As I sit around living rooms and kitchen tables with friends who have children of marrying age, I’m learning that there are two kinds of weddings. There are the ones that meet the wants and desires of the parents who are footing the bill and then there are the kinds of weddings where the bride and groom make all of the decisions.

It’s an interesting conversation, and I’ve observed that opinions are strong.

I suppose I had the former kind of wedding. My parents graciously offered to pay for a lovely, somewhat formal occasion with a sit-down dinner in a country club atmosphere. There were no Pinterest-inspired bedazzled sneakers to wear under the wedding dress for comfortable dancing and there was no denim or DIY in sight. And it all worked perfectly for me because it was important to me that my parents loved everything about that special day. They were throwing a celebration in our honor and we were oh-so-grateful.

And 24 years later, as I look at the photo album from that day, I love everything about the venue, the meal, the flowers and the formal-ness of it all. Well, I do have some regrets about the bridesmaid dresses, but who doesn’t?

What I remember most is the gathering of the people who made it a priority to be there. In the summer of 1991 when we gathered in my hometown for the ceremony, my parents had lived in that same suburb where I was raised for 20 years. Two decades worth of friends, neighbors and co-workers were there to congratulate the boy from Kansas who had won the heart of this girl they all seemed to know. (A note to brides and grooms everywhere—if the groom is from out of state, it will feel like HER party from start to finish. There’s no avoiding it when you only know 27 people at the reception.)

People joke about saving ‘all of that money’ and eloping in Las Vegas, or planning a destination wedding for a group of only a dozen on a beach. But I wouldn’t change a thing about that (very hot) July day. Planning that day was something my parents loved being able to do for my groom and me. And these were the same friends and neighbors who gathered in that same church sanctuary years later at the memorial services of my mom and then later my brother. These special friends and neighbors are the memory makers of our lives, so for me, at least, no amount of whimsy in Las Vegas or on a Hawaiian beach could replace the memories of that day.

Enjoy this season of weddings and I’ll see you around town!