Abbey Loughman didn’t think about it when she first got engaged.
Then a cousin and one of her best friends started planning their weddings.
And "me and my mom" become a familiar refrain.
"My mom and I looked at dresses."
"My mom and I picked out our venue.’’
Abbey didn’t realize until then how much planning a wedding is a mother-daughter bonding experience. The 23-year-old lost her mom, Cherise, in a car accident May 15, 2001.
“All of a sudden, it hit me super hard. I was so lonely planning this wedding,’’ she says. “No one could fix it. No one could give me the same feeling I was looking for.’’
She kept her growing sadness to herself, and then realized how important it was to share her feelings with her future husband. In a strange twist of fate, her fiance, Jacob Williams, lost a brother on the same date but in a different year.
She's convinced their loved ones had a hand in their meeting.
“We really are a match made in heaven,’’ Abbey says.
Jamie Nickeson and Randy Null were married in April. She lost her mom, Vicky, to cancer in 2013. For Jamie, it was a blessing that her mom at least was able to meet the man her daughter eventually married.
“I was just so happy they got to meet, even if we didn’t know at the time that he would be the man I would end up marrying,’’ Jamie says. “It gave me a lot of comfort.’
How to get through those tough days
» Share your feelings with your fiance, a friend or family member. Abbey says she let her sadness build and build until finally talking with Jacob. “He just listened, and that helped.’’
» Let others contribute to the process. Both Abbey and Jamie say they’re the type who just plow through things by themselves. Don’t worry about being a nuisance. “I was taking everything on myself despite people wanting to help,’’ Jamie says. “I almost wish I would have allowed more people to help.’’
» It’s not the same, but your bridal party or a family member or friend can still create special moments along the way. Abbey’s stepmother, Heather Loughman, and her mom’s best friend, Paula Spears, and her daughter Anna, helped Abbey pick out her dress. “I could not have asked for a better small group of people to be here for me,’’ Abbey says.
» Remember that you are creating a family of your own. Someday Abbey and Jamie hope they can plan a wedding with their own daughters.
» Think about ways you can remember your special person at the wedding. Abbey and Jacob will have a memory table with pictures, candles and flowers. Jamie asked people who knew her mom well how she might have liked to be remembered. That prompted Jamie to place a photo of her mom on a chair next to her father. The bride's mom was mentioned in the program, and the officiant surprised the couple with a moment of silence at the start of the ceremony. “That was super special to me,’’ Jamie says. “I was pretty emotional. Just remembering her presence and knowing she was with us in spirit.’’
» Jamie says she thought of her mom at different moments, like when she was donning her wedding dress. Instead of pushing that sad moment away, she tried to embrace it and make it joyful.
Abbey has a plan for that at her reception. She has special memories of mother-and-daughter dancing together in the living room to Cher’s, “Believe.’’
“That song is going to be blaring,’’ she says, “and I am going to be dancing my tail off and singing at the top of my lungs.’’