As a newly engaged Margaret Anne McGuire approached her wedding day, it was a time to reminisce on those days as a little girl when she rummaged through her mother’s closet to find the “perfect dress up clothes” to twirl and dance with joyfulness. For bride-to-be Margaret Anne McGuire, she and her mother Nancy McGuire, would share a new bond on her wedding day as she found once more that special accessory from her mother’s closet – an heirloom wedding veil to wear for her wedding to Chris Mareina.
Knowing that her mother Nancy was ill, Margaret Anne’s wedding was a bittersweet time to truly cherish the time she had left with her mother. On her wedding day, Margaret Anne hoped to carry on a legacy of love as a wife and honor the woman, her precious mother, who loved so well and had selflessly given so much to make Margaret Anne the woman she is today.
Margaret Anne, can you tell us how you honored your mother by wearing her veil?
I had always thought about wearing my mother’s dress because I knew it meant a lot to her. I remember her talking about her dress especially leading up to my sister’s wedding. She would pay attention to when there was a trunk show of the designer of her dress and would mention it to me. That’s what made me think about wearing her dress, but I knew we would have to alter and update it. I didn’t really want to change her dress, so I started to think of something different that I could do for my wedding.
I knew her veil had lace on it from the pictures I had seen, and I had always wanted a lace dress, so I went to the Bridal Path with that in the back of my mind. I found the perfect dress that day but couldn’t find a veil that I wanted. I kept thinking the lace on my dress may be similar enough for it to blend well with Mom’s veil, but I wasn’t sure. Mom kept looking at the dress while I tried on other veils, and she suggested that her veil looked like it would match. We brought the veil in to the store, and it matched perfectly! The only thing I was worried about was the color because it had been stored away for almost forty years. Fortunately, one of my mom’s friends is excellent with garments, so she treated it and was able to fix the yellow tint. When I tried the veil on with my dress and saw my mom’s face, I knew I had made the best decision.
Tell us about your mother’s veil? How did it make you feel wearing her veil on your wedding day?
My mother’s veil is a light cream cathedral-length veil with alencon lace along the edge. It has some lace embellishments interspersed throughout the veil. My great-grandmother actually added some of the embellishments before my mom wore it. The veil also had a pill box at the top when my mom wore it. My mom’s friend removed that part before I wore it when she was treating the color of the veil.
When I got dressed on the day of my wedding, and my sister put my mom’s veil with my mom watching, the feeling was pretty inexplicable. I felt so honored to wear my mom’s veil. You could just tell that she was touched that I had chosen to wear something that was so special to her and had become so special to me. To me, her veil represents the strong love and respect that my parents have for each other, and that I have been fortunate enough to see played out during my life. I am very grateful for the example they set out for Chris and me to follow.
Can you tell us about your mother, Nancy – what was her greatest joy?
Her four children were her greatest joy. Her entire family meant the world to her. She was the most incredible mother, and I am forever grateful to have had her as my example of what a mother should be.
How did your mother and father meet? When and where were your parents married? What anniversary did they recently celebrate?
My parents (Bob and Nancy) met on a blind date at Auburn University. They were set up by my mom’s sorority sister. They were married in December 1975 at my mom’s hometown church in Decatur, Alabama. They celebrated their 40th anniversary a few months after my wedding.
How did you and Chris meet?
We met at Auburn University at a freshman pledge swap for our fraternity and sorority. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t have anything to wear for the theme. I borrowed some of my sister’s clothes and ended up meeting Chris at the very end of the swap. Typically, the pledges go out together after the swap, so I met up with Chris at a restaurant downtown. We ended up talking all night and have been together ever since.
Margaret Anne, can you tell us about your wedding? What made your day special?
I wanted a laid-back but traditional wedding (if you can have such a thing). It took me a while to decide where to have our wedding because I wanted a location special to us, but I wanted our guests to be able to enjoy the location as well. I thought it would be easier to have it in Jackson for my mom, but she and my dad convinced me that I should have it where the two of us really wanted it to be. Ultimately, I decided on a place just outside of Gulf Shores called Fort Morgan. My family had been going there for years, I had brought Chris there many times, and it was halfway between where I lived and where Chris lived. Also, I knew that our family and friends could stay in the beach houses in the neighborhood where we would be, so I thought that would be fun for us to all be together…but it would be different from your typical hotel block. I was hoping that people would come early, so we could spend more time with our family and friends knowing the wedding weekend would inevitably be a little hectic. That turned out to be one of our favorite parts because we were able to relax with everybody, and I was able to show everyone my favorite neighborhood at the beach.
