My Man Child's wedding has taught me something else too: you don't need a year to plan a wedding. We organized and shopped for his in half a day.
This was to be my third trip to Savusavu, Fiji, to visit my son who lives there. My Woman Child and I were going to meet my new grandson for the first time and watch my son walk down the aisle.
Once his girlfriend had said yes (she thought he'd never ask) Man Child asked my daughter and I if we could bring a few things over for the wedding party scheduled for two days after our arrival - including a wedding dress for his bride.
While Fiji doesn't offer many choices when shopping for wedding supplies, there is a wealth of choice for beautiful locations to hold the event. Man Child's job was to find a suitable location for the ceremony and reception and he came up trumps. He and his bride wanted somewhere fun, unusual and memorable. They hired a tall ship for the day, the Tui Tai, to be anchored in Savusavu Bay. Guests (maximum 50 allowed on board) were ferried over on tenders.
The adventure cruise ship is usually used to transport tourists to some of the best dive sites in the world as well as visiting remote islands in northern Fiji. It also makes for an incredible wedding venue. Most importantly, they took care of all the food and beverage needs.
My shopping list was compiled during the planning committee's first meeting on FaceTime: wedding dress, shoes for the bride, lilac, purple and white balloons and paper lanterns, purple napkins, cake topper, lilac tie for Man Child, and a lilac bow tie for his baby son.
I glared at my husband as I wrote down "lilac tie." I had wanted my groom to wear a pale green tie to match the tablecloths at our nuptials, but he refused on the grounds that he didn't want to be an accessory at his own wedding.
Woman Child and I drove to the Westfield Shopping Center in Woodland Hills, near where I live in Los Angeles. First stop: Forever 21. As luck would have it, white lace is fashionable this summer. I snapped our two top picks on my phone and emailed them to the bride who couldn't decide which one she liked best, so we bought both. To go over the dresses, we found the perfect long lace coat in H&M.
On to Target for white sandals. The bride chose the pair she liked best from the selection of photos we emailed. She didn't ask for any, but we were on a roll and bought her a couple of lace bras and panties as well.
There had to be a Michael's in Woodland Hills. Found it thanks to Google. There we bought the cake topper, wedding bubbles for ten bucks that were a massive hit with the child guests and yards of white netting to make bows. We even found a lilac bow tie, matching socks, a white shirt and black shorts for the baby boy in Walmart - shrieks of joy and high fives.
Our last stop was Party City in the Fallbrook Center. Party Heaven, more like. We bought balloons, lanterns, napkins, purple paper cups and a ton of other purple stuff that wasn't on our list.
The whole wedding was organized in three hours from the moment the bride said yes, including hiring the Tui Tai that luckily was available the day they wanted to get married.
My daughter and I managed to get our clothes in one case, but we still needed two extra cases plus the other one we were allowed for all the wedding party decorations. Each extra case was $150. Gulp. Mission accomplished with two days to spare.
The wedding wasn't all smooth sailing. The night before we were due to fly out, I found a small wound on my head above my temple. It started spreading, so my husband and daughter took me to the ER. It was shingles. Nothing was going to stop me from getting on that plane for my son's wedding.
Anti-virals: check. Steroids: check. Strong painkillers: check. Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to hide the shingles that had spread over my face and head: check. The ER doctor made me promise to take things easy while I was away. No chance.
My advice to brides: you don't need a designer dress to look fabulous on your big day, find a memorable and unusual venue for your wedding, have a designated photographer to capture the magical moments, bubbles and balloons are a must for younger guests and make sure your parents get the shingles vaccine if they had chicken pox when they were children. You never know when it might flare up.