So Your Family Is Making You Crazy? Discuss.


Why must there always be tears?

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

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People act like wedding planning is complicated solely because of budgets and to-do lists. And, you know, it is sometimes. But at the end of the day, anything you can solve with a printable wedding checklist is probably not the very worst.

In real life, the hardest parts of wedding planning are often the family stuff. Or as one of my friends said to me in the middle of wedding planning, “There is a reason your family doesn’t come on the honeymoon.” And, word.

But part of what makes family issues an extra-complicated part of wedding planning is that it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one. You’re struggling with a mom who’s disengaged from the whole process… but everyone else’s mom is the model of helpfulness. You have three sets of parents who don’t get along… but everyone else has a perfect, easy parental unit. Your sister-in-law is being sort of racist… and holy SHIT that’s embarrassing to say out loud.

Except, you’re not alone. Family drama has got to be one of the most common (and least discussed) headaches in wedding planning. Because with all that fodder to fight about: faith, money, what color your bridesmaid dresses should be… well. There probably will be tears. And if your family has some serious tensions on a good day, there will be even more tears.

So today, let’s make a safe space (and go anon if you need to). What family drama is really dragging you down? What would you like to feel a little less alone on? What advice do you need?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Eenie

    Obligatory RSVP rant: How do people not RSVP?!?!?!?!?! (Officially one month out.)

    I roped my lovely SO into the RSVP madness, and he didn’t understand why none of his family had bothered to RSVP. The concept just didn’t register that if we asked people to do X by Y date, they would do absolutely nothing and assume we are mind readers.

    Also, after prodding for MONTHS to make sure his mom didn’t want a mother/son dance (we weren’t planning on doing any father/daughter, first dance, etc.), turns out she does (which I thought would be the case).

    Options:
    A. Just do a mother/son dance.
    B. Do a father/daughter and mother/son dance simultaneously.
    C. Start off as a first dance, snowball and grab parents, snowball again and have a couple planted couples that join in as well. Continue on until song is done. We do not currently have a designated emcee, since we didn’t plan on having any of these dances. Just some toasts and dancing.

    Thoughts?

    • Amy March

      A or B. C I think sounds lovely, but then you start doing it, and people are busy watching, and with no one in charge to cue people you wind up having to monitor which sounds less than fun.

      • Eenie

        That’s what I thought about C as well. Nice in theory, won’t work in practice. Le sigh.

    • Lulu

      Is there a middle ground where they choose a song and dance to it together, but it’s a private moment without the guests’ attention drawn to it? Then you don’t need an emcee and don’t have to do dances you didn’t want to do, but they still get their special moment?

      • Eenie

        I wish. I’m pretty sure she wants to be honored in this way, which is a perfectly reasonable request, but also means a separate, all eyes on them (or them and me and my dad) dance.

        • Lulu

          Ah, got it, sorry. “All eyes on me” was my #1 wedding nightmare, so I was clearly projecting!

          • Eenie

            Oh yes, part of the reason why I’m leaning towards A (I don’t want all eyes on me, but fiance doesn’t care). But I don’t want anyone to read too much into it if there’s no equivalent with my dad or we don’t do a first dance.

          • Lulu

            That makes me lean toward B. If both parents in question have partners (or other children?), you could have them enact your “snowball” idea, at which point you could pair up with your husband, and it could be a nice family affair, even without an emcee.

          • Eenie

            I like the modified snowball idea. Easier to handle with just six of us! (We are fortunate that both of our parents are still married.)

          • Alanna Cartier

            Ugh, all eyes on me is my nightmare.

          • Jess

            I expressed this at our Family Wedding Planning Event. FMIL response? “Well, you’ll have to get over that!”

          • Alanna Cartier

            Yikes.

          • Jess

            I know. Awkward silence ensued as I tried to figure out words to say that wouldn’t be censored on network tv.

        • MDBethann

          Eenie, you don’t HAVE to do a father-daughter dance if you don’t want to do one, even if your MIL wants a mother-son dance. My husband didn’t want a spotlight mother-son dance (he danced with his mom at another point in the wedding, mixed in with other couples), but my dad & I wanted a father-daughter dance. No one seemed to care that we had one dance and not the other. The only “rule” at a wedding is that someone gets married (or it would just be an awesome party and not a wedding)

          • Eenie

            Yeah, and that’s an option, but with how great my parents (and his parents) have been with this “untraditional” wedding, I think my dad would be hurt if MIL had a moment and he didn’t. Would he say anything to me? Absolutely not. But it’s one thing to say “we’re not doing any dances at all” and “I’m just not doing a dance with you”. I’m also not adamantly opposed to it, it just is one more thing to do.

    • Lizzie

      Just adding a HELL YEAH / WTF to the RSVP struggle! I’m over here killing myself to plan a beautiful, thoughtful event – sorry that dropping a pre-paid envelope in the mail is too much to handle!

      (Mostly sarcastic. But, like, not 100%.)

      • Lisa

        And this was why we didn’t do RSVP cards like my husband wanted. I put my foot down and said I wasn’t going to spend another couple hundred dollars on response cards, envelopes, and postage (not to mention the time spent addressing them) to only have them tossed in the trash unused! From what I understand, our response rate was no different than that of other brides who used the cards.

        • AP

          Same!

        • Lizzie

          Agreed! We have a smallish wedding and the invites were my one big treat item – custom-designed, two-toned letterpress suite made by moi at my local letterpress studio – but every step of the way, I did a little emotional check in: “knowing that guests are gonna chuck these either immediately or after briefly admiring them, do you still want to keep going?” And thankfully the answer was yes, up to and through the little cards!

          Funnily enough, most people who RSVPed with the cards *also* RSVPed on our website. Some people are just great at it, and some are… just not!

          • Eenie

            I bet most of the people who RSVPed twice have planned a wedding in the distant past! Every single person who has planned a wedding in the past five years RSVPed on time. Hadn’t planned a wedding? Basically didn’t respond unless they were related in blood to me and had been hearing about how much I was dreading the RSVP process.

