Here’s Your Place To Anonymously Chat About Your Family

Arrested Development

by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

Let me start by saying, I love my family. I have a huge, wonderful, complicated family full of interesting people who make my life richer (you may remember them from my family rainbow I drew for APW a few years back). But sometimes? Well, last week I went home to Maine for a much-needed visit, and I found myself in no less than a dozen scenes straight from Arrested Development (I would explain the similarities to you, but then I’d have to kill you). Did I mention I love my family? Because I really do. (Sidebar: Am I the only one who hasn’t watched new season of Arrested Development? No spoilers, please.)

I know I’m far from alone here. Families come up a lot in conversation behind the scenes at A Practical Wedding. We field a lot of your questions about family situations and weddings, and the staff’s unedited sense of humor about the subject is… why I love my job. Our email chains suggesting answers to your questions often turn in to witty rejoinders about our own brushes with frustrating personalities, odd quirks that aren’t exactly charming, and the art of the backhanded compliment. And there is nothing like making another APW staffer laugh so hard they choke over one of your family stories to make you realize, oh yeah, families are NUTS. They’re wonderful and loving and generous and crazy. It’s not just your family; it’s everyone’s family. Sometimes we just need a little therapy to work things through. Or as I like to call it, the APW staff.

And since this time of year is often one when family stuff comes to boil (with both wedding season and summer holiday season in full swing), we decided that what everyone probably needs right now is a space to just vent, to let it all out, anonymously, on the internet, where not even your mother can find you. Well, maybe, especially not your mother. So here’s how it goes: if you want to leave an anonymous comment, make sure both your name and your email address are anonymous (this goes double for Gravatar users, because the photo links to your email address). Also, if you put a fake email address please DO NOT CHECK the box to notify you of replies via email. It won’t, and our emails will be full of bounced back comments. No fun. See below for an example:

Normal commenting rules and kindness still apply, of course. We just won’t tell your Aunt Rose about this. And if your family is a little less crazy (bless you, you lucky dog), then support, hugs, and virtual fist bumps are welcome as ever.

Promotional photo of Arrested Development courtesy of MSN TV

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  • Kirstin

    Oh family. They do make wedding planning interesting, don’t they?

    On the whole, our families have been really supportive and not too intrusive with the wedding planning. But I am struggling with two things.

    First, my mom and sister have the tendency to make things about them. I hadn’t even picked what I was wearing yet, when they were trying to make me give input on what they will be wearing. I kept trying to reassure that we’d get there, but that it wasn’t at the top of the list for our first month of engagement. I worry that this will continue for other things.

    Then there is the issue of the extended family. We have decided to do a private ceremony, with immediate family, as well as a few extended family members. It’s important to me that Grandma is there, and at least one of my aunts will need to bring her. We agreed to a few aunts on each side. I know this will ruffle some feathers with the rest of the aunts/uncles/cousins who aren’t invited, but we are sticking with it and stand by our decision. When we shared this with immediate family, our parents were cool with it, but my sister wanted to make sure that I knew that I was going to hurt people’s feelings and that I was putting my mom (who supports the decision) in a really awkward situation where she would have to explain our decision to others, and that I was being unfair to her. Basically, I’m a terrible person. I told her I understood, and that the two of us getting married were the ones to make the decision and that we’d be more than willing to chat with anyone who has issues, and would not want to put that on our parents. They can refer folks to us.

    I am of the mindset that unfortunately many of our family members (extended mainly) will criticize every decision, no matter what it is. I just didn’t expect it quite so much from my sister, who is also the MOH. She’s made me upset with every single wedding conversation, that I am tempted to just not even talk about it with her any more.

    I know that both she and my mom want to be included, but they leave me feeling more stressed than supported. Argh.

    • A. SECRET

      Boo. Can definitely relate, and sisters are so complicated. That sucks that Sis felt the need to make you feel bad about the private ceremony and limited family. You’re right: some people (especially family?) will feel the need to criticize every decision you make, no matter how thoughtfully it was executed. Bottomline, as always: your day, your way. I’m sure it will be wonderful with your nearest and dearest there.

      • Sounds like your family is hitting like the top 10 most undesirable things. Here’s a trick that I’ve learned about this: it’s not necessarily the wedding that we (and by we I mean me too!) should always be concerned with.
        We can and should protect ourselves for today, too.
        So maybe take stock of these discussions, determine where you draw the line in how much you are willing to tolerate and then create some space. It is perfectly ok to not talk to her about all of it for a while. that boundary is important. But if and when you are ready see if you can create a situation with her (coffee, dinner, etc) where you can let her know that you feel like the criticism is hurtful.
        Your/our weddings are going to be the most memorable days of our lives but we don’t need the memory of the 387 days leading up to it to be bitter or sour.
        It’s ok to take care of #1 today, not just on wedding day! :)

        • Abby J.

          “Your/our weddings are going to be the most memorable days of our lives but we don’t need the memory of the 387 days leading up to it to be bitter or sour.”

          Man, that is awesome advice. I wish I had that when I got married last year!

  • Yeah I better be anon here

    Next week when my parents have been visiting me in my one-bedroom and their stuff is all over the place, I’ll be ready to complain about them.

    But right now…I spent last weekend at my FMIL’s house and things were as per usual. It is apparently her job and my job to find my fiance’s tuxedo for a friend’s upcoming wedding. Because we can’t expect him, a grown-ass man, to know where his tuxedo is. (Actually, this is her parenting strategy: she once said to me that because he and his brother are absentminded and not very efficient, “I just do things for them.” Great way to teach them to take care of their own selves!) And when I mentioned one concern I need to clear up with our venue, she suggested we should just change venues. Which might have come across as supportive about the concern I’d mentioned if she hadn’t spent the entire night talking about an amazing venue she’d recently been to an event at, with it being more than clear that she was dreaming of our wedding being there.

    • Stay in the moment, Yeah I better be!

      I’m sure all of these things seem like the hugest thing ever right now but maybe hope for the best in terms of her intentions and stick to your guns on the venue unless she overtly says she wants you to get married there. But there is one subtle thing here that I think might be worrying you, too, that really isn’t about your FMIL:
      “she once said to me that because he and his brother are absentminded and not very efficient, “I just do things for them.” Great way to teach them to take care of their own selves!”
      Are you concerned that your future hubbo will be “lazy” because this is what she practiced? Does he have characteristics that make this more of a concern? If not then I think you will be fine! Sounds like she can be a bit overbearing and maybe she did things for them because she pushed it onto them a bit?
      If this is just how she is then perhaps you can just set your expectations for it and acknowledge going forward. But if there is something about the “do it for them” comment that you are worried about it might make sense to bring it up to future hubbo?

      • Yeah I better be anon here

        She’s incredibly overbearing about all things and not very good at taking no for an answer. But I’m sticking — we’re sticking — to our guns on the venue. (Which, for the record, was her preference of our two finalists, until she went to this other place and fell in love.)

        And, yes, the fact that she raised her son not to clean or know where his belongings are or make his own travel arrangements is a work in progress, but he’s really come a long way on that stuff. It can still be frustrating when he absentmindedly fails to pick up after himself until I remind him, but he does think it’s his responsibility, he just doesn’t have as many years of practice as most people his age, and which is why the fact of his messiness etc is not as frustrating as having her communicate to me that it’s *my* responsibility, not his. And then call herself a feminist.

        • Oh, yeah. What a pickle.
          I can see what you’re “in for” here and honestly cannot give you too much wisdom other than to say prepare yourself!
          I think she might be one of those people in your life that you will want to hone the skill of “shrugging it off” because you probably will not agree on much. I am really excited for your future hubbo though! If he’s really making the effort and working on breaking some habits it sounds like you have yourself a really decent guy.
          Making engendered comments and then turning around and calling herself feminist-in-name would rub me rather wrong. But I think I would try to tell myself that she must not really understand it, shrug it off as best I can, and dive for the wine!

          I hope other APWers have more sage advice!

        • Irene

          Hola mi amiga! I am in this same boat with my new husband, who is an only child or else we might be related.

          The training, as we call it? It sucks. Mutually frustrating. Every time we turn around there’s another thing I “just know” that has to be explained to him, and half the time there’s been a member of my family around to give him some side-eye.

          Luckily, before the wedding I got some advice from some gentlemen who were each married 30+ years: they advised that all husbands need to be trained, and younger men might balk at the idea but once you get to their stage you realize that it’s needed and you are better for it.

          I try to keep that and “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is our marriage” in my head when it gets rough.

          • HideMe

            Irene, Blair, Yeah I Better…fist-bumps of future-husband solidarity. My fiance is also an only, and it’s been a bumpy road when it comes to teaching him how to participate fully in our household. I can’t BELIEVE how much his mom, an otherwise excellent parent, did for him! He literally did not know how to clean a bathroom, and STILL whines that I won’t iron his work clothes. (You’re a grown man, and you wear them. Iron them yourself!)
            He is learning, however slowly – this past year he’s come forward leaps and bounds in terms of being a team player with the household stuff. But damn is it frustrating sometimes!

  • anon chick

    I was engaged once a few years ago. I broke it off for reasons we won’t go into here.

    I’m my mom’s first kid, and first one to get engaged. She was really excited about this. REALLY excited.

    Like, bringing me bridal magazines and newspaper clippings about Jenna Bush’s ranch wedding in Texas (this was a few years ago).

    As if I had EVER expressed interest in bridal magazines, the Bush family, or ranches EVER BEFORE IN MY LIFE.

    I was like, “Mom, have you ever met me? I’m like, your feminist intellectual daughter who HATES George W. Bush.”

    That’s not what I said, though. What I said was probably something like, “Thanks, Mom.” Then surreptitiously hid said bridal reading materials somewhere where we’d never see them again.

    My parents were also being crazy and wanting to invite, like, all our relatives. And pay for it all with their hard-earned $. I was like, “No, I don’t want a big wedding. I don’t know or care about a lot of these people.” They felt like it was my one big occasion so I should live it up.

    Um, no.

    Anyway, it’s good the relationship/wedding didn’t work out. For many reasons.

    • Cathy

      “I was like, “Mom, have you ever met me? I’m like, your feminist intellectual daughter who HATES George W. Bush.””

      Exactly me and my mum! She was all “ooh I just went to such and such place and saw the perfect *insert pink/frothy/floral princess-y type wedding item* that would be PERFECT!”. I had to keep reminding her that erm, I’m more a Daria than a Quinn…

  • meg

    PS I love that everyone is waiting around like, “No, YOU go first. No, YOU.”

    I’m looking at the traffic so I know it’s true.

    • LACEY

      I saw this comment from you, Meg, and started my own contribution. “All right, all right, here’s my dysfunction.”

  • APW Lurker

    Ah where do I begin…

    In all honesty the hardest thing I have been dealing with is my mothers flakiness and then guilt tripping when I get upset about her flakiness.

    Mom: APW Lurker don’t stress about the head count, we will cover the extras (since she didn’t give me her side of the family invitations when I asked in December and now have 20 more people than we expected)
    Three weeks later…
    APW Lurker: Hey mom we have to make the final payment in a few days, are you still able to contribute?
    Mom: APW Lurker I have been dealing with so many different things, I am not made of money, your sister is in college and I am paying that and the rent so I’m not focusing on that now.


    Then I feel like crap for even bringing it up. I knew it would be like this though, which is why we baked it in to the total cost but still… I love her to death but honestly I’m going to tell her she has to be at the venue an hour earlier than the actual time.

    On the other side my FMIL give 0 shits about this. Since the very beginning she has reminded us that the grooms family ONLY covers the rehearsal dinner so that is all we should expect (which is fine) but then the snarky comments of “I’m so glad I only have one daughter” and general judging has been annoying. And of course once we start planning the rehearsal dinner she complains that the wedding party is too bug and that they shouldn’t have to pay for everything. So now we are splitting it.

  • Anon this time!

    I have a bit of an awkward one. And it’s kind of a long story!

    My mum’s ex-husband Bob is not my biological father, although I believed so until I was 10 when my mum told me the real identity of my father. Never the less, we kept in contact and he has played a kind of ‘uncle’ role to me and my brother.

    My mum remarried when I was 7 to my step dad, Paul. He raised us like his own children, we call him dad, and added his last name to our own. As Paul really did bring us up, I want him to give me away at our wedding.

    There is a lot of tension between Bob & Paul, mainly that Paul bought us boring things like food and school shoes, and that Bob with no big financial responsibilities could ‘treat’ us to more exciting things when we were growing up.

    My mum and Paul can’t afford to contribute to our wedding and that’s fine, we are more than happy to pay for it ourselves. But now Bob has offered us a significant contribution to our budget, and I feel like if I accepted it would make things really awkward.

    Is there anyway I can politely say no to Bob? Should I tell him that Paul will be walking me down the aisle? It’s such a minefield!

    (Names have been changed to protect identities!)

    • anon chick

      Hmm, is there any reason in particular you don’t want to accept Bob’s money? If he’s offering it with no strings attached (and that’s a big IF), it wouldn’t necessarily hurt to take it.

      • anon

        That is complicated, though I’d look at the reasons you want to say no and really think about them. If it really is no strings attached, can you say thanks, we’d like to use this to cover… x y z.
        That way if it comes up you could say that Bob is helping pay for photography and the cake. Or something, a that would help keep the amount private, and b. I feel like that way it can be painted more as, you’re helping me shop for a dress/make place cards (if this is true), and he’s helping cover some costs.
        Also, depending on the situation you could also let him know that you are really grateful for the money and that you are fortunate to have help from several family members, but know that it can be a difficult subject and would it be ok to keep the amount private.

      • Anon this time!

        Anon chick- Just that I know it would upset Paul, he feels bad about not being in a position to help us more financially. I think the money will be no strings attached, luckily Bob’s an easy going guy.
        I thought one solution could be maybe if we told him that we have everything we need for the wedding, but would welcome a monetary wedding gift kinda thing would make it hurt less for my mum and Paul?
        Anon & Wedding Burnout- Yes that is also a potential solution. I feel that my parents are going to be hurt by a lot of the contributions that are being made, such as one from my FMIL too. Luckily they are really artistic people so they will be able to help me no end with DIT, stationary and decorations.

        • anon chick

          That sounds like a good idea. Maybe he could contribute to a honeymoon?

        • Anon for the Heck of it

          Anon This Time – why are you telling your parents what other people are contributing? It really isn’t any of their business, and can only lead to hurt feelings. You wouldn’t (most likely) go around telling everyone the amounts people gave you as wedding gifts, so why would you do that with contributions to the wedding fund?

          We had a close family friend of my in-laws give us the same amount as my parents. We didn’t tell my parents, and just found subtle ways to thank them for what they’d done. They didn’t want the recognition and my parents didn’t have to feel bad that they weren’t the ‘top contributors.’

          • Kara E

            I’d agree with this. A lot.

    • Wedding Burnout

      We’re in a similar situation! I recommend telling Bob your plans about Paul walking you down the aisle and see how it goes. He may just…want to contribute, and be excited that his almost-niece is getting married. My fiance’s family had all kinds of complicated divorce issues and they’ve generally handled things very politely, and wanted to help with the wedding in whatever way we would accept. If he balks at that, then you can feel free to (politely) say thanks but no thanks. If he doesn’t mind, well, then, you got a very generous wedding gift.

      I do think that if you accept Bob’s gift, it is worthwhile to do what you can to make your mother and Paul feel included and special as the people who raised you. But there are lots of ways to do that, whether how you recognize them at the ceremony, or rehearsal/pre-wedding occasions, or just by calling them regularly and sharing the planning process (emphasis on feelings, not budget).

    • Anon for a Day

      Perhaps you could explain that you are paying for the wedding, and remaining financially independent is important. (also I accidentally clicked report instead of reply sorry)

    • another commenter

      I know I’m late to this, but this might be useful… would it be weird if you explained that you really don’t need the extra money for the wedding, give him a chance to say ‘oh ok’ or ‘no i insist’, and then if he insists you could say something like, we wondered if you would mind if we contributed that amount to a savings fund for our children / our retirement. what do others think?

  • lurker for a little longer

    I’m dealing with my future MIL wanting to exclude the ENTIRETY of my future FIL’s side of the family (old bad blood that I never knew about and is kind of shocking to FH too), and essentially telling us that if we invite any of them (some of whom my FH is genuinely close to) then she won’t attend and will also tell all of her side of the family not to attend. And future FIL is making similar threats about not attending if none of his family can attend.

    So that’s been fun.

    • A. SECRET

      So sorry you’re dealing with this. A family wedding years ago dealt with similar issues, though the beef was mostly over the fact that kids were excluded from the guest list. Because a few nephews and nieces weren’t invited (and there truly was no space), an entire side of the family — some 30 people — boycotted. They’d RSVPed yes and everything, assuming the bride and groom would “change their minds,” and then bailed at the last minute.

      But you know what? It was still a lovely day — truly. Once the dust had settled, that group who boycotted now admits to how silly and selfish it was not to come. Plus, they missed an awesome party. (And really great food. Which we had even more of . . . given that they were no-shows.)

      • Jessica B

        Maybe it says something about my family that no one feels enough allegiance to one another to participate in a boycott like that. They’re also of the “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” mindset, so even if a hurt relative tried to organize something like that, it would backfire in unknown ways.

        In other words, I find it impressive that an entire family can get on board with that kind of BS.

        • A. Secret

          Their ridiculousness knows no bounds.

    • Anon


      Can FH and you tactfully say something (to each party) like– “I understand you have bad feelings, bad blood, etc, but you’re really making this lame for us. Can we do anything to make things OK for you to attend if XYZ other family member attends (ie put you at opposite ends on the seating chart, etc)? Because it would really be a shame for us to look back at our wedding and miss having you there.”

      • A. SECRET

        I like this suggestion. Flip it around and sit down with them to say something like, “This is such an important day for us, and it won’t be the same without you there. How can we make this work?”

        I’d be tempted to go all crazy and say you’re coming and you’ll like it, but obviously that won’t work… if the family has any heart, they’ll realize they’re making YOUR day difficult — needlessly. Manipulating the seating chart should help.

        • Anon

          Hahahaha, I also like the “you’re coming and you’ll like it” approach– so tempting for so many things in life, even though it doesn’t usually work. So tempting though, especially when people are being unreasonable.

          • you guys. Can I be really improper for a second? This makes me really upset.

            They need to sit down, have a juice and suck it up. Can’t they just show up and be happy for and support you??? Goodness. Apologies for the caps locking, I have zero tolerance for this. They can go or not. But they can’t expect Lurker to be particularly understanding. It’s not Lurkers fault!
            Furthermore, Lurker is trying to embrace a new life and a new family on a day that is HUGE for her entire life. They need to get a grip. Move forward, people. Let it go. Gah!

          • OK. I’m calming down. One way to approach it might be to sit down with each side (or have future hubbo do it) and explain to them that this is a very, very hurtful thing to do to someone, that you are not responsible for their intolerance and you would love it if they shared the day with you but that you have decided that everyone is welcome.
            Prepare for some of them to be “so offended” that they will not come and be ready for potential consequences but the reality is that the only person you need to concern yourself with is future hubbo. The rest, over time, will have to deal with themselves.

          • MaineGirl

            I kind of agree with Blair (no reply button for you though). If they’re being horrible about it, just invite them both and tell them they need to deal with it. If they both boycott, well then their loss, and you don’t have obnoxiously selfish people at your wedding.

            Of course your FH might want to have SOME of his family there, so that kind of rules out anything too drastic. Sadly.

      • moonitfractal

        I’m having a different but related issue.

        I got married about a year ago, and a number of my cousins have been getting married at around the same time. My mom doesn’t get along with her in-laws (mainly due to political and religious differences), and is introverted and has a few aspie tendencies to boot. She doesn’t want to spend time with my dad’s family members, so she’s been making excuses to miss showers and weddings (she also demanded that she not be seated near my grandmother during my wedding). Eventually she just stopped making the excuses and now just blows every family gathering -weddings included- off. At the most recent shower, my aunt took me aside and asked what she did to offend my mom and if I could please try to get her to attend my cousin’s wedding this August. Now I’m stuck in the middle. My mom’s behavior is making the rest of my branch of the family look bad, but I’m hesitant to tell her to suck it up and attend anyway. Any advice?

        • HideMe

          Ugh, sympathy for you!! So awkward. I have lots of experience with this kind of parents-won’t-talk-so-use-the-kids-as-messengers…and all I can say is it’s not easy. I have taken the tack of repeatedly refusing involvement in the issue at hand – even going so far as to tell my own parents to not include me in their disagreements (being cc’d on awkward email fights is NOT fun). I would say to her (truthfully, I’m assuming?) that your mom hasn’t mentioned any particular issues to you, but her decision to come to the wedding will be up to her. It’s a difficult position to maintain, but it’s not your job to mediate problems between your parents and their siblings/in-laws, however much you may want to. Trust me, that way lies crazy.

    • Marta

      My MIL said she wasn’t going to come to our Wedding 1. Because it was outside in November (in California, so it was still 65 degrees and sunny) and 2. Because she failed a licensing test the week before.

      My husband told her he would tie to the roof of the car on a mattress if he had to…

      Sad, but also insane and funny. She came, but she was a grump the whole time. So if they’re going to ruin your day, you might be better off not forcing the issue.

    • Kat

      Ugh, ugh, ugh. So sorry. Very tricky situation which is pretty no-win for you guys. I’d suggest telling each group that you are incredibly sorry they feel that way, but everyone is important to you so everyone is invited. You’ll do everything you can to make them more comfortable (eg seating plan) and you’ll be really sad if they don’t come, but ultimately it’s their choice.
      Since it’s your FH’s family he probably gets the ultimate call, but I’d agree with the some of the other replies that you two shouldn’t have to decide who to invite based on family threats, make it their problem and their decision.

  • Moe

    What I learned about family from my wedding, the good the bad and the ugly.

    The Good: My family is crazy in the most entertaining and memorable way. My mom danced in a wheelchair. My niece stepped up in spades to help my MoH plan a bridal shower, she was the only family I had locally that could help at all with wedding planning.

    The Bad: I was a gracious bride but I also had to firmly put my foot down when family got out of hand. My make-up artist niece invited extra family to my bridal suite without letting me know or asking for my permission so that she could apply their make-up too. The room was already crowded with photogrpahers and bridesmaids. When I told them they needed to leave she sulked and had a quiet tantrum. I would have kicked myself if I didn’t stand up for myself though!

    The Ugly:Family members who are difficult or disappointing were exactly that during a wedding. They did not suddenly transform into model family members because I was a bride. My sister didn’t come to my wedding and I consider it a gift. I don’t enjoy her company and was dreading the thought of her being there. (I sent her an invitation out of obligation and was so relieved when she left a voicemail saying she wouldn’t come)

    • The Ugly. Someone needs to start a Tumblr just for that.

      Between my mother and my sister, I’ve iced plans of having a wedding just so I don’t have to deal with the two of them. They make it a point to ruin things. Like, for real. My brother got married last year and I would have sworn they were competing against one another as to who could ruin his wedding most.

      I would totally have a wedding and just not invite them, but then my father’s feelings would be hurt about me not inviting my sister. Genuinely hurt. So it’s lose/ lose for me.

      And that means if we do City Hall, hubbo’s family gets left out. And hubbo is likely sad. Because you can’t invite his family and not some of mine. Blergh. And if you invite *some* of mine, the whole sh*t storm begins.

      Thanks to the Ugly, no one gets to be happy and enjoy what should be a happy thing. Awesome.

      • Moe

        I’ve had these ugly-truth confessions with my husband where I’ve said things that I wish I could just openly say in front of family but can’t.

        Everything in my family is either about my mom, because she’s self-absorbed. Or it’s about my sister because her entire identtity is wrapped up in being disabled.

        So even when something is about me, like a graduation, or a surgery it somehow always ends up being about how to accomodate one of them and how will they get through this crisis. (Really? I’m the one in the OR room though.)

        So I preface my confession to my husband with something like: This is going to sound really awful, but I wish I didn’t have to be related to my sister. If she were a friend I would have dumped her decades ago.

        I’m so glad I have my husband now.

        • I can absolutely relate to feeling defined by the chaos going on around you. Not sure if this is properly-placed or if you were looking for it (because I’m confident your husband is a great confidante!).
          That doesn’t sound awful at all. It sounds like you’re an actual person with actual feelings.
          Just because your sister is defined by her disability and your mom is defined by insecurity doesn’t mean you have to be, too.
          Sounds like you just have actual human feelings and responses. But I can definitely understand feeling like you can only say certain things to le hubby that you wouldn’t want to say to your family.

          • Moe

            that’s awesome, thank you. :D

        • another commenter

          if my only brother were anyone apart from my only brother, including my cousin, my uncle or my friend, I would have cut him out of my life at age 15. or we would have just drifted apart.

          people deal with conflict in my family through ridiculous ‘not speaking to’ and inflated he said she said insults that didn’t even happen that way, so I hang on because I’m determined not to be like everyone else. and i believe he’s a good person. we’re just too different. if we didn’t look similar and I hadn’t experienced actually growing up with him, I would never believe we were related.

          i love my sister in law and their new baby, we get on well, it makes it easier. for that i am grateful.

      • anon chick

        Oh yes. Ugly Tumblr please!

      • Waited for You to Go First

        Ah, yes- In order to avoid having my parents in the same room at the same time, I’d gladly have a City Hall wedding with just my BFFs. In fact, I’d even like to include my partner’s parents and siblings, because I love them to death.

        BUT- can’t invite his parents without inviting my parents. . .back to the drawing board.

        • Right?

          I’m even super confrontational and would have no problem setting healthy boundaries with everyone and telling them this is the way it is blah, blah, blah. They’d all agree and then act like sociopaths at the actual wedding.

          I know this to be true because they do it at my son’s birthday parties.

          I’m actually not on speaking terms with either one of them right now after my son’s party in April. (Seriously, who (over the age of 5) acts up at a 2-year-old’s party?) Maybe now is the time to rush off and elope. Ha!

          • Waited for you to go First

            Yup- I’m pretty confrontational, too. But in this case, I really want everyone to intuitively GET IT and just stay away from each other. I have no idea if that would happen, or if my dad would try to do “something nice” that ends up making everyone uncomfortable.

            For example, asking me (with his psychologist’s furrow) at my graduation why I didn’t want pictures with both parents together? (In front of everyone there- two parents, sibling, grandma, two aunts, partner). Um, because I will look back on such a photo and know it was a LIE. Rawr!

      • anon chick

        What about City Hall, then hubbo’s family hosts a small party for you two and whichever relatives they want to invite?

        • I would be all over it if *if* it didn’t hurt my dad. Unfortunately, I care more about my dad’s happiness than having a wedding I guess. Or is that fortunately? It’s great to love my dad that much and it’s the same love I have for my baby family (hubbo and kiddo). I really wish that was the solution.
          Okay, I’m going to stop whining. I just realized that I am incredibly lucky to love my dad that much. I just thought of the possibility that if he weren’t here I’d have no problem at all. I’d rather him be here. :)

          • Moe

            Honestly (and I think I’m going to tell this to every bride I know from now on) there is no way to plan a wedding without someone getting hurt over something.

            I’ve come to believe that too much emphasis is placed on feelings. Yes, people need to be valued, respected and aknowledged. However, not every feeling should be catered to either.

            My husband choose to invite only select people from his dad’s side of the family. He actually wrote down the small handful of people and said things like “they were always good to me” or “I actually want to keep in touch with them” and excluded everyone else. Then he instructed his dad to send any objecters his way.

            No one complained, so if there were hurt feelings none of them were big enough that someone wanted to pick up a phone and discuss it.

            and as someone who doesn’t have their dad anymore, if it makes you happy to have only him there…do it. xoxoxo

        • anon chick

          It’s ok, you’re allowed to complain/be disappointed.

