Have you ever noticed how life speeds by on the farm? One day your children are terrifying you because they want to run under the cows’ bellies, the next they are half a foot taller than their dad and buying their first house. Our latest development has really been one of those moments. Our oldest son, 23, is engaged.
I am still having a little trouble wrapping my head around the concept. Seriously, it isn’t that long ago I was holding him in the hospital telling him all the things a first-time mom does and now he is getting married. Then there is the added excitement of planning a winter wedding. They have decided on a January 2013 wedding date.
This May, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary and my son’s fiancée is wondering what we’re planning. Thinking she might as well get educated about the life of a farmer I told her — nothing. Shocked silence followed. I went on to explain that wasn’t really true. We will have lots of “together time” for our anniversary. We are lambing in May, so I am pretty sure we will have lots of bonding time together with checking sheep and playing with lambs.
It has been these kinds of exchanges that have really made me realize just how different our lives are, compared to families who don’t work, eat, sleep and well, do everything together. I am not complaining at all. I couldn’t and wouldn’t change our lives for anything. There is not another career path that allows you to eat three meals a day with your spouse and actually raise your own children.
Watching this young couple plan their wedding has brought back a lot of memories. We keep telling them you just cannot micromanage your life, and to look at Mom and Dad as examples.
I asked my husband if he had any idea when he married me where our life would take us. That got a resounding NO. Back then we lived in the city and we both worked there. My jobs were always temp. jobs but his was stable; then came children. The decision was then made to run away and build a business a.k.a. farm. Helping with the planning of our child’s wedding has brought all that back.
We are trying to let them plan what they want, help to guide, and help them remember that the goal of the day is to stand up at the altar, and in front of God and family pledge their lives to one another. It is a powerful event to watch one of our children going through. It is also a huge challenge to keep the focus of wedding planning on marriage and their lives together and not just a one-day wonder.
A few simple things we have found helpful are:
- Have an open and honest conversation between the couple and parents, if they are helping financially, about what each other’s expectations are for the wedding. Some brides want big and expensive events and grooms want simple and affordable. We are lucky that our couple totally agrees that they don’t want to begin life in debt and are planning accordingly.
- Book the church/officiating person. Discuss with the officiating person at this time if the church has a dress code or any other rules that need to be addressed. Some will not allow strapless gowns, for example. This is better known before dress shopping. Others will not allow real flowers, only silk. Booking early makes for less stress.
- If a social is going to be planned to cover wedding costs, don’t wait to book the venue. We found a hall that is all inclusive in their pricing, which makes budgeting much easier than when all the costs are separate. The best deal for social tickets was at www.vistaprint.ca/ and they are delivered right to your mailbox, which is a real help for rural couples.
- Decide on a wedding reception and venue. Finding a caterer can also be a challenge in a rural area because they are quickly booked up. So don’t wait. Once the church is booked, put a deposit on the wedding reception location. There are some hotels that have all-inclusive banquet rooms where couples have the ceremony and the reception at the same place.
- Start dress shopping early. Apparently, although there are many stores most of them stock much the same gowns, so the girls have been having a lot of trouble finding just the right dress. But they are having a lot of fun in the process.
Something I didn’t realize when we planned our wedding was that handling all these decisions is really a great learning tool for married life. These are obviously not life-shattering decisions (although the couple might think so), but they do require two people to come to an agreement that makes both partners happy, and for the most part they involve money. Maybe it is just me, but that isn’t a whole lot different than the last time we bought a tractor. Different object but the same communication skills must be used.
Our family is trying to be easy to get along with in the planning, so the only requirement we have given is that we need two hours between the ceremony and dinner to steal half the wedding party and go home to milk and do chores. Again, important to teach that the farm will always have to be considered in every event in life when you’re marrying into a farming family.
All joking aside, we are very much enjoying the process of our family growing up. It is a little hard, because with life being so busy on the farm, time just seems to be going too fast. But we have been blessed with more time with each other than most families ever have, so for that we are thankful.
The next year should be full of fun with showers, shopping and most importantly, adding a new person to our family. We’re glad she is just as thrilled to be a country girl. †