          • Lizzie

            Y.E.S. one thousand times yes. I am so post-fact ashamed at some of my earlier pre-wedding-planning RSVP ways. I am forever changed, I swear!

          • Michela

            Me too!!

            Our RSVPs are due in eight days (me? counting? noo) and we have 83 unanswered RSVPs. Our RSVP return rate is also at 88.4% (yes I do have that calculated in my guest list Excel doc), so the thought of most of those 83 people planning on coming and not telling me is making me insane. If you read my first comment, you’ll also know that my aunt- who has not congratulated me on getting engaged, acknowledged I’m getting married, and not RSVPed herself- told my cousin she was allowed to bring her boyfriend, who was not invited.

            WINE PLEASE.

          • Lisa

            People inviting themselves!!! I was on the phone with my uncle a week prior to the wedding, and he mentioned bringing my other uncle, who my dad had asked me not to invite. I called the restaurant to get another serving added and fretted about it for several days, and then the uncle was a no-show. My second cousin also kind of invited herself, but it was as my great aunt’s escort. (Great Aunt is 85+ and only drives around town now, and second cousin said my aunt wanted to attend but was concerned about a 3 hour drive alone. I gladly extended her an invitation at that moment…also one week before the wedding.)

          • emmers

            Haha, we had a second (or third?) cousin escort self-invitee too. Who then invited her college-age son (my second cousin once removed, maybe?). None of them ended up coming, but it made me crazy. They did get us some nice bowls off the registry, so I guess there’s that?

          • Michela

            So much head nodding to your experience. I hope to be laughing about it soon, but for now I’m just totally baffled by peoples’ self-involvement. Thankfully we have this post as a venting opportunity!
            xoM

          • Lisa

            Thankfully, yes! My little sister had her wedding near my grandmother’s hometown so she had a lot of people where maybe an aunt or uncle’s spouse couldn’t attend so they RSVPed their (adult) children instead. She finally threw her hands up and said, “If these people are that interested in coming to my wedding that they’re inviting themselves, I guess I’ll let them do it.” (She had much higher attendance from my dad’s side of the family than I did, which I think is because people used her wedding as an excuse to spend more time with my ill grandmother.) (Which I totally don’t begrudge them!)

        • Eenie

          50%? Cause that’s the unprovoked response rate lol.

          • Lisa

            Yeah, most of our friends and the majority of my husband’s family responded unprompted. Almost my entire side of the family didn’t RSVP, and my parents divvied up calling their 18 total siblings and their children to see who would be attending. So I guess that ended up being 50-65% of the guest list. I haven’t heard much better from anyone else!

        • Saxyrunner

          This is reassuring to read. We also omitted physical RSVP cards and I am a bit worried that very few people will navigate to the website and RSVP there.

          • emmers

            Some people will probably suck and not RSVP, but they’re probably the same people who wouldn’t RSVP using paper cards. Some people just suck (or are absent minded or something).

          • Lisa

            Exactly. This was my argument to my husband when he expressed concern about, say, his 90 year old grandma being able to RSVP. My response was, “If the person is old enough not to have a computer/use it well, then they are old enough that they remember a time before RSVP cards when a person would respond on her own stationery.”

            True story, I’ve researched this. People used to only get an invitation and would respond with their own note cards. But it seems some people weren’t responding so invitations started to include those pre-addressed, pre-posted RSVP cards to encourage more responses. GUESS WHAT?? People are still absent-minded or inconsiderate and don’t respond.

          • NB

            I did not know this, but the idea of responding to an invite on personal stationery is just delightful to me. I may be implementing it (with appropriate, timely response cards, of course!) in my own life.

          • Lisa

            Most people managed the web-site fine for us. We used AppyCouple, and I sent a few e-mail blasts reminding people to RSVP periodically. (I think it was when the first invitations went out, 1 month to the deadline, and 1 week to the deadline.) Pretty much everyone, including my husband’s 90 year old grandmother and great aunt, was able to figure it out.

      • Christy

        We had postcards! Literally check a box and put it in the mail. You don’t even have to open another envelope!

        • Lizzie

          And Yet!

      • Eenie

        Or clicking a link in email invitation, or calling/texting/emailing us with your response. We literally had four different ways you could RSVP.

      • MDBethann

        I think the RSVPs are a mixed bag. Some people are HORRIBLE at RSVPing for anything either because they (1) forget, (2) don’t plan ahead – ever, or (3) seem to be hoping something better comes along. That said, I was fairly surprised that we got the majority of our RSVP postcards back (FYI – RSVP postcards save $$ in production costs and postage costs, both for the original invitation and for sending the RSVP back). One of the things we did was suggested either in an APW post or in Meg’s 1st book – we hid numbers under the stamps of each of the RSVP cards so if one came back without names on it, we could know who was RSVPing.

        There were some people I had to chase down, but my MIL was helpful in contacting my husband’s relatives for us. The only glitch we had was that DH’s cousin on the opposite coast put down a +1 even though she was completely single and had not been extended a +1 option (only those in LT relationships were given +1s, but we knew their names so both people were invited). Because she RSVPed to my MIL, there was no way to fix that issue. Fortunately, we didn’t have any capacity problems. When you do, you need to put your foot down and say “no +1s – there literally isn’t room.”

        I agree though, that it sucks to track down people – how hard is it to RSVP when you’ve known the date for a year???

    • Jess

      C sounds like the least awful solution. Nobody is staring at you and SO, then you and your dad, then SO and Mom for very long. Having your wedding party (if you have one) as planted couples would help too, because it will be seen as more official than just Random Wedding Guest.

      • Eenie

        No wedding party. I think we’ll go with a variation on C, where it’s our immediate family or parents that finish out the second half of the song.

        • Jess

          Immediate family is a good option!

