Photo: Megan Clouse
With a wedding on the horizon, brides may feel like time is slipping through their fingers. That can go doubly for mom, who's about to watch her little girl walk down the aisle and into a new life. Your calendar may be full of dress fittings and cake tastings, but now more than ever is the time to plan some quality mother-daughter bonding.
If it feels like years since the two of you have even had the chance to get manicures together, that may very well be the case. Though brides today are getting married later in life than their mothers, they're still flying the coop and leading busy, independent lives right out of school. "They're often living with their fiancé and have been working five years, 10 years out of college," says Lisa Brateman, a psychotherapist and relationship specialist based in New York City. So when mothers and daughters make time for each other pre-wedding, "it's about getting reacquainted with the person who knew you best at one point," Brateman adds.
Before booking an outing, consider the kinds of activities that allow you to get the most out of your time together. "Movies are fine, dinner is great, but choose something that feels in a way more meaningful than the stuff you usually do," Brateman says. "Whatever you choose, it should be something that is emotionally, mutually shared. What are things that you've talked about doing together but never made the time for?"
Phyllis Stoller, founder of The Women's Travel Group, has seen many mother-daughter pairs book trips on her female-tailored vacation itineraries. She says planning interactive excursions is ideal because "you're both involved in the activity as well as in each other... which makes it more relaxed."
If you've got an afternoon to share, try a cooking class. Book a round of golf with the woman who taught you how to properly swing a club, or check out a new museum — or the first one you visited together. Start a project like a family tree that celebrates your past and the future, or perhaps over tea mom can pull out her wedding album and share the similarities and differences between getting married then and now.
For trips a weekend or longer, Stoller recommends a spa vacation for its balance of both together and alone time. "It's nice to be together and it's nicer when you're not together every single second," she says. The relaxed spa environment away from home promotes "conversations that you would never have in a mixed group," Stoller adds. "It's like the proverbial layers of the onion: The further you get from your life the more relaxed you get and the more you talk about things."
Just keep the conversation away from caterer demands — at least until the drive home.