          To explain my idea better: The hubbo’s family could throw a small party, NOT a wedding, just a family get-together (brunch or lunch or picnic), a week or month after City Hall.

          Maybe your Dad could do something similar, with him and his close friends/relatives?

          That way they’re all celebrating you, but in a low-key, low-stakes way.

      • Moe

        I’m thinking more and more about The Ugly. Everyone has it. This thread proves it.

        Despite the Ugly you can still be happy, don’t let it diminish the Good. You always have a choice. :)

      • alyssa

        Oh, I have a solution for this. You see, there is significant bad blood between my father’s father and the rest of the family, yet you really really do have to invite grandpa if you’re inviting everyone else.

        So: Destination wedding! If you hold the wedding in your fiance’s hometown, or where you met or went to school, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, then it becomes less financially feasible for the family with whom you don’t have a relationship to attend. Downside: it becomes harder for everyone to attend. But it also means a really cool location (and built in honeymoon?) for you and your sweetie.

  • anon for the day

    I needed this today, APW!! Previously, as some may remember from an open thread a few weeks ago, my mom has been making a giant fuss about how she is paying for everything, so what she says goes. And its not things like, dresses, flowers, etc., its the guest list. And unlike so many people I’ve read here, my mom is seeking to limit our guest list rather than enlarge it. At one point she even made my future MIL cry (not directly, but still.) So this weekend, I come to find out that my dad knows nothing of this, and has been waiting for the grooms family to offer to pay for stuff!! Whattttt. Of course they aren’t going to offer, when my mother-of-the-bride-zilla has gone above and beyond to make sure we knew she was paying. It ended up that his family was agreeable to paying for whatever we needed, but it sure made us feel crappy to ask them about it.

    Aaarrrggghhhh. Thanks for the vent sesh :)

    • Moe

      This may not be the best solution for you, but it worked for us:

      Despite being broke-ass poor we paid for everything ourselves to avoid this whole power struggle. For us, it meant the tightest of budgets and going without some things I wanted. However now that the wedding has passed I don’t even care that I had less flowers than what I wanted. The details I worried so much about before the wedding were hardly noticed on the day-of.

      Every single person on my guest list was someone who was we wanted there and not one person more.

      • Yes, Moe. Yes.
        ANON for the day: Remember that this marriage only needs to be authentic for you.
        So if the dust doesn’t settle on this one maybe consider putting your foot down on it or looking into financing yourself. You are NOT a “bridezilla” for acknowledging yourself in this! I’m sure your mom is a lovely woman but c’mon, mom, you made a grown woman cry! Lovey and I are paying for everything ourselves. We don’t care if it means not having certain things. The best things in life aren’t things, right?

  • anonymous bride

    On my future husband’s side, his mother wants us to invite his cousin who is a call girl in New Jersey. Like a legit call girl in New Jersey. We both think she’ll probably have work that night, since it’s a Saturday night wedding, but the future mother-in-law wants us to still invite her so she feels part of the family.

    It’s so crazy it has to be hilarious.

    Also, my mom and sister-in-law think it’s “hilarious” to keep telling me they’re going to wear white lace dresses to my wedding so we all match. Like every time I see them, which is about once a month.

    • Anonymiz

      Being a call girl doesn’t mean she’s not part of the family.

    • beedub

      hate to be the one to say it, but… there are plenty of nice people in the world who are call girls, or sex workers, or whatever you want to call them. You’ve probably met them without realizing it. And family is, indeed, family… though that is an odd joke from your mom and SIL!

    • Alix

      Sex workers are just like you and me: human beings.

      I’m sure she will have a lovely time with your family at your wedding and everything will be wonderful.

    • Ladygold

      Oh the white dress joke is so funny…not:( GGRRRR I have told people and will include it on the website under “What to wear” that anyone wearing white to the wedding will have to go home and find something appropriate to wear. Thats so tacky!!!

      under 2 months to go:)


    • Anonymous

      One of our groomsmen is bringing his pornstar girlfriend, and I’m thrilled. She’s funny, smart, and very nice. It takes all kinds.

      • anonymous bride

        I should also clarify that I don’t have an issue with her being a call girl, it’s more that she’s a call girl who makes every family event about her and how her parents lead her to this path. I’ve never met her and she said she was coming to his cousin’s wedding and then bailed the morning of because of work and made a lot of the morning about her/her family instead of the wedding.

        And yes, I fully understand that call girls are people, too. If she was the nicest call girl in the world I wouldn’t care, but from the stories she is not a good person who also happens to be a call girl with a lot of baggage/history.

        • anonymiz

          Your problem is you have to invite a flaky cousin who isn’t nice or supportive at family events, not that you have to invite a call girl fron New Jersey.

    • ANONYMOUS B what are you really worried about? Are you afraid she will show up wearing something inappropriate? Are you afraid others might make fun of her thereby making you feel bad for subjecting her to it? Are you feeling embarrassed or badly for her? (all are perfectly acceptable answers, I’m just trying to understand if you feel affected by it).

      • anonymous bride

        I think what I’m worried about (and lord if I knew this worry would bring these comments I’d probably just worry quietly to myself) is that pretty much everyone in the family has an opinion about this cousin and is voicing it pretty openly, and it’s getting messy. People are either saying she is down on her luck and needs a shot, some people are saying she’s being doing this for 30 years and skipping out on the family unless it’s for a free meal so forget her, people think if we don’t include her it’s a statement against her parents, if we do invite her it’s a statement on the rest of the family.

        My thoughts are that I’ve never met her, and my fiance hasn’t seen her in well over a decade and he was never a fan of her in the first place (profession aside), she was invited to a wedding and that was a huge olive branch that she blew off. The mention of her name causes all of this to come to a head. So I think I’m worried about all of that.

        • Ahhh. OK.

          So. How does all of this make YOU feel? At the end of the day this thread is enabling us to see ways that we can protect ourselves so that we can fully enjoy/appreciate our wedding day.
          You bring up a whole host of boundary violations by your family and her. So because they are ALL violating your boundaries as a result of the situation, it is fair to respect yourself and say “hey, I’m just not going to deal with the whole lot of it.”
          If you look at it that way then it is not personal, you’d be looking at it as “I need to look out for myself here and don’t need the emotional strain of worrying about somebody else, people’s opinions, people’s perceptions, etc. etc. during the single most important commitment of my life.”
          Also, rather than judging yourself if you have a tiny twang of judgement over her purported profession (and piling on the stress/existential life questions on morals and values and judgment right there) set it aside and focus instead on how the TURMOIL makes you feel, rather than how something she has done makes you feel.
          That in addition to the fact that FH is not personally keen on her. As long as his personal concerns are legitimate, it would validate him to just decide that it really isn’t worth it.

          If, on the other hand, you you think you might be able to assume the attitude of “whatever, she probably won’t come/they can judge amongst themselves it aint gonna ruin my day/it’s not my problem” then sending out the invitation will be harmless and, heck, if she’s that badly off it sounds like she could use a free dinner once in a while.

          All are perfectly valid feelings and responses so far as the circumstances do not harm you…

  • Almost Married

    My mother-in-law is engaged. It’s not always a problem, but it’s a weird place to be, especially because one of FH’s issues with his family is that there’s never just a space for him to shine. So, this is sort of a buzzkill there.

    If one more person tells me I “have to” do ANYTHING I will sucker punch them. I’m have a fairly traditional wedding, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to deviate even a bit from the WIC-traditional-ness. For instance, how rude is it when family members say you “must” have plus ones? Like, are you kidding me?! I’m not inviting randos to my wedding. It’s unbelievable rude, in my opinion, to blanket expect you get a plus one, especially if you are clearly an acquaintance.

    Fortunately my parents are amazing and have been so chill and helpful throughout this whole process. I love FH’s family to death, but it really does make me appreciate my parents, too. :)

    • Gina

      Ugh, this is so not fair! And you just know that if you do invite plus ones, some rando-plus-one that you’ll never see again is going to be front and center in all of your pictures. It’s Murphy’s Law.

      • Almost Married

        Omg, right? And it doesn’t help that my MIL has told a couple people that they were invited to spare hurt feelings without checking with us first (even though MY parents are footing the bill).

        An on plus ones, obviously if we know they have a significant other they’ll probably be included, but it’s kind of insulting to just assume. I think we’ll probably be very, very clear on the invitation wording and maybe writing each person’s name (or something like Jane Smith and Guest) on the response card so there are no surprises.

        • What we decided was that if its a significant other who’s name we actually know and they’ve been around a while by the time invitations go out, then they get to come. But there will be no one desperately scrambling for a date to bring because no relationship = no plus one. No one is specifically excluded, but there will be no random people there either. Hopefully we won’t need a bouncer to enforce it.

          • Almost Married

            EXACTLY. No relationship=no plus one is a great rule of thumb to explain to people…thank you! That was our exact plan. Except for a few choice people (my divorced adult cousin who I know is seeing someone but I don’t know his name; a family friend who is a widow who I believe is also seeing someone) who will have a Name & Guest, everyone else will have their SO’s name on the invite.

          • Gina

            Nice! We’re doing that too– of course you can bring someone you’re in a long-term relationship with. But my fear is that, for those individuals who don’t have a long-term relationship and for whom I don’t write “& SO” or “& guest” on the envelope, they’re still going to think they can bring someone. Do people know that, if there’s no “& guest” on the envelope, they can’t bring a plus one?

        • anon

          I ran into some massive awkwardness with that with my cousin’s wedding- My invitation was just Anon, not anon and SO, but my dad was bringing his lady friend of 1+ years (now fiance), so I assumed they weren’t sure on SO’s name (who I had been dating for 3+ years and living together for almost 2 and not engaged yet for $$ reasons) and it would be a great way for him to get to spend time with the family since we live long distance. I then received a super awkward email from my cousin saying no plus ones (which I totally get), was really hurt because I wasn’t bringing just a bf, I was bringing the guy who I’m spending my life with (and we had already bought $400ish plane tickets and made $$ hotel arrangements before the invite), which led to a flurry of family phone calls (and eventually an invite for SO, but I’m concerned that I’ve damaged my relationship with my cousin, but we pretty much only get to hang out at weddings and funerals). It turns out that cousin and her fam had no idea how serious FH and I were since I’m not super loud about being in lurve and living in sin.

          TL:DR- if you’re inviting family who lives far away, it’s worth asking around if they have a serious SO or being prepared for one to pop up.


    Whenever I talk about my family, I have to open with, “I really love my family, but . . .” because, you know, I really do love my family. And at the end of the day, they love me. So part of me feels bad about complaining. That being said . . .

    I love my family, but: planning a wedding has opened all sorts of issues regarding “tradition” and “how things are done.” That’s probably why I spend a great deal of time on APW (well, that and the humor and lovely pictures and sense of community): it reminds me that there isn’t one way and one way only to plan/host a wedding. That “the way things are done” just means that’s how someone else has done it, but not how you must do it.

    While my family and the fiance’s families aren’t dysfunctional, we are an epic mix of religions, and this seems to be the largest issue right now. My sister has recently become a seriously serious Christian while I am, eh, borderline atheist. (I’ve never actually typed that out, but there it is.) The rest of my family is either very Catholic, very Baptist, or some other faith (but still religious).

    My fiance and I seem to be the lone ducks in our families that have no strong ties either way. I’ll just say that I want to believe, I really do, but I . . . have a hard time with faith. Or finding one that suits me, I guess? I don’t know.

    Overall our families have been very supportive of our secular ceremony but I still sense an underlying sense of disappointment/judgment. People constantly ask me if I’m going to be married in the same parish as my parents, and I have to dodge their downturned mouths and blank looks.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, in this rambly and roundabout way, is that I’m so happy a place like APW exists to remind me that we are making our own decisions — regarding the wedding and everything else — and that these choices are setting the groundwork for the rest of our marriage. Plus we’re actually, like, going to be adults now. Exciting.

    • Jashshea

      I hear, ya, Sister. My family extended family is super Catholic and my parents tried really hard to be until us kids were about 8/9. We stopped church every sunday then and stopped doing Church on Xmas in our teens. My brother and I are not at all religious.

      My husband’s family is exceptionally religious. He’s pretty meh about the whole thing.

      I’m like you. I’d like to believe in something, but I just don’t. And I especially don’t identify with Christianity. I couldn’t see fake-joining a congregation just so we could marry there.

      I took (oddly) a ton of flack from my family for not getting married in a church. Because they assumed it would be extremely upsetting to my husband’s family, not because they personally minded (you know, or because they passive-aggressively wanted to put it on someone else that not getting married in a church = bad). His mother brought up her feelings privately with my husband – she was disappointed, but understood our position.

      In the end, everyone loved our secular ceremony and loved that an old friend married us. I hope it works out that way for you. In the meantime, stand your ground. Solidarity!

      • A. Secret

        Thank you, Jashshea — so glad your story has a happy ending. I know that, no matter what, the day will be beautiful… and we really love our sweet, kindhearted officiant.

        She actually suggested a type of “peace offering” for our religious families by having a silent prayer at the beginning of the ceremony for guests to offer their thoughts or blessings in whatever way they choose. I thought that was nice and sweet, and I hope it’ll appease our crew.

    • Remy

      I just saw this a couple hours ago, and I had to share it because your post reminded me so strongly of it. :) (I’m either a pink or light blue doughnut.)

      • A. Secret

        That is awesome, Remy. Thank you! I reckon I’m a light blue or brown doughnut, or maybe the lime green-looking one (is that Key lime? Because if so, I’m totally a Key lime doughnut).

    • LITTLE B

      Right there with you!! It is a tricky thing to navigate. Good luck! I really liked the idea you mentioned above about a prayer at the beginning as a peace offering. It seems like a very inclusive idea no matter the religion.

  • No Name

    This is about my sister-in-laws wedding, not mine, thankfully.

    At her wedding I had been dating my husband for about 3 years, but we weren’t engaged or anything yet. I also had only met his family a handful of times since they live an expensive flight across the country. She had planned her entire 300-person wedding and done a great job with the details – the only problem was on the day of the wedding, she was off getting ready and no one knew those details, i.e. where to put everything or what needed to be picked up. So it was left to me, in my 3rd time ever in this city, to drive around and pick up kegs, decorate the venue, assemble the wedding cake, and much more. My husband helped as much as he could but he was in the wedding so he needed to be available for photos.

    Once the reception started we realized there was only alcohol to drink so he and I drove to the grocery store to get soda and water for the guests, in the meantime he missed the bridal party intros and the speeches. And to top it off, I was seated at a table as far from my now-husband as possible, with a bunch of her friends from college that I didn’t know. I basically broke down in tears from exhaustion and left for awhile. It ended up fine, but I think she and her mom had no idea how much she was asking.

    • Meow McAnonyMouse

      My father started a family feud at a wedding for less.

    • anon

      I want to give you a hug so much. That sucks and I hate situations like that. I fear that my sister-in-law’s wedding (should she ever get married) will be the same way but at least it will be my husband and I running around together and that is the only silver lining I can think of. Virtual hugs.

    • ferrous

      Ugh. I did this for a cousin at her wedding. She had no idea how much work was involved, and I ended up missing the entire ceremony while setting up. So I feel you. Ugh.

    • alyssa

      oh girl i feel you. did this for the wedding of a friend – that space of being a maid of honor/day of coordinator without compensation/recognition totally SUCKS

    • Kat

      This sounds a lot like my sister’s wedding last year, except for the soda and water part it needs to say ice and be about my dad and at that point soon-to-be-fiance running around in their tuxes in a major urban area trying to buy the damn stuff while my sister has a screaming fit about her veil not staying in place and no one making the day about right. Meanwhile I’m in the wedding and shooting the wedding (with help), giving speeches and toasts, making sure the whole place is cleaned and tidied …and she had two maids of honour, who did nothing.

  • My name is… eh… probably shouldn’t!

    Families are such a funny (and by funny, I mean polarizing) subject.

    I heart my fam. Big time. And I want to sit here and kvetch like I’m keeping up with the Joneses or something. I just can’t bring myself to do it. For a few months after our wedding, I had plenty to say about relations and their oddities.

    But, 3 years after the wedding, the annoyances have more than cleared and I just can’t pretend that the opposite is true. Because, sure, I cried a lot when we were engaged over the varying drama that family brings onto wedding planning.

    Now that my sister is planning her wedding, I consider it my job to be her ear instead of somebody else telling her what needs to be done and how and when and why and why not and who and what and why and how all over again. I figure, after my own experience, there’s probably enough of that already happening to her!

  • Anne Onn

    My in laws are coming to visit for a week in July, and I’m super busy trying to hide how INCREDIBLY unenthusiastic I am. My FIL is fine, but my MIL…the thing is, she’s not awful or mean or catty or anything; compared to some of the MILs I see on the internet she is a saint. She is completely nice and well-meaning, she just has all these super irritating habits that make spending a long time with her something that should be covered under the Geneva Convention. For example, she never ever ever stops talking. Ever. She is just brimming with advice and stories about people you don’t know and thoughts on her day and she wants to share it allllll with you, whether you want to hear it or not. So. Anybody have any advice on dealing with a family member you have no reason to dislike, but can’t bring yourself to actually like, either? I suspect the answer is just woman up and be grateful she’s not secretly sabotaging my relationship or something, but I’ll take any input.

    • p.

      I have relatives like this! They talk nonstop about people you’ve never met or heard of. (My aunt is probably the worst offender, and my dad has recently begun hiding from her when she visits).

      With in-laws, I generally think it’s best to have your partner be the first line of defense. Ideally, he or she can communicate with the in-laws that it can feel overwhelming when they arrive and immediately launch into their stories, or that in your house, you like to have more of a balance between social time and quiet time. If your partner knows how you feel about MIL, he or she also can help interfere when MIL has you cornered or interrupt MIL if she’s dominating the conversation. (My cousins and I do this with my aunt).

      I also think it’s totally OK say something to your MIL like, “I really need some quiet time right now. Do you mind if we take a little time to read the paper or watch TV?”

      In my marriage, my parents are the chatty ones and I’ve begun having us all listen to a podcast when they visit (my parents like This American Life or if I’ve listened to a good or funny Fresh Air podcast, I’ll put that on). Maybe you start a tradition of going to a movie with your in-laws or something that requires MIL to be quiet.

    • anon

      Oh man, I have no advice to share beyond that I feel very much in the same boat. My MIL-to-be is entirely well meaning and sweet as hell, but exhausting at the same time. Worse still, she clearly loves me in a deep way, like I’m the daughter she never had (except she has a whole bunch of actual daughters, my FH is her only son!). I don’t know what to say, beyond that I just try to remember that she is a wonderful person whom my FH loves. Also, I am learning to glaze over and slink away like her real children do ;).

      • Anon Today

        Same here! (Except I really am the only daughter- my husband is the oldest of many boys and the first to marry.) My MIL adores me- she finally has an adult daughter. But my introverted self does not know what to do with all the attention and the endless conversation. I usually end up freezing like a deer in the headlights until I can slip away.

      • not my real name

        My mother in law is a little like that. Lovely, well-meaning, and really likes me, wants to spend time with me. And I don’t know what to do about it!

    • Hmm, the most I can think of is to schedule a few “appointments” while she’s in town that you “simply can’t get out of, no matter how much you tried” so that you can have some space to yourself, especially mid-visit. A haircut, a pedicure, or something fake (a check-up? work meeting? Bank meeting?) and go to the library or the park or the bar so you can breathe a bit before diving back into the chatter.

      Also, any good movies coming out that you can all go see together? She might talk through it, but you can sit at opposite ends of the group and there’s more social pressure for her to be quiet.

    • JJJ

      Just try to be very glad this person is not your own mother, and you have been spared an childhood & partial adulthood of having to interact with her. Perhaps while she’s droning on you can mentally tackle some to do lists or figure out your next grocery list? Or meditation might work.

    • Anon for today

      My FMIL is also quite chatty. I’ve taken to being quiet and gracious when needed, and quite direct when I just can’t take it anymore, e.g., “I remember when you told that story before…at the end, a woman pops out of a cake, right?” or I will try to interject the fiancee into the middle of it, as he doesn’t mind being chatted and she doesn’t care who she is chatting at. When we are at their house for more than a few hours, I will also just slip into the bedroom for a little quiet time if needed – example, it’s okay for you to go to “bed” each night early even if that just means that you are quietly reading or vegging out for an hour before you go to sleep.

      Re: family member you can’t quite explain why you dislike, I would say trying to focus on the positives when you can. I also silently remind myself that I cannot change them, and can’t expect good things to happen if I try.

      • Jessica B

        My FMIL and my dude’s SIL are both super chatty and extremely repetitive–last year on a camping trip the SIL told me the same story LITERALLY 3 times in a row, and then another family member joined our conversation and she repeated herself 2 more times. I was about to fall to the ground and cry, because this was towards the end of the trip and I had had 0 private time (even the showers were filled to the brim with people). Luckily 10 minutes after that the entire family went on a hike and I said I wanted to read my book for a little while. My dude had to explain that I was an introvert and just needed to recharge. It was probably the best me time I’ve ever had.

        Advice? Get your fiance to explain that sometimes you just need to be alone or you get grumpy. No one likes being around a grumpy person, and if there is something to prevent being grumpy they’re usually pretty understanding.

        • Haha, I’m sure that’s really frustrating in the moment, but it’s a funny story. My mom always says the same things too. Not often full blown stories, but the same advice, or something that she was trying to remember to tell me. Fortunately, she’s aware that she does this (possibly because my brother and I made a point of it in our teenage years), so now she accepts with a laugh our “three times” rule. She can tell us the same thing three times, but then we get to cut her off. After the second and third times, I’ll give her a running count, just for fairness’ sake. Three times was negotiated when we campaigned for no times, but she said that was an unreasonable expectation.

    • Sue Donym

      You have totally described my MIL! It’s not that I dislike her, I just…don’t like her. We get along and have never had arguements, but I dred spending time with her. It’s more irritating now that we’ve had a child. She always refers to him as “MY grandson” and basically only refers to my husband and I as “my grandsons parents”. Also, in an email exchange she wrote about how we make make “her” famous mojitos when we visit. Who taught her how to make a mojito? ME!! It’s so petty, but I can’t help but be irritated!

      • Jessica B

        I’m sorry, that is tragic and hilarious at the same time. Some people!

    • Anonymouse

      I can sympathize – my mother is like this. Usually my sister and I just try to play interference and steer the conversation to general topics as much as possible, because if your MIL is like my mom, there’s not much you can do to change her. At least when this is coming from a well-meaning person, I think they just do it out of cluelessness, so they’re usually okay with a change of subject!

    • My FMIL is growing on me, but she is definitely a talker and definitely part of the reason C doesn’t pick up on social cues well. A few weeks ago, we were up staying with his parents for a long weekend and he took off with his dad for what was supposed to be a quick morning errand. She cornered me on my morning trip from the bedroom to the bathroom and spent the next 45 minutes grilling me on my life goals and trying to get me to help recruit my 13 year old FSIL into an extracurricular activity. Which, eh ok, but not at 8am on a full bladder. I tried several times to escape with no luck.

      • Anon Chick

        This is when assertive communication comes in handy:

        “I would love to listen to this story, but I really need to go to the bathroom!”

        Repeat as necessary.

        It’s funny when some people are completely unaware of/unconcerned with others’ experiences. And then we let them continue to ignore us.

    • 629

      Ohmy, this describes my FMIL EXACTLY. I feel awful because her visits make me miserable even though she’s a very nice person. Just incredibly irritating to a person who needs some silence once in a while. Maybe we should just get the two of them together.

      And she’s coming to visit for two weeks immediately after our wedding. She comes every summer and I try to be understanding but it does kinda ruin my short summer. Why can’t she come when the weather is crappy? At least she’s not staying with us this time…which also makes me feel guilty but secretly glad.

      Here’s how I deal with it: invite other people. That way she has other people to chatter with and I don’t feel like the silent asshole who isn’t interested in engaging in conversation about some person I’ve never met and never will meet and what they had for lunch the other day. She has a great time and is none the wiser. I always invite friends over for dinner or my extended family. I get to see my family and there’s a buffer while she’s still entertained.

    • Anon. Y. Mous

      THANK YOU!!! I am so relieved to hear that there are other people who have ‘in-laws’ like this!! My boyfriend’s dad is like this. He can’t stop talking. Repeats the same stories all the time. Interrupts everyone’s conversation trying to start a conversation of his own. Jumps in on conversations half way through and proceeds to ask a million questions trying to catch up while someone is in the middle of explaining. Chews with his mouth open while talking at the same time. He tries to make every story he tells sound like THE most suspenseful, interesting story, by interjecting things like “but WAIT!, get this” and “…right!? so…” In an effort to be accommodating, he repeatedly pushes things on me – especially food – even after I’ve told him more than once that I don’t want/need anything.

      He and my boyfriend’s mom live close by and we see them all the time. Not to mention that we have been dating for over 9 years, so I’ve heard every possible story in the book. I dread having to spend time with him, particularly if I’m stuck alone with him because there is no one to interject and little excuse for escape. He is sweet, generous, and well-meaning – has always been loving and affectionate to me, which I am so grateful for – but I just can’t deal with his pushy, incessant talking all the time. What makes me feel even worse is that he has been an alcoholic for over 20 years, has basically been out of work for 5-10 years, spends most of time alone at home while his wife work, so I know that his talking is his way of coping with loneliness and feeling rejected by his wife, who often shames him. I want to support and understand him, but I just can’t get past his annoying personality.

    • Kat

      No advice, but yes, yes, yes.
      My MIL is lovely. But she drives me (and husband) crazy. I’m pregnant and she is planning a post-baby visit. I am terrified of being with her all day while husband is at work (and I’m new at being a parent). Ah!! So, like you I suspect I’ll need to woman up, but advice is appreciated.
      (I would ask husband to take leave but he’ll probably have just headed back to work and we’ll be saving leave for Chirstmas).

  • Jessica

    My mom once said to me, “I just hope you don’t have to wait *five* years for a proposal like I did.”. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 7 years.

    My dad got wasted last year, cornered my boyfriend and told him “women have biological clocks” and he needs to “shit or get off the pot”.

    Two years ago, when my mom, for the eleven-millionth time said something like, “Well maybe Derek will *finally* propose when….” my brother helped support my cause by gently telling her to back off because it’s okay for us to wait to get married. To that, my mom reacted by crying at the table in a crowded restaurant.

    I love them but they are a common theme in my therapist’s office.

    • anon

      When I was in the process of buying a new car, I explained to my mom that I wasn’t going to buy another SUV because my BF had a truck, and we don’t need 2 big vehicles. Her offhand response was “well, assuming that BF is planning to make your relationship permanent”. Oy. She didn’t say it to be purposely mean and later apologized (after I told my sister how much it hurt), but damn that stung. (This was after BF had talked to my parents about marrying me. And he proposed 2 months later)

    • LACEY

      Lordy. FH and I got engaged a month ago (and I was way past ready), but about 3 months ago, my mother decided she wanted to have the “But what if he never proposes?” question. When I responded with, “I just trust that he will. We’ve talked about it,” she just said, “Well, when you’re ready to leave, you just know.”

      And now we’re engaged, and she is thrilled, but WOW it felt SO GREAT to have her second-guess my FH’s honesty and my own judgment.

    • anon

      If you’re in a committed trusting relationship, you can totally not be married or not be engaged (and it’s alright to want to be those things) and know you want to spend the rest of your lives together, but yeah, one of the best things about being engaged now is that there’s a public stamp of more than bf.

  • Anon

    We’re not yet formally wedding planning, though we’ll be getting married around this time next year.

    When the time comes, I suspect that my mother-in-law is going to be very.. involved. At a recent family friend’s wedding, the pictures from the morning of the wedding were a little hilarious, because my MIL was prominently featured hovering around the bride-to-be (ie there were more photos of my MIL with the bride than with her actual mother). And at another recent wedding (where she also wasn’t related to the wedding party), she volunteered herself day-of to man the cake table.