  • Eh

    My in-laws have a narcissistic family dynamic. I did not know that term until people on APW suggested that’s what was going on with them (and that was after I was married – but I knew the way they interacted was toxic before we were married). From the outside people think they are a nice family but being on the inside I see how toxic things are (I did not see this until around the time we were engaged). I felt very isolated why planning our wedding because I was joining this family and they live closer to me than my family so I would probably be spending a lot of time with them, yet they were so nasty to specific people (my husband and my SIL are both scapegoats). My husband didn’t know any different so he thought it was normal until I pointed it out. (At one family event I cried because we had to make a choice between spending time that weekend with my family or his family and because it was a family wedding on his side and just an annual reunion for my on my side we decided to spend the time with his family but my in-laws behaviour was so horrendous I wished I was at my family reunion.) Also, my FIL made it clear that I was not to discuss things that go on in the family with other people, especially one of my closest friends who is married to my husband’s cousin. One of the reasons at the top of my SIL’s (BIL’s wife) list as to why she did not go to our wedding was that my MIL wanted to make it look like we were a happy family even though we weren’t. Days before our wedding, my MIL was trying to come up with a believable excuse as to why my BIL and SIL were not at our wedding (in the end my BIL came to our ceremony). She was going to tell people that they had a family emergency (we told her if she said that people would think that someone was died or dying).

    • Anon

      My mom also wants us to appear to be a happy family. Our family room has a giant poster that says something like “In this family, we… share, love, say sorry” etc things like that. It’s laughable.

      Anyway my teen brother is missing my wedding because its the same time as his sports camp. My mom wants me to have a second wedding so that it doesn’t look like she allowed her son to miss her daughter’s wedding for something so trivial… just that he attended the other one.

      • Christy

        OMG. Ohh mah god. OMG. I cannot even. Dude, skip the wedding, but at least let’s be straight that you skipped your sister’s wedding FOR A HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS CAMP.

        • AP

          Yeah, he’s gonna regret that decision one day.

          • Eh

            My SIL (BIL’s wife) missed our wedding because of a family feud (BIL was guilted into coming to the ceremony but did not come to reception) and they regret it. They had reasons for not coming (eg inlaws treat SIL like crap, and a huge amount of miscommunication that was blown out of proportion) but they know they missed out on an important moment in our life.

        • Lisa

          That is absolutely ridiculous, and I can’t even imagine it. I know everyone has varying degrees of closeness with their siblings, but I cannot fathom missing something so important to an immediate family member for a fleeting thing like a summer program. It would have to be something monumental like an internship for the president or something to even consider it.

          • Eenie

            Birth of a child/death of an in law/estrangement/financial travel costs…otherwise I’m drawing blanks at why you would miss your sibling’s wedding!

      • Eh

        My MIL went to my BIL/SIL’s house the morning of our wedding and guilted my BIL into going (she cried and in her retelling of the story while getting her hair done she had an evil grin on her face so I suspect the tears were more manipulative than genuine).

        I am not in any family pictures because my inlaws believe you are only family once you are married so I was excluded from family pictures at my BIL’s wedding and then my SIL and nieces didn’t come to our wedding. We bought my MIL a family portrait session for Christmas a couple years ago which she has not used because first I was pregnant and she wanted to wait until the baby was born, then she did not get around to it and my SIL got sick last fall and they are waiting for her to recover from her surgery, and now I need surgery so next I will have to recover from that.

      • BSM

        LOL, I feel you, although my family doesn’t even tried to hide it. My mom also had us move our wedding so my teen brother could attend; otherwise, he would have missed the wedding while on a school trip.

        Then of course we weren’t talking for the 8 months leading up to the wedding, but I’d still invited my little brother to come take pictures with us before the ceremony, so she steals his phone (I’d blocked her number) and starts sending me deranged texts as my bridesmaids and I are getting breakfast in the morning. Doesn’t let him come to pictures. They barely made it in time for the wedding (yes, she still came). And when we were doing a couple family shots after the ceremony, I was trying to be nice and invited her over, and her response was, “Do we really have to do this?”

        Things are better now (7 months later), but I’ll never forget how that all went down.

    • Sarah

      I’ve become the new scapegoat in my husband’s family. He’s always been the golden child, and thought his whole family was normal until he spent an extended amount of time with my family–when he realized oh wait, we can all be ourselves around each other because we don’t have to fear setting off (his) mom? Setting her off by being ourselves isn’t a normal thing that people usually have to deal with? Wait, you mean whenever mom says something nasty we don’t have to say “ohh that’s just mom!” Nope.

      I fiiinally got through to him that there was something not quite right here after about a million things happened (over the years) that have been inexplicably bizarre to me. Each individual instance can be explained, but when you start connecting events and connecting behaviors, its a really bad picture.

      Therapy helps.

      • Eh

        I am very sorry you are a scapegoat. My SIL is also became a new scapegoat and is married to a golden child (my husband’s brother). My husband and BIL didn’t see any issue with the family dynamic. My MIL (and her mother) is open about the fact that my BIL is the golden child (my MIL was also the golden child and her older sister was the scapegoat). My in laws blame my SIL for things that she did not do.

        I agree it’s hard to show someone who has lived their whole life in the dynamic that it isn’t right or it’s more than an excusable or isolated incident.

        • Sarah

          Thanks, I really appreciate the support. I’m glad I got my husband on board because I was starting to feel like a crazy person; and our therapist is really validating.

          Its so funny you say that they are open about your BIL being the golden child. My husband’s family also openly acknowledges that he’s the golden child–like its no big deal. I was shocked the first time I heard any of them say something because that kind of thing was unheard of in my family. No favorites. Period. End of story. Ya know?

          We just found out I’m the scapegoat–its unfortunate, but it doesn’t really affect my self image at all. I can see her perception of me for what it is: total bullshit. But yeah, it does suck to know that my MIL thinks I’ve been corrupting her son religiously; that i’m not attractive enough for him (comment this Christmas: “what does your husband think about your unshaven legs??!” yes, seriously); she acts genuinely surprised when I am smart and accomplish things (Uhh, I’m in law school). I could go on.

