The love we wish for our daughters

I should have realized that agreeing to do a book review so soon after Christmas would leave me putting off reading the book, but in the end, it didn’t matter much. Once I finally started reading, I had trouble putting it down and those are the best kinds of books.

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow weaves together the stories of life and shattered dreams and hope from several women — daughters — as they intersect on a small pedestal of a mirrored room in a bridal shop in a small midwestern town. It is a story about love, from the kind expressed at home to the kind hoped for while selecting the perfect dress for the wedding day. Each of the women travelled a different path to this spot. Whether abused, divorced, widowed or sheltered within an intact and loving family, all view their experiences as strengths that will see them through this next phase of their lives.

I enjoyed each of the stories. The mother refusing help with the dishes year after year as her legacy of love to her daughter who now has fond memories of her mother every time she washes dishes left me pondering how our lives might be affected by continually and intentionally viewing household chores as acts of love and humble service. The love for an infant who died in a simple accident that was shared with siblings who never met her and that affected their views on love and commitment and loss left me hopeful that my children will carry more from this last year than just the hurt of losing their brother. And of course the refreshing commitment of a group of sisters who had made vows of purity and saved their first kiss made me hopeful that my daughters, too, might approach their “happily ever afters” with such seriousness.

I thought of my own dress, borrowed from my aunt and hemmed by my grandmother as I waited to walk down the aisle that was decorated by the ladies of the church. There was nothing flashy. The entire thing didn’t cost much more than what most brides pay for just the dress now. And the ring . . . well, when I read that the jewelry industry is setting a standard that the young man should expect to pay two months salary on the ring, my jaw dropped. I know how much my ring cost because I gave him the money to buy it before I went to class. He had spent almost all he had coming to America, but if he had spent that kind of money on a ring, I think I would have said no.

So far, it seems to have served us well. What was your wedding dress like? Did you have time to reflect on the new life you were about to begin, or were you too overwhelmed with the details and excitement over the wedding to worry much about what came next? And did anyone else go from proposal to wedding in one month?


Disclosure: This is a paid review for which I also received a free copy of the book, The Magic Room, however all opinions are my own and were not influenced by any one else.

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0 thoughts on “The love we wish for our daughters

  1. Oh I love this topic!! My husband and I were very young (18 and 21) and we had no money. We went to the Justice of the Peace with my mom (dad was out of town for work), his parents and a couple of friends. I wore a church dress. We paid the JP $75 I think….and his parents took everyone out to lunch at the Sirloin Stockade. After 17 1/2 years, I’m pretty sure it “took”…I have many friends who had big expensive weddings and have been married 2 and 3 times now. Some of them were divorced before the wedding was paid off. I don’t think a big wedding is detrimental to the marriage but I think more time needs to be spent thinking about the marriage than the wedding! 🙂 We would like to renew our vows one day soon in a reasonable ceremony and I’d like to restate the vows I made without much understanding and wisdom at such a young age. Now that I know sickness and health, poverty…hard times and good….I’d like to walk down the aisle to my husband in that dress…a little older but a lot wiser.

  2. I had far from an ideal situation in getting married, being 17 (though by the time we said “I do” I’d turned 18, three weeks earlier) and expecting a baby. Living in Nebraska, where you aren’t legally of age until 19, we were waiting for our parents (his mom was the hold out) to give us consent…so all through out the summer I worked sewing on my wedding dress. We bought Caleb’s vest & tie and fancy shoes second hand at a tux shop (he already had a tux for our high school’s choir). When his mom finally said “yes,” we planned the wedding in a little over 24 hours, calling our friends to invite them, ordered a simple cake at the grocery store, bought some rings and had them sized (they weren’t ready in time so we had to wear those fake ones that go on the ring bearer’s pillow during the ceremony). My mother-in-law was a pastor at the retirement village which had a cute little prayer chapel, we got to use it for free. The hair shop I called didn’t have any openings, but the hair dresser gave up her lunch break to do my hair after I told her my situation. When I put my wedding dress on, I realized my mom had done more than fix the zipper (I still have trouble putting those in when I sew 😉 ), she’d hand stitched some pretty beaded lace & woven ribbon through it on the bodice. It was beautiful. We had standing room only in the prayer chapel that seats eight. And the ceremony was short and sweet on a sweltering hot August day. Eleven and a half years later, I’ve been to dozens of beautiful weddings, my daughter was a flower girl to 8 of our friends and family over the years, and of course, I’ve wondered how it would have been different for us if we’d been more obedient to God’s will. But I think He made our day special, and though our young marriage was very rocky for a very long time, His love has triumphed and our family has and is constantly be renewed and strengthened by Him. I think our little wedding (and marriage) was one of those good things He makes for those who love Him. 😉