    I know she is going to be very eager to be involved and help when her son and I get married (my guess is both in the planning, and the day of). It’s very sweet, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I can also see myself going a little crazy, particularly on my wedding day, if she’s hovering too much.

    My future sister-in-law has suggested I task MIL with various wedding day things to keep her busy.

    Does anyone have any suggestions about appropriate day of and rehearsal dinner tasks to give her? I want her to feel involved and used effectively without dumping any old task on her.

    And any ideas on ways to keep her busy during the planning period without actually her.. planning.. things? We tend to have different tastes (I can see us getting married in a park, where she’d be all about some indoor, crystal-dripping, big-haired fanciness).

    • Anon

      And in particular, any ideas about keeping her occupied while I get ready? I think I might go a bit crazy with too much hovering!

      • Emily

        Have her set up the reception room decor, or be the contact point for all arriving parties (DJ, florist, caterer, baker) which should keep her out of the bridal suite. Also, see if you can get another family member to be a filter for you.

        Oh, and “indoor, crystal-dripping, big-haired fanciness” perfectly describes a wedding we attended recently. Borrowing that one :)

      • Amy March

        For while you get ready- tell her she can’t come! You think it’s bad luck for her to see you, want to see her face when you come down the aisle, and are sure that she needs to make sure the groomsmen are all ready to go on time.

      • anon for the day

        I don’t know if this applies to you, but my FH and I will be getting ready separately, and the photographers are going to use that time to get some family photos. So, my future MIL has to be in the hotel with her side of the family. Which is great because it saves time after, and sanity before. When you get around to that part of the planning, if you suggest that to your photographer I’m sure they will jump all over it!

    • KE

      If she has the budget, have her throw you a big engagement party in your FH’s hometown. That’s an “expand to fill any time frame” task that can keep her happy and busy through most of your engagement. Hopefully you and your FH are comfortable with large groups, but even if it’s not your favorite, it could be worth it to suck it up for one night and keep her busy for months.

      If you’re going the traditional “groom’s fam pays for rehearsal dinner” route, then tada! That’s her project after the engagement party.

      • Anon

        Good idea!! I’m not sure if she’ll have budget for those things, but if so, she could totally go crazy and do everything to her style and it wouldn’t matter that much.

        • Mackenzie

          In an effort to keep the mom-hovering to a minimum, I asked both my mom and MIL to come at noon to get their makeup done at our place. That way I made it clear that the morning was just for me and my bridesmaids to get ready and relax, and there was a defined time and reason for them to show up later

  • Anon

    Family. My family was just….. disappointing during wedding planning. To name a few: (1) My parents were in the midst of a very contentious divorce and just could not bring themselves to even fake caring about my wedding (my father never asked about it once, and my mother was almost as bad); (2) my mother refused – REFUSED – to consider that I might want to bring my (very nice) mother-in-law to go dress shopping with me. Nor would she consider that I might want to go dress shopping with just my friends, just once (!); (3) my mother keep telling me that she wanted to be “involved” but every task I gave her was followed by 15 emails about how I was going to give people food poisoning, so I just took them all back.

    And then the kicker was the comment my mother made months after my wedding about how she wished my wedding could have been “nicer.” My wedding was gorgeous and plenty nice, but what she meant was that she wished she had been happier at my wedding. Well, yeah, Mom, I wished that too.

  • LILY

    My mom complains about “not knowing what’s going on”, and my dad tells me that she feels left out…(which is awful, and not what I want at all)…yet during most of the conversations we have about my upcoming wedding, she tends to become critical and unhelpful. And when we or my FMIL invite her up to SEE the venue, try the food, etc (my parents live several hours away), she declines for no specific reason (she is retired, in good health, has the money…). Mixed messages, much?

    • Anon for today

      This, this, this. I have no idea how to deal with this. I am accutely aware that my mom feels left out but have no idea how to include her when she doesn’t seem to want to be involved. And we’re not really a “sit down and acknowledge that we have hurt feelings and then talk about it in a healthy sort of way” kind of family (even though I think that would be an eminently reasonable solution…).

      • LILY: Tell her exactly what you just told us.
        ANON FOR TODAY: something that helped me to create a healthier relationship with my family was to start to ask myself “if I set this healthy boundary or try to have this difficult/uncomfortable conversation without becoming emotional myself, what is the absolute worst possible outcome?”
        By running through a few scenarios in my head of bad outcomes and preparing by imagining how they might feel hearing what I have to say, I am almost 100% of the time pleasantly surprised.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My mother was similar. I reminded myself that I’m not responsible for my mother’s happiness. We answered questions as they came up, tried to invite my mother to appointments, but ultimately, left it on the parents, as adults, to deal with their choices regarding how involved they were. If they complained about being “left out” after being given every opportunity to be involved, we changed the subject.

      • Anon.

        This piggy backs on the “feeling excluded” but does anyone have a mother who perpetually feels excluded? Like not just from wedding planning but at every social event? And perhaps isn’t very self-reliant or self-sufficient, generally speaking?

        My mother is divorced and single (has been for 20 years) and being divorced and single has really been an upsetting factor throughout the whole planning process for her. She feels like because she doesn’t have a husband, she doesn’t know where she “fits” at any event.

        Obviously, this is a much broader problem than just our wedding…but it’s making her more emotional and volatile ABOUT our wedding. She has a desire to be “traditional” and “wishes this all were different” (i.e., she were married) and keeps dwelling on how she has to “do this alone” even though we are very inclusive and try to minimize that feeling by inviting her friends / making a point to introduce her to everyone, etc.

        Every decision feels like a bit of a minefield (and there are lots of tears and frustration on her part, which make us feel awful) and all of the extra sensitivity and planning seems to be a bit in vein because I don’t think anything WE can do can rid her of this feeling. I think SHE needs to adjust her perception / attitude about the whole thing…but that’s unlikely, too.

        Is there anything to do besides keep VERY open lines of communication and try not to take her sadness / dissatisfaction personally?

        Has anyone dealt with this? Does anyone have any strategies for dealing with this?

        • Anon2

          Ugh, unfortunately I only have commiseration rather than much advice other than what you’re already doing.

          My mom actually wasn’t too bad about the wedding, but she’s super sensitive to how much I call her and pay attention to her because of the issues (divorce early in my childhood, raised me as a single parent, etcetera).

          Sorry you’re going through this.

  • Marie

    The year of our engagement both of our parents have separated. Although my parents get along with his parents, our individual sides of the family do not. My mother is also an alcoholic and on a downward spiral only two weeks away from our wedding. I am terrified of the awkwardness and/or drama that might happen. This should be a time to celebrate our love but it’s hard to see through the reminder of failing love.

    • anon chick

      Oh Dear Lord. I’m so sorry to hear all of that. Especially about your mom. Get thee to an Al Anon meeting!

      • Anon

        Yes Al Alon! It will save your life and possibly make you a happier during the planning. I’ve had to increase my meetings ever since I started planning!

  • The Little Sister

    I am the youngest of 2 girls. I might be the favorite, but that is for another open-thread on narcissism and birth order and attention-you-get-as-a-child. My mom is a bit under-involved in our wedding planning, my FMIL is a bit over-involved, and I know for a fact my FFIL doesn’t remember when the wedding is. But my #1 source of tension, anger, stress, and “did she really just say that?” is my older sister.

    I will just share with you what my FH and I call the “I’m Not Throwing Any Parties! Meltdown of 2013”

    [August 1 I called Older Sister to tell her we were engaged!]
    [August 4 Older Sister Calls ]
    OS: Hey, my husband and I would like to throw you an engagement party!
    Me: What’s an engagement party?
    OS: Um, duh. It’s a party to celebrate that you got engaged.
    Me: I’m pretty sure that’s a wedding…
    OS: Don’t be ridiculous. Send me a guest list and we’ll make all the food and host at our house! So fun!

    [Mid-September Older Sister and I are up until god-knows o’clock making effing mini-pies in the shape of the state of Minnesota. Like, hundreds of them.]

    [Day OF Engagement Party]
    OS: You invited SO many people to this! It wasn’t supposed to be this big! (freaks out, unintelligibly)

    [6 Months Later]
    Best Friend Forever: Hey, I am going to start planning your bachelorette party and shower. Do you think Older Sister wants to be involved?
    Me: I don’t know, but if we don’t invite her, she’ll be mad.
    BFF: Right. Let’s do brunch; you, me, Best Friend, and Older Sister.

    [Brunch with BFF, BF, and OS rolls around and she is pleasant- nay, excited- to be a part of a little planning and volunteers to do decorations and beverages. The whole mood of the brunch is agreeable, fun, relaxing, enjoyable].

    [Two Weeks After Brunch of Fun]
    OS: No one wants to host your bridal shower at their house and frankly, I don’t even want to be a part of it. I ALREADY threw you a party and I didn’t realize I would have to do this again, Little Sister!
    Me: You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Really, BFF and BF can probably get it under control.
    OS: But now everyone is EXPECTING me to do it because I am ALWAYS taking care of you!
    Me: It’s really not a big deal. I am not asking you to throw any more parties. I didn’t actually ask you to throw the first one. (Side Note: I should have NEVER said that)
    OS: Good! I am not throwing you any more parties! You didn’t do any parties for me when I got married!! (Side Note: She lived in Nebraska, I lived in Fargo and the wedding was in Minnesota. Tricky.)

    [4 Hours Later; Phone Call; Can hardly hear Older Sister over the SOBBING]
    OS: I am SO SORRY I was SO RUDE!
    Me: It’s okay.
    OS: I feel so bad and I want to make it up to you.
    Me: Okay…
    OS: BUT I don’t want to throw another effing party, okay?

    This is just one tale in a long, long series…

    • Martha

      I should not be laughing at this because it totally sucks, but the way you wrote it is just too damn funny. I feel like I was watching a scene out of a Rom-Com. So sorry your OS if being such a wet-blanket and whiney baby!!!

    • theemilyann

      Hey – she did make the effort to apologize. That’s awesome. Points.

      • The Little Sister

        Yes, she did. And even if it wasn’t a very graceful apology, she does deserve the credit. Now, if only we could get her to think BEFORE she speaks… :)

    • Jessica B

      Oh my goodness. I would be tempted to throw a party just for my friends and call it “Another Effing Party.”

      • hahaha! Seriously, Little Sister. Can you be my little sister?

    • Cocoa

      So identify with this. My sister is a very generous, creative, loving person with a tendency to go far overboard and overextend herself for family events, then lash out afterwards when she feels stressed out or like she wasn’t acknowledged enough or spent too much money. I didn’t want that to happen with my wedding, so I didn’t involve her, anyone really, in the early stages. When I showed my family the lovely, intimate little japanese garden and garden room I had chosen after months of research, she sent me texts saying things like, “You shouldn’t jump on the first thing you see just because its cheap,” urging me to get everyone together for a wedding planning meeting that she would host because “you’re smart and everything, but you never planned a wedding before and you are clueless about some things” and saying that “I was only getting married once and didn’t I want it to be nice” claiming that she would work extra hours and my family (who are all broke, who I frequently have to help financially, and who don’t have the resources to contribute to the wedding but have the strongest opinions) would help pay for a limo and dramatic veil with sparkles and a bunch of other things that I had said I didn’t need. When I said that I needed to take things at my own pace and I needed a break from all the opinions coming at me she got all hurt and I got a text late that night about how at least planning a wedding was the worst problem that I had, at least I wasn’t an overweight single mother. Wow. I still get hurt and mad when I think about how she took something that was already stressing me out and managed to make it all about her, but I have tried to move on, making an effort to give her projects that are up her alley but manageable so I don’t get the day-after sobbing and guilt tripping that seems to follow our family events. The fact is, big sisters are like junior mothers who feel responsible for you and want what they think is the best for you and feel like they failed in some way when they can’t do it, which is likely because they are human and what they think is best doesn’t usually line up with what you want anyway. I hope I won’t do this to my little sister or daughter but there are no guarantees.

      By the way, got talked out of my small garden wedding into a bigger venue with almost double the people and a definitely doubled budget, which my family has not been able to help with financially. Pretty much every decision about the wedding that I regret was influenced by worrying about other people’s opinions and feelings, so I just don’t discuss anything with them anymore until I have to.

      • Martha

        Man, that sucks! I have an older sister and she is not the most organized, but she knows it. She asked me if I needed help with anything throughout wedding planning and was totally fine when I said no. Maybe it’s because we’re so close in age (she’s only 13 months older), but I’ve never really had this issue and it just makes me so sad some people do!!

  • peek-a-boo

    I could go into great long detail about how my parents and a few of my extended family members did not approve of our engagement. It boils down to that I make more $ than he does and though he was working crazy @ss hours and taking home more $ than I was (any hours above 20 was under the table), it wasn’t a “stable,” typical, 9-5 job with benefits that would allow him to support me and be the “head of the household” (he was a chef in a profitable and popular restaurant). Umm, hello?! Didn’t you send me to college so I wouldn’t have to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen “mooching” off my husband (unless he and I chose that path together)?!
    I was told that I should get a pre-nup because he may cheat on me, I should get a pre-nup because if we split up he could take my health insurance, that he was mooching off of me and was going to drag me down financially, that when we had kids they’d be doomed to be in daycare all the time and they always imagined me staying at home with them like my mom did for me, etc., etc., etc.

    My honey did end up getting a new job (he had been looking for many different reasons before our engagement created such a hoohaw about it) and since then their tune has changed a bit. Now they’re for our wedding, but . . .
    – from the sketched out guest list I must not want anyone to come because I’m inviting so few people (both of us would like a wedding of 80-90 guests)
    – no one will come because it’s a Sunday wedding and they’ll have to drive really far and take the next day off (it’ll be a daytime wedding and 95% of the people will have to drive less than 2 hours)
    – people will be expecting a favor after such a long drive
    – are you going to start going back to the gym?
    – since you have a heavier bottom you’ll need a dress such as xyz, so none of these other dresses you’ve flagged will look good on you
    – you want a cake like that? It’s so plain!
    – if you invite one cousin you’ll have to invite them all. Yes, I know you they don’t bother with you and are 15 years older, but you have to invite them

    So they killed the initial glow and excitement of the first few months of our engagement (they both felt it, but my dad was the main speaker) and it seems like a continuous battle every time my mom and I even begin to talk details. Thank God my honey is more level-headed and my MOH is really good when it comes to emotional upheaval.

    • Ah! You are like my doppelganger, only I’m a year or two ahead of you! Hello practically-past-me!

      Person of Choice not “man enough” because of career (or lackthereof) choices? Check. Though my husband, while earning more than his fair share, hasn’t found a “real” (see: office job with benefits and pension plan) job yet, so my dad’s eternal, though muted, disapproval lives on.

      Since I am from the future, let me tell you how things worked out.

      -90 out of the 100 people we invited came to our wedding.
      -On a Sunday.
      -During the day.
      -Even though many of them had to drive an hour or two, or even come in from out of state.
      -Nobody noticed that we didn’t have favors.
      -I did start going back to the gym, but meh on that point.
      -My heavier bottom looked just fine in pretty much every dress I tried on.
      -Everyone LOVED the plain, chocolate cakes we got from a local hotdog chain, mostly due to the fact it wasn’t “wedding cake”.
      -We got suckered into inviting ALL THE COUSINS. It was actually nice to see them again, and I had a lively 10-minute chat with my husband’s cousin about race cars.
      -We probably wouldn’t have missed ALL THE COUSINS if we had stood our ground, though.

      • peek-a-boo

        Thank God! I’ve been trolling around the site to see how other people have approached Sunday day weddings and whether or not they had problems getting guests to come because of it. Thank you! I’m so glad to hear yours went so well! Most of my family immediate family and 1st cousins will be an hour and 45 minutes from the ceremony reception site (both held at the same place). The bulk of the 2nd cousins are 2.5, but they’re the ones that are older, without kids, and don’t mind driving. There are a few in ME, but they’re gung-ho and excited for my wedding, so I don’t see them as not coming. My honey’s side of the family are all local (I moved away from home), so we’re not worried there. We both have aunts and uncles that live in other states (we’re in MA and they’re TX, VA, AZ, and AK) that we don’t expect to come, but will invite because they’re in that 1st tier of family.

        There was SO much more, that was just the tip of the iceburg, as you can imagine. My “favorite” snippet (so far), was dad dissing my engagement ring because it was a “free” ring. My honey’s paternal grandmother gave me her engagement ring from her first wedding (where she married the man that she adopted my honey’s father with). She was married on September 21, 1946 and I would like to be married on September 21, 2014 (which happens to be a Sunday). That also pissed them off because by choosing such a date I was honoring his grandmother (who’ve I’ve only known for 3 years! **gasp** the horror!) without honoring my own parents or grandparents by considering using their wedding days (which I had considered and discarded – parents were in early September and my grandparents were late December).

        How did your husband deal with the negativity towards him? I’m very close to my parents and though their disapproval was devastating, since they’re more on-board I’ve been trying to let sleeping dogs lie. However, my honey is having difficulty letting things go, which I completely understand, but I don’t like knowing he’s still bitter about and hurt by what my dad said. (I had been the person they were bitching at directly and I had to take myself out of the middle so I wasn’t talking for my honey, so they came out and my dad talked to him one-on-one, which was a mixed-blessing. I think there was some things said on both sides that needed to be said to clear up some misunderstandings, but overall they hurt my honey’s feelings). Any advice?

        – My honey and I were seriously thinking of doing a grocery store cake, since we really don’t care and it tastes good. In APW’s recent post about DIYing a b-day cake into a wedding cake someone posted a picture of their plain white grocery store cake that they kicked up with glitter and cake toppers. I LOVED it and now want to test it out at the next event that calls for cake =)
        – Our “everyone and their mother list” currently has 135 guests on it (including us and the officiator). If I don’t invite the cousins that I’m not close with, I’m down to 123.
        – They have started to think on their own about the cousins and my mom has mentioned possibly not inviting a few from her side of the family, no word on what my dad’s been thinking about his side (the side I’m really not close with).

        • You could probably benefit from basic boundary-setting by having some mantras at the ready. “Thank you. I’ll think about that” (then think “GOD no” to yourself). Or when met with disapproval about a choice you’ve already made, like your ring, “Well, I/we like it, and it’s what we’ve chosen. What do you think about Subject Change Item?” and then refusing to discuss it. Or when being guilt-tripped about daring to do meaningful things for your fiance’s family, like picking the date, deflecting, “Parents, you know you’re super important to me, right? That’s why dad is walking me down the aisle/giving a toast/wearing this silly hat to show everyone how important he is”.

          As for Husband’s coping with family disapproval? Partly by not telling him the extent of my dad’s concerns. My dad is a quiet and thoughtful dude, and would never dare be anything but kind to Husband’s in person, and there’s literally nothing short of “getting a real job” that would make my dad worry less. Telling Husband about dad’s worries would accomplish nothing but hurt his feelings, so I don’t relay the concerns.

          The other part is that Husband really just doesn’t care. He’s happy with his choices, I’m happy with his choices, our financial situation is quite sound and we’re both at peace with our long-term goals. He’s very busy, very fulfilled, and is actually really proud of the life he’s building/built for himself. So, he really couldn’t possibly care less what anyone thinks of him. It also helps that I’m insanely proud of him/baffled by his go-getter nature and tell him how great I think he is all the time.

  • Sarah

    Oh man, we’ve had some amazing family moments already. This one just happened this weekend:

    My wife to be’s aunt, who is like a mother to her, informed us that she had a talk with her sister (my wife-to-be’s other aunt) about us having a same sex wedding. The sister is homophobic and anti-gay marriage, so Sarah’s mother-like aunt informed the homophobic aunt that we are only welcoming people who love us and support us. The homophobic aunt is of course invited, but the mother-like aunt said that under no circumstances should the other aunt come if she didn’t love us and support us and our union. I had NO IDEA that they were going to have this conversation but I absolutely love that it went down. The mother-like aunt is super supportive and protective of us on our day. WIN!

    Another story: I too, wanted both my dads to walk me down the aisle together. My step-father said, “Oh yes, that would be amazing and I’m so excited to be asked. I’m thrilled to be invited take part in any part of your wedding. I support you and love you.” My bio dad, after much silence on the other end of the line, said, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” We haven’t spoken about it since and it’s been about a month. Le sigh. Family.

  • Meow McAnonyMouse

    Hey, thanks mom & dad for the wedding gift of whole life insurance that is in debt!
    I (my broke grad student ass) get to pay off TWO Grand before the company gives a cent to my possibly devastated husband (also a broke-ass grad student).

  • Rachel

    Oh gosh, I feel like I could go on for days about my crazy family. (Eric’s mom and aunt are always apologizing for their crazy family and I’m just like YOU HAVE NO IDEA.)

    The worst person in my family is my uncle, who showed up on our front porch a few years ago because he was addicted to crack and had no where else to go. My grandma, being the wonderful woman she is, took him in he lived with us a for a year. It was…pretty miserable. Even once he got clean, it became apparent that he was one of the laziest, most inconsiderate, socially awkward, and obnoxious people I have ever known, and he always takes advantage of the goodness of everyone around him. He’s something of a joke in our family. A few years ago, he lost his job for failing a drug test (for pot!!) and, come to find out, he had taken out a $7000 personal loan not long before that to…buy porcelain veneers for a woman of the streets whose teeth had not fared well thanks to The Drugs. So here he was, asking my poor old grandma for money yet again while he was in debt because he bought some woman of ill-repute a mouthful of shiny new veneers! When I went home in May, I found out that he recently became super right-wing and will rant to anyone who will listen against things like welfare and people “taking handouts” from the government.


    Meanwhile, the most lovable person in Eric’s family is, without question, his grandfather. the first time Eric brought me home, his grandpa discreetly gave him some condoms (which were branded with the business he owns). And every year on Christmas, he gives each family member a box filled with gifts that are said to come from Wonder, his cat who died ~10 years ago. He collects them throughout the year from flea markets/antique stores, etc. and they are the best/worst/best thing in the world. Everyone thinks they are totally crazy/ridiculous, but here’s the thing: they are PERFECTLY selected for each family member’s demographic. The first year I was included (right after Eric and I started living together), Eric and I received, among other things, ancient engineering textbooks (for him), a sex dice game, fur-lined handcuffs, a belly-dancing kit, (all presumably for me), and a 1980s copy of “I’m Pregnant!” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in my life.

    Eric acts like his grandpa is totally crazy, and yet Eric gets super into white elephant gift exchanges and buys ridiculous gifts throughout the year in anticipation. I don’t even care that he’s totally going to do the same thing when we’re old! I’ve seen the look on his grandfather’s face while the entire family is opening their Wonder gifts with awe/horror/hysteria and I’m just like, “Oh this is my future and it is AWESOME.”

    • Emily

      I want to adopt Eric’s grandpa!

      • Rachel

        Right!? Everyone was warning me about him at first like he was the black sheep or something and now I’m like YOU GUYS ARE CRAZY, HE IS THE GREATEST GRANDPA EVER!!!

        • Jessica B

          My family warned my FH about my grandmother–a self, narcissistic woman who has made life difficult for her children– and he just thinks she is ridiculous and hilarious. He genuinely enjoys spending time with her because he doesn’t have all that baggage the rest of us have with her. It’s kind of great to see.

          • anon anon anon

            Yes! My grandmother IS Lucille Bluth. Which in real life is not actually that much fun for the rest of my non-Bluth-like family members. But my FH finds her hilarious and witty, and they get along like gangbusters (no pun intended). To be fair, she has mellowed in terms of her borderline-to-not-so-borderline emotional abuse, so it’s easier to swallow — plus, they don’t spend much time together.

    • Sarah

      I love the white-elephant-gifts-from-the-dead-cat idea! I might have to adopt it for myself — the holidays are only 7 months away so I better get started! ;-)

  • Ya know what? I’m not even going to bother with being anon since the main issues are with people who would have no reason to check out wedding blogs. And if they’re internet stalking me through my own semi-anon blog that I haven’t directly told any of my family about, well that’s a whole other issue entirely that I’d like to know about.

    Issue #1 that everyone thinks needs to be some BIG DRAMATIC ISSUE is my dad. My parents have been divorced since I was 8 and things were pretty ok until I was 18. Then some crap happened related to the divorce agreement that resulted in court that almost required me to testify essentially against him and he cut me out of his life. Except that he apparently told that whole side of the family that it was my idea to cut them all out at my grandfather’s funeral, which I found out about because my mother saw the obituary in the newspaper and couldn’t make it to because it was already in progress at that point. So I’m just done at this point and while it still affects me at times, my stepdad is great and will be filling all of the traditional father roles at the wedding. But people still seem to think that they need to ask what role my dad will have in the wedding and how I feel about it. Honestly, for all I care he can find out about the wedding from the eventual announcement in the newspaper (C and I and our families are from a small town where this is still the norm). Once in a while something happens where it might bother me (the Father’s Day card isle is a little tough), but it’s not something that is actively on my mind or that I’m really worried about. It is what it is. I’m not making a big deal of it, but everyone else seems to want me to.

    Then there is the potential actual issue. My 14 or 15 year old cousin who acts like she’s about 3. She’s been diagnosed with the entire alphabet, but really, it’s poor parenting plus effects of all of the medicines she’s been given over the years. Her first encounter with the consistent use of the word “no” was in kindergarten. Last year, she hit my mom for squashing a bug on the picnic table. She also can’t handle not being the center of attention or doing anything she does not want to do. My aunt and uncle do nothing to try to control her behavior. We’re all pretty worried about how this will play out if they come to the wedding, but we don’t feel like we can exclude her when we’re inviting all other aunts, uncles and 1st cousins.

    And then there’s my mom. She’s mostly reasonable, and pretty great. She’s been a pretty stable force in my life. But. She can be a little … challenging. She has her opinions about life that she likes to push, and I think she is where I got my anxious nature from. Right now, she’s using the bulk of her energy to nag about my employment situation. I’m currently unemployed and searching for a job, but she is constantly on my case to do things that won’t work in the current job market (like go door to door) or apply for jobs that will trigger the anxiety issues that led me to leave my last job. I just have to remind myself that she just doesn’t get it and I can’t make her get it.

    Ok, that was really long, but I feel better now.

    • Oh, and, just thought about this for some reason, my mother has some sort of thing against programs. She announced out of the blue the other day that we won’t need them. Now yes, she and my stepdad are pretty much paying for our wedding, but the woman who insists on favors (as of last check she really liked bookmarks we could get to match our invitations???) doesn’t want programs. We will be having a somewhat traditional religious ceremony, but our families and friends come from varying faiths/aren’t necessarily religious, and, as my MOH pointed out, since the bulk of our wedding party is friends, it’d be nice to let people know who was who. We’d also like to have our friends and family participate in some way, which would be best conveyed through a program. I just don’t get it. C and I are just going to order and pay for them ourselves like we did for our save the dates (also something my mom didn’t think we should do even though we’re having our wedding in the middle of nowhere, requiring a large chunk of our guests to travel).

    • ART

      egad, the Fathers Day cards! Why do they all have to start with “DADDY,….” Of the approximately 4 father figures in my life (some of whom I do love dearly), not one would I ever call “Daddy” in a million years. Nor do I want to get one with some poem about how [recipient father figure] has always supported me, through thick and thin, blah blah. Some of us just need the card that says “Happy Fathers Day”, the end. ‘Cause they might get a card, they just don’t get a “DADDY!” card, you know?

      • EXACTLY! Since he was legally obligated to help pay for college, I felt obligated to send my dad a father’s day card up until I graduated, so as not to give him any excuses. But it was always a hunt for the most generic card I could find. Slap a random picture on the front and “Happy Father’s Day” inside and call it quits. Some of us need those kind of cards for all occasions.