          Thanks for letting me rant at you. Most people just don’t really get it. Its so…covert.

          • Eh

            I was pretty shocked when my in laws openly said my BIL was the favourite (not that it wasn’t obvious). They said it like it wasn’t a big deal; that it was normal to have a favourite. In my family we joke my younger sister is the favourite (being the baby) but my dad says they hate us all equally.

            My SIL did see a therapist to help her with our inlaws (and other stuff) so even though my inlaws claim that they are not the problem we are able to (mostly) function as a family. My SIL is an easy target for my inlaws because she is not the type of person they would have expected their son to marry (she was a single mom).

  • savannnah

    This might seem like small peas but I need help to navigate a clothing issue: my lapsed catholic fiance had a discussion recently with his father about the Jewish elements to our wedding and it seemed to go well and he seemed on board, stating that he was excited to learn new things about my families culture. Today he excitedly sent us both a picture of the bow tie he purchased, stating how happy he was to find it. Upon closer inspection its a judaica bow tie with Menorahs on it. I don’t want to squash his father’s excitement but its going to come off poorly and I would like to protect both sides of the family. I’ve had a hard time explaining to my fiance why that will be an issue with my family (other than “that’s not great”) My fiance sees the tie as a nice gesture and his father will be very confused when we talk to him about the tie being inappropriate.

    • Amy March

      Can you articulate why it is inappropriate? Because to me, a non-Jew, I am reading that as welcoming and enthusiastic and a nice gesture. I think that if all you can come up with is “not great” then asking isn’t going to go well, but if you have a specific rationale it’s easier. Like “ohhh that is so nice of you but Menorahs are really only for Hanukkah so it’d be like wearing a Santa tie in April a bit.” (umm, if this is true! or similar).

      • savannnah

        Laura’s example above, wearing a tie with crosses on it to a half christian wedding when the wearer is not christian is a closer equivalent. There’s a bit of tokenism there too due to the minority politics attached, but that feels difficult to unpack all of that to his father.

    • Laura C

      It would dodge the bigger issues, but unless your wedding is at Hanukkah, you could point out that it would be like wearing a Christmas tree tie out of season just because Christians. Or a middle ground of: would he wear a tie with crosses all over it because Christians?

      • Eenie

        I like both of those examples as ways to explain why it’s inappropriate. It should come with a heavy dose of “We’re so glad you’re embracing the Jewish elements to our wedding!” Is there anything concrete he can do to support the Jewish elements? He was excited to learn new things, so maybe this was his misguided attempt at DOING something to show that support.

      • savannnah

        Wedding is not at Hanukkah, but both you and Eenie are helpful. Maybe if we can find an equivalent example and still be encouraging and engaging him on the Jewish elements, it will be smoother sailing.

    • G.

      Can you buy him a bowtie and pretend that you were going to do that along? And then say his purchased bowtie will be awesome at the family Hanukah shindig, and you look forward to having him there (if there is such a thing, or host one)?

      • Michela

        I second (and third and fourth) this idea. I knew we’d struggle with our opinionated fathers, so I purchased the stuff I knew I’d be aggravated about if people chose on their own. Maybe you can frame it like, “We are actually planning on purchasing a tie for you, so you won’t need that bow tie, but it would be perfect to wear when we have you over for Hanukah this year”

        Good luck! What a doozy haha.

    • clarkesara

      Here’s how I’m handling everyone trying to weigh in on things for us to wear that we certainly will not be wearing on the day:

      “Oh, how nice! We’re not exactly sure what we will end up choosing when it comes to [ties, veils, shoes, jewelry, what have you], but this is a great option to know about.”

      This may get harder as you get closer to the day, but honestly unless your future FIL is Tim Gunn himself, he is not going to remember the link to the menorah bow ties. He just wants to feel helpful and respectful. Even though of course he isn’t succeeding at that.

      • savannnah

        Oh he purchased it already- and its for him to wear-not us. hopefully with the suggestions above we can manage.

  • Stella

    I’ve been married for a little shy of six months, and I’m still reeling a bit from the planning experience. When my partner and I refer to that period in our lives our voices grow soft and we avert our gazes, as one might do when discussing the deceased.

    Did my mother seem disengaged from the process? Oh gosh yes, she did. I struggled, and continue to grapple with, how to have and enjoy pleasant experiences with her as I accept her narcissistic behavior. (The best story to this effect remains the time that I called to ask her to run an easy wedding-related errand for me and when I thanked her profusely for agreeing to do it she told me that, of course, she was happy to help. “After all,” she said. “It’s my wedding.” It’s one of the few times that I’ve had the wherewithal to tell her no, actually, your worldview is not correct here.) The jokes that she and my father often made about having theater tickets on the night of our wedding which would preclude them from coming didn’t feel absurd to me.

    Except perhaps the time when my Dad and I had a knockdown, drag-out fight, our first ever, over the phone. Of course they were coming to my wedding, he said, just like they went to all of their friends’ kids weddings too, and they were happy to endure another. He didn’t delusionally see this wedding as some sort of do-over of his own; that might really have been something special. No, this wedding, my wedding, his only daughter’s wedding, he said, was simply like all of the other ones. All weddings are essentially the same, he told me, and kind of boring, in fact, unless you have enough friends and drinks to get through through it. Deluding myself into thinking that this one was any different was pretty self-absorbed.

    To anyone going through something similar in their own wedding planning process, or, indeed, their own lives, because these issues often unfortunately don’t neatly restrict themselves to a short period of time, I survived. And I came out the other side with a commitment and a vision for a different kind of life with another person, and that makes it all worthwhile. Talking to friends and a therapist helped give me perspective during this time (still does); they reminded me that not only did my wedding matter, but that I mattered.

    Do whatever you need to do to keep your perspective. And maybe have a short engagement.

