disco” one, and the “Mum you look like a grandma” one . And then there was THE one and I can’t wait to wear it.

It’s all been very high maintenance. There have been makeup trials and hair trials. Pilates twice a week. A course of facials to try and inject some life into my saggy 50-something face. The other day someone asked whether I’d had Botox. Does it sound weird to say I was flattered? I gave myself 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds because I work better under pressure – and I’ve done it. I dropped carbs, stopped late-night noshing, reduced my portion sizes and did a 24-hour fast once a week. I feel much better for it but I’m very excited to have a Gail’s cinnamon roll the morning after the wedding.

They say that when your kids are young, you should be their mother, not their friend. But the truth is that in a daughter you can have a confidant, a fashion adviser and a holiday companion. You can also have a backseat driver, the harshest critic and the staunchest defender of your husband! But if you’re lucky you have the very best friend – and my daughter is mine. And we may officially be giving her away, she may officially be changing her surname, but those are just facts. So when people ask me how I feel about her getting married, the answer is that I feel excited, happy, proud and grateful, because she’s going to get what every mother wants for their daughter – a wonderful man to share life with. And the wedding day of her dreams.

Surely there is no Mother’s Day gift better than that?

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