      • I have this exact problem with Mother’s Day cards. I just want one that has a nice photo on it, and just says Happy Mother’s Day. The end. Every other one I pick up feels like a pack of lies.

        Most years I just make it myself.

  • Waited for You to Go First

    My mom has more drama than me-

    When my mom and her younger (by 9 months) brother were 18, they found out in the midst of a big argument that her younger brother was adopted. He’s actually her cousin, as my great-aunt had him out of marriage. To add to this, their two older brothers (8 and 5 years older than them), were both old enough at the time to realize their mom wasn’t pregnant before baby bro came along, but were sworn to secrecy throughout their childhood. Cue longstanding resentment. Fast-forward to my great-uncle’s passing (not a parent in any way), with my oldest uncle and his wife as executor and power of attorney. The legal arrangements created more bad blood between my oldest two uncles, who have never gotten along, culminating in what my corner of the family is calling the Memorial Day Melee last year, when uncles # 1 and 2 got into a shoving match (both in their sixties! one with a fused ankle!) at grandma’s house. Uncle #2 is weirder than ever and is actually disconcerting now in some of his words and actions. Mom and Youngest Uncle live together, drink together, and are still and always BFFs.

    Me? I just have parents who divorced messily after my freshman year in college. Being privy to far too much of my dad’s asshole, irrational behavior, and a couple of domestic disturbance calls, my relationship is currently affable but superficial. He does not understand one bit why I don’t talk to him about my mom’s side of the family. We lived and he still lives nearer to them than to his own extended family, but he would make me, my mom, and my grandma uncomfortable by just “stopping by” Grandma’s house to drop off flowers or a card at her front door- he views it as “doing something nice,” disregarding the context of the whole divorce process. While moving in with my partner, I was very very close to having zero relationship with him when he tried to prevent me from taking my great-great-grandma’s bed with me, which I had in my childhood room for years while growing up. He and mom had used it until they upgraded to a queen, and it came to me, with my mom telling me that it’s now mine forever. This is my maternal great-great-grandma whose bed it was, and still my dad is tried to tell me HE had more claim to it?! I was literally prepared to steal it when I left town and never look back. Fortunately, he conceded, the night before I packed the UHaul. I’m glad my partner witnessed some of that, because it sounds weird to describe the things my dad does, because in public he just seems like a bit of a bumbling-professor type.

    So now, I dread going back to visit because I meticulously plan each and every meal for the entire visit and try my best to calculate time spent with each family member to make it even, and it’s so much stress. I just want to relax at my future in-laws house, by the pool or by the fire (depending on the season), because I LOVE them, and I’m enamored at having a brand new family. I’d be more apt to plan for time off this summer, but I don’t want to deal with family stress at all, so I’m claiming I can’t take off work. I dread planning a wedding, as an event where both my mom and my dad have to be in the same room at the same time. The last time that happened- my graduation- I did my best to avoid them coming together, but the inevitable happened and it was painfully awkward for me.

    Families, man- right?!

  • Samantha

    Went with my fiance to his parents house this past weekend. We were in town for a wedding. His mother has been less than thrilled about me being in his life (the past 4 years) and she told him she didn’t want him to get married. My man is allergic to cats, his mom keeps 2 cats in her house. Ever since I’ve been visiting his childhood home, cats have never been allowed in his bedroom. Keep the door shut so it will be his one safe place from allergies. Anyhoo,
    found out on our visit that his mother has been sleeping in his bed with her cat since we got engaged. She claims its because her cats don’t get along (which makes ZERO since btw). So yeah my future mother in law now sleeps in my fiances bed (not with him of course). I’m beyond creeped out. yeah.

    • That sounds like the perfect excuse to get a hotel next time you visit. “Oh, we’d love to stay with you, but you know his allergies [in stage whisper] I think they’re getting worse, I’m so worried!”

      • Almost Married

        Haha love this!

    • Anon

      Yes, I’d be creeped out too. Even if she’s not meaning to be creepy, she’s just being… creepy.

    • Anne

      I guess maybe this depends on age (or how recently one moved out of one’s parents’ house), but “my” room in my parents’ house ceased to be mine a long time ago. It’s the room my husband and I stay in when we go back sometimes, but we’ve also stayed in my brother’s old room depending on whether my parents have other guests. So it wouldn’t weird me out if one of my parents slept in “my” bed, since it isn’t mine anymore. Just a point of perspective — I agree that it’s strange that she would let the cats sleep in there if she knew you were coming to visit; she should have kept them out for a couple weeks and vacuumed/cleaned thoroughly.

  • Jen

    My fiance and I were sitting down in the early stages of wedding planning when he said something that cracked me up.

    “I can’t believe all those [negative] stereotypes about family and weddings are true… for us.”

    And then we promise to never be like that with our kids, but I bet our parents also made that oath a long, long time ago.


    Oh, goodness gracious.

    All parents are divorced, including my mother and my stepfather. My stepfather is like a second father to me.

    Mom and Stepdad’s Wife do not get along, do not speak, hate each other. Mom and Stepdad do not get along, do not speak. Dad and Stepdad and their wives do actually get along, and as Mom and Dad divorced 26 years ago, they also seem to be cool. All the mothers are supposed to walk down the aisle in the processional and be “sat,” which means about 20 minutes of Mom and Stepdad’s Wife being sequestered in the same small space.

    Sister (also a BM) is Stepdad’s and Mom’s natural daughter (she is a half-sis). SHE and Stepdad’s wife do not get along, do not speak. OtherSister (Dad’s natural daughter by someone other than his current wife) is also a BM, despite the fact that she and I did not grow up together. I have intense anxiety about not being equally close to both half-sisters.

    Also, Mom’s stepfather (StepGranddad) is not invited, as he has molested several members of my family (not me, but including Mom). Grandma (Mom’s mom) IS invited, but probably won’t come, since I am excluding her husband. I am going to quietly not invite StepGranddad, though, because if the extended family finds out, I will have to explain why, and even though they all KNOW, we don’t talk about it. It would be RUDE to not invite the man who molested three of my relatives to my wedding. Christ.

    FMIL has eight siblings, all of whom need to be invited, with their spouses and mostly grown children and THEIR spouses. These include a recovering meth addict (who is admittedly doing much better) and an alcoholic schizophrenic, who made another aunt cry at Thanksgiving.

    Can we all just say it now? Bless my heart. My pea-picking heart.

    • The Little Sister

      “It would be RUDE to not invite the man who molested three of my relatives to my wedding. Christ.”

      Yes. YES. Why do matters of etiquette suddenly matter once a wedding comes up even after someone has molested/abused/neglected family members?! It seems beyond unreal to me.

      • LACEY

        Right?? I mean, leaving off the fact that etiquette/ the mothers are dictating that we invite certain family members, and also that my sister is getting married two months later so we need our guest lists to match or else people will be offended, I don’t understand why I should be expected to invite a child molester to A) the “best day of my life,” and B) an event where children will be present. Umm, no.

      • Ericka

        “It would be RUDE to not invite the man who molested three of my relatives to my wedding.”

        ^This right here makes me see *so much* red, and it’s *so* common. My family has A History With Sexual Abuse, so I hate hate hate hate hate all the etiquette charts and such that don’t seem to understand or acknowledge that sometimes it’s not about “etiquette,” it’s about “safety.”

        Like, the very first node in a flowchart like this one ( ) should be “Will this person cause a direct threat to anyone’s physical or psychological safety?” and a “yes” answer sends you to “De-List.”

    • Yeesh. I’m sorry. May I suggest a referee armed with a flow-chart.

      • LACEY

        It’s funny you said flow-chart. I actually had to draw one for my therapist so she could keep everyone straight!

        But seriously. I think we’re gonna need a bigger flow-chart.

    • Figuring out your procession (and the necessary sequestration immediately before) reminds me of the logic puzzle with the wolf, the goat, and the cabbage getting across the river on one boat, but with all the limitations about which can be left alone together.

      Good luck!!

      • LACEY

        I just Googled that, and found it on MathCats (a hilariously ugly but awesome web site), and I did it! I am so proud of myself right now, and feel like I can DO this wedding processional!

        • Oh good, glad it helped! Though I think if you kept literally to the puzzle, someone would have to walk back up the aisle again, then back down it a second time, so it’s not the best metaphor in the world ;-)

    • Anonynon

      I just wanted to let you know that my BFF is getting married in a very small space at a destination wedding in December and is inviting the man that sexually assaulted me as a child – he’s family to the groom.

      He has admittedly changed a lot and, I do know, deeply regrets his choices. I forgive him as much as I can. I am going to the wedding and will be there with a smile on my face, but I did let her know that I was concerned. I know this is not the same as your situation, but you are not alone.

      • LACEY

        Thanks for saying this. The thing with my grandfather is that he doesn’t regret his choices. When confronted 7 years ago after assaulting my cousin, he said that he “didn’t remember” assaulting anyone else, or her, and that while he wasn’t saying no one was lying, he definitely didn’t do anything wrong. It’s hard for me not to include him knowing my grandmother won’t come, but would be harder to have him there. I think my sister, who is getting married 2 months after me, IS inviting him, so everyone has a different way of handling these things. I don’t begrudge her inviting him– this is just a tough situation.

        I’m so sorry that you’ll be in that situation. I hope you will have someone there with you who you can talk to about it, who can take you to a quiet space if you get triggered.

    • annonny

      Oh my gosh. May I suggest Screw the Processional of the family and let them all sit their damn selves?!

      • Lacey. My goodness. Is a destination wedding and maybe a BBQ or something at home afterword an option?
        Are you sure you want to deal with such a mess of emotions leading up to your marriage?

  • Poor PhD Student

    I think one of the trickiest pieces of this is the money part.

    My parents had been saving for this day, and although my dad has since passed away, my mom has given us a sizeable financial contribution. Because I am a poor PhD student with massive student loan debt, I wasn’t really in a position to turn down her generosity. I was initially told that the money would be given as a gift, no strings attached. If we used it all fine, if not we could keep the rest. That has not exactly been the case…

    My FILs are not in a position to contribute any money, and we would never ask them to. When my FH heard about the amount my mom was contributing, he asked that we not share with his family that my parents were making any kind of financial contribution, let alone how much. We don’t want them to feel bad, and we also don’t want them straining to contribute something beyond their means. This has been creating major stress for him, and I know he now feels obligated to my mother.

    My mom gave me some initial funds for deposits, but then recently has made the comment that she would not be giving any additional money to me until we have a more formal sit-down conversation with all families involved and discuss who is paying for what. How old school is that?

    My response to her was “Absolutely not, we will not be doing that.”

    I explained that the FILs can’t contribute, and that we didn’t want them to know. (Not to mention that she’s ridiculous for expecting them to fly across the country for this meeting). I told her that FH and I would be happy to talk to her, but that would be it. She then asked if she should be planning to contribute funds to pay for the FILs flight and hotel…she would be happy to give me more money to support them.

    At this point, I wasn’t even sure how to respond to her. She’s beyond rude, and I’m embarrassed by her behavior towards my new family. This was the most ridiculous conversation I have ever had.

    I don’t really want any of her money now, and it doesn’t help that she’s been micromanaging me and making very rude comments – “Are you keeping receipts? Do you have a written budget? You can use my money for the wedding, but I hope you know that I’m not paying for your honeymoon. Etc.” Never mind that I plan events for a living. This is unbearable.

    Not sure what to do when I can’t say no…

    • Jessica B

      That is baffling. It’s the worst when you have been open, honest, and direct and the people you’re having the discussion with don’t seem to absorb any of it. Maybe have your FH talk to her about the family situation? My own mother doesn’t take me as seriously as she does my fiance. I rationalize that it’s probably because she watched me go through those dramatic teen years and changed my diaper, so I’m still not really an adult to her.

    • Mackenzie

      One thing that might be too late for your situation (but hopefully not!!) is getting the money upfront. Our parents gave us a lump sum and said no strings attached– which of course wasn’t wholly true but easier to deal with since we had the money already so the nitpicking could be kept to a minimum. If your parents really do have a physical savings account with money for your wedding, there’s no reason why your mom couldn’t give it to you upfront. A tricky thing to ask for…might help if you had a predetermined budget and showed her and said that if she could help you attain that budget then anything beyond that would be out of your own pocket? Ugh money stuff is the worst!!!

  • The Little Sister


    (Old Definition)
    the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

    (New Definition)
    APW Open Thread: Dysfunctional Family Edition

  • Anon

    My dad and step mom who raised me said they wouldn´t attend the wedding if I invited my mom. I havent had much of a relationship with her since I was about 12, but we talk a little bit and I wanted to do the right thing. Maybe they were right and it would have been too awkward, but it hurt so bad that her attendance was more important to them than being at my wedding. Thats the kind of hurt you don´t really get over, even though I pretend its fine.

    • theemilyann

      Oh my. This makes my heart hurt for you so much. I am so sorry that you’re having to deal with this, and as a kid of bitterly divorced parents, I empathize. Please remember that you and your baby family can work to heal this hurt. So many ehugs go out to you from me.

      • Anon

        Yes – actually that was one of the hardest things because I felt that this was the first act of my baby family and I was being forced to act like they had always acted my whole life. I hated being forced into that.

        They definitely knew how I felt and really like some people said above – I love my Dad too much to risk him not coming. (I don´t truly believe he wouldnt have, but it would have meant completely changing the way I would have had the wedding. – At one point it seemed so desirable to have it in my husbands hometown where we live, but that would have been giving up too much for me. )

        Thanks so much for your comments.

    • Anon

      “but it hurt so bad that her attendance was more important to them than being at my wedding.”

      Yes, THIS! I wonder if people realize the kind of messages they send with ultimatums.

      I’m always a fan of if possible telling peeps how whatever crazy thing they’re doing is making you feel. But I know that sometimes this really isn’t possible.

      My heart goes out to you! Like the other post-er said, you can your baby family can help work for healing.

  • Frazzled Bride

    Thank you, thank you for this post! I so need it right now. As a June bride (t-minus 16 days!) it seems like ALL the crazy is coming out at once. And not just from family but our friends too. But I guess the biggest thing that’s been driving me up a wall is what is with everyone’s deal with using the bride as a wedding Google search?
    For instance..
    When’s the bachelorette party? Uh, did you read your evite?
    When and where is the bachelor party? Umm, did you ask the groom?
    How am I going to have enough time to setup my photo booth and take your morning pictures, if the venue doesn’t open till 11? asked the photographer. Ugh! Did you email the venue, cause I believe they’re cc’d right there.

    And my personal favorites..
    What time is the wedding? Where is it? Where are you registered? What should I wear?
    Did you get an invitation?!!!! Because it might be on there. Just a thought.

    Normally I wouldn’t think twice about answering someone’s question. But when you’re juggling at least 6 wedding tasks a day and trying to figure out how to pay for school in the Fall, AND still have a day job. It’s just too much.
    I will say thank the stars for my fiance who’s always ready with back rubs and soothing words. Otherwise I’d probably never get through this.

    • Jessica B

      We are still months away from the wedding, and I totally understand what you’re talking about. One of my FH’s pet peeves is people not treating him like a capable adult, so it rreeeaaalllyyy burned him when his mother sent a bunch of family addresses to me instead of him, when he asked for them and said to give them to him.

      To help circumvent that, there are things that my FH is in charge of (venue, photographer) and things I’m in charge of (guest list, officiant, decor) and things my mom is in charge of (seating, hotel, flowers). Hopefully since we won’t have numbers crossed over, only one person will have to deal with specific things and we can mitigate the question dumping.

    • Aubry

      I know that feel. I run a dance studio and plan 2 big shows at the end of the year. I ALWAYS have people asking me where, when, etc. umm, do you read the newsletters? Cause we told you in October (october! For June!) the dates and location. And monthly since then…

  • ANON

    My family lives far away and so we do not see each other but once or twice a year. Distance = crazy pressure situations + unrealistic expecations by all. Add to this that my father cannot speak 2 words without saying something offensive, usually involving sweeping generalizations about people he has never met. Add to this that it simulatenously breaks my heart and enrages me that my family, *my family*, should be the hateful people so often described in articles about love and acceptance.

    My dad, and all my family, have nothing but love and respect for people they have actually met (i.e. in the concrete), but in the abstract (i.e. their entire world-view) they are harbingers of shame, disgrace, and bigotry.

    Seriously, sometimes they are like the modern-day mother-f*cking Bennets if the Bennets watched certain unnamed vitriolic “news” stations religously. Ah, family.

  • Anonymous

    My parents wanted me to have a really nice fancy wedding but weren’t willing to foot the bill. So, my FH and I have been taking care of all of it ourselves. It’s hard because my parents make offhand comments that are hurtful and judgemental. Then there was this huge fiasco because our venue (in a cabin in the woods which we chose because it was FREE) cannot hold more than a hundred people we just couldn’t manage to invite my moms’ massive family in So.Cal. It wasn’t hard because I have barely a quarter of them as friends on Facebook and haven’t talked to any of them since I was about 14. Still, that blew up in our faces. My parents keep talking about it to me as if I am going to change me venue for all of these acquaintances…

    The most gut wrenching part of it all for me was when my mom and I were at my last fitting at the tailor this Monday and I was wearing my dress with my shoes and all.. I looked over at my mom with expectant eyes and asked, “Well?”
    She responded with a “Fine. Yes. That’s fine.”
    She then proceeded to gush over her own dress.

    And I can’t help but cry in my cubicle as I type this. I mean, was it so hard for her to just say I looked beautiful in my wedding dress? Even if she didn’t like the dress I figured she could still say that her daughter looked beautiful. I wish I could say something to her about it but I just feel ashamed and sheepish with myself about it. Strange of me.

    • anon chick

      Hug. Great big virtual hug for you today, dear.
      It’s disappointing when our mothers can’t be who we need them to be.

    • Meh

      Try not to let your mom’s flaws affect the way you feel about yourself. She might never be the way you wish she was, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be happy and feel good about yourself – or know for a fact that you DO look beautiful in your wedding dress.

  • No need to be anonymous here. I got married two years ago and my family is very messy – as in DV-incarceration-ill will sort of messy. My grandparents and my mom’s entire side of the family despise my father but my mother (who has every reason to despise him) does not. My mom and dad have reconciled to the best of their ability. I’ve maintained a relationship with my dad, and though I didn’t want him to walk me down the aisle, I did want him and my brother and my aunt on my dad’s side to be there.

    Fortunately, my grandparents didn’t say anything to me about this and were coming to grips with the fact that they would be in the same space as my dad for my sake. Thanks, grandparents!

    Unfortunately, my uncle (on my mom’s side) decided that he should let me know that my grandparents were SUPER STRESSED about it and were becoming ill due to the situation (exaggeration on his part). His suggestion was that I dis-invite (is that a word?) my dad in order to save my grandparents all the stress.

    I was prepared for this sort of backlash and I talked to my grandparents (they weren’t nearly as stressed as dear Uncle made it seem) and to my uncle and informed them that while I understand how they feel, it was not their wedding day, nor was the day really about them at all and if they couldn’t cope with having my dad in the same room as them for a total of approximately 6 hours, they should excuse themselves from the wedding.

    All parties attended and it was a joyous occasion.

    That was when I learned what it really meant to stick up for myself and my decision because ultimately, had I decided not to invite my dad because I was afraid of how the rest of my family would feel, I would deeply regret it and that’s what my gut told me.

    • You go, girl.

    • ART

      Love this. I want to say something similar to my Dad (hates my mom/stepdad, has reminded me of that regularly for the last 20 years (so, since I was 7)) but I’m afraid that even if I laid the smackdown beforehand, I’d still spend the whole day looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t acting up. I’m sorry you had to deal with their BS, but glad your people were finally able to enjoy your day without further incident!

  • Emily

    I recently came across something that said (more or less) “All families are crazy. The reason your family seems less crazy than your in-law’s (SUB: anyone else’s family) is only because you grew up with that brand of crazy.”

    Also important: your family may seem so much crazier than your BFF’s or college roommate’s or whatever because you’re not privy to the inner workings. After 5 years together, I’m still navigating the “different brand of crazy” that is my in-law’s family.

  • Anon anon

    How about wedding guest gripes that have nothing to do with family? :)

    When my husband and I got married we went to great lengths to make sure each and everyone of our guests (including the couple mentioned below) was informed and felt like they were honored guests at our wedding (and we truly felt honored both to be able to invite the people we did and to have everyone who came there with us as we got married). That being said, here’s my gripe:

    A couple of our friends are getting married in 2 weeks and my husband and I have not received an invitation. Hold on before you assume that I assume that we are invited when we are actually not…My husband is officiating their wedding! While we know the date and that it is somewhere near Sometown, Somestate USA, we have no idea what the venue is, what time the ceremony is, where we should stay, etc. etc. I know I should just have my husband ask them for these details when they talk about the ceremony, but right now I am just offended, confused (and enjoying the chance to vent to someone other than my husband!). We haven’t seen them since early May and I feel really awkward contacting them and asking “So you know your wedding, we’re invited right? By the way, where is it?”. Also, on a practical note, it is 4th of July weekend and we haven’t made reservations anywhere because we don’t know where the wedding is, so we’ll be driving 2+ hours there are back home the day of the wedding…

    Am I crazy for being offended? Maybe they have some good reason, but right now it feels like we didn’t make the cut of people who got formal invitations and they were just going to tell us the details, but things got busy (like they tend to do in the weeks before your wedding!) so they forgot.

    Ugh, Thanks for letting me vent! :)

    • Almost Married

      That’s insane! I would be just as offended and frustrated, especially since you’re trying to be courteous about the whole thing but logistically you need to know information! Perhaps your husband can contact them to make sure he’s still, uh, officiating? Maybe that will lead to a discussion about logistics.

    • I’ll Never Tell

      Um. Yes. You should have received a formal invitation, especially given that your husband is officiating! All I can think is that maybe, because he’s “working” in some capacity, they assumed you were already clued in to the details, etc.? Still, not cool.

    • Anon

      One possibility could also be that the postal service ate the invitation. We had no fewer than four guests tell us that they never received their invitations. I have no explanation for this. I remember addressing the invitations. I checked them off my list. I have to assume I put them in the mail with all of the others (I did this pretty much all at once). And a select few invitations never arrived. I was horrified when I discovered that we had people hanging out in limbo, wondering where their invitations were. It’s awkward all around.

      • Remy

        I wondered about this when I received exactly 3 RSVPs. (I did send a formal invitation to our officiant, my fairy godfather, and confirmed time/place with him separately as well. I also tracked down my aunt through email to confirm whether my uncle was coming or had to work, and whether she could bring my grandfather, who hadn’t mentioned that he’d been invited despite living next door to her.) But everyone managed to get to the right place at the right time, so apparently they GOT their invitations. Idon’teven.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Exactly! to the comments about your husband “working” and the post office eating the invitations. I’ve had to make the awkward calls of “I got a save-the-date, but no invitation, and I need to buy plane tickets…” and it worked out ok.

      Also, I bet it’s a minority of brides who send formal invitations to the officiant, because, as mentioned, they usually have all the information. I honestly felt a bit funny doing it, but it’s what our 1958 etiquette book said, so we went with it.

    • Kara E

      Ummm…I actually did this to my officiant/her husband. Maybe it was rude, but it wasn’t intentionally so. I mean, I -knew- they were coming, I was planning on having them come and I didn’t realize that they hadn’t gotten one until I called to double check whether they both wanted veggie meals or not. Thankfully she was super gracious and not at all hurt/offended (at least not to me).

      And have your husband call, not you. Especially if you’re already offended.

  • I’ll Never Tell

    I’m really struggling with how involved to be in my little sister’s wedding. We’re both getting married this fall and she has a really close group of girlfriends (while I do not). Sis and I have always been very close and still are, but we’re very different people. Our weddings will be totally different, too.

    I’m her maid of honor and she’s my matron of honor (she’s getting married first), but her bridesmaids/best friends are all GUNG-HO, LET’S DO THIS SHIT! about the bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc., while I’m seriously anxious and stressed over everything I have going on. Between planning my own wedding, working like a madwoman, trying to save money and just generally trying to keep my head above water, I barely have time to breathe — and I’m almost at my wit’s end.

    We had a bridesmaid meeting a few weeks back to go over plans, etc., and I wound up feeling like such the odd woman out. I can’t even put my finger on why, only that it felt like it was all a big fight over who knows Sis best (and therefore knows what she would want for these events). I wound up getting defensive because it was obvious they didn’t think that I, as the MOH, was doing enough for Sis’s wedding. Totally not true, BTW. Because if we want to get all “let’s tally this shit out,” I’ve helped Sis with her nuptials WAY more than she’s helped me. So far, anyway.

    But that’s another post.

    I haven’t said anything at all to Sis about this, nor will I… it’s not her problem how I’m getting along (or not) with her friends, though it is making things a little uncomfortable for me. I’m tempted to let one of her friends really plan the main events because she obviously thinks she’d be doing a better job, but then I get pissed off and think, No — she’s my damn sister, and I’ll do it!

    But then I’m freaking out because seriously, how am I going to throw her an epic bachelorette and bridal shower and everything else while I’m watching my bank account dwindle and trying to enjoy my own wedding planning process? (It’s been hard. Seriously.)

    I should delegate tasks, right? And stop being weird and defensive? I know the bridesmaids obviously have her best interests at heart, and we should all be working together… but I am really pig-headed, so there’s that.

    • Anon for today

      Oh dear. I think all of those feelings are completely justified…the bridesmaidzillas probably do have her best interests at heart but they also seem to have expectations about what you are supposed to do, and that’s not cool. Can you try talking to your sister about offloading one of those events onto the bridalbrigadefromcrazytown?

      “Hey Sis, you know how I’m pretty overwhelmed right now (energy-wise and funds wise) with my wedding, your wedding, and Methyl and Ethyl have been talking about how they would love to throw your bachelorette party. It’s really generous of them to offer. Would it be okay with you if I let them take the lead on planning that event so I can throw you a super-rockin’ bridal shower?”

    • LACEY

      … Are you me? I mean, a few small details are different, but my little sister and I are engaged at the same time, although I am getting married 2 months before she is. I am her MOH, she is a BM in mine. She has a crew of gung-ho BM’s, and my bridal party is small (1 BFF as MOH and 2 sisters as BM’s, that’s it.)

      She and I are very, very different, and our weddings are already reflecting that. I also don’t know how involved she wants me to be, and I don’t know her friends/ the other BM’s at all, so I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about organizing things, when the time comes.

      She is also just out of college, and I am nearly 30, so her friends are really excited about partying and going out and I am… not. What do I do about the bachelorette party then?

      I don’t have advice for you, only solidarity.

    • I vote delegate- save your sanity! What the bridesmaids think has zero bearing on your relationship with your sister or how close the two of you are, how much you love her, etc. I totally can relate to just being stubborn and proving that I can do it all. In this case, you have plenty of more important things to worry about (your own wedding! your own relationships!), so go ahead and throw them a bone.

      Your wits are way too important to be hanging out on their very ends. Step back towards the trunk of the tree, it’s better footing :-)

  • anon y. mous


    My side:

    – I have an aunt who is fun and spirited and has never met a stranger. She also has Bipolar II Disorder and does not choose to treat it with medication. What is fun and spirited and talkative on her best days (and to be honest, even then she is a lot to handle) becomes manic and crying and screaming and stripping off her clothes and displaying inappropriate sexual behavior on her bad days. Big family events, in particular, can be problematic. I am trying to figure out who to assign to “watch” her – ensure that clothes stay on, outbursts are at a minimum, and non-family are not cornered for an hour trying to extricate themselves from a one-sided conversation with her. I will not ask my mother (who is super excited about this wedding) or my cousin (who is in the bridal party) to babysit, but I honestly am not sure who else (besides me! which, nope) can. I think I may be able to get one of my out-of-town uncles to do it, but man, I hate to be like “thanks for taking the long trip! Here’s your charge for the night! Enjoy!”