    • Eh

      Some things sting for a long time, especially when dealing with narcissistic people. We were able to work things out with some people (my BIL/SIL but not my FIL/MIL) in the first year but it hasn’t got any better after that (and actually worse since having a baby). But I totally agree talking to people helps sort things out.

      • Stella

        Yes, I’m sure that having a baby is a whole other kettle of fish in this sort of family dynamic. My hope is that my family’s reactions will be less surprising, at least, and that I’ll have plenty of practice processing them by that point. I hope that you’ve had some healing too. My partner and I like to say that we too will eff up our kids, but we’ll do it in our own special way :-)

    • Anon today

      My husband’s family were the ones who were disengaged and acted like our wedding was nothing special. This was exacerbated by my husband’s sister setting her wedding date a month after ours. His mom (not a narcissist, just an asshole) made several comments like why couldn’t we just have a double wedding, why didn’t we just elope, etc. My husband’s family basically phoned it in the weekend of our wedding, didn’t try to get to know my family, didn’t offer to help with anything. His mom actually said to members of my family, “there’s no use telling me your name, I won’t remember all these names anyway.” My husband says that she thinks she’s being funny when she says stuff like this. But the last straw for me was at Thanksgiving, about a month after both weddings, when going around the table and saying what we were grateful for she said, “I’m just glad all these weddings are over.” How about being grateful for the two new additions to your family?! I’m still not ok with everything that happened, and I know the sting will fade with time, but I’m not going to try to force relationships with people who say hurtful crap and don’t care.

      • Sarah

        Oh my god. yes. I felt the same way. We just realized that my MIL probably has NPD, and I felt EXACTLY like this during wedding planning, INCLUDING the fact that my SIL put her wedding a month ahead of ours after we’d been engaged and had our date set for 6 months!

        Didn’t offer to help, didn’t mingle with my family, treated it like their big family reunion. She messed up my name during the toast, which, was basically a eulogy for my husband if he had died 6 years ago just after college, didn’t mention me except for at the end when she screwed up my name.

        Oh yeah and she wanted to wear a white floor length lace gown. And she was late to the pictures. and she was rude to my mom and grandma at the salon the morning of…and and and… I still haven’t been able to relate to her normally, ever since then. But therapy is helping–husband and I have been talking about her with a family therapist for a couple of months now. Solidarity.

        • BSM

          Oh god, don’t get me started on my FIL’s toast. The first thing he repeated about five times was how thankful he was that his family could travel the long distance to our wedding… from the Bay Area to LA. No mention of any of my family or our other friends who came from all over the country and world. Then he told three boring, stupid, and mildly embarrassing stories detailing random times my husband has screwed up (like, one was about parking tickets he used to get in college. 10 years ago.). Before the third story he thanks my husband’s sister (the most spoiled 20 year old on earth, I swear) for everything she’s done to help my husband throughout his life, and that’s it. I didn’t even get a mention.

          • Totch

            Oh god, the distance. It feels like no family member, no matter how otherwise wonderful, is above making shitty comments about distance.

            I live decently far from my hometown, and my wedding will be only the first or second visit in 7 years for everyone in my immediate family. I already have some feelings about not being “worth” a visit normally, please don’t compound the problem by talking about how neither me nor my wedding make the trip OK.

        • Anon today

          Ha, my SIL actually said, “I wanted to set our date *before* your wedding but I figured you’d get mad.” Uhhh…thanks? It didn’t bother me beyond the fact that it just put a lot of perceived strain on my husband’s family (even though they really weren’t involved in the planning of either wedding, it’s still all I heard about for the months leading up them.) The upside was that we shared research for vendors and resources and were able to repurpose all the decorations from my reception to hers.

      • Stella

        “not a narcissist, just an asshole” :-)

    • OliveMC

      Stella, I’m with you. I’ve been married for almost 6 months and my husband and I don’t even discuss our engagement. When it comes up with friends or in an APW comment (I really try to hold myself back from this) I feel like I have a complete relapse to the negative, dejected feelings from our engagement.

      My mother started disengaging from me a few months before we got engaged, when I finally got the courage to tell her “I don’t believe the religion you brought me up in, I haven’t for awhile. I’ve been going through the motions to please you.” I live five hours away from my entire family, which only made matters worse. I received a bunch of intervention-like calls from my brother and sister, and an argument whenever my mom brought it up. I get it, I’m the youngest and it seemed like I was being influenced by my non-religious partner. To be honest, I had always thought my family went through the motions themselves and didn’t think I was the only one. But alas, you grow up and you learn that not everything is as it seems.

      It only got worse when my roommate decided she was going to take a job out of state and, knowing I already spent a ton of time at his place to make a whole new apartment worth it, I decided to move in with my now-husband. My stipulation had always been that I wouldn’t move in until we were engaged, on account of that being scandalous enough for my family, but it was coming soon enough. When we got engaged a few weeks after I told my family I was moving in, my sister accused me of getting engaged only to “solve” the problem my family had with us living together before we were married.

      There was a good few months when my dad was the only one who would talk to me. I only talked to my mom because my dad would hand her the phone after he called me. My husband and I planned our wedding almost secretively, the way we wanted it to be, and halfway between our home and my hometown. When this was revealed to my family on a weekend we were in town for a family wedding (ironically, one year ago today), they held what could only be described as an actual intervention, where they scream-cried their grievances at me and my husband. It was the absolute worst.

      I’m thankful every day for my husband who let me cry about it as much as I needed to, my friends who told me my wedding dress was gorgeous and excitedly designed bouquets over wine, my cousin who had a similar experience that encouraged me that things would get better, aunts who were outspoken in their support, and my therapist who is helping me recover and rebuild relationships with myself and my family that were broken long before the cracks started to show.

      I could keep going, but I think I probably shouldn’t. I don’t know if planning in “secret” was the best way of handling the situation, but it’s what I did and I can only learn from it. My family was able to put happy faces on and hopefully enjoyed our wedding. We worked really hard on it, and I enjoyed every minute.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, APW for this thread. It’s the catharsis I needed.