  3. We were engaged in July but told no one because his sister was getting married (Aug.) and we didn’t want to take any focus off of her event. Told everyone in Sept. – decided we would aim for a Dec. wedding. He was unemployed and I made $9.00 a day part time (1976) We thought waiting till Dec. would give us time to save enough to rent a hall for a reception. A friend volunteered to make my dress as her gift to us 🙂 My mom said she would make a ham, a turkey and the wedding cake (as in a traditional fruitcake.) But as the days went on we figured we would not have anymore money in three months than in one so we aimed for Oct. Then through discussing and talking things out we realized we both just wanted to be married and the sooner the better. so “How about next weekend?” OK! Mom said “No time now to do the cake.” But she still cooked a turkey for a smaller crowd now. No hall rental so just family and a couple of friends. My friend said “We buy the fabric and pattern today if I’m making your dress.” She vetoed many patterns and we chose a simple one but it still had a lace bodice, longish train, and long angel wing sleeves. When I tried it on we realized we had forgotten about a veil. She just took a piece of lace and gathered it a one end, trimmed it a little shorter than my very long hair, a few flowers in front and done! My dear fiance told me not to sweat after he tried on a few different suits borrowed from friends and none of them fit. The night before the wedding he borrowed one from his new brother-in-law, who was considerably taller. It was too long in the legs and the sleeves and brown plaid! but I never even saw it until I walked up the aisle. I went to a friend’s garden the morning of the wedding and clipped flowers for 2 bouquets and boutonnieres. When we got them home we had to shake out all the spiders and bugs! I made my cousin go in to the church and make sure my groom was there, as the day before he had been late by 3 hours (broke down car) for the rehearsal. While we were at the church friends came by and ‘decorated’ the house, with banners, whipped cream and floating fruit in the honeymoon punchbowl (the toilet). We came out of the church and realized that though his brother had cleaned the convertible car no one had decorated it, so driving around with blaring horns seemed a bit silly. I was never one to dream of my someday wedding and had really only been to one wedding in my life when I was very young. At the rehearsal the pastor’s wife asked what music I wanted and I said.”Well there’s that ‘Here comes the Bride’ song, right?” No imagination at all as far as unique aspects. So I had no big expectations except that it would be once only and this was the guy. We were both 21 and that was 35 years and four sons, and two grand children ago. We have had some very difficult years, the first one and 2009 were really almost complete destruction but God is faithful even when we are not. I pray this will be ’till death do us part.’ That was my promise and I can only keep it by God’s good grace. Other than his ring (which I borrowed money for from my parents and repaid) the most expensive item was a store bought wedding cake picked up off the shelf at a bakery the day before $30.00! Even my dress was less than that. We did later choose ‘our song’. Decided it had to be from that year so Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I love Your Way” seemed appropriate for a couple of hippy dippy flower kids. Hub did not shave or trim his very full beard or his hair past his shoulders. Now he tells his sons it was a wig. They are not fooled for a minute. This was fun recalling and recounting. I would love to do a re-commitment ceremony but I don’t think Hub will ever consent. But miracles still happen so….