    (I should note that having BPD is not a bad thing! Many, many people I love have it! But it can be difficult in situations when it is not properly managed.)

    – My family, although they are very wonderful and supportive, quietly hate my choice to get married in a state park. Every time a problem creeps up (and lo, there have been many in this out of the way DIY venue), I get a “if you had just chosen to get married closer to town/in a country club/on a golf course/whatever, this wouldn’t happen.” True! But also MY SOUL WOULD DIE. So.

    His side

    – His side are not local, and I have been BOMBARDED with requests about which hotels they should stay in. The wedding is FIVE MONTHS AWAY. Like, patience? Also when I gave them a few selections, they came back and said they were too much. Cool. I asked (kindly, I thought) what they felt the budget should be, so I could have an idea of what they were looking for, and they never gave one! Like, I’m not a MIND READER, PEOPLE!!

    – His dad has just said he’s not traveling to the wedding, because he doesn’t want to fly due to health concerns. His health concerns are valid (he is at risk for blood clots), and I’m not mad, but I am deeply, deeply disappointed.

    • anon chick

      A few questions to help problem solve about Aunt:

      – 1st of all, does she totally need to come?
      – What has happened at past big family events? Has anyone “watched” her then, or was it a total free-for-all?
      – Is there someone that takes care of her in her daily life (partner, BFF, neighbor, etc), that could act as her plus one/babysitter?

      You’re gonna need a support network to ensure you’re not stressed on the day-of. Providing relevant examples of past behavior to empathetic friends/family might help.

      • anon y. mous

        ha ha, I feel like I may have stolen an actual person’s identity with anon y. mous. I am sorry, real mr or ms mous!

        Yeah, my aunt is very close (she moved across the street from my parents when I was a child, mostly so my mom could take care of her) and I love her, so I definitely want her to come. I just want her and everyone else to enjoy themselves! Past episodes include: stripping off all her clothes in front of random people, becoming violent, telling me that my parents “didn’t even want me but felt like they were stuck” and various other details we won’t get into. She is married to a guy who lives in another state and would be violating parole to attend the wedding (whether or not to invite him also remains a question, because A) I don’t like him and B) he’s not supposed to leave his state but also C) he is technically family), AND he’s not exactly the coolest dude, so I don’t want to rely on him.

        As for who usually watches her at family events, it’s usually my mom. Or my dad. Or me. Or my cousin. And I want a sum total of NONE of us to have to do that on this day.

        I think I will ask one of my uncles. I feel bad about it, but someone is going to have to check on her, and he is very good about handling delicate situations, should they arise.

        • anon chick

          Good idea to ask the uncle. I don’t think you need to feel bad; he will be doing the whole family (including himself) a favor by possibly averting disaster. You may want to lay it out using those examples and saying you totally want to avoid a scene on this special day.

          You could also get him a nice thank card/gift, or take him out to dinner if you really want to show your gratitude for this.

  • MIL is Evil Genius

    Oh, Man! Can we have this once a month?!

  • Anonymous

    “Does no one love you enough to throw your bridal shower?”

    That’s my favorite, so far, from my mother. Not, like, “Did you want a bridal shower?” or “Have you discussed a bridal shower with your friends?” I can take judgment, and I can take her ceaseless undermining of my desires and values, but I will never understand why she has to be mean. Just flat-out cruel.

    And she’s coming to visit next week, which necessitates me taking time off three months before the wedding. Fiance and I are broke and stressed, like everyone else, and now I will be subjected to her constant criticism while spending money we don’t have to keep her entertained.

    Which would be okay, I guess, if we could talk it out like maybe someone’s family does, somewhere out there. (I mean there are healthy families, right?) Or if I could tell her to go to hell and then go sit on the porch with a beer until we both just get over it, which seems like something that happens in real life.

    But no. Because this is the woman who threatens suicide to get her way. She is not simply selfish, immature, or unable to take criticism; she is unstable. I have literally been afraid that she was going to kill us both to prove a point. So I get to continue to sit there and take it.

    Excuse me. I need to strangle my anxiety pillow.

  • Nicole

    My FMIL is profoundly mentally ill and has been jaw-droppingly abusive to my partner for his entire life. After discussing the issue with a therapist, my partner and I decided to cut off contact with her last December in order to protect ourselves from her toxicity. My partner made it clear to her that a future relationship could be possible if she sought mental health treatment (she’s gone untreated for decades now), but she refused. Over the past 7 months, she has continued to barrage us with nasty, threatening emails and voicemails that we don’t reply to. Our wedding is coming up in December, and I sincerely doubt we will be able to invite her. My partner’s father died many years ago, so he won’t have any parents in attendance, which makes me quite sad. I find it both tragic and deeply infuriating that his mother will not attempt to heal herself or her relationship with either of us, especially on the cusp of such an important time in her son’s life.

    • As someone who is currently dealing with almost the exact same thing (except it’s my mom instead of his) I feel for you and send you lots of hugs. In the end we invited my mother to our wedding, and she didn’t come. I regret it in a few ways, because the possibility of her being there prevented other family members of mine from attending.

    • Kristen

      I can’t speak for your FH, but I dis-invited my parents to my wedding and not having them there, was the best thing that could have happened. For me, and maybe your FH is like this too, its disappointing to not have different parents. Like I wish I could trade in the ones I got stuck with for a pair that could be relatively normal. But I didn’t want my parents there. I wanted the mythical fake parents I wished I had. Thinking of it like this really helped me put the disappointment and sadness in the right compartments. Plus not having to worry about them saying something terrible to me on my wedding day was priceless.

      • Nicole

        Thanks, Kristen and Lucy, for your replies! All we’ve heard from people is that we HAVE to invite her because she’s his mother and that we’ll be filled with regret it if we don’t. I don’t really believe that, but it’s still very reassuring to hear your takes!

    • My husband cut off contact with his mother 3 years before we got married because she is really manipulative and emotionally abusive, and he decided as an adult he didn’t need that toxicity in his life. She was trying REALLY hard to get invited to the wedding (I think the one half sibling who still talks to her let it slip that we were getting married) – sending letters, tracking ME down on facebook, somehow getting MY email address (these are made stranger by the face that I’ve NEVER MET HER) – to the point where we couldn’t have a wedding Web site because he really thought she’d find the details and just show up to the wedding. And the attempts at contact stopped immediately after our wedding date.

      I couldn’t imagine not inviting a parent to a wedding (even though we of course have our own brand of effed up), but it was a very, very good decision for us. You gotta do what you gotta do to protect your own well-being.

  • SBN1131982

    We’re been relatively lucky that most family issues can be filed under “kind of cute/endearing quirks.” My favorite families-clashing moment was at my bridal shower. My best friend made a “what do people know about s and y game.” On the question, “What was x and y’s first trip together?” my aunt shouted “qualudes!” The answer was Charleston, SC. FH’s family did not laugh like mine did.

    • HideMe

      That is hysterical!! I would have laughed had I been there!

  • Fake Name Here

    I don’t know if anyone has had a similar experience, but here it goes. My younger brother and I have not gotten along for basically our entire lives, for reasons too numerous and unimportant to tackle here. Now, he’s engaged, and we’re in the process of trying to slowly repair our relationship. Nothing big, but short g-chat sessions, birthday cards, etc. We’re our parents only kids, and I know that it’s hurtful to them that we’re not closer. Also, I’m simply tired of the years of bitterness, resentment, and misunderstandings. I met his fiancee once briefly, and she was lovely. They’re getting married next year 3,000 miles away from us, near their home.

    Now, my husband and I are in the process of trying to have a baby. If we succeed in the next couple of months, we’ll have a young infant to bring with us to the wedding. If it takes a bit longer, though, we could very well be in the position of having a due date very close to the wedding, or me being too pregnant to travel. I’m wondering if we should stop trying for a while to accommodate their wedding.

    I know there isn’t a right or wrong answer here; I’m just wondering if anyone has been in a similar position and would be willing to discuss their thought process. On one hand, we’re ready for a baby and don’t want to wait; on the other, I don’t want to disrupt what progress has been made in repairing this relationship.

    • LACEY

      This is tough. Normally I would say that joyful life events are something we should all always be joyful about, even and especially when they overlap with someone else’s joyful life events. I can understand your concerns, though, given this situation.

      I think that whatever you and your husband decide to do will be the right thing. Keep in mind that there’s a pretty narrow window of conception that would leave you so pregnant that you would be unable to travel at the exact time the wedding rolls around, so if you roll the dice and keep trying, odds are that you will either be pregnant, but able to travel, or introducing your new baby to his/her aunt and uncle! What does your husband say?

      • Fake Name Here

        Thanks so much for your feedback, Lacey! My husband doesn’t want to stop trying, but he also doesn’t get along with my brother – even longer story! I’m just hoping the stars align on this.

  • I’mAnon

    So my partner has this brother, EldestBro.
    EldestBro has never been the most stable guy, but we saw him regularly up until about a year and a half ago. That’s when he started dating Mentally Ill Woman (henceforth known as MIW***).

    They dated for 10 days before getting engaged. For realz. They put off the wedding, initially scheduled for 6 months later, when she stalked all of the woman in his workplace online, telling them via email and facebook to stay away from her man.

    Another 6 months after that, they had a small wedding out in Vegas. My partner and I were not invited for no reason anyone could figure out. His parents brought it up to EldestBro, but EldestBro said he thought partner wouldn’t be able to make it, so he didn’t invite him. The lack of invite was still very painful for partner, as his other brothers were all invited.

    Fast forward a few weeks to a family gathering that I (blissfully) wasn’t at. MIW gets on partner’s case about how she knew we were engaged but she hadn’t been asked to be a bridesmaid (!!!) nor had EldestBro been asked to be a groomsman. Now, keep in mind that neither partner nor I were even *invited* to their wedding. I hadn’t even MET her at that point. Partner does the “uh, I have to go to the bathroom” maneuver to escape her, which REALLY pisses her off. So she tells EldestBro that he is no longer allowed to talk to partner.

    Now all of that I might have let slide and invited them to our wedding anyways, had she not launched into a serious of vicious verbal attacks on MIL (partner’s mom). MIL and FIL were very deeply hurt, and partner and I put our foot down that no one who would hurt our family like that would get invited. Since we couldn’t invite EldestBro without MIW, we didn’t invite either to the wedding (which is a small, destination wedding).

    Now, here’s the kicker: we are having a larger party post wedding in the town where all of these people (and us) live. EldestBro and MIW are coming (MIL wanted them to be invited, but assumed they would continue their estrangement from MIL, FIL, and partner). I am terrified of her finding me and/or partner and/or MIL and berating us.

    What am I supposed to do if that happens? By what I understand, MIW will only stop berating someone at a gathering *if they physically leave.* I can’t get up and leave a party in my honor….

    ***I have given her this name because I do believe that she is very ill, rather than very malicious. There’s a long background to why I believe this, but it’s not relevant here.

    • Ouch. That’s rough.

    • Carrie

      Could you possibly hire a couple of security people for your post-wedding party? That way, if MIW starts making a scene, you could have a couple of big burly dudes politely escort her out and keep her out.

      I’m not sure exactly how much that would cost, but it might be worth looking into. (If the party is at a restaurant, hotel, or other venue like that, they’d probably be able to help you find information about hiring security.)

    • Waited for you to go First

      I’m not sure what the best strategy is for you, but for me, I’d make it exceedingly, exceedingly clear to EldestBro (and maybe MIW, if possible) that you will not tolerate anything less than the most upstanding of behavior. Be exceedingly, exceedingly calm and polite while telling them you would love to see them, but if she is hurtful to you or your in-laws, she will be asked to leave. If she does not leave when asked, you will call the police to escort her out. Say that you do not expect to need to do this, and you really want everyone to relax and enjoy the day. But you do need to protect yourselves.

      My mom is an ex-cop, so I’m very much on the “call the police” team. I once had to call them on my dad, which was exceedingly painful. However, it was necessary to make sure no one was hurt.

  • JJJ

    Our venue is in Brooklyn and is an awesome community arts center our roommate helps run. It’s big enough for all the people we’re inviting, they’re letting us do our own bar, and they just got written up in the NY Times on account of how awesome a place they are. They’ve been in their current space since January & have been working on the space since then, it’s still rough in parts, and when you take a picture from the wrong angle, it has chin fat and grandma arms like everyone else.

    So my mom finally looked at the space’s website, which mostly features art projects that take place inside, and has begun to send me websites for like, farms and other rustic venues. 3.5 months to the wedding! Save the dates are OUT, formal invites are next on the to do list, by which point I am mentally locked into this place unless their is a a flood or a fire that fucking destroys it. This is one of many instances in which her input has been to suggest infinite other options of what we could do, as though I am not aware of the existence of other options and have been trying to NARROW those options down to less options than all options.

    All the issue we have ever had are coming up all the time! This wedding is like the lens of Mother-Daughter Fights, focusing all lifetime fights into one arena.

    • Jessica B

      “All the issue we have ever had are coming up all the time! This wedding is like the lens of Mother-Daughter Fights, focusing all lifetime fights into one arena.”

      I have to say, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Our parents were like that. My mother’s often like that, weddings or no. For my parents, I just tried to let it roll off me. If we were in conversation, I said, “We’ve already decided on x.”

      My in-laws are immigrants, and were less aware of American norms and planning timelines. Their late suggestions weren’t all their fault. For them, I wish we’d had a couple meetings months before the wedding to help them understand how the day would go, step-by-step, and get their requests for traditions they wanted included. It wouldn’t have solved all – or even most of – the problems, because they have hard-nosed personalities and would not have listened carefully to our “timeline,” but it would have at least given them an opportunity to bring up their wishes politely.

    • Cocoa

      Just don’t talk to her about it. Ignore the pictures. I got barraged with suggestions and criticisms after I first showed my family my venue, and I changed it. I don’t blame them, I opened the door by not being resolved and firm. I still regret it, because that venue was very small and really forced us to keep the guest list and costs under control, and had an intimacy I have completely lost (went from a tiny Japanese garden to a public beach with a volleyball tournament happening right next to it). I’m making the best of it, and the wedding will be whatever it was we were supposed to have, but pretty much every decision I have made that I am not satisfied with was influenced by outside pressure and opinions. Now when someone mentions something I “should” do, I either don’t answer, keep talking like I didn’t hear them, or say something vague like “we’ll see” then do what I wanted to do anyway. Don’t fight about it, and don’t let anybody make you second guess yourself or mess up your excitement.

  • My family isn’t too crazy. Or maybe I just don’t see the crazy cause I’ve been around them so much!

    I knew my dad was going to joke about wearing a dhoti and my mom was so surprised when I anticipated his joke. “How did you know he’s been talking about that?” Because I know him :)

    My aunts are planning to wear big Kentucky Derby hats and I think that will be awesome. I did say Southern garden party theme for the reception.

    Knowing that my dress is red, I’ve had so many relatives ask what colors they shouldn’t wear. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble standing out as the bride! I tell them the bridesmaids are also wearing red and they can feel free to wear red too.

    Most of the potential drama is on his side with divorced parents and some old grudges. But his sister got married in January so it was like a test run for us and there was no drama at all!

  • Martha

    Our wedding was two weeks ago and my MIL has an absolute witch for a sister-in-law (I can’t even describe to you how truly horrible she is). Any-who, my MIL’s family is very small. As in, three people: her early-stages-of-dimentia-mother, her brother, and his crazy wife. Because the wedding was a two hour drive from where they all live, the only thing brother and wife were tasked with was bringing Gram. That is it (they were not asked to buy us $300 worth of used fiestaware, a cheap-o wedding dress from China, or a vibrator, but who’s complaining?).

    Well, suffice it to say, they missed the entire ceremony and showed up at the reception. Brother’s Wife was high as a kite (on I don’t really know what) and poor Gram missed the ceremony. Now, I am sadly not sure she really realized it, but that’s irrelevant.

  • Anon for today…

    So…I’m pre-engaged, but have a family issue that I know is going to be a big deal at whatever point I decide to get married (which I admit is actually one of the major things keeping me from going ahead and getting engaged to my dear bf of almost 9 years). My folks had a really terrible divorce a few years ago, resulting in the fact that my mom and her family pretty much can’t be in the same room (or even the same city) as my dad. My mom has said that they’d manage to deal for the sake of my getting married, that I could invite my dad and the rest of them would just keep their distance from him. But here’s the thing: my father has since gotten remarried, and my brother and I haven’t shared that with my mom or her family because it would cause my mother tremendous emotional pain. Even if somehow it was only my dad coming (which would be huge drama with him)…then I’d have to spend the whole time being aware of how much his presence was hurting my mother and her family. My mother is a huge priority in my life, and I really don’t want to do something that would cause her a lot of pain. And yet, I can’t NOT invite my dad. And I can’t really just elope. Which makes me not want to have to deal with getting married at all, until they’re somehow magically able to interact without it being a huge problem (which? is not going to be for a very long time, if ever).

    Has anyone had to deal with these sorts of divorced family dynamics and made it through successfully? Any advice? I’d like to not have this be a major reason why I’m postponing engagement/marriage…

    • KE

      It sounds like the ideal solution has both of your parents attending, and both of them being ok with the other one being there. If that’s the goal, you need to tell your mom about your dad’s new wife ASAP. Like, the next time you see her in person, or if that won’t be for a while, then on the phone, today. Finding out about New Wife during wedding planning (or, heaven forbid, at the wedding) would be much more upsetting for her. Y’all sound really close, and you’ve explained the situation well above. You can do this.

      Ps. Give your brother a heads-up (or do it with him).

    • SarahT

      I am the mother of three daughters, all of whom feel protective of me and my feelings. Which is sweet and all, but we are all accountable for our own happiness, or even ok-ness. Your mom-a grown woman-has said herself that she can manage it. Take her at her word! It may be just what she needs so that this mountain (which is not going away anytime soon-think grandkids) can be managed into a molehill with the right attitude. But even if it doesn’t help her, it’s ok to ask her to put up with it for a few hours. Share with her now that your dad is remarried, and she can start to deal with it now, way before you get into wedding planning. We all get to choose what affects us-both your mom and her family can choose to not be so hurt by it. You can choose to let them choose.

    • Marie

      Hey, I know this is pretty late, but I wanted to chime in. Ke and SarahT have some good advice, and hopefully you’ll be able to work it out between everyone.

      However, you might want to be prepared for other things. A big factor here is how much time you have. As this thread proves, engagements/weddings magnify the crazy. A deciding factor may happen between now and your wedding.

      For example, my initial plan was to invite my dad and his wife and everyone would be cool, if not comfortable. Then my dad sent an incredibly hurtful email that pushed me into therapy. He’s been uninvited, a situation I hadn’t planned on. Guess what? My mom’s family is still cool. It’s was hard to get through all that shit, but it’s ok.

      I really hope that doesn’t happen with your family, but remember that people won’t remain at status quo, and someone may make the decision harder or easier. Your mom might be ok with your dad’s new wife, or your dad might refuse to come. It’ll be ok. If this thread proves nothing else, it’s that we all have crazy families and we’re all dealing with them the best way we know how.

  • Party’s Over

    The abridged, slightly emotionless version of family drama.

    My family:
    First off, some freak accident happened about 10 years ago leaving my uncle paralyzed. I was the one who rescued him. Because Grandmother is senile and now thinks it was my fault and I couldn’t go to my grandfather’s memorial service (that he specifically said he didn’t want) bc I was a poor grad student who couldn’t afford the $700 plane ticket at the time, I’m the new family pariah. She wasn’t well enough to travel alone and my other Uncle and Aunt just didn’t want to come to the wedding to bring her. My paralyzed Uncle couldn’t make it bc he was having another surgery. So no extended family from my mom’s side came. That hurt. It hurt me, but the way it hurt my mom makes me want to fly up there and yell all the things.

    His Family:
    Two older sisters + a hippie mom= 2 mothers + 1 awesome MIL. A couple months before the engagement party they asked to throw us (and a mere 3 months of engagement), Sister 2 was dragging me through the mud to mutual friends and H’s boss. THEN, I found out that less than 24 hours before our wedding Sister 1 decided to poll our groomsmen and friends to see if they really thought I was the right one. When they told her she was crazy, she proceeded to trash me in front of everyone. Awesome-sauce. And you know how I handled it? Like a lady. Or at least as ladylike as I could while still high on wedding bliss. Later at the wedding after-party I asked all siblings in a room and simply said, “I just want you all to like me. I’m a good person, and I hope you’ll see that one day.” Now, the wedding bliss is over, and I get anxious the days leading up to and being with the sisters.

  • AngryAnon

    I feel like more often than not, MIL issues are expected to be a given for most people. When I gave news to my supervisor of my MIL’s terminal lung cancer diagnosis, one of her first questions was, “Do you LIKE your MIL?” And yes, I very much do. She has always been so so supportive of our relationship, and excited that her son is happy. She sends our cats birthday cards! (And she does have actual human grandkids, though not from us yet) She came to my graduation from my master’s program (whereas husband’s dad and stepmom didn’t even send me a text message-and they live 20 minutes from us) and takes an actual interest in you know, my life. It is pleasant to be in her company.

    My FIL on the other hand, can s*ck it. That is all.

    • I adore my mother-in-law. Full stop.

      • theemilyann

        I feel the exact same way. And the fact that I DON’T adore my own mother, and prefer the company of my stepmom and future mother-in-law riddles me with guilt. Come to think of it, I guess it’s not the exact same way. there isn’t a full stop after that. There’s this other mess.

        • If I zoom out and put everything in perspective, there’s a great big mess that’s a lot like yours. However, if I let myself feel guilty for all the ways that my family dynamic does not fit with the typically happy picture that mainstream media so often paints (even when it’s ‘dysfunctional but dontcha just love them anyway’ which no, actually, no.) then I’d never feel anything else.

    • nony-mouse

      She might not be the person I’d choose to spend days hanging out with bonding and sharing our hopes and dreams and the details of our lives and braiding each others hair or anything, but given the wide variety of possible MIL outcomes, mine is definitely one of the good ones.

  • Gina

    Omygod, some of these comments are hilarious and some of them–I’m just so sorry! You guys have way more cajones than I do to deal with such ridiculousness.

    I have a very tight-knit (large) Italian family and we get along really well, and the future in-laws are pretty great, too. However, my one “did that really just happen?” moment happened when I was getting my wedding dress fitted a couple weeks ago. My middle sister, bless her heart, was being sentimental and lacing up the back which takes, I don’t know, a thousand years every time we do it. My mom was sitting there misty-eyed watching and talking to the tailor. My youngest sister was taking pictures.

    After 15 minutes of lacing, younger sister comes over and says “what is that on your dress?” I reply, “I don’t see anything. What are you talking about?” Middle sister: “uh-oh. My foot is bleeding. There may be a spot on your dress. Oh, shit.”

    There was definitely more than a spot. Apparently, when blisters get worn down, they spout blood like a broken fire hydrant, and that’s exactly what happened to my sister’s foot as she was standing behind me, on the train, lacing me up. There was blood EVERYWHERE. All. Over. The. Dress. It looked like I had slaughtered an animal before getting to the chapel.

    I tried to remain calm and an inordinate amount of cold-water blotting undid most of the damage. The tailor promised me that she could get the rest of it out. I thanked my lucky stars this happened at the fitting, not at the actual wedding.

    And then we laughed about it.

  • Anon for this

    There are many, many stories I could relate about my mother and disagreements about wedding planning, but I love her dearly and, while she and I have really different tastes, I do believe she was just trying to make the wedding better. She was just super annoying about it.

    The craziest story I have is not from my wedding, but from the bridal shower in my hometown a few months before. It was mostly my family, but my MIL who lived 4+ hour drive away, decided to attend. On the day of the shower, which was at a little cafe owned by a family member, MIL shows up with her boyfriend, not having warned any of us that she would be bringing him. He proceeded to wait on the porch throughout the entire party, in the window, where I could see him the whole time.

    Now, this would NOT have been a big deal, except for the fact that for years, my widowed MIL has carried on with this much older, married man in “secret”. They live in a small town, so nothing is ever really secret. She refused to discuss the relationship with anyone, and continued to see him even when her actions hurt her youngest son, who was still in high school at the time, playing a team sport coached by one of the man’s sons. In fact, her two youngest sons (DH is the oldest of 3) have each separately caught this 70 year old man SNEAKING OUT of their mother’s window. DH and I had always agreed that, while her actions were upsetting, we didn’t judge her for having the relationship, and couldn’t possibly assume what sort of arrangement this man might have with his wife, who had become disabled in an accident many years ago.

    Of course, I knew all of this has been going on, but, like I said, she didn’t speak to anyone about her relationship with him. That is, until she showed up at the shower, and let us know they were in the middle of a romantic weekend getaway trip. So my MIL’s first attempt to integrate this (unwelcome, for many reasons) new man into HER family was to bring him along to the wedding shower MY family was throwing for me. DH wasn’t even in town that weekend.

    I was so shocked and upset by what felt like a really weird power play. At one point, she looked at me and said “And you can tell (DH) about this (this being her boyfriend accompanying her), or not.” Like she was daring me to tattle on her! We’d always gotten along in the past (DH and I dated for 9 years before marrying), so the whole thing was completely out of left field.

    It really, really sucked.

    • anonTG

      That really does suck. Kind of a fascinating situation. Weddings can bring the “now or never” out of people which may flow in sporadic and ill-conceived ways. May have been some sort of desperation for relationship normalcy and acceptance tainted by fear/guilt and impossible situations -type scenario. Maybe she thought that going through your side would dilute some of the convolution… though it having him sit outside is hella awkward! Sounds like an incomplete plan. Anyways, I commend you and your partner for taking a non-judgmental stance despite the pain it’s caused. I wish that family issues could be contained in an individual-to-individual vacuum.

  • Anonynon

    My issue is not as extreme as some here, but it involves family dynamics, so I’ll play.

    1) My parents are fantastic. They have put up with so much crying from me. They are saints.

    2) My grandma the other day just said how worried she was “about my abdomen” and whether I would fit into my dress. So I finally told (yelled) everyone about the disordered eating I suffered under through most of middle school and my subsequent self-esteem epiphany a few years ago. Not the way I wanted that to come out… but there you go.

    3) His parents are divorced and his stepmom was “like a mother to the children.” Except not. They are all still close with their mom AND their stepmom, but stepmom doesn’t want to believe it. And regularly berates mom. And calls her with urgent messages all the time (hello? why can’t her ex handle it?) And puts her down in front of the kids (one of whom is still in high school) all the time. She’s being totally unreasonable.

    3) His dad/stepmom are hosting the rehearsal dinner and we wanted to make sure his mom was invited (she was not invited to other celebrations and it was very hurtful). Well, turns out mom doesn’t want to go to the dinner. Which is sad, but it’s her choice. To which stepmom has raised Cain over… why? Not sure. She hates the woman.

    Anyway, it’s so lovely to know I/we are not alone with this craziness.

  • theemilyann

    I don’t have a great relationship with my mom. I spent most of the last 18 years of my life listenting to her berate my dad (who, honestly, probably deserved most of it) and being incredibly bitter about family, children, marriage, etc. The fact that I want to get married at all is magic.

    That being said, she has, recently, (the past 5 years or so) started having serious memory problems, and it’s effecting her personal hygeine, upkeep, and ability to communicate with others. It’s complicated and long and a discussion for another topic. Suffice it to say that I realize that our relationship isn’t going to miraculously change due to me getting married. Far from it.

    So, while I could talk about issues with her for pages and pages, my most hurtful moment thus far is actually a toss-up between something my mother did/said and something one of my bridesmaids said.

