My single-mom friend Claire was getting married. After dating her beau for five years, after patiently working out the tangles of bringing him into the home she shared with her little girl, after combining schedules and sharing insurance and seeking counseling and introducing family and buying a home together, Claire was ready to be married again.
I hadn’t seen her since college but she was just as giddy about the details of the intimate little beach ceremony as she had been about the guy in Human Comm Theory class that she’d had a crush on in the early ’90’s. She was stunning, on fire as she talked, her hair redder than it had been back in those days, and her lips painted even redder than that. She would be a beautiful bride in a dress that looked to me, from the iPhone photo I squinted at across the table, like watercolors dripping in pinks and yellows.
I love wedding plans. I love talking about the flowers and food and calligraphy on the envelopes. I love the personal touches that each pair chooses and the moment when eyes lock between the two as they make their way to each other.
And I consumed the intricacies of Claire’s wedding with the same love and fascination for that blissful ritual she and I have both already been through. It’s just that this time, Claire and her new husband would make room in the aisle for her daughter.
As much as I applaud weddings, there is something even more special about a single mom bride. There is a renewed hope, a reinvestment, a return to that one specific kind of commitment that stands out because it is often made after hurt and healing, mistakes and moving on, pain and opening back up. It’s not all fairy tales — Claire’s stories about the first few months the three of them lived in one tiny apartment together will attest to that — but it has an extra ding! of glowy stuff about it all.
Claire’s wedding details did not disappoint — lilies and lemon buttercream and a trio to play her down the pier to her love. Heavenly.
At least until she got to the part about the honeymoon.
The place she and her fiance were getting married — lavish and tropical. And their destination for the week following their bridal fete — a prop-plane jump to an even more lavish island to a resort with private beaches and personal chef and all the amenities.
Fabulous, right? Yes, of course, for the bride and groom. But this honeymoon would include the bride, the groom and the little girl.
I must have looked shocked that Claire and her to-be wouldn’t take the opportunity to jet off on their own as husband and wife for a few private days after the ceremony. She laughed when she saw my face, telling me her mother had offered to care for her daughter, as had many close friends and relatives. But, she reasoned, they wanted the opportunity to travel together and cement their bond as one family unit.
The sentiment sounded as lovely as the thread-count on the luxe resort bedspread. But the logistics of traveling with a smallish child while honeymooning did not sound so fun to me.
It’s not that I don’t get where’s she’s coming from — I’m a single mom with a beau and a child and a love of the tropics, too. It’s just that I cannot imagine going where she’s going, which is foregoing a honeymoon for a familymoon.
I’m not judging Claire. I am happy for my redheaded giddy-in-love soon-to-be-betrothed bride-friend. If this is her idea of heaven, then more power to them all.
I’ve asked other single mom friends what they think and their answers have ranged from smiling upon the familymoon idea to laughing out loud at it. But every other single mom I’ve known who has tied the knot, regardless of her reaction to Claire’s choice, has opted to say farewell to their child while they’ve taken an adults-only post-wedding getaway.
Claire stands alone among those married single moms who turned the honeymoon into a trip for three. Perhaps that’s in the same spirit as the wedding itself — circling back to make a commitment in a different way at a different time with a different person (or people).
What do you think? Should familymoons be the new trend in single-parent weddings?
Would you take your kids along on a honeymoon?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
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