    • joanna b.n.

      Sadness, so sorry. That’s huge. Grieving those hurts may take a while, and that’s okay. And, yay, now you have your own little baby family!! Glad you’ve gotten help in processing what sounds totally hurtful.

    • Sarah

      We recently came to the realization that my MIL is NPD, mostly because of our wedding. We’re now working with a therapist which, really, really helps me get over my sore feelings surrounding her behavior at our wedding. But yes, I feel you so hard about feeling insignificant because of her disengagement coupled with her really bad behavior at the wedding.

      At first, when she wasn’t involved in planning AT ALL I thought it was great, a blessing in disguise, I wouldn’t have to deal with her input! yay! But she ended up making the wedding all about her on the day of, even though my FIL was managing her like a pro.

      Turns out she had disengaged previously because she has a complex about her son and couldn’t even deal with the idea of him getting married, which turned into a hunt for something to be upset about. She figured out a reason to be upset when my fiance told her that he was an atheist; long story short she decided that I’ve been corrupting him and that isn’t “who he truly is” or whatever. And our wedding became a “bad” thing.

      My mind is still boggled about the things she did during our wedding, which, I’m 100% convinced would have been much worse if my FIL hadn’t been managing the hell out of her. Its severely affected our relationship, but unless we want to estrange her completely we can’t even confront her about it.

      • AS

        Uhg, that’s so horrible. My parents did the same thing when I came out as an atheist. I’m marrying someone else than who I was dating when I came out (who they blamed for my corrupted nature) but my Dad thinks my marriage is a sham because my fiance and I are modern people who live together and have sex. Therefore we’re “already married.”

    • clarkesara

      Yes, so much this. When I called my dad and told him I was engaged, he said “Great! Just let us know the date and we’ll be there!” Like I told him we’d made dinner reservations or something. Right now it’s a little better than my mom’s completely narcisissistic behavior, but I don’t have a good feeling about things.

      • Stella

        Ha! Ugh! That’s classic. I also got the sort of flip side to that reaction the morning after our wedding from my parents: “That was so much fun! I wish that we could do it again!” We were glad that they had a good time, of course, but after all of the fights, the headaches, and the tears of the planning process, it came off…a little tone deaf.

      • zoe

        I wish my parents had that reaction. At least it is positive if kind of dismissive.

        Instead they spent several weeks pretending I wasn’t actually engaged and refusing to participate in any conversation about the engagement. After the denial stage was over, they moved onto anger. By getting married I was apparently causing a massive inconvenience to them because I am living with my elderly grandma right now, and who keep her company after I move out? They also had plans to use my income to buy my grandma’s house (instead of letting it come to them through the will???). Since my income will very soon be going toward the household with my fiance, I won’t be able to also afford to also buy her house.

        They made it seem like I chose to get married without considering the consequences of what that means for everyone else in the family. I’m sorry I didn’t put my life on hold until my grandma (who I love dearly) passes away and until I’ve paid off the mortgage for a $750k home they want me to keep. My parents are honestly not money grubby people looking to pawn grandma off to someone else to look after. In fact, they do stop by to check on her, buy her groceries, and take her to all her doctor appointments. They were mostly unhappy I wasn’t marrying a man of their choosing, but damn with the complaints they were making you wouldn’t be so sure during those first few months of the engagement.

        Then there were fights about the budget and what we’re planning versus what they want us to plan, even though neither fiance nor I want to do what they want. Fortunately we were adamant about paying for the entire wedding ourselves. I am even mentally an emotionally prepared for my parents to simply not show up because of whatever reason. If they miss out, then that’s on them, and in fact I’d feel less stressed because then I wouldn’t have to censor myself.

        Fortunately they’ve come around and seem to have finally reached the acceptance stage and have been getting excited. I suspect they are still on the lookout for ways they can take jabs at my fiance/husband to convince me I’m making a terrible mistake. I suppose it’s also possible that they may still decide to not show up because of some last minute, but that’s okay. I never wanted a party anyway–ironically the whole party was for them–and I sure as hell am not now going to let them hold my happiness hostage.

  • Spot

    My college-on-the-other-coast sister has been almost totally unreachable by my single mother for months (in the thick of tax season, naturally). They’ve always had a turbulent relationship and I think she wants space from my mom while also expecting unconditional financial support, which…is tricky and not something I want to referee. I’ve been the shoulder to cry on for my mom’s side of things and have been asked numerous times to be a third party messenger, which I’ve gently refused.

    I’ve sent sporadic ‘how are you?’ ‘you coming for spring break?’ texts since she left after winter break that have been ignored. I texted her (she has hearing issues and avoids phone calls at all costs) notifying her about my recent engagement and didn’t even get a response.

    I’m guessing she’s either preemptively blocked my number in the event I was recruited by mom to ask her about things like when she’s graduating or to sign tax forms, or is furious that my mom might be contributing to my wedding and not jumping to pay for her cosmetic dentistry requests. Not a surprise, but damn, not even getting a “congratulations” or a thumbs up emoji stings a little.

    • Amy March

      Maybe this is basic, but email? In case she isn’t getting texts?

      • Spot

        Email, calls, and texts produce nada. We’ve even asked the family friend who is doing our taxes to reach out to her (I mean, you can’t /not do/ your taxes, especially spread over two states) and my sister responded once and never followed up. Same with the person helping my mom with financial planning, who needs to know things like when she’s graduating, if she wants to pursue other education, where she plans on living, etc. It’s frustrating but there’s not much to be done with an adult three time zones away.

        My mom half-jokes that maybe she should just “forget” to pay her phone bill or even her tuition to get her attention. That’s a little harsh for my tastes but it’s starting to really bother me that she only contacts my mom to ask for money for x or y every few months. Sibling solidarity is tough when you’re the one watching your parent break down over their behavior and are getting the same treatment yourself.