What advice do you have for others who may be planning a wedding while a parent/loved one is ill?
Live in the present…which is applicable for any bride but especially important for a bride with a parent who is ill. I knew my mom’s health was declining, so I really tried to enjoy the planning process with her. She had her good days and bad days, but she was convinced to go to all of the vendor meetings and dress fittings with me regardless of how she was feeling. We were probably late to more of these meetings than we were early or even on time which frustrated me at first. I had to adjust my viewpoint because I was grateful that she was willing and able to go with me to these. Leading up to our engagement, I had been so afraid that I wouldn’t have Mom with me to bounce ideas off of during the planning process, so I had to stop and just be grateful that I was able to spend this time with her.
Communicate. I tried to plan the wedding myself for the first couple of months because I thought that would be the best for my mom. I didn’t want to add more stress to her, but she was thinking that I didn’t want her opinion which was the exact opposite of what I wanted!
Be flexible. We had planned to go to the beach two weeks before the wedding, but we had to change that plan when Mom had to go to the hospital the day after my bridal portraits. We were able to break her out of the hospital on her birthday, just five days away from my wedding. So we adjusted, and everything still turned out the way I pictured. After the months of planning, everything fell into place, and the vision that my mom and I had for our wedding showed up in every single detail that we had discussed during meetings with vendors and our own discussions over dinners or Seattle Drip coffee.
What would you like others to know about your mother?
She had a quiet demeanor that immediately made anyone comfortable to be around her. Because of this, she never seemed to meet a stranger. She was a godly woman, and she lived her life fully as an example of Christ. I always knew she was a strong woman but after watching her on her journey fighting cancer, I learned that she was stronger than strong (this is the woman who didn’t use any medicine with any of her births). My mom was always very present. I hated this in high school but I grew to appreciate this as I became older. If you asked her to come to an event, she would be there, whether it be for a family member or a friend. Her illness didn’t stop her from this. It made it more difficult, but she would only become more determined to be there. For example, she went to my best friend’s gender reveal two months before she passed away and to Tablescapes (a church event that she had helped organize) one month before she passed away.
Although she typically had a quiet demeanor, that would change when she was watching football. Anyone who knew her knew she was pretty passionate about her Auburn Tigers and Carolina Panthers. She was so much fun to be around, she made boring errands entertaining. My mom was the best cheerleader, design and fashion consultant, and was so smart and creative.
Reflecting on your wedding and your mother’s legacy, what advice would you like to share with others about the importance of remembering that a wedding isn’t just about the theme or style, but about making memories with those you love.
I realized pretty quickly that our wedding was going to be more than a celebration of the two of us, but it was going to be a great opportunity to get our whole family together. We have a big family on my side (I am the youngest of four – my mom is also one of four), so Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been my favorite time of the year since we have big family get togethers. I started to look at our wedding as an earlier Thanksgiving/Christmas. Leading up to our wedding, we were able to have big family dinners, my aunts helped us with making the family recipe treats for our welcome bags, and my sister and brothers were there to watch my dad and me rehearse our father/daughter dance.
Our wedding went by so quickly even though I was making sure that I took everything in. I knew this would happen because you hear it from everybody, so I wanted to make sure that I had the best photographers and videographer to capture all of the moments during our wedding weekend. We brought photographers from home (Barrett Photography). They had photographed everything from senior photos, family photos, and my sister’s wedding for us, so we were confident that the final product would be impressive, and it was. Our video was amazing because they asked guests for advice for us, so we now have a video of my mom giving us one last piece of wisdom that I can watch whenever I want to do so.
We made so many memories the week of our wedding, and whenever I want to remember any of the smaller details, I can look back through our pictures or I can watch our video and see all of the work that my mom and I did together. That to me is priceless because it was the last big experience I was able to have with her.
Would you like to see more special moments from the wedding of Margaret Anne McGuire & Chris Mareina? See more beautiful photographs by Barrett Photography and details of their wedding our blog.