Wedding cake image courtesy of Christine Charron of Cucinotta Images

I passed an important mothering milestone last weekend, but it’s not one that I’ve read about in any parenting magazine – I hosted my last preschool birthday party!

Given that I’ve spent the past several years immersed in the wedding business, reading and writing about gorgeous centerpieces and discussing how to use your invitations to set a feeling for the rest of the event the transition to hosting chaotic preschool parties was a little tough.

Believe it or not though, the two kinds of events do have some things in common, after all any party is about making guests feel honored and welcome. I’m also starting to believe that brides and preschoolers could stand to learn a few things from each other.

Lesson 1: Do what works for you!

Like wedding blogs, parenting magazines are full of “advice” about what you should and shouldn’t do for a preschool party. From, you must wear a white dress to never hold a big party for a small kid, everyone has their opinion. But as a parent or a bride, you have to do what works for you and your family. For some kids that means no party, for others it means invite the whole neighborhood!

Lesson 2: Have a plan

Most brides and grooms approach the big day with a game plan in place, unfortunately few parents do. Whether your plan involves hired entertainment such as a clown or magician, or simply play with toys for 20 minutes then eat pizza and cake, you need to have some idea of what the kids will be doing, and a backup in case that doesn’t work.

Lesson 3: It’s ok to make a fuss, but not too much of one

It’s the rare bride who says, “I’d love to wear a big, fancy dress, but I don’t want it to seem like I’m the center of attention.” As parents, we all worry about teaching our kids that they aren’t always the star of the show. But birthday parties are a great way to start to teach kids that sometimes they’re the star and sometimes it’s someone else’s time to shine. Of course, it's the rare preschool parent that would allow her little darling to declare the entire day "my day" and insist on getting away with everything. That's a lesson a few brides could stand to learn.

Lesson 4: Theme, schmeme

The weddings and parties you read about in blogs and magazines usually have a “theme.” That’s because they’re going on a blog or in a magazine and editors need a theme to make things make sense. You actually don’t need a theme for your wedding. This year my son had Superman plates, Batman favors and a Chicago Cubs’ cake! My daughter once did a LittleMermaid/Dora mashup. No, these parties will never make it on a blog, but my kids were happy. Whether it’s your wedding or a birthday party, you should plan your parties with the same goal in mind.

Did I miss anything? Are there other things brides and grooms and parents could learn from each other?