Today my oldest daughter turns 20.

On Saturday she said yes.

We’re having a wedding this summer!

We’ve known they were getting married for a while. I told them that if they wanted to be married this summer, they needed to let me know, so that I could book a reception hall, etc. And I did. But starving students need some time to save for a ring and to propose the right way.

He did so very romantically and gallantly, and she said yes, though she was sobbing so much she doesn’t remember all of it.

So here we go–a huge chapter in her life, and another one in mine. I shall have to figure out what to share here, since it’s not all my story.

But just a few things that Keith and I have been thinking over the last year that may be of help to some of you.

1. You just have to be there.

It’s hard when your child moves to a different city and you can’t see them all the time. They get a new life with friends you don’t know, and suddenly you’re out of the loop.

And when we started hearing about a certain young man, we figured that we had better make more of an effort to take weekends and travel up. Or even drive the 3 hours there and 3 hours back just to have dinner with them. We wanted to know him before anything serious happened.

I know that’s not possible if your kids live on the other side of the country, but as much as you can, see them. Sacrifice your weekends, even if you’re busy, to travel and check in on their lives. Skype a ton.

2. Invite the significant other into your family activities as much as you can.

It’s easy to feel like you’re meant for each other when you’re in a semi-false environment, like school or a missions trip or something. I always figure that if two people are going to be able to decide if they would really work long term then they have to actually see what the person’s real world is, and to see how that other person fits into your world.

So last summer Katie, my youngest, was competing at international Bible quizzing for a week. She was in the dorm rooms. And we took Becca and Connor camping in our tent trailer close to the competition. That’s right–Mom, Dad, daughter, and boyfriend, in a twenty-four foot tent trailer for a week.

If he can survive that, he can survive anything!

4ThingsNeedinaHusband3. Character matters

I’m increasingly convinced that the most important factors for who you marry are character issues: does he love God, does she love God, and are they both mature enough to handle this?

Does he bring out the best in her? Does she bring out the best in him? I haven’t always seen that side of their relationship, but I hear stories that make me happy.

I wrote a post a while ago on the four things you need in a husband, and they definitely are met here.

Is your friend marrying the wrong person? Top 10 questions to ask her to help her make a good decision (because that's what friends do!)4. Let Them Go

At some point, you realize you’ve raised them, you’ve launched them, and now it’s time for them to make their own decisions. If you see something that seriously concerns you, you must say something (and I have a post on the 10 things you should ask someone who is about to get married. I’ve definitely gone through these with Becca!)

But if not, you have to trust that you raised them well enough to make a good decision. And it is their decision, not yours.

Even if they choose to marry young.

If I were to have picked a husband for Becca, I’m not sure who I would have chosen. But what I’ve learned over the last year is that Becca has more insights into herself than I do, and she picks better than I would have. She picked someone who understands her, who is loyal, who is fun, but best of all, who knows how to calm her down, handle her emotions, and get her back on track. Those are qualities that are indispensable. I might have looked for other things, but then I think she would have ended up far more stressed in the long run. She knows herself better than I do. She’s a wise woman. And we need to let our kids be wise.

Sacred SearchOne thing I did do for Becca was make her read Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Search two years ago. It’s a great book about how to choose someone to marry. If you have a single adult child, I’d really recommend the book, for men or women. It gets to the heart of the matter of how you choose wisely. And I am glad that she has chosen wisely.

5. Have fun!

It is fun having someone else in your family! My daughter Katie has done a series of photobombs of the two of them. She’s getting quite good.

Katie photobombHere’s one from two weeks ago. (The best part is that they’re on the second story. Katie’s on a stool on a bush in the snow).

So we’re about to get back in the car and drive back home and hopefully I’ll get to talk to my daughter before her birthday is over!

And I’ve come to terms with the fact that she’ll be young when she’s married. In fact, I do believe that marrying young can be a good thing.

But if you all have any advice on weddings, I’d love to hear it in the comments!