  4. Love reading the different wedding stories – ~ here’s mine…

    We met on June 22nd in a little (maybe 40 people) Baptist church. I was 17 and he was 19. Got engaged at a picnic on July 21st when he said he was going to WA and asked me to go along ~ said I couldn’t go unless we were married and got married on December 20th – 6 months from first meeting to when we got married.

    Found out the day we met he sent his dad a letter saying he had met the girl he was going to marry 🙂 Then he received a letter from his mom with 26 questions about me. Being the dumb, bold 17 year old I answered all the questions, ending with “the next time you have a question about me, ask me.” Not the best way to begin a relationship with a future mother-in-law. Didn’t tell anyone till Labor Day weekend. My older sister had run away and gotten pregnant and then married and my mom let it be known she was not happy and I didn’t want a replay. Finally told my mom we were getting married and after her million questions and her sob story about her failed marriage after getting married at 17 she gave the go ahead.

    The day of our wedding I was late as my stepdad was late getting back from making all the food for the reception. When I got to the church his mom was standing on the front steps telling someone “I knew she wouldn’t show.” The next day in talking with my mom found out his mom told her our marriage probably wouldn’t last six months – I told him we would stay married one year if it killed us both.

    We had 42 people at our wedding in 1975 and in 2000 when we renewed our marriage vows with our two sons standing beside us I whispered to the pastor and my hubby I just wanted to say one thing ~ they both told me no! All I wanted to say was “to those of you who thought we wouldn’t last – ha, ha!! But I didn’t. The second time around was wonderful, relaxing and also attended by 42 people – and we didn’t even count when we wer sending out the invites. Our youngest son walked me down the isle while his older brother walked down with his dad. After the service we walked out with all four of us together…it was very special and I am so glad we were able to have this special day with our family.

    We just celebrated 36 years of marriage. We have climbed many mountain tops and spent time in several valley’s but through it all the Lord sustained us.

    Thanks for encouraging the memories Dana…now I have a couple of blog post ideas to write of my own.

    I do have a ? for you – how do you get involved with doing book & product reviews? I am really interested in doing something like that.

    Hope you have a blessed day with your family.

  5. I love these stories!

    Fortunately, my future husband and I were on the same page about our wedding day: the only problem that could arise that we would call a problem, is if the following day we discovered we weren’t married.

    All we cared about was making it as simple and personal as possible. The year we were engaged we spent flying around the country meeting our friends, so that on my wedding day, when I turned to look at the crowd gathered around us, I knew each and every person, and had a fond memory of breaking bread with them and their family. All of my friends and family knew my future husband: I am so glad we did this.

    I was so overwhelmed by the care of everyone who made our wedding day their priority: finding babysitters, buying tickets, hotels, high heels …. so greatly appreciated.

    There was laughter and enough food: a perfect day.

    Their were glitches, but we only knew the Joy: I love this man.

  6. I love all these stories!

    Anita, that is so beautiful. And I’m glad you were able to stick it through and be thankful for the commitment despite the hard times.

    Ali, that is so neat that he knew you were the one right away. I broke up with my husband so many times. I actually stopped talking to him for six months but he just didn’t take no for an answer and look where we are now. 🙂

    Marian, I think that is the key: both of you were on the same page! Personally, I couldn’t see beginning married life in debt because of the ceremony. Marriage is hard enough. I love that you got to spend time with everyone. That is so neat!

  7. My wedding was put together in 6 weeks when it became clear my mother’s cancer was going to take her before the wedding date we originally planned. But it was the absolute best wedding I have ever attended – I had more fun at my own wedding than ever at anyone elses.

    So, maybe we didn’t have time for a lot of reflection, but I think we had done that before we got engaged.

    My rings were expensive, but everything else was very reasonable – dress for under $500, off the rack and fit perfectly – no time for alterations. The food was buffet brunch (we married in my in-laws yard on Lake Tahoe at 9 a.m. to avoid too many boats speeding by with noise polution), and the flowers were wild ones we went into the national forrest and picked the day before.

