Carolina Bride

March 24, 2014

M.O.B. Matters

Following the planning journey of Debra Kennedy, local personality and mother-of-the-bride.

There are a few treasured events such as your wedding day, the birth of your child, and the purchase of your first house that hold a special place in your memory. When your daughter gets engaged, all of those memories shift and a special “mommy gear” kicks in, creating room for new memories. Planning for the big day can become an obsession and can control your life if you allow it. However, from the biggest decision to the smallest detail, it’s a process that can be enjoyed together from start to finish.

My daughter, Alexis, has dreamed of the perfect wedding since she was a little girl and my husband and I had to attend a weekly wedding ceremony for her Barbie and Ken dolls, complete with Barbie’s Dream House and her Pink Corvette. Needless to say, Alexis has a clear picture of what she has always wanted and as her mother, I want her day to be perfect.

On December 6, we received “the call” filled with excitement and emotions announcing that her college sweetheart Ryan had popped the question. He proposed, she said yes, and I was in a whole new world that I needed to catch up on, quickly. Ryan and Alexis dated six years, and her father and I could not have picked a better partner for her. They met in her second year of college at North Carolina State University and have a great group of friends that has remained solid long after graduation. They both have a strong love of family and the same work ethic. Alexis is not only my daughter, but also my best friend. It really is a dream come true for me as well that she has found her perfect mate.

After the excitement of the proposal, we quickly settled into a routine of daily conversations about the planning process. In my crash course, I quickly learned that you need to hit the ground running, as there is so much ground to cover and there are more weddings than dates available. My advice is to have the white elephant in the room conversation (the budget). Once you establish what you feel comfortable spending, the planning process is easier. Knowing what fits in your budget allows you to focus on this wedding, without comparing it to others. Dreams really can come true, even on a budget.

I was thrilled when [Carolina Bride editor] Cristina invited me to share my journey as “The Mother of The Bride.” There is a special bond among mothers. We cry together, cheer on and understand each other, and most importantly vent to each other, as there is no deeper compassion than that of a mother. In fact, it was Cristina’s mom that encouraged a mother’s viewpoint for Carolina Bride. My goal is to share resources, tips, and ideas that help me along the way and in turn will help you.

Our first big hurdle was finding a venue—the venue. After countless weekends of visiting locations and deciding if we wanted the reception in the city or surrounding area, we decided on The Magnolia Room in Rock Hill. There were several reasons we fell in love with Magnolia Room, including the beautiful antique chandeliers, vaulted ceilings with excellent acoustics, mahogany bar with an adjoining cocktail terrace, and most importantly the 4,540 square foot ballroom that provides ample space for a large reception. The venue is the first thing you want to book as the dates fill up fast. Very fast. Visit the website of the venues you are interested in and print out the reception packages. Most of the general information is listed, and don’t be afraid to email for any additional information. You may feel like you are pestering the event manager, but trust me, they are used to answering questions. Don’t forget that when you estimate costs, there is generally a tax and service charge on top of the published rates. This is an important detail that will help you with budgeting for a venue. Once you visit “the venue,” you will know immediately it is the one. The Magnolia Room was the last venue we visited and it was love at first sight.

Now that we have the wedding date set and the venue nailed down, I am free to work on the remaining items on the to-do list. I would love to hear from other moms in the process. As I share my journey, I would love to learn about yours!

Debra is host of “The Debra Kennedy Show,” lifestyle expert for “WCCB Rising,” beauty expert for WCNC “Charlotte Today,” and most importantly, the mother of a bride-to-be! She is thrilled to be sharing her journey with Carolina Bride. You can reach Debra at

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