    My mother’s behaviour was actually so abrasive while I was trying on dresses that other girls asked to be moved to other rooms in the store. Seriously. She not only tore down dresses I chose, but ALSO tore down dresses other people chose. Like the random stranger trying on dresses next to me. She even tried to enlist my bridesmaids in the discussion of other girls. I’m incredibly thankful to this day for my bridesmaidfriend who commented on it later and empathized with me. I feel like someone understands!

    Otherbidesmaid (not the cool one from above) said “I don’t want to be the lead on the ‘who loves emily more’ bridal shower, because it’s just going to turn into a girl-fight, so I’ll help, but I’m not going to assert myself at all”. After she’d just spent like 3 months working on her other best friends shower…. ok. So. I know where I rank now. That’s cool. Good to know that you feel like you wouldn’t be able to control yourself enough to not start pulling out my other friend’s hair.

    I FEEL SO PETTY talking about this, but thanks for the space to rant.

    • Jessica B

      I don’t know your less-cool bridesmaid, but after planning one bachelorette party that was a major flop for a not-great friend, I would never want to plan another one–especially for someone I really cared about. It’s not so much “I care about you less than this other person,” for me it was a feeling of ‘you should get what you want and I don’t think I can organize that for you.’

      Your mom sounds like a struggle. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

      • theemilyann

        I am very much trying to see it from otherbridesmaid’s side, and actually, until this post, I felt I had been super successful. I didn’t react negatively to what she said, I did sort of understand, and I know the other girls want to step up and take the lead, and that’s totally fine with me. I even defended this to the other girls.

        I’m glad I got to say that here because as little as I admitted it to anyone else (and that being not at all) I got to admit that it hurt, here, at least.

        • nony-mouse

          I was wondering if her statement was less about your value to her vs. the value of the girl whose shower she did plan, and more about the dynamic with the other bridesmaids? I’ll do a lot more when I’m in a situation that supports me than when I’m in a combative atmosphere, no matter who the person who ultimately benefits from my efforts is.

    • Concerned Lady

      Hey. I’m not sure if you have already, but you may want to get your mom checked out by a doctor for early-onset Alzheimers or something.

      Sorry to hear that you’re going through this.

    • another anon

      Is your mom developing some dementia or Alzheimers? It sounds super painful. I’m so sorry.

  • Anonymous

    Where to begin.

    1. I haven’t spoken to my dad or his horrible second wife since I was eighteen and eleven, respectively. I friended their children on Facebook a few years ago, and accidentally received a racist rant from my half-brother, and, you know, dead to me. I will not have that nonsense. I will not have it in my life. At this point, it’s fine. I haven’t made my peace, but I am in therapy and have managed to build an amazing chosen family of all the best people. Am I disappointed my father won’t walk me down the aisle? Not really. I’m more disappointed he effectively ruined my relationship with my paternal grandmother before she died two years ago.

    2. I have always been Team My Mom. In spite of the fact she is not able to be nice. Like, you know how some people can’t do math or can’t sing? She just isn’t capable. Yes, she is mentally ill, and she refuses to seek help. Clearly, because of this choice, she doesn’t have any friends and has managed to alienate multiple family members. Which I can deal with. I can. Because again: therapy. But weddings always bring that mom-daughter thing to the forefront and the other day she actually decided this was an appropriate question: “Does no one love you enough to throw you a bridal shower?”


    I calmly explained that I had specifically asked my girls to please refrain from throwing (what are, to us!) superfluous parties. We’re in our thirties and we have plates. FH and I come from small, decidedly middle class families and hang out with artists and activists, and I think it’s a little tacky to make people spend money they don’t have.

    But srsly. “Does no one love you enough.” I cried and emailed the girls. My childhood bestie was so concerned I thought she was going to cry, too. Why would anyone ever say something so cruel?

    3. She’s coming to visit next week, which means I have to take time off to entertain her. The wedding is three months away, and we’re as broke and tense as anyone else. The power struggles I can stand, because it’s the same fight after thirty years: she does not respect my values or boundaries. What I can’t stand is that I will never be able to call her on her nonsense.

    Her favorite game is to threaten suicide. It’s the way she gets away with everything. I will never be able to confront her because it will end with her (or, on occasion, both of us) in dangerous situations.

    4. Excuse me. I have to go strangle my anxiety pillow.

    • Remy

      Aww, jeez. My inner wedding vampire said exactly that about bridal showers, crafting, and all sorts of wedding stuff before I managed to cram it into a sort of mental straitjacket. I get the feeling my mother wanted to ask it. Why is this stuff supposed to be a reflection of my worth as a person?? I congratulate you on maintaining your composure to respond.

      • nony-mouse

        My wedding vampire is currently fighting with several other self-esteem demons inside my head about these things…

        “People volunteering to host celebrations for you = people car,e people love you, you’re worthwhile!”

        “No. Having multiple wedding events means you’re a vain harpy who doesn’t know what marriage is REALLY about and everybody at those events is just resenting you and counting the minutes til they can run home.”

        “Maybe rejecting other people’s offers to do things like that just shows that you’re anti-social.”

        • NotToday

          “Maybe rejecting other people’s offers to do things like that just shows that you’re anti-social.”

          THIS. FH and I are very introverted folks. We enjoy each others company more than anyone in the world. We both have issues with our parents on all sides. When we are left alone in our little bubble of work, hobbies, friends and cat, we are so happy. The thought of sitting in front of every female family member my mother has and opening gifts is giving me heartburn and the shower is 9 months away. It will make Mother happy, which is good, I want to do that, she is doing a lot of things for me with this wedding, but ….

          Is something wrong with me?

    • Concerned Lady

      Oh sweetie.

      2. Why did she say that? You answer yourself above, “She is mentally ill, and refuses to seek help.”

      That was a cruel statement, but it was the mental illness talking. It has nothing to do with you or your worth.

  • L


    So I have a family member who I love but am not close to and who causes my parents a lot of stress if he attends family events (through no fault of his own -he has severe mental health issues). I would love for him to feel included but unfortunately what I want more is for my parents to be relaxed and happy on my wedding day.

    My fiancé on the other hand thinks its perfectly fie to invite his cousin who we all dislike, without even considering it. Just default invitation because it’s easier than questioning it. I understand that he’s in a difficult position and her attendance is probably inevitable but it would have been nice to think he would have actually thought about whether he could get away with not inviting her. I have to live for the rest of my life with the knowledge that I didn’t invite my relative because it was easier but that a future cousin in law who I don’t actually like got to share our celebration.

    …I think I have now talked myself into inviting him actually. This has been useful!

    • T

      I have a cousin like your fiancé’s, and my fiancé freaked out when I told him I was planning to invite her. But it just doesn’t seem worth the potential drama to exclude ONE cousin, when we’re inviting all the rest.

  • H

    I, for one, would really like to whine about my mom. Since I was VERY VERY little, she has been managed by me and my dad fairly effectively. I have no siblings, which probably makes things easier sometimes, but other times, I wish I had some more help.

    When we were planning the wedding, I got my mom and dad a hotel room at the hotel we were going to do a room block at, and sent her pictures of the room. She got the pictures, and immediately flipped out, saying that the room was unacceptable. I clearly didn’t love her because I didn’t care enough to get her a good enough room, and that I clearly just didn’t want her at the wedding. That she was super hurt by it, and she needed me to fix it right now, which obviously I couldn’t.

    Fast forward a few days, she tells me that she wants me to go see this other hotel, and I reply, that I can’t leave from work right this minute, but I’ll be happy to go by this weekend. To which she replies, well, why don’t you want to fix this? You know, if you don’t want to do it, I’ll just drive the 3 hours to where you live and do it myself this weekend. Mom, I just said, I’d do it this weekend. Cue guilt trip, I ended up going over lunch the next day to the hotel.

    It was nice, I sent her pictures, she liked it, I booked the room for her. Then she yells at me, because I wasn’t supposed to book the room. Her sister would do it for her whole family. I then thought, oh shit. Why is your whole family staying there? I need them to stay at the original hotel where the room block is, so when I offer transportation they can use it. She doesn’t care. They want to stay with her. I say, fine.

    Fast forward a couple months, when I need to figure out the transportation, and she says I’ll be a horrible daughter who is working on a power play if I don’t figure out how to get a shuttle bus to her hotel too. You know, even though that adds an extra hour and extra place onto the time, increasing the complexity and price of said shuttle, which is not inexpensive. “I’m paying for everything. You have to have it.” Me, I shut up and do it because I’m a pushover and really hate arguing with her.

    Fast forward to week of wedding. I’m working until Thursday morning the week of the wedding, despite the fact that friends are in town and my future inlaws are in town, and practically begging to hang out with me/us, because I’m a graduate student and mice breed when mice decide to breed. She is supposed to drive over on Friday, and she gets mad at me because I’ve been “ignoring” her all week in favor of my in-laws. I say, “No, I’ve just been really busy at both work and with entertaining every one that I haven’t been able to call until now.” She doesn’t understand this, and proceeds to try to pick a fight with me. Fiance (now husband) takes the phone from her, tells her we’ll see her tomorrow, that he won’t let her fight with me now, and hangs up the phone. I can’t decide which emotion is more prominent: cringing from what’s going on on her end of the phone, or relief that I don’t have to do this right now.

    The next day comes; I meet her at her hotel room, and she proceeds to yell at me while crying for about 15 minutes straight (you know, the first 15 minutes I see her), saying, “He will never take you away from me.” I say, well, I’ll meet you at the other hotel, where we’ll carpool over to the church for the rehearsal in an hour. “Don’t leave me behind”, she says. “I know you want to.” As soon as the rehearsal starts, she was pretty much an angel for the rest of the weekend. With one to two exceptions. Her toast at the wedding is, “Don’t forget where you came from.” You and I both know this is referring to “He will never take you away from me.” And she steals half of my dance with my dad, who is basically the best, because she wants her time in the spotlight too. No, this was not planned.

    Ok, all done now.

    • Anon for today

      LOVE: “[B]ecause mice breed when they decide to breed.” There’s a nice bit of zen hidden in there somewhere.

      • H

        Well, mice NEVER do what you need them to do when you need them to do it. So, you just have to deal with the new pups within the three days that they have pups, otherwise the scary IACUC people will start putting tags on your cages, and then you’ll get in trouble with your boss. And, in this case, they had pups Wednesday afternoon, because of course they would – thus giving you an entire half day less to get your wedding shit done for Saturday.

        • mira

          #1. yes. argh. solidarity fistbump!
          #2: getting into the weeds here, but I’ll take any opportunity to preach the gospel of sunflower seeds and crinkle bedding for finicky breeders. Because, zomg, such a difference!

        • anon and anon

          I’m sorry about the mama drama- It can be really hard to shut down people who feel entitled to that kind of behavior esp when you don’t want to/it is easier to not hurt their feelings-unfortunately that usually means hurt feels on your part :/
          BUT I love your mice breeding comments-I had a really hard time explaining why I would have to go in lab over Christmas and on other holidays when I first started grad school. I’m now much less likely to prioritize science over family if I can help it, and fortunately have great co-workers who can help me with stuff when I’m out of town, but there’s no getting past dealing with pups and pink slips.

    • Anonymous

      So sorry you had to deal with that, H. Props to your hubby for taking care of that phone call for you.

      • H

        Oh, you have no idea. When my mom was yelling at me, I was thinking, wait a sec, this is WHY I’m marrying him, NOT why I shouldn’t marry him. And, then, my MOH and I laughed about it – because at that point, I was expecting something like that. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? She did all of that yelling at me on rehearsal day in front of my MOH. #thankgodforbestfriends

        • nony-mouse

          Well that’s why they’re the best ones :) The people who can deal with the kinds of crazy in your life, those are the keepers.

        • My close girl friend/officiant intervened a few times without me even knowing until after. It was amazing that she was able to step in at just the right moment.


    Surprisingly my family has mostly been drama free. Luckily, my crazy ultra-religious sister who unfriended me on FB when she found out we got engaged will be out of the country and unable to attend our wedding.

    I had a bad {like screaming match, curse words bad} break with my childhood religion about two years ago after which I moved in with Fiance. I didn’t speak with my family for 8 months, but things are better now. They always threatened not to pay for the wedding unless it was in Accepted Religious Venue, but have agreed to pay for our wedding. Which is very nice of them! They have been quite nice about everything. Except {and this is big for Fiance and myself} about the officiant. My mom keeps mentioning using the…{for lack of a better word} pastor of their church as an officiant. I told her no and she got upset and maybe a little bit angry. Not only do I have a bad taste in my mouth for leaders of their church, so do Fiance’s family and Fiance. We would like to avoid an officiant that has *any* ties to that religion whatsoever. I know that sounds harsh, but leaders of their religion tend to be a bit polarizing when officiating marriages and I don’t want our ceremony to be about the officiant’s view of marriage {hint: that my fiance and I are more or less doing what we know is wrong, but will probably come around eventually and see the truth and isn’t it nice that we are all here celebrating their non-eternal marriage.} While I don’t think their pastor would go quite that far, there’s no guarantee. Plus, I just don’t like him as a person in general. Even if he wasn’t my parent’s pastor, I wouldn’t pick him.

    I’m looking into a non-denominational reverend who has experience officiating marriages with both families from my parent’s religion and other religions. I don’t want my parents to feel like I hate that part of them, but I don’t want their religion involved in my wedding at. all. I find parts of what marriage means to their religion very offensive and….I don’t want that kind of background influencing our ceremony. I don’t want to make it a “fiance’s parent’s religion” vs. “my parent’s religion” deal, so I thought a non-denominational officiant might be the best option.

    Not quite sure how to break it to my family without sounding like “I hate your religion and it offends me…” since they have really tried not to say that they hate my “living in sin” and Non-Religious Wedding. I was thinking of saying something like, “We’re looking at an officiant who has conducted ceremonies with people from Childhood Religion and Non-Childhood Religion. We want everyone to feel included and felt that this was the best way to do it so nobody feels left out.”


    Also: I’m so glad I’m not the only one who is relieved that one of their siblings won’t be able to make it to their wedding. High fives??? :/

    • Your strategy sounds great to me. I’d add in a heaping dose of gratitude with it, too: We want everyone to feel included, etc. . .And we are so happy to be planning this celebration with you and I can’t tell you how much it means to be that you’re being supportive of partner and I, it just makes me feel so loved. . .”

  • nony-mouse

    So my family isn’t being overtly ugly. But… my mom is crazy. Like, probably bipolar and/or hystrionic personality disorder, but she refuses to see a doctor about it because she views anyone suggesting she do so as an insult. She was emotionally abusive the entire time I was growing up. The smallest little thing went wrong (even if it wasn’t my fault. ESPECIALLY if it was her fault) and she’d be off and screaming, and then she’d scream at me about the fact that I cried when she screamed at me. Every disagreement got turned around and I was wrong and ungrateful and stupid for ever having an issue with how she treated me, she could be mad at me but I couldn’t be mad at her. I eventually stopped bringing home friends, because I’d always lose them after she had one of her fits in front of them. So I mostly just really kept my distance, put physical and emotional distance between us. I moved out at 17 and that was it. I’ve been to therapy about it, and I deal every day with the fact that I have poor boundaries and tend to enable people who I shouldn’t, because I find it easier in the short term.

    My mother also has the ability to appear like a really sweet old lady who just wants more attention from her only daughter. This is the version that strangers see. This is the only version my FH has ever seen. He believes me, but at the same time he has no idea what she can be. She’s been on her best behavior throughout wedding planning, and my dad has told me a couple of times that he thinks she’s really getting better overall. So far, so good, right? But the specter of what she’s done in the past looms over our relationship. I don’t trust the niceness, I don’t trust her. I’m just waiting for the screaming fits to start. I don’t know why, I don’t know when, I just know that at some point my amazing guy will see the family he’s REALLY marrying into (which I haven’t tried to hide from him, she’s just managed good behavior so far) and be terrified. I’d actually be more comfortable if he’d seen her be like this before, then I’d know that we could handle it. But right now it just feels like some impending doom, the hammer waiting to drop.

    Then on the flipside, she’s trying to be so flipping sweet! She’s doing amazing stuff to help with the wedding! She isn’t demanding any of the ridiculous stuff I hear other people’s parents demanding! I should really bury the hatchet and forgive her! But I can’t. Not without at least some acknowledgement from her of the hurt she caused, the fear that I still have of her. But I also can’t have that conversation right now in the middle of all of this.

    I realize it’s all in my head as of this moment. Mayyyyyybe the hammer will never drop, and all this worry is for nothing. But, if I asked the crazy 8 ball whether my mother would flip her shit at some point, I have a feeling all signs would point to yes.

    • Anonymous

      Weird. I thought I was an only child but we clearly have the same mom. (My post is a few above yours– the one that will probably sound really familiar, especially if your mom threatens suicide like it’s a legitimate hobby.)

      • nony-mouse

        Mentally ill but unwilling to accept help seems to be one of the themes going on in this thread as a whole…

        • H

          Oh, I’m the poster above too, and we all have the same mom. Really.

        • nony-mouse

          yeah I’m reading through the comments bit by bit, and there are a lot of moms that I’m recognizing pieces of here.

      • Yep, this also describes my mother. I hope the hammer never drops for you, honestly. I got the opposite reaction during wedding planning (can’t help, won’t help, won’t go, also it’s all my fault) and it sucks. That’s all that can really be said.

    • anon and anon

      This sounds a lot like my future FIL- mental illness, although being treated and I’ve been told he’s improved since my FH’s childhood, likely to get into screaming rages, but can also be very charming. Hopefully this is reassuring- as the one who’s in your FH’s position, dealing with his family? Totally worth it to get to be with him.

  • Oh sister

    Sometimes family just mystifies me as a concept…we all have these stories, of the craziness, of the feuds, of the impossible family members — and here we all are, with the faith and hope that we can build our own baby families to be something better. More functional. Or maybe that’s just the delusion that gets us all into this mess.. ;)

    My family drama is not actually my problem but it’s become so because of my wedding. My aunt has cut off ties to my mother, the reasons for which go back years, but culminated in that my grandma — who was a tough lady very committed to her family, and would not have accepted any feuds like this between her daughters — got sick and died. It was after her death that my aunt told my mom to stop communicating with her. That was around the time I started planning my wedding.

    I am not neutral, I know my aunt very well and my mother too and I’m on my mom’s side in this. It would be relatively clearcut though still painful if it weren’t for the fact that I am extremely close to my cousins because I lived with their family for a year. Between my aunt and I as adults, I think I am pretty much done with our relationship for reasons which go beyond how she has been towards my mother. But I don’t want to give on the kids…they are still very young, 13, 6, and 4 and if I don’t continue to see them now the younger ones especially will likely forget me and we will have no possibility of a relationship in the future.

    But I also can’t have my aunt at my wedding if she refuses to speak to or interact with my mother, much less do so civilly — aside from the principle of it, my mom would be a wreck and sad the whole time. So I have to have that conversation soon, because my aunt still is under the impression that I am unconditionally fine with her coming (because I checked dates with her way back, before I really understood that she had decided to cut my mother out of her life). It sucks, but it is what it is.

    • H

      Yeah, I’ve thought about that. Is it really most families that are like this? Where are the totally normal couples? And then I realize, oh I know. The totally normal couples are outshadowed by their totally CRAZY siblings. or aunts. or uncles. or parents. or kids. or whatever. So, it’s not that I think that this is a hopeless endeavor, but that the ones who win at this game are by definition, the ones who get the least attention.

  • Mezza

    So, I’m getting married in October, to my girlfriend of almost 10 years, and I feel like the only person in the world (or maybe just the only female only child in the world) whose parents are not remotely excited about wedding, marriage, or any part thereof.

    When I told them we wanted to get married, now that it’s legal in NY where we live, I got to spend a good 2 hours explaining why I would want to do such a thing. And then I still got a follow-up email asking why we would want to do such a thing in Indiana, where both our families live and where it is not legal. My response: “I thought there might be some people there who wanted to attend.” Sigh.

    They are not being unhelpful. They have offered to contribute, and they have made it clear that they will support me in telling the very conservative, very unaware branch of our family. They just…don’t really care. My mother, a costume designer and seamstress, doesn’t even appear to have an opinion about wedding dresses.

    My family (myself included) are all very uncomfortable with displays of emotion, and I can’t really see my parents being excited about any type of wedding, but it’s hard to be excited myself when I always have to be the one awkwardly starting the conversation. ESPECIALLY since I have some mixed feelings about the whole wedding event myself – it’s terrifying to imagine standing in front of many people and being demonstrative of my relationship, which I’ve always kept private.

    Just to add to this awkwardness, my girlfriend’s family are not only much more open about these things, they’re more well-off and have offered to contribute quite a bit to the wedding. My parents don’t get along very well with my future in-laws, and I can already predict some frustration ensuing if they find out they aren’t contributing as much, in either enthusiasm, help, or money, as the future in-laws.

    Anyway. Long story short, I feel like I’m forcing my family into an event that terrifies me a bit as well, and it’s not making this process very pleasant!

    • Itsa Secret

      I won’t be the only one to say this, but your wedding is not an imposition! I’m sorry they aren’t expressing a lot of (or any) enthusiasm but don’t apologize. This is a huge deal, you’re making a life commitment! Just try to keep the amounts of contributions secret, and find some people to be excited about weddings with (I know it can be hard. I’m struggling with it, but keep trying!).

      • Mezza

        I guess a part I left out is that my mom is basically my best friend. We’ve always been really close, and even though I have some great non-related friends who are thrilled to help plan wedding things, it just feels wrong to do without my mother. But I can’t figure out how to get her interested.

        I know I shouldn’t focus too much on how my wedding affects other people, but I’m still sad not to be sharing very much of it with my family.

        • another anon

          Have you had that conversation with her? Like, about her not seeming interested and you wanting her to be? Mine was so busy attempting to let me do my own thing and not overstep, that she erred to this side. When I made it clear that I wanted and needed her help, WOW.

    • Catherine

      Wow I totally feel for you. I’m kind of in the same boat. It hurts when you don’t get the same excitement that everyone else gets…I just got engaged to my girlfriend and my parents are “tolerating” it. It hurts. It gives me anxiety. I could go on… But you’re not alone and my gf and I are dealing with this now as well. I hate feeling like I have to justify or defend wanting to get married.

      • Mezza

        Do you think your parents would be more excited/involved if you were marrying a guy? I actually find it fascinating that my parents’ lack of interest doesn’t seem to stem from the fact that I’m marrying a girl (my mom just offered to disown half the family if they’re rude when I tell them). They just don’t really get why someone would get married when they have a ready-made excuse not to.

        I hope you have some awesome friends who will be excited with you, at least. And good luck with the planning – even if you have to do it without much help from parents.

  • Alison B

    Well, I have created a signal to my bridesmaids to distract my mom when her special brand of crazy gets to be too much. She has an irrational fear of my father’s girlfriend (who is a perfectly lovely woman that I like very much). She is absolutely terrified to be in the same room as this woman. Her fear is egged on by my sister who has only met said girlfriend twice in the 9 years she and my father have been together resulting in MAYBE 10 minutes of conversation with her. Based on these 10 minutes my sister has decided she hates the girlfriend. Plus Mom and Sis will probably end up in a screaming match at some point in the evening (since the only way to communicate with each other is at sound level 11).

    I’m slightly worried about the speech that my father is insisting on giving. I am partly really excited to hear what he’ll have to say, but when he’s had a bit too much to drink he has a hard time realizing when his usually funny teasing becomes downright embarrassing and can be hurtful.

    BUT….at least they’ll be there….unlike my fiancé’s family (including his parents and only sibling), who have decided that they will not be attending at all based on the fact that he invited his grandparents (which is a long complicated story…) Oh, and they keep pressuring us into canceling the wedding so that we can give the money that we’ve saved for the event to fiancé’s parents. Because, you know, a 29 year old woman with a child from a previous relationship doesn’t deserve a “real wedding” (my future sis-in-law’s words) and his parents just declared bankruptcy for the 3rd time and could use it more.

    Seeing that written out makes me feel like a bad person, but I swear that we’re not! We’ve helped them a lot, but it was time to put our feet down and refuse anymore help. So excited to just be over and done with this whole wedding!

    • You are not a bad person at all! You have to be able to secure your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else- and right now that means throwing a wedding to celebrate your own baby family.

      For you dad, maybe you can tag someone else to keep an eye on his drinking before the speech? Or clue the bartender in (have the bartender give him half-strength drinks, or make an excuse not to make a drink for him), so that he doesn’t get too tipsy before the speechifying.

      • nony-mouse

        OMG, I think about the oxygen mask whenever I feel guilty about taking time that’s focused just on me! Secure your oxygen mask before assisting other passengers… I can’t help if I can’t breathe.

    • LoveThyFamily?

      You are NOT a bad person.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I don’t really have much. It was really hard balancing not being the “wedding-obsessed bride” and keeping my mother in the loop regarding our plans. I felt we had to develop special communication skills for wedding planning, and I picked them up faster than she did.

    We had a 15-month engagement and largely followed the WIC planning timelines. But no one else, particularly the parents and the church, did. That gave rise to all sorts of headaches where a parent would ask for a tradition to be honored, and we’d have to run it by the church and the caterer, and then find a vendor. Or we couldn’t get something printed because the church delayed confirming the time, etc.

    For about the 3 months before the wedding, and the 3 months after, I was really hurt by how things worked out with the church. You read all these rants by clergy about brides obsessing over centerpieces while ignoring the more meaningful aspects of marriage preparation. We tried really hard to coordinate with our Priests, but emails went un-returned, questions unanswered, and their requests ended up being last-minute. I want to respond to all those clergy blogs about distracted brides with comments about how we spend more time with the florists than with the clergy because the florists will set up appointments.

    But, I still love my clergy, who have known me since I was 12. Like other wedding stresses, it fades afterwards. I also learned after the wedding that the year of our engagement was a really hard time for my church. I try to think of it as flattering that my husband and I were not considered enough of a concern to distract the clergy from presumably bigger problems.

    • SamanthaNichole

      “It was really hard balancing not being the “wedding-obsessed bride” and keeping my mother in the loop regarding our plans.” — THIS! This is me and it’s caused disappointing feelings throughout this process. I am not a wedding obsessed bride. My fiance and i are pretty low-key about the whole thing. My mom just seems mostly uninterested, although she is throwing me a bridal shower – that I may or may not want, I don’t know – and has asked to be involved in DIYing decorations, but there won’t be too much of that, mostly just setting up. Anyway, I feel like everyone asks me about wedding planning (co-workers and people that you generally don’t want to tell too much to) but my mom doesn’t. I always have to bring it up. My parents separated a few years back, but her boyfriend just moved in with her, so I don’t know. Just clueless.

  • 11monthstogo

    I love this website so much. It is seriously saving my sanity.

    I don’t have huge problems with my family, just nagging issues that really bother me.

    -My mother, for one, keeps mentioning money when we talk about stuff (my fiance and I are footing the entire bill) saying things like “that seems like an awful lot of money” and suggesting things just because “it will save some funds”. I have a budget, I know how much we can afford. If we can’t afford it, I won’t do it. And really it is none of her business how much we spend. I know she is just concerned but she does not need to bring it up all the time.
    -We moved to Chicago recently and we wanted to put down the deposit for our venue space. However, financially we couldn’t afford both. So we asked my parents if they would loan us the money. Well, they suggested that we take it as a gift because what we were asking for was how much they gave my sister and her husband as a gift for their wedding. Which is great! But then I learn later that my older sister had to talk them into it because they were concerned that we wouldn’t go through with the wedding/we would have buyers remorse. I was so pissed. Chris and I had looked all over the city for something perfect and we raved about this place up and down but they still didn’t want to do it because they thought we might change our minds later. As if we are children. But I kept my mouth shut because we did get the money.
    -My mother also has crazy jealousy about my FMIL. She has never had to deal with another mother because, even though my older sister has been married twice, her first husband was from another country so my sister having a relationship with her at all was a non-factor since she didn’t speak english and her current husband lost his mother last summer. My mom told me the other day that when we DIT the flowers the day before the wedding she doesn’t want my FMIL there at all. I didn’t say anything but she is just going to have to deal with it as far as I am concerned.
    -She is also still sort of upset that we aren’t having kids at our wedding. I blamed it on the venue (which does allow kids but how would my mom ever find that out?…alot of venues in chicago do not allow kids) and that has made her a little less upset although she still makes snide comments about it. Honestly, I am not a kid fan and I don’t want them at my wedding. I hate when kids cry. Plus, and this is going to sound a little selfish, but my sister is having a baby in August and he will be around 8-9 months old then and I KNOW that he will be the center of attention, not me and my FH. Well, its my wedding so it should be my day and I do not want any distractions.