        • H

          Honestly, I’m a pretty sympathetic audience, but that doesn’t sound harsh to me at all (cutting her off). Sounds like she’s acting extremely immaturely and recklessly, and paying her bills may just be enabling that!

        • Anon today

          This is rough. My brother went radio silent for almost a year, somewhere around his sophomore year of college. In his case, he’d made a series of really bad choices that had left him broke/in debt, on academic suspension, and flailing. He was dealing with a lot of shame and embarrassment and basically just couldn’t face everyone’s well-meaning support or offers to help. He went on hiatus from the family while he got his act together on his own, which was so, so hard on everyone at the time. But over time he really did turn it around, got his finances straightened out, and has now graduated and has a lovely girlfriend. My mom went through something similar with him- no response to texts, never hearing from him unless he needed money. She also considered stopping payment on his phone, just to get his attention (which I supported, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it because she felt like it was her only tie to him, even if he never responded.) I think the transition to adulthood is just a lot more fraught for some people…and I think your instinct to not play referee is a good one. It took me a while to learn that one, and I was much happier when I did.

        • Cellistec

          Been there. My sister has been on a “hiatus” from family for a couple years now, even though she lives in the same metro area as many of us. Basically she’s trained us all to expect zero communication from her and to be thrilled when we get any response. “Forgetting” to pay a phone bill sounds passive-aggressive, but if couched as “this is the only way I could get your attention on this time-sensitive financial issue,” it makes a certain amount of sense. I think transparency is important: if the arrangement is “you want the money, you call me once a month,” then that needs to be said (and heard, which might be the tricky part). Good luck…I know this is a crappy situation to be in.

    • G.

      Also: college students. As someone who teaches them, they can be awesome communicators…or not. Sometimes it takes awhile for the value of responses and regular communication to sink in — with their professors and, I imagine, their families too.

  • Anon

    My future SIL has getting really, weirdly possessive of my fiance ever since we announced our engagement. She’s been calling him 4 times a day, keeps calling at upwards of 15x if he ignores her calls (I think in order to make him feel like he has to answer in case it’s an emergency…), makes jokes like “Oh can’t you stay on the phone with me through dinner? You have the rest of your life to eat with Anon hahaha,” keeps asking/guilting him to come visit her *alone* (using lots of money we don’t have and vacation time that he doesn’t have) since he only has a short period of time until “they aren’t family anymore,” etc. Overall my fiance has been amazing and has really set awesome, stern boundaries and shut down her most inappropriate stuff fast, but she comes up with new and innovative ways to try to monopolize his time and dismiss my importance.

    While I know my fiance will handle it in the end…How do I help myself not really resent and ultimately dislike this woman? We’ve never been close mostly because she lives in another country but now I’m getting sick of her shit. Is this normal sibling reaction? I’m an only child, so maybe there is something about sibling relationships that I’m missing? My fiance just says that she’s insecure and that he’ll manage it (though they ARE super close, which does hang over every one of my complaints on my end). But like I said, the issue is that it’s affecting how I view someone I’m going to have a permanent relationship with and will be in my wedding party most likely. I was expecting it from my future MIL a bit, but she’s actually been great and it’s only my SIL who is going cuckoo-bananas.

    More of a rant than anything I guess, but I’ll take any thoughts, advice, and/or especially anyone telling me why I should be more compassionate, if there are any reasons (I can’t see them to be honest)

    • Eenie

      How long has this been going on? Weeks? Months? Maybe she’s having a bad initial reaction, but I’d trust your fiance to set the boundaries and give them some time to take affect. It sounds like you personally don’t have to deal with a lot of this drama, so ask you’re fiance to keep SIL news to a minimum for the next couple weeks. You don’t have to have her in your wedding party. Do a mixed gender party and have her be in his! It sounds like she may like that better anyways.

    • Emily

      I am also an only child, and so I admit there’s a lot of stuff about the sibling dynamic my husband has with his fam that I don’t understand. But this sounds really unreasonable. Like why does she think “they won’t be family anymore”?! Yikes. Maybe your fiance can try to make a case that he’s only ADDING to the family, not taking away from it and so make you more involved with her?

      • Anon

        Okay, well, that I actually do understand, it’s because at one point he said that he’ll have a “new immediate family” after we get married and she got really pissed that he would consider her “extended family” moving forward. He doubled down on technical definitions and that just upset her more, blah blah blah. It was an unnecessary comment that he apologized for and she keeps making digs about, with increased hostility regarding me specifically (rather than their relationship). But everything else doesn’t really make any sense to me at all.

        • Emily

          Gotcha. Well I mean I agree with Amy March above, that maybe this is one you need to stay out of and just let your fiance handle. But, also I know my relationship with both of my sister’s in law got a lot more friendly when we started hanging outside of the family. It sounds like geographically this might be hard, but maybe invite her to your wedding Pinterest board, or start trading recipes that she knows your future husband might like. This way you can get to know each other on your own terms and change your “outsider” status.

        • A.

          Shot in the dark maybe, but are there any cultural differences here? You mention she’s in another country? The reason I bring it up is because I know my Latin American sister-in-law (and mother-in-law, and father-in-law, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and…) would freak the F out if their brother/son/nephew/etc told them that he saw a categorical difference between the marriage-family and the origin-family. Not saying you’re wrong to make the distinction! I’m definitely more on your side of things (i.e., born and raised individualist) and it’s a big part of the compromises my husband and I have had to go through in our relationship. Anyway, if relevant, maybe that would help inspire some empathy?

          • Eh

            Emily’s comment above “Maybe your fiance can try to make a case that he’s only ADDING to the family, not taking away from it” and your comment made me think about how different people (possibly related to cultural differences, but also regional or generational differences) see marriage as it relates to family of origin. Some people see if as a new “baby” family that came from the family of origins. Other people see it as the wife or husband being added to their spouses family(sometimes this only goes one way). Other times everyone becomes one big family.