    It was the last weekend my mom didn’t have to be in a wheel chair, and just a little over 60 days before she died. Not the big church wedding with lots of fuss that I had imagined, but honestly, I don’t have one single regret, and cannot believe that even if my mom was healthy and we did the whole shabang it would have been better.

  8. My wedding dress was made by a compassionate auntie. It looked worth 10 times what we paid for the materials, with her assistance shopping. We had nothing but faith when we got married. My rings are very simple. We were married in December, on a mild day–a Narnian day, as one of my friends would call it, with hoarfrost decorating the trees.

  9. Finally getting to read this. Guess I’ll have to read the book now! My wedding dress was custom made and about $15. My dearest Chinese friend paid for it and an old roommate of mine in China brought it over. I tried it on for the first time the day before the wedding. Good thing it fit! 😉 I loved what you said that you would have said no if he had spent 2 months salary on a ring. I agree whole heartedly! My husband asked if I wanted an engagement ring and I honestly answered no. I wanted no rock sticking up from my finger to catch on things while I was sewing or working or putting my hands in my pockets. When shopping for rings, I wanted a simple thin gold band. He rather insisted on one with some small inset diamonds. I finally agreed… the total cost for both of our rings was closer to about 2 days salary than 2 months. And we made money on our wedding. Simple people with simple tastes. I remember talking with someone I had briefly met before our wedding. I said we were having a small out door wedding with about 60 people. He said they had a big formal wedding with 400 guests. Then matter-of-factly stated that there were only 3 people around the divorce table. The wedding doesn’t make the marriage… its only one day of it. And we saved our first kiss for our wedding day. We didn’t even date before getting engaged. We both knew independently that God was calling us toward the other. When he proposed it was both surprising and completely expected and totally accompanied by butterflies and goosebumps! 9 weeks later we were married… truly happily ever after. 🙂

  10. That looks like a great book! Thank you for the line about reflecting on “the new life you were about to begin.” I got engaged one week ago today, and that line really struck me.

    My fiance and I both want a simple wedding, and I just want to share quickly how the Lord has blessed us already. He came home with me to Indiana for Christmas to meet my parents and to ask my dad’s permission for us to become engaged. After he had to go back, I wanted to do some dress shopping with my mom. I knew this would be our only chance to look together, since I live so far away in New Mexico. I didn’t find what I was looking for (hard to find dresses with sleeves these days, or find much of anything that would fit in my budget), but one afternoon I noticed a post by an old friend on Facebook, and I realized, “She’s from this area, she’s also plus-sized, and she’s also got conservative tastes; she might know where I can look for a dress.” I sent her a message asking for suggestions of where to look, and she wrote back offering to sell me her dress, which was my same size. When she emailed me her pictures of it, I nearly fell off my chair, because it was exactly the style I’d been hoping to find. What’s more, she only wanted $50 for it! I was and still am amazed at God’s faithfulness in the big details (bringing us together after I had literally looked everywhere in the world for a job except for New Mexico) and the little details (like my dress).

  11. That does sound like a wonderful book.

    Our wedding was more expensive than many mentioned here — we were married in ’97 and were both in our late 20’s. Financially we were probably more stable than many and we spent about $5000 for the wedding and rings. For that day, that was relatively cheap. We borrowed a friend’s parents’ church because our church was meeting in rented rooms, and bought food from Sam’s Club. Our goal was for the service to be gospel centered, and it was. I didn’t really enjoy the day itself as it was stressful but the important thing was that we got married and are still married almost 15 years later :-). The Lord has blessed us with 7 children, 5 of whom are daughters, and I do occasionally think about weddings for them and what advice I’ll give them. One thing I will say is that simple is better, and don’t go into debt to fund your wedding! (Nor can we pay for an expensive wedding for every child. :-).)

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