    On the other hand there is my FMIL.
    -She is a sweet lady but I really dislike my FFIL. He is a totally jerk and treats everyone in his family badly. My FMIL only has boys so she is dying to help but because she works alot (her husband refuses to get a job so she is the total bread winner) and because of my mom’s jealousy it has been hard for me to give her jobs to do. She is making some table runners for me but I’m seriously worried that she is going to screw it up and not make them like I want them because she has a much more country aesthetic whereas I need them to be sleek and vintage. I also know that when I get the table runners I am going to have to get them dry cleaned because A) they are made out of brocade and B) her husband smokes like a chimney in the house and it smells horribly.
    -She talks non-stop and I do not want her to be in the bridal suite but I also don’t know what to give her to do because I know that my mom is going to be handling things that day (which I totally trust her with because she is awesome at that stuff) and I’m worried that she will just get in the way of my mom and get her feelings hurt.

    I’m also concerned because I know that my parents are going to insist on paying for the hair stylist and barber we are hiring for the day of. They did for my sisters wedding and I do not want my FILs feeling bad because they cannot pay for anything. They are not in a good way financially for many reasons and I don’t want my parents to inadvertently throw that in their faces.

    Ugh! Mothers…..

  • Anonymous

    My family caused me so much stress and anxiety over the planning of my wedding 12 months ago that I got Bell’s Palsy (half my face paralyzed) and continue to suffer from severe anxiety and panic disorder… Apart from the pirate jokes (which were of course totally hilarious), I’m still searching for the lighter side…

  • Anonygirl

    My husband and I got married last September and our families were truly great. I had worries about some relatives being dramatic. I stressed over the seating chart as I negotiated an in-progress-but-still-secret-divorce between a couple (also, the individual one of them was having an affair with was also invited!) However, everyone was joyous and the right amount of drunk and basically their best self.
    The only thing my husband insisted on during planning was inviting his 2 brand new band mates. Calling them “quirky and offbeat” is the kind thing to say, so let’s say that. We had only known them for a couple months, but my husband thought they were fun and I thought “Eh, what the hell. They probably won’t even come!”
    They certainly did come. They came to my tiny hometown, immediately got schlitzed on Coors Light (!) during cocktail hour (I didn’t know it was possible to get that drunk on Coors Light in one hour), and continued to drink like they were backstage after a show. One of them passed out in his car before dinner and the other one continued to cavort about, 2 beers in hand, hitting on my aunts and any other woman over the age of 50. He photobombed pretty much every picture from the dance floor. Looking through our proofs was like playing Where’s Waldo.
    LUCKILY, there were a lot of people at our wedding and everyone thought he was funny for the most part, but we were our venue’s first wedding (sorry guys!) and the night ended when someone finally called the police and he was lead away in handcuffs (luckily outside, so it didn’t stop the party!) Oh, also the police released him an hour later and at the end of the night my husband and I were heading back to the bed & breakfast we were staying at but had to make a pit stop to BUY HIM A HOTEL ROOM because he had no money!
    The band broke up recently and I have no doubt I will never see him again, but every single time I see my parents friends they say something like “Who was that guy with that hat? He hit on Marsha!”

    • Emmers

      “He photobombed pretty much every picture from the dance floor. Looking through our proofs was like playing Where’s Waldo.”


  • Ungrateful daughter

    I shouldn’t whine, but I’m going to…. Our wedding present from my parents, and their sole contribution to our wedding is to pay the travel costs of my two adult (in full time employment) sisters. They get a free trip to the other side of the world for my wedding present. Hurrumph. Pales in comparison to some other predicaments described elsewhere on this thread though!

    • Rachelle

      The whole reason for this post is to vent anonymously. That means no one gets to judge our venting. You’re entitle to be pissed about that – it sucks!

  • Kate

    In the most recent tale of family dysfunctionality, last night was my mother’s birthday. She had too many margaritas and when present time came around she let me know what she really thought of the watercolor I had painted for her (a picture of her and one of my younger siblings embracing):

    “It looks like a bear.”
    “It looks like we’re being sucked into a vortex and are about to die.”
    “It looks like we’re sobbing as we say our last goodbyes.”
    “How long did this take you to paint? No, really?”

    She shuffled into the kitchen this morning and apologized for sometimes “being a mean bunny.”

  • Anon for today

    I have so much enjoyed everyone’s stories today and laughed so many times. My venting will seem fairly mundane by comparison (in part, I’m still too hyper-paranoid to share the funny, but readily identifiable details. Um, yep, HYPER-paranoid).

    I have a teeny weeny family. I am an only child, most of my parents’ relatives died off, the ones remaining on my dad’s side that I like were alienated by my parents long before I was old enough to be allowed to have independent relationships with them, and the ones on my mom’s side are fairly crazygonuts. Some in an entertaining loveable way, some not so much. They will be coming to our wedding. My parents both have some depression-esque issues, possibly actual depression. My family doesn’t talk about money or politics, and doesn’t really drink, except for when they see each other, at which point whiskey is quietly added to all adult’s drinks, as if in some quiet shared act of desperation.

    I love my parents dearly, and they love me, too. Love me to bits. But they are not very good at functioning in society, generally speaking. I don’t really blame them for this now, it’s just what it is. When I was growing up, I tried to make them function (in typical reaction, I became extremely type-A and conscious of meeting every conceivable norm) and, bless their hearts, oh, how they tried to do so for my sake, and managed to hold it together, more or less. But now that I’ve grown up, and also because they’ve been through some hard times recently, they’ve pretty much given up. I have much irrational guilt about the extent to which this is my fault, and they, at times, lay guilt trips on me about how I have achieved traditional notions of success and don’t do enough for them. Mother and I have a difficult relationship that is marked by passive-agressive grudges held on her part towards me. Father and I get on okay but he has a way of saying incredibly judgmental things about others, or incredibly hurtful things about me that send normally calm, controlled FH into a simmering rage.

    FH’s family is large, loud, and love to drink, talk politics, and inquire upon other subjects I consider private. FH’s family has gone through a hard patch recently, and I have some sympathy, but it’s somewhat (not completely) of their own making, and they are now pretty much in the kind of financial position that my parents have been in their whole life (or better off), so my sympahty has limits.

    Like Alison B however, I have this nagging voice in my head that berates me about how we are not doing more for both families, and how we shouldn’t be spending our money on a wedding but should instead be helping out one or both family, even though the rational voice in my head knows that this not our job.

    Needless to say, my family and future-in-laws don’t really get along. My parents feel judged (sometimes rightfully) by FH’s parents, and also just overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in FH’s family. FH’s parents are often hurt (sometimes rightfully) that my quasi-functioning awkward parents won’t socialize with them. I grew up in a family where mother and father’s families did not like each other, and did not interact unless required to do so. I thought that was normal. FH grew up in a family where in-laws spent much time together (he sees it as very idyllic, my observations in the past few years suggest otherwise) and I sometimes become irrationally filled with anger at my parents for not playing nice and therefore bursting FH’s bubble about what he thought the future would look like. We may not even have a rehearsal / pre-wedding dinner because I can’t imaginehow the two sets of parents together in a small controlled dinner setting for three hours would be any fun at all.

    I prefer future in-laws’ company to my own parents’ company because it’s easier and less emotionally draining, even though they try my patience at times I feel extreme guilt (my favorite emotion!) about that preference. FMIL is excellent and enthusiastic at the kind of decorating and planning activities that need to happen, and which I don’t love to do. But I worry about enlisting her assistance because I don’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings (my mom being not good at those things and not particularly interested in helping, as far as I can tell). But, I am very cautious because she likes to have things done her way, and can be extremely cutting (and everyone in FH’s family, including, at times, FH, will defer to her).

    Oh, how could I forget, future SIL. She jokes that she will provide the entertainment at the wedding by dancing on the bar, and either hitting on our single guests or bringing a stranger as a date (we are having a small, fairly conservative wedding and not inviting plus ones we don’t know). She is only somewhat joking, and similar past antics have been viewed as merely amusing. She adores me as long as I don’t challenge her (but that may be hard as it relates to, you know, our wedding), but she and FH do not get along. period. And she’s 3,000 miles away right now. I haven’t even been able to fathom what it’s going to be like once she arrives home.

    So yeah, I’m looking forward to getting married, throwing a party for a wedding, and to seeing all my friends (and maybe, the respective families) have a good time. But I’m also filled with apprehension about the whole scenario….

  • I guess I’m kind of a jerk.

    I feel my dark side coming out. I am ready for my bi-annual Be A Total Asshole vent.


    My like-a-sister friend who I’ve known half my life doesn’t seem like she will tell me if she’s having bridesmaids at her wedding. She’s been planning six months now and she’s six months out so she knows, but she won’t ever answer that question when I send it via text.

    The HILARIOUS (for me) part of it is I have no interest in spending $300-400, plus alterations, plus plane tickets during the holidays, plus hotels in a big city during the holidays, just to fail at looking at all decent in a dress I’m sure would be only meant for girls who are 5 inches shorter and 200 lbs lighter than me. So, I really don’t care about NOT being a bridesmaid. I would be relieved. **I just care about her motivations or reasons for why she wouldn’t ask me.**

    I know, dear APW friends, that she doesn’t know “I’m not interested” – she knows I’ve already been hurt by another former-best friend not asking me to be a bridesmaid essentially because it would have made another of the bridesmaids jealous – so this isn’t her not wanting to ask me to do something I might say yes to out of obligation. This is something else. It could just be that she is having all of her new step-sisters as maids and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings by mentioning it! That I totally understand! I just don’t want to see all of her pretty, successful friends who she’s known for 3-5 years to be up there, with me, the one who knows all of her dirty secrets and life history, sitting in the audience, unless I chose to be in the crowd instead of up there.

    She asked me to the bachelorette party, but I have a feeling it’s because that will only 4 hours away from me and she knows if she didn’t invite me to that, it would really lay bare her feelings towards my value as a friend… and not bragging about it all over the Internet isn’t an option for her so she knows I would know about it.

    I’m worried that, if she’s having bridesmaids but didn’t ask me, it’s just because she doesn’t want a fat bridesmaid. I just have a weird feeling that is a factor, and I never really think of my weight as an issue in most things, so it feels especially weird for me to have that vibe about her avoidance.

    There’s no fucking way me and my man will be dropping ~$1500 at Christmastime to fly across the country to go to her wedding if she didn’t even give me the choice to say yes or no, simply because she wanted everyone cute in her wedding photos she’ll plaster everywhere. I just have no idea how to get her to actually fucking answer me.


    I was the black sheep of the family my entire life, because I was nerdy, aesthetically clueless appearance-wise, and the daughter of “the crazy sister.” Our family was poor and divorced, everyone else in the family was middle/upper middle class and had married, (technically) sane parents. The adults also treated me like I was just like their awful kids who slept around, got in trouble, did drugs, etc, even though I was *actually* the angel child their kids managed to pretend to be between getting caught for the shit they did. So, yeah, I really didn’t like my family growing up.

    Now that the kids and the grown ups alike are finally growing up and realizing I went through some pretty horrible shit as a kid and they were all oblivious assholes about it, they’re kind of starting to come around. But I simply have no interest in inviting them to my wedding or having them as anything other than a small feature of my life because of their personal beliefs and their continued ignorance about mental illness. I don’t have the emotional strength to try to teach them, either.

    I sort of don’t even want to invite my own mom, because I feel like if she’s there, she will tell her family that it was a planned wedding (her brain seriously doesn’t have the capacity to craft and a keep up a lie, so she just tells the truth), then a whole bunch of assholes are going to get all butthurt that they weren’t invited. The only reason I even pretend with them is so they know someone has their eye on them, because I want to make sure my mom gets her fucking inheritance. She had to have those awful people as her parents and siblings so she’s fucking entitled to the damn money, and if she dies before my (actually pretty cool to me) grandma dies, I want to fucking make sure my brother and I get the damn money she was going to get. We don’t even need it. Really. It’s not about MONEY. I truly, 1000000%, look at is like REPARATIONS I am due for having to be related to those pieces of shit and the pain they caused me for decades of my life. That’s it.

    And I feel like I have to temper MY JOY that I’m finally having, and not scream from the rooftops about MY LOVE, simply because then they will start wondering, “well, why the hell were we not invited?” and then shit could fall apart. And so I just wonder if any damn sum is worth the pretzel I keep bending myself into, and if my anger towards them could ever go away if my brother and I were cut out.

    So, it’s really fucking weird all the issues that getting married brings to the surface.


    Found out one of my planned wedding guests feels not just understandably bummed, but seriously hurt when his celiac disease excludes him from eating most things at wedding festivities. And then I also found out that he lashes out at people (words only) because of it, OR just simply harbors really negative feelings towards them (this came straight from his mouth).

    He is one of my newer friends but I felt close to him until some recent unrelated unpleasantness, and he isn’t on my man’s MUST BE THERE list, even though I met him through my man’s long-time, family-like friendship with him. So, I’m contemplating not inviting him, just because I know I will be so worried about whether or not “I did things right” to accommodate his dietary restrictions… especially since we’re having such a small wedding anyway so, ostensibly, I should have the time to come up with something good, in spite of being completely clueless about a gluten-free diet AND being across the country from where I will be getting married in a not-very-accommodating state, so I will be unable to sample and approve anything I manage to find.

    I know, I know. COMPLETELY excluding someone from something they’re just usually partially excluded from is ironic and horrible, **but** it’s not about me needing to simply provide him with something delicious and gluten-free, it’s because he made it clear (directly said it) that he thinks his hosts need to provide a gluten-free alternative that is almost exactly like what guests are eating, so that he doesn’t feel singled out, or else he feels they’re assholes. It feels somewhat heartless of me, but… he is just not worth that level of brain power or special attention from me during my multi-day wedding celebration.

    I have a few vegetarians who will be coming who don’t get bent out of shape at the idea of everybody eating fried chicken while they eat legitimately delicious vegan buffalo wings (that are also gluten free, coincidentally). I know being a vegetarian is a choice, whereas a disease is not, so I know that explains some of the different levels of sensitivity about it.

    The extra effort is for a guest that I would only be inviting, at this point in time, to protect our entire friend-family from awkward feelings about “why so and so isn’t here” since I don’t want to tell them I think their beloved like-family friend is a hypersensitive asshole (and not just about this issue).

    I think, in writing all this, I realized my solution is to invite him, and if he comes, just assign this task to my groom. He can devote the brain power to making this work for his friend, or take the heat for “not being accommodating.” Not me. Nope.


    Those three things above are the sum total of my asshole-ness for a long time now. I guess I don’t have to feel so bad, then. Especially when they’re all very much wedding related problems, thus they have an expiration date.

    Man. If it weren’t for the fact that a wedding would be a rare chance to get our friends together, since we’re spread all over the country… I would just invite our parents and siblings to elope to San Francisco City Hall with us and call it a day.

  • Mellie

    OK, I guess mine isn’t that bad, so thanks for the perspective, but the weirdest thing I have going on is that my mom keeps getting offended by anyone who RSVPs that they can’t come to the wedding and wants to call them and find out why. She even was talking about paying for my cousins to fly here even though she just had to borrow money from me so she obviously couldn’t afford it. Finally we had to have a talk about it and she did realize she was being silly, but I can’t believe it was even an issue.

    Also, sort of stemming from the same place, she kept inviting random friends of the family that she would run into while she was out and about to the wedding. “Hi so and so, oh yeah the wedding is coming up, did you get an invitation?” We are having a big community wedding so we can handle it, but it is really unnecessary. The good news is, all my mom’s friends that she made me invite aren’t too keen on traveling here so they just sent us presents instead. So, win?

    Finally, our families decided to be really clingy right now. As in they live 2 hours away and we have seen one or the other every weekend for the past 2 months. I am so glad they want to be close to us, but also we are 5 weeks out and entirely doing all the wedding prep on weeknights, which is making me no fun. I’d say no, but we just get informed of things like “your father is coming up for father’s day!” or “we are going to drive up there and take you out to dinner!!” and it is hard to be like “oh my goodness leave us alone for a minute!” without sounding like an asshole. Plus the dinner was really good.

    • Mellie

      Oh yes, see also:

      Mom: “Oooh I want to see pictures of your wedding hair trial!”
      Me: “Ok, here you go.”
      Mom: “Oh… is that it?”

    • HideMe

      Ooh I feel for you!! Fiance and I are very introverted – our normal ‘hangout with friends and family’ times are limited to a few weekends a month with the occasional weeknight dinner inbetween purely for sanity’s sake. However, as our wedding approaches (4 months!!!) our schedule is filling up like crazy with really nice, well-meaning, happy time spent with family and friends. The problem is just like yours – it’s exhausting, but how do you say no?

      Also the ‘community wedding’ – that’s not what our started out as, but it’s what it’s turning into. Oh well – we’re not footing the bill!

  • ferrous

    Unexpected benefit of this thread: I feel less embarrassed about this being a second wedding (for both of us; my partner is also divorced).

    Due to various reasons (alcoholism, abuse, mental illness), we had some unpleasant drama at weddings #1. For this wedding, we’re focusing on things we really want, and no parents are invited–appearances be damned to hell! The expectation for low-key second weddings is working hard in my favor.

    Planning has been so much goshdamn fun I can’t believe it. Not once have I woken up in the middle of the night, worried about how to handle a display from my narcissistic, therapy-refusing mother! Or an awkward, grandiose public gesture from my abusive father! It’s heaven. I keep waiting for the guilt… and nada.

    Wonderful thread, and for those who are dealing with these family issues: hug. It’s worse in your head now than it will be on the big day.

    ETA: oh crap, my avatar is right there. Oh well. I don’t think my people lurk wedding blogs.

    • Karen

      I agree. Doing this the second time around, being a little older, and paying for the wedding completely on our own cuts out the issues big time.

  • Itsa Secret

    Compared to others in the thread, my drama is minimal. MIL has not given us the proposed guest list yet. A few family feuds have popped up in my side of the guest list, so I’m tempted to tell people that they can just BE ADULTS AND BE NICE TO EACH OTHER FOR LESS THAN 24 HOURS but knowing my family that won’t work.

    Mostly I’m stressed because I’m not getting a whole lot of planning support. My mom didn’t get to plan her own wedding because of my grandmother, so she’s being sensitive to the point of not expressing any interest. My sister has a lot going on, and is multiple states away, yet she’s the only one who asks about wedding planning, and is the only one expresses any enthusiasm. I love her. My future sisters-in-laws are my bridesmaids, and I’ve been reaching out to them to try and get to know them better, with no response. The fiance says that it’s normal in his family to not communicate well across distances- what on earth does that mean? Does this mean that since we live several states away from his family that I’ll always feel like an outsider and not have a close relationship with them? Am I supposed to be ok with this? HOW SHOULD I FEEL ABOUT THIS?

  • anonfornow

    This will be long and mostly for my need right now to put this out in the world.

    My wedding is next week. I haven’t spoken to my FMIL in 4 months.

    Last year, after we asked (and she agreed to) host our reception at her home, we were guilted about this request and were given suggestions multiple times to “rethink our reception plans” every time we got even into a slight disagreement with her. Every conversation was an opportunity to make us feel guilty about even thinking of asking her to do this for us. She even said herself that she wasn’t doing it to be nice, she was doing it to help us out.

    By the beginning of this year, this nonsense had been going on for about 8 months. My fiance and I had just moved and started new jobs. While I am trying to unpack and get used to my first full time job, she would send me messages all day asking about very minute details that were of no issue 6 months out. One night she calls and expresses concern about my parents staying at her house the night of the reception. She refuses to say that she doesn’t want them there, just goes on and on about how much of an inconvenience it is (although my parents were more than happy to have her at their home for our other reception in my hometown).

    I get guests are work, but this woman will not just give me an outright ‘no’ or just tell me what she wants — just constant mind games and total avoidance of ever being at fault.

    After that conversation, FH and I decided to call off both receptions we had just sent out save the dates for (hooray!) and just continue with our private ceremony — that includes just both sets of our parents. My parents were understandably pissed — to them it seems like my future in-laws have essentially forced us into cancelling the reception (which is true), but they have done it in such a way so that they can always subvert the blame.

    Then couple this with my own parents, mostly my own difficult, alcoholic, negative, racist, and homophobic mother who are coming to California (of all places) for the ceremony.

    Hoping for the best. Preparing for the worst. Wishing we had eloped.

  • Kate

    THANK YOU for this post. We’re very early in the planning stages, but I’m already trying to figure out a way to get married without having my alcoholic father there. If I do invite him, he will probably get drunk and not show up OR get drunk and show up (I think this would be worse) OR go M.I.A. and I spend the whole day worrying about him and wondering where he is… whatever happens, day ruined.

  • anonymousK

    Late to the, uh, party. (?) I dodged a bullet in breaking up with my boyfriend. He’s a great guy, but even if he and I were otherwise perfect for each other (we weren’t, btw) the prospect of having to become part of his family could have potentially changed my mind about marrying him. At their best, they were…inconsiderate. And they weren’t really into making the effort to be at their best.

    My family is trickier. My parents divorced while I was in grad school, and my mom hasn’t really caught on that a) I was affected by that divorce too, and so I need to process my portion of it and don’t want to share that process with her, b) other people’s relationships *aren’t her marriage* and therefore she probably should try to listen to the *actual* details when she learns of them rather than projecting her experiences on to EVERY relationship. Including mine, including those of several of my (very happily, healthily married) friends. I’ve really gotten worn out trying to maintain my romantic relationships while also having to rehash hers and listen to her speculate on all the ways that the demise of her marriage could happen in every other person’s marriage that comes up in conversation. That wasn’t why my most recent relationship ended, but I’ve realized that whenever I do meet the man with whom I’m going to build a marriage, I’m not going to be able to keep walking on eggshells to keep my family happy.

    And I worry that that’s making me less ready to have a healthy relationship of my own. =(

  • Anon-e-mouse

    I am not used to nuclear family drama. Yeah, I have some crazy aunts and uncles, but my parents, and siblings are caring and supportive. Super lucky :-)

    For that reason, the craziness my husbands Older Brother (hereinafter OldBro) and his crazy wife (CrayWife) bring to the table always surprises me. Where to start? Husband and I have been together 10 years now (married for 2). In that entire time, OldBro has always been weird, and extremely rude to husbands parents. I should preface this by saying that we all live in the same small, east coast state, within a one hour radius.

    Three years ago, OldBro and his wife got married. They asked my husband and his younger brother to be groomsmen. Husband said yes. Before the wedding, OldBro told husband that there would be a rehearsal, but no rehearsal dinner. Fine. Husband goes to rehearsal, then finds out there is actually a rehearsal dinner, but OldBro does not want to invite his parents, or me. Caught off guard, husband goes to dinner. His parents (and I) are extremely hurt not to be invited.

    Next day at the wedding, husband stands up as groomsman. It was a nice ceremony. At reception, however, husband and I are seated at the kids table with his 12-year old cousins. Husbands younger brother, and his date, and other members of bridal party and their dates are all seated at head table. So weird. We were pretty insulted, but of course, said nothing. Didn’t want to cause trouble.

    Fast forward 2 months. Husband and I get engaged. Husband reaches out to OldBro, asks him to be groomsman at our wedding. OldBro says no – he “was too recently involved in a wedding and really doesn’t want to be involved in another one.” Legit quote straight from the email. Bizarre. Husband was really hurt – his older brother rejecting him for no real reason?

    Fast forward to wedding. We had asked OldBro and his wife to arrive early because we were taking family pictures before the ceremony. They did not show. In fact, they actually did not show up until well into the reception. This, to this day, hurts me a lot. I think they purposely skipped the ceremony, which, to me and Husband was clearly the most important part of the day. OldBro and wife leave early.

    At that point, OldBro and his wife cut ties with family, but with no explanation or reasoning. They just ignore calls, texts and emails. They have actually restricted most of our cell phone numbers so we cannot contact them.. We were married in August. We did not see them at Thanksgiving or over the holidays. We actually mailed their Christmas presents.

    The next spring, Husbands grandfather died suddenly. It was a really rough time, because my grandfather was also in hospice and ended up dying 2 weeks later. Rough rough time for us. Anyway, because he blocked all our cell phones, we couldn’t contact OldBro to tell him his grandfather passed. We sent him emails and hoped he would show up to wake and funeral.

    He showed up 2 hours late to the wake, and would not make eye contact or talk with anyone but Husbands grandmother (who had lost her husband). It was nice of him to support her, but he would not speak with his dad or uncle. He came to the funeral, but left shortly thereafter and completely skipped the repast meal.

    That was last April. We have not heard from him or seen him since. Not even during Sandy – things got pretty messed up here for a while but he would not respond to our messages trying to make sure he’s ok. Husbands mother is completely heartsick over this. She is an amazing woman. Husband is trying to be strong for everyone, but he’s really hurt by this too. Every once in a while he’ll borrow someone’s phone to leave OldBro a message, but we’ve never gotten a response. Nonsense.

    Mostly I’m just mad at him for hurting people I love so badly. And for no apparent reason.

    Thanks for letting me vent, APW.

  • J

    So far people have been supportive and only minimally frustrating. Maybe this will continue and everyone will be on their bestest behavior ever. Or choose not to come. Or maybe our wedding day will be a big ‘ol mess.
    I am the first grandchild on my mother’s side to get married and the first grandchild in 15 years to get married on my father’s side. FH is the first grandchild on his mother’s side to get married and his siblings have never even been in a serious relationship. So there is a lot for people to deal with that they have no experience with. Also this will be a giant family reunion which could be amazing or insane.
    FH’s family is very conservative. They’re also extremely frugal even though I’m pretty sure they don’t need to be. And they generally just do a lot of things very differently from my family so even though I like them a lot and I’ve been involved in their lives for more than 5 years, there’s still a lot of things that are challenging to navigate, particularly with FMIL. So lots of smallish challenges there. The wedding is in the general area of FH’s home town and people at his church have been asking us about the wedding and giving us random gifts even though we aren’t inviting them :/
    My parents each have four siblings and there is weirdness and long standing stuff between each group of siblings. My mom’s oldest brother bought a house with her youngest brother (who has schizophrenia) and somehow (I don’t know all the details) decided he couldn’t afford the house and left my younger uncle to deal with it. Which basically meant that my mom had to deal with it. And my uncle, who has enough to take care of with his own health, had to declare bankruptcy and the house was repossessed. Oldest uncle has not been involved in family stuff for several years and things are not so pleasant between him and his siblings.
    One of my dad’s sisters mismanaged (or stole? she is ill and often forgets things) my grandparents’ money after they passed and my dad’s brothers will not get over it. This was 9 years ago. A couple years ago my youngest uncle started yelling at my dad in a restaurant because my dad refused to pick sides and engage him in an argument about the situation.
    My vocally racist (mainly against hispanic people) great Aunt (who I love everything else about) will be attending and so will my sister’s very obviously Puerto Rican partner. My grandfather also insisted at a recent family gathering (that thank goodness sister’s partner was not at) that several racial slurs were not inappropriate, just what you call people. He actually had an argument with someone about this.
    Our next door neighbor growing up was also my Pastor and he is officiating (and bringing his wife). His daughter is essentially my sister and one of my most favorite people ever. She will be (hopefully) bringing her female partner. Her dad is super supportive but her mom is the complete opposite. Her mother refuses to let her partner visit their home and even begged her father not to visit them last year and then refused to speak to him during the week he was there. My wedding will be the first time that friend’s mother and partner are in the same place. To add to this I have a cousin who is very vocal about his opinions and one of those opinions is that his young children should never see same sex couples interact (dance, kiss, hold hands, etc.)
    Finally, my grandfather is ill and we’re not sure if he’ll be able to travel for the wedding, or even be around in a few months. He wants to come so badly. Everything that’s going on with my grandparents is a huge source of stress for my mom because she is the one taking care of them. My grandma has also had a lot of problems with her short term memory lately but either does not realize it or won’t admit it and therefore can’t take care of my grandfather and is often confused about what is happening and then takes all of her anger and frustration out on my mother. My mom’s grandmother was told shortly before her wedding that she would not be able to travel to the wedding so great grandma announced that she was giving up- and she did. Her passing right before my mom’s wedding was very traumatic for my mom and now my mom is freaking out that the same exact thing will happen to me. Which it might, which would be devastating, but I’m aware of this possibility and dealing with it.
    On top of all of this I am trying to finish my thesis and defend in less than a month and then get married in two and a half months. I also must find a job, move, sit for my certification exam, etc. FH just finished military service and currently does not have a job. Feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for having this for me to vent!

    • LoveThyFamily?

      Your family sounds like a branch of mine. If any of my cousins were getting married, I might think that we’re related. Here’s how I’m handling this.

      I want my wedding planning to be a fun and enjoyable experience that will ultimately join our families. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that our families might not *want* to be joined, let alone in the same room with their blood relatives.

      And you know what? That’s their loss. There are a few trouble makers that I’m just blatantly not inviting because I don’t want to stress over their possible behavior at my wedding. And if anyone questions my decision, I’ll be happy to tell them exactly why Uncle was not invited. (It also helps that we do genuinely have a small venue.) But other than removing people from the guest list, I’m not going to let other people’s issues dampen my planning and my wedding. I’ve gotten a couple of key family members to get the word out that everyone is expected to be on their best behavior (which is sad that we even have to say that). And now, I spend my energy focusing on who and what makes me happy and let everyone else sort their own problems out.

      The only thing that I’m in control of is myself. And I choose to be happy.

  • A. Nonimouse

    I got married a year ago, and my family was wonderfully well behaved, with a few (mostly funny) exceptions:

    – My mother developed a fondness for the word “bridezilla,” which she trotted out with a laugh every time I expressed an opinion – even those she agreed with. For example, I wanted fewer than 50 people at the wedding, I like funky shoes, I preferred there be no kids, there’s a specific type of champagne I love – all these were met with a giggle and her saying “wow, look at the bridezilla over here!” (BTW, we paid for the wedding ourselves.)

    – My father can’t keep track of a single detail to save his life – which I knew, so I made sure that his part in the wedding would be limited to stuff he could handle. I did not expect him to lose his own travel arrangements though, and call me several times the day before and the day of the wedding asking about directions, addresses, times. Sigh.

    – My mother-in-law pretended no one had told her that my father-in-law would be bringing his fiance to the wedding. Mmhmm.

    On the whole, everyone made fantastic adjustments around what my husband and I wanted. I bought my dress by myself, but scheduled a special shoe-shopping weekend for myself and my mother – no complaints there. I didn’t want an aisle, a processional, or to be “walked down” anything, and my dad was fine with it. My mother-in-law couldn’t afford to contribute financially (no one was, but she still felt bad), so we had her host a wine-tasting dinner party with family friends where we selected the wines for the wedding (we paid for the wine). I wanted to make sure I gave my incredibly loving and supportive family props where they are due :)

  • LoveThyFamily?

    I’m late to the party, and this is long, but it feels good to vent…

    MY FAMILY: I don’t like the vast majority of my family. My parents, grandparents, and a few aunts, uncles, and cousins are fine. The rest of my family are self-absorbed, racist, lowbrow rednecks. Don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally laugh uproariously at fart and dick jokes (usually my own jokes…I keep it classy), but “jokingly” calling my future husband and his family a pack of *insert extremely racist and disgusting term here* is not acceptable. And the moment it happened, I made it very clear that it was not acceptable. We thankfully haven’t gotten to the discussions of final guest lists, but I can almost guarantee that certain names will not be on it.

    My mother sympathetically explained to me that this is just the way they are, there is no changing them (as if I would try), and she understands why I’m strongly considering leaving them out. And while I doubt they would actually do or say anything at the reception, I don’t want to take the risk of even one overheard drunken mumble. Despite all of this, my darling fiance still thinks its important to include all of my family. (I don’t know if he thinks he can change them or what.) I’m happy cutting them out and moving on.

    HIS FAMILY: *They don’t even know we’re getting married.* We’ve been looking at venues, talking to vendors, designing invites, pricing favors, making mock-centerpieces, have arranged an officiant, and are building a ceremony. And they don’t have a clue. (Though I suspect his mother does. She’s a smart lady.) Why, you ask, have we kept this from them? Well, because they’re culturally bigoted, slightly racist, and self-absorbed. (Sounds familiar, yeah?)

    Because I’m white and am not entering a field that is “prestigious” (it is, but its not a doctor, lawyer, or engineer), I’m not good enough for their son. They (or at least his mom) think I’m a good person, but his step-dad has yelled at him and called him and our relationship stupid and misguided…in front of me. They are far more concerned with what the community will think, and how his life choices will reflect on them, than with the happiness of their only son. It makes me incredibly sad, especially considering the emphasis my fiance (and I) put on building and maintaining a family network.

    After a long period of fuming, I’ve been trying to be the bigger person and hold an olive branch. Honestly, I’d be happy telling them exactly where they can shove their opinions, but they *are* my fiance’s parents. He’s already had to cut his bio-dad out of his life (for unrelated reasons), and he doesn’t want to choose between his life-partner and his parents. While they are misguided, their actions are out of concern for their son (and themselves), and he’s convinced that they’ll come around eventually. (I should include that through all of this, he supports me and defends me unconditionally.)

    When we do finally make our engagement public, we will be keeping the vast majority of the planning to ourselves. And even though his mother has been saving for the wedding of her only son since before he was born, and we are less than wealthy twenty-somethings, we will probably not be accepting any of it and the strings that come attached to it, if it is even offered to him and his less-than-acceptable bride.

    I could go on, but I feel like I’ve already filled enough of a page.

  • Jillian

    My father has been abusive all my life and when partner and I were going to get married, he threatened to crash our wedding. Considering he also crashed my college graduation, I was worried. We actually had security at our wedding but thankfully he never showed. I found out later that the only reason he wanted to be there was because he was entitled to walk me down the aisle, despite the fact that I didn’t want to be walked down the aisle in the first place.

    He’s mainly out of the picture, but now I have my FIL, who can be equally as shitty to us now. My favorite thing is that since we bought a house, he now addresses Christmas cards to Mr. & Mrs. HisLastName. And this coming after a) I kept my name and b) he had no problem addressing them correctly before. Argh!

  • A Nonny Moose

    So I didn’t have a chance to post yesterday… and I’m late to the party… but I need to put this out there

    I am self inflicting stress… my worries are possibly well founded, but it’s also something that I can do absolutely nothing about… so I just have to wait and see

    I have a feared incidence of family culture shock at our wedding. I love everyone involved, I have a very good relationship with most of my family (some of them are more iffy – especially my mother’s husband… everyone can hate him for all I care… maybe a common enemy is a good thing… I digress) I love my future in-laws… there are so many of them, and they have been so welcoming to me since day one, they are not perfect – I don’t expect them to be – but they kick some serious ass.

    In 9 years together, nary have our families crossed paths – his mom has met my parents and step parents, his step father has met my mom a handful of times? That’s it… in 9 years… woah do I have some anticipation built up.

    My family isn’t quite white collar or upper middle class… but there’s a long line of university degrees and engineering careers. They don’t drink, they don’t cuss, they don’t smoke. We’re a pretty tolerant bunch and pretty modest/quiet (except for when someone is having anxiety issues… then we’re just a little crazed)

    His family is more blue collar… truck drivers, maintenance workers, construction and the like. Many of the aunts and uncles didn’t graduate high school, there’s a long line of GEDs and on the job learning. They drink, they smoke, they cuss. They sure as hell aren’t quiet, and some of them drop epithets and tell jokes that make me way uncomfortable.

    Talk about opposites attract, I am very much a product of my family culture and he is of his. It’s a part of our relationship that I completely adore and makes us a strong team with varied strengths. I’m pretty sure most of our family members have gathered as much already – but they’ve never been in a room together. And now I’m looking at having them ALL in a room together. with alcohol. woo boy. I’m nervous.

  • A Nonny Moose

    my post disappeared… *sad* I’m not sure what went wrong there…

    I don’t quite want to write it all out again… but I’m stressing myself out because the culture of my family is very very different from his, and in 9 years together nary have their paths crossed. And they will all be in one room. with alcohol. woooo boy.

  • Kristen

    I cut my parents off during wedding planning and have never felt better about a decision in my life. My younger sister told me she didn’t feel comfortable coming because of how hurt my parents were. My two brothers came which made me feel less like a loser who no one loves.

    I’ve never been close to my family. I’ve never had a relationship with any of them beyond we all lived in the same house and sometimes took a vacation together. But I don’t know them. I don’t know what they care about, what makes them happy or sad and they don’t know that about me. So its hard to feel bad about it all. My parents have both reached out a few times but I’m not interested in anything other than not getting upset every time I get an email or text. So I’ve decided to take a friends advice and just delete them without reading them.

    My husbands family were one of the reasons I fell in love with him. I adore his sister and his parents and grandmother were super affectionate and loving towards me – I honestly fell in love with them too. Until we got engaged. Then suddenly all the dysfunction and mental illness came roaring out, along with their alcoholism. Problems with his family continued well after the wedding with me being accused of tearing the family apart etc. So I lost both my families during wedding planning. One that had never been a family to begin with and one that had been putting on a good show until I was locked in.

    Luckily my hubby’s sister is still amazing and wonderful. Between she and my husband, they are the only family I really have. It’s hard and I’ve dealt with my fair share of shame. I try and just live life as a good person, admit to my flaws and faults and honestly want to change them and I try to just live life in the now and with an eye towards the future. Hopefully soon we’ll start our own family and maybe someday I’ll feel like I belong somewhere. Here’s hoping.

    • Reluctant Bride

      This is how I feel too… my parents came here in their 20’s and we have no other extended family here. I have three brothers – one of whom I am very close to and want in my wedding. The other two I don’t have a relationship with them at all and I am having a hard time deciding what I want to do for our wedding… I have friends that I want to celebrate with and my fiancee wants to celebrate with his family as well, but my immediate family has always put a damper on happy events and I don’t want my wedding day to be ruined – I’d almost rather elope, but then I want my friends to be having fun and enjoying with us too.

  • Jen G

    Wow do I need this today.

    My Ben is one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. Way nicer than I am, frankly. He has 5 siblings (he’s the oldest) and lost his father about 3 years ago. I just have my older brother, so I am really not used to 4 soon-to-be-sisters. Particularly with the range of people we’ve got. He’s got a very judgey fundamentalist twin sister, bi-polar sister who fails to take care of her mental health at all, converted Mormon sister, youngest sister, and autistic brother. Regardless of any add-on issues like mental health, they are a force to be reckoned with. I’m coming to learn lots more about the various disfunctions in the family, but before wedding planning I did ok with them.

    Well, the extra fun that has developed is that bi-polar sister is upset because one of Ben’s best friends since childhood is going to be in the wedding. This is not a shock to anyone else in the world except her. She decided several years baack (and a decade after it allegedly happened) that childhood friend stalked her and she has PTSD. Nobody corroborates this – literally nobody. Everyone is sure they fought and/or said terrible things to each other, but at the time she never brought it up, nor can anyone remember her acting any different at the time. I’m torn between feeling like a bad feminist b/c why I am accepting the guy’s version of events and feeling like a bad fiance for not trusting Ben and his friend and everyone else who I actually know better and have interacted with. She has at variosu times been hospitalized for claiming she is going to commit suicide and has unsuccessfully “attempted” a few times, though Ben basically thinks they are cries for attention given the nature of the attempts. She has also previously made stuff up about what he and oen of his other sisters allegedly did to her.

    She made a big fuss months ago when she heard childhood friend would be in the wedding, I went out of my way to give her a special invite to the second reception we’re having in Portland, saying that we would love to have her there if she doesn’t feel comfortable at the wedding, but generally steering very clear of either disputing her version of events or saying I didn’t believe her. I tried very hard to validate her feelings without commenting on the underlying facts. Well, we sent invites out a few weeks ago, and his mother actually told us that we caused bi-polar sister to go into a downward spiral and get hospitalized. I honestly cannot believe given the history that his mother actually blamed this on us – or even if she believed it, she told us this. Sister is trying to keep his mother from attending the wedding now. BTW, mother does not actually confirm her version of events. Yesterday, sister sent me an email claiming I was upsetting her and that she has PTSD, and it’s my fault for having childhood friend in the wedding. It is driving me nuts because she did not bring it up with her brother (who, duh, made the decision) because they have NEVER been close and she knows Ben will just ignore it. I just don’t know how to respond. His mother basically blames him for ths even though she agrees the stalking never happened. Hell, his mom actually went ot childhood friend’s wedding 2 years ago and has had him over at their house several times. Despite all of this, she actually said to us that he is wrong for choosing a friend over family.

    I have, up until now, bit my tongue about where she can shove the family. She has always blamed Ben for everything, including his autistic little borther throwing tantrums as a kid (Ben basically raised youngest brother and sister despite his mom not working back then) and generally been a pretty terrible mother. Childhood best friend has been there for Ben his whole life – supportive, entertaining, like a brother really. Bi-polar sister has insulted him, slept with most of his other childhood friends during her periodic sleep-around phases, and several times physically assaulted him.

    I’m trying really hard ot ignore this and hope she doesn’t show up and ruin the wedding, but it is seriously stressing me out. I don’t honestly expect anyone here to have a solution, it just feels good to vent. I know she has legit mental health issues, but she also repeatedly just stops taking her meds then ends up back in a mental health facility. I have had her to our house a few times for family events, despite my better judgment, and therefore NOT invited Ben’s childhood friend. But sometimes being a blood relative really isn’t and shouldn’t be the priority.

    *phew* Getting it all out helps. Thanks internet therapy group :)

    • Jeanine

      don’t really have any advice for you, just big HUGS. xoxox sorry you’re going through this!!

  • anon and anon

    Since deciding to educate myself about this whole wedding planning process and start actually planning ours and moving on from the enjoying the increased public acknowledgment of the seriousness of the relationship phase, I have accumulated a fair amount of wedding feelings, so venting sounds great, and it covers TWO weddings (my dad’s and mine). I used to have a super chill no drama family, but now I feel like I could write a novel venting. In general, I adore my family and think they’re good but people, but my Dad got engaged to his lady friend last October without asking my brother and I for permission first (mom passed away 2.5 yrs before, brother and I in our mid to late 20s living on our own and independent). I’m in camp- we’re all adults here you don’t need my permission to do anything, congrats, etc, while my brother and sister-in-law’s feathers were super ruffled and my brother tried to talk it out/express his feelings using words (which normally I’m all for), and it’s all turned into a mess of hurt feelings, avoidance, and defensiveness (on the part of both my sister-in-law and my Dad’s fiancee). While something I stubbornly refuse to get in the middle of, the fact that neither of them seem like they’re going to be able to get over it anytime soon is really frustrating- it’s been hard to see how much it’s damaged my brother and Dad’s relationship.

    Also speaking of SIL, we have very different attitudes about much of what’s involved in weddings/wedding planning, and while she’s trying to be super supportive and older female figure ini my life (which I do lack- it’s hard knowing I’m doing this without my mom, I live geographically far from my dad’s fiancee and don’t want to infringe on her OMG wedding joy since she’s also in the lead up to her wedding, and I don’t anticipate giddy wedding planning with my future MIL). However, while I’ve surprised myself with how traditional a route I want to go- attractive venue, good dinner, dancing, etc- I still am trying to minimize expense where things are less important to me. It’s going to end up being more money than I want to spend, but not more than we can afford with my dad’s financial support (which is great and I’m super appreciative) so I want to put the money towards the venue, food, and photographer, but don’t feel like spending lots on a dress, or get my make-up professionally done, etc. and plan to do my own flowers. When I’ve mentioned that my SIL and my brother have generally commented, It’s your big day, you should have everything you want, photographs last forever and you want to look great in them (as relates to makeup), and hey, Dad’s good for it and can take care of it. Knowing that the money can be spent is a relief, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend thousands of dollars on things that are less important to me. Plus my SIL announced she wanted to make a big thing out of the first time I try on dresses, invite my friends out to lunch beforehand -which is sweet- I think she wants to create the “say yes to the dress” atmosphere I have no expectations of with my 4 other bridesmaids and family out of town and my mom passed away- but also seems silly to me (I’m not great at being the center of attention and they’ve got better things to do, like science), and I don’t have the typical wedding boutique body- I’m tall and plus-sized, so it’s questionable whether a bridal boutique would have anything that fits me, much less fits my style and my budget- so I’m not sure I really want to put on a show for folks when I’m nervous about those two things. She also mentioned wanting to invite down my aunt (which is sweet and we’re super close, but impractical- she’s a 3hr flight away) and my future MIL (which is a terrible idea, since she’s also long distance and would probably take it the wrong way as opposed to taking the invitation as a sweet gesture). Fortunately, this is all family drama-lite–I’m not happy about it, but for the most part, my family is amazing people and supportive, and the things that aggravate me I can stand up for myself or sidestep.

    Unfortunately, my fiance’s family has got more drama, and while I generally feel uncomfortable sharing his stuff, this is anonymous venting, right?. It’s hard to know how to negotiate a relationship with and know how to feel about his parents since he has a complicated relationship with them. He had kind of a Lifetime original movie childhood, which he barely talks about and generally has moved past, but doesn’t really address if he doesn’t need to. Just doing the the first pass guest list caused a fair amount of angst, and he’s debating whether to contact his birth mother for the first time in years as well as well as how much trouble it will cause for him to invite extended relatives and maternal grandparents that his dad has burned bridges with. For the most part my fiance goes through life not thinking about it, but his current strategy for dealing with his dad is generally to make as few waves as possible and mostly not spend a lot of time or thought on him except for special occasions, since his dad will sometimes fly into a rage, sometimes based on things that aren’t actually true. His dad, while a very loving and charming man, has a bevy of issues including what I’m pretty sure is undiagnosed/untreated alcoholism and it is likely he will cause a scene/get super drunk/forget to eat and pass out at some point/yell at fiance or extended relatives during our wedding. Which neither one of us are looking forward to. His stepmom is passive-aggressive, generally ends up being offended and hurt by every person ever and didn’t like me when I first came to visit and tried so so hard to be helpful and charming and a considerate house guest (which we didn’t find out about until right before next Xmas when she basically said that she wasn’t going to hold it in and be nice to me if I came). Fortunately, things have improved- I have moved up from dislike to acceptance/indifference and I have also stopped caring as much about how she feels about me. I’m much less worried about her-she won’t cause a scene and probably won’t say anything to me outright if/when she dislikes something- and I don’t plan to go out of my way to please her. I love my fiance more than I thought I was capable of loving someone, I would deal with twice as much drama to be with him, and I’m very excited to be formally committing to spending our lives together, but sometimes in a quiet selfish place in my heart it’s really hard to know that I will never have the loving close relationship I always imagined having with my in-laws when I got married someday. It could be worse, and I’m so, so grateful for the people in my life who love and support me and will be surrounding us on our wedding day, but it could also be a lot better. And that’s my oversharing for the day.

  • Just another anon

    My father — holy hell — people are still talking about his toast a year later. We have been far from close for a number of years, and I hadn’t even asked him to give one, but he asked if he could and I told him that would be nice. So he got up in front of everyone and told them all about my high school years and how much I REALLY REALLY REALLY liked making money as a waitress. It was so bizarre, most were rendered speechless. However, I consider myself lucky, since that was pretty much the worst thing he did, and my expectations of him are very low.

    • Mellie

      Wow, that’s… random. I went to one wedding where neither the MOH or best man had planned anything to say so they kind of mumbled an “I love these guys” and then they opened it up and an aunt just talked about how her kids are in the military and god bless our troops without really mentioning the wedding. It was… random.

    • Kat

      The craziest wedding speech I’ve seen was a drunk bride rambling for 45mins about everyone she loved. The grooms family were standing on chairs yelling to wrap it up and “I Want to f$@#ing eat!” It was excruciatingly awful.

  • Kat

    I am the older sister, but my younger sister got married last year, which isn’t a huge deal AT ALL, because MAN it was so nice not to have to hoe the row on something for her like a wedding where we have two completely differing tastes.

    Anywhosen, our family has a lot of drama on my dad’s side; drama worthy of day time television plots and so the other great thing about my younger sister going first was we got to see how ALL of that would play out…which was in its “my family has issues” kind of hilarious.

    First, we are the portion of the family that has remained Switzerland in all of this drama, and therefore we see all groupings of the family, France and Germany, and this does not sit well with some members of either France or Germany.

    So some female members of France decided that they were going to throw a shower for my sister, BUT they were ONLY going to take care of food and drinks and provide the location. Switzerland was going to have to send out the invites and take care of any games/activities/most of the actual hosting activities. Fine, Switzerland did what it does best, stay Switzerland. Shower had.

    Move along several weeks later and members of Germany have all said that they will be attending the wedding, so have members of France. This does not sit well with France. HOW are THEY expected to be in the same room as Germany for longer than 5 minutes! France does not trust itself to act in proper diplomatic fashion around Germany even though they’ve been the most in contact with Switzerland through out the decades of drama. France reverses their decision to attend three weeks before the wedding.

    Cut to 7 days before sister’s wedding where I receive a Facebook message from a member of Germany that THEY will now no longer be attending. It has nothing to do with France, who in their opinion is acting ridiculous, but in fact has to do with a broken down car, cancelled dog sitter and a lack of lodgings for wedding…

    The saga of France and Germany continues, but thankfully Switzerland already knows what to anticipate. Whew

    • Lyn

      This is, like, the best name-switch family explanation thing I’ve EVER SEEN :-3

  • anonnnnnnnn

    my family is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, but for once, its not my family making the crazies. its my fiancé’s. these are some of the most demanding people i have ever met, with this weird sense of entitlement over EVERYTHING we do with the wedding. they didn’t like our original date (it was too soon) so we had to change it. now they’re asking us why are we dragging our feet with the planning and are pressuring us to find a venue so they can start coordinating modes of transportation, hotel blocks, etc. our wedding is A YEAR from now! if i wanted to rush through the process i would’ve just stuck with my original date.

    my fiancé’s mother refuses to speak to my mother unless my mother contacts her first. she won’t give a reason aside from, ‘it’s the brides family’s responsibility to reach out’ and ‘we’re spending money so they should contact us.’ we are ALL splitting the costs, including my fiancé and i. they want us to book a venue but we have yet to even all sit down and discuss a budget because this woman will. not. talk to us. we have literally no idea how much money they are comfortable with putting in. my fiancé hates feeling like he’s in the middle so i try not to put him in that situation, even when he’s told her to call/email my mother she flat out refuses for the reasons mentioned above. its freaking weird.

  • Anon

    Can I just vent here that, having been married now for 3 years, I’m still really sad about the way my family side of things played out? It’s not even related to the wedding, but it’s….symbolized by my wedding, kind of.

    My maternal grandmother is an abusive person. As in, she abused my mother. My grandfather was complicit, but he’s an okay guy alone, but he’s….basically he’s an enabler to my grandmother’s abusive behavior, and from what I understand from my mother and my aunt, it was always this way.

    My paternal grandfather was not a nice man, but he died years ago. My paternal grandmother was being taken care of by my family, and she died a few days before my wedding. But the thing is, she was also not a nice woman, and growing up she treated my dad pretty poorly. So all told, my grandparent situation has been 100% Not Functional. Her death several days before the wedding came as no real shock, but it was so. damn. hard. explaining to my new in-laws that my family was okay…that my not having any grandparents at my wedding was not as heartbreaking as they thought it should be. Trying to explain that you are not deeply sad about a grandparent’s death to your new family raises a lot of eyebrows. But you can’t really go around your wedding explaining oh, my family on both sides has abuse issues! We were not close! Love was not really a thing we all felt!

    To be clear, I am heartbroken that my relationship to all of my grandparents was/is as broken as it is/was, and I am *angry* about what my mom went through. I am saddened every time I am reminded of the wonderful close family I have married into, because of the stark contrast. I am lucky, too, to have married into such a loving family, whose love goes back generations.

    Nutshell: having grandparents who are abusive people is hard to explain. Sugar and spice, grandma is not.

  • aly

    *super late* Context: My fiancé and I are in our early twenties and still involved in our families of origin as we prepare to move three hours away from them in a couple months.

    My fiancé lives with his grandparents, who have not yet acknowledged our so-far five month engagement (after four years of being together, and nine months living together). I am “banned” from the house for reasons his grandmother has never given despite being asked directly and in a non threatening way! We are guessing it is because I have stopped going to church with their family (we have always been atheist, but had attended church to be part of the family). The girls (and a family of one of them) that my fiancé had grown up with in youth group began seriously harassing me). At their dinner conversations she apparently alludes that I sleep around which is first of all not relevant and second of so far from the truth. She even insists my family (which has opened all sorts of opportunities for him in his field of study and has provided his first real source of family-based emotional support) “ruins” him and his entire life.
    His parents live a state away and we visit with them about once or twice a year. They are reckless and irresponsible and after neglecting fiancé through out his entire childhood and STEALING the small trust fund set up for him – do not realize that the relationship is anything less than fine. However fiancé and I are fed up with them: buying a third dog (they love their dogs more than their only son, yet fail to care for them properly), starting a gun collection, and falling behind in their payments on their single-wide trailer. It is just the two of them living together but they also have recently bought two additional (and not in good condition) vehicles after promising fiancé they would contribute to a car for him! They still expect a $250 father’s day gift (for a father who has not been there for him) even though they owe him thousands of dollars and student debt is accruing rapidly.

    ALL IN ALL — it is frustrating. Luckily my family loves him to death and even my extended family considers him part of the family already! I just wish I could at least have courtesy.

  • Anon

    Hmmm, a very quickie vent. . . although there’s more back story than this, so. . . well, anyway, my sister hates me, not far under the surface. She insulted my in-laws, my husband and I, almost everything about the wedding, and regaled her table with how much it all cost my dad and how she hoped he’d have some money left for her wedding (her table was full of my friends who, if they didn’t think she was crazy before, certainly do now. Smooth move, sister).

  • Sarah

    Thanks for all the sharing this. I read most of the comments as they came out and it really came in handy recently. We are having an immediate family only wedding. At our family reunion weekend I saw a relative behave the in most brutal, passive-aggressive way I’ve ever seen from any family member. I rode the wave knowing that based on the above comments, it could be way worse and I should be thankful for the support we HAVE received (which is a lot a lot). I also, as I was going through it, held on to my APW community in my mind knowing I wasn’t alone and that my decision to have a small wedding in the way I’m doing it (i.e. the way my fiance and I want to) is not only reasonable but a choice that many, many people make. I’m so so so grateful to have stumbled upon this website at the beginning of my planning. It’s saved me so much stress and agonizing.