            One day my niece asked her grandmother (my SIL’s mother) how my daughter was related to the grandmother. Our response, was that the grandmother was related through her mother and my daughter is related through her father but that doesn’t mean we can’t all hang out together and have Christmas or birthdays.

          • A.

            Yes, agreed that cultural differences aren’t always ethnic or geographical! It’s the whole concept of “family dynamics” that’s bandied about. And what feels natural to you can be completely alien to someone else. The only reason I bring up specific cultural differences is because in the US people heavily emphasize the individualist perspective and often champion it as the “right” way. My amazing, liberal mother even says things like “Any parent who doesn’t prioritize their child’s independence is a terrible parent.” So Americans end up seeing collectivists as overbearing, immature, disrespectful, and infantilizing, when often it simply comes from a different perspective that’s less understood. But absolutely, it takes all forms.

    • Amy March

      Why is she going to be in your wedding party? It sounds like you aren’t close, at all. If you haven’t already asked her I wouldn’t. Let your FI ask her to stand on his side.

      As for the permanent relationship side, I think you remind yourself that this is a big change. And quite possibly especially hard since she is far away. Wanting a visit with just her brother doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, actually, it sounds nice. It might not be able to happen if he doesn’t have enough money or time, but I think that the “we” aspect to not enough time might be upsetting to her, like she is losing him before you’re even married. Again, that doesn’t make your decisions wrong or mean you need to change them, but I think there is room here to say “this isn’t about me, it is about her relationship with FI, and I’m not going to let it get to me” and then actually try to not let it get to you.

      • Anon

        I guess I don’t get why marriage changes things for their relationship specifically. We’ve lived together for 4 years and shared our finances the whole time. But I see what you’re saying and it’s a good point.

        • Anon

          (Though maybe their fight about the immediate family thing below was a bigger deal than I realized and it’s part of not getting sibling dynamics that I don’t understand why she would be upset by that. For instance, if my parents were upset that I said I had a new immediate family (which is true with how we define marriage), I would honestly think that’s more their problem than anything. Same with my in-laws. But maybe siblings are different. Idk.(

          • Laura C

            I’m also an only child, but one thing I’ve noticed over the years, being an only child, is that my friends with siblings have very often explained to me that such-and-such was a universal thing about sibling relationships that I just didn’t understand … only some other friend with siblings had a different, even opposite, view. In other words, I’ve concluded you can’t conclude anything universal or even very general about sibling relationships.

          • AP

            This is so true. My husband’s sisters were terrible to each other growing up- physically fighting, destroying each other’s stuff on purpose, having screaming fights on the front lawn. His family thinks I’m lying when I say that my siblings and I never laid a hand on each other and were pretty respectful of each other’s stuff. All sibling relationships are different.

          • Amy March

            I think any time you are telling someone what they are *not* to you, whether it is *not* immediate family, *not* a bridesmaid, *not* who you would call if they needed bail, that has the potential to be really upsetting, much more so than if it is left unsaid.

          • G.

            I don’t think there’s anything universal about the sibling experience. However, I would be pretty pissed if one of my siblings told me we were no longer immediate family before they got married. Perhaps I have a broader definition of immediate family, but my take is that marriage adds, it doesn’t take away. So my immediate family gained a sister (in-law) this fall, it didn’t lose my brother. I’m not someone prone to drama or flipping out, but I can see how this comment would elicit a more extreme reaction from someone else. And I can understand the desire to see a sibling one-on-one (in addition to times with both of you).

          • A.

            So I think it’s okay to personally have a definition of immediate family = nuclear family, but it’s totally unnecessary to make it a Big Explicit Point with your origin families. I mean, I totally understand and support that my brother’s priority is my sister-in-law (the same as with my husband and me!) But if he ever out of nowhere said, “You know, I’d save my wife before you if the building was burning down.” I’d be like, uh, well, gee, bro, thanks? Even though it’s true and in many ways I would hope he’d feel that way about his wife, it’s still a shitty thing to say!

        • Sarah

          it doesn’t change anything, but it probably became a lot more real to her because of what marriage symbolizes. My MIL has gone off the deep end towards me and her son since we got married 9 months ago, meanwhile, nothing about our relationship really changed between us.

        • emmers

          Yea, my mom had some struggles (or at least feelings?) with freaking out and feeling that our relationship would change a lot when I got married, even though, like you, I’d been away from my mom’s house for years. I think sometimes weddings just bring up feelings for people. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it, but you’re not alone. It’s a thing!

        • MDBethann

          I will agree though that her comment that she and your FH “won’t be family anymore” after you are married is rather, um, odd, to say the least. I thought weddings were all about GAINING family instead of losing it? Really, she’s gaining a sister, not losing a brother.

    • Lizzie

      That sounds so incredibly intrusive and frustrating to deal with – I’m really sorry to hear!

      I’m curious, how old is the SIL and what’s her relationship status/history? I’m just so baffled as to why she’s acting like this (I have siblings and we sure wouldn’t do this to each other!) and I’m wondering what else might be going on with her. Sounds like it’s all happening on her side, and that you two are drawing great boundaries and communicating clearly with her. Her behavior is so perplexing!

    • Sarah

      If this was written about your MIL that would be my MIL…its definitely not cool/okay, but the only thing you can do is what you guys already are : You aren’t missing anything, she sounds like a PITA. Oh, and don’t ask her to be in your bridal party!!!!

    • Jess

      This is not normal. Mandating that he be speaking on the phone to her through dinner? Calling repeatedly until he picks up? Not ok.

      I can understand when close friends or siblings feel like someone is drifting away, and I know that it is hard. But this is not typical sibling behavior.

    • KitBee

      I agree that her behavior is totally over-the-top (15 phone calls a day, seriously??), and I completely understand why you want to set some strong boundaries. On the other hand, I do sort of see where she’s coming from, up to a point. My brother, with whom I’m fairly close, recently got married. And while I really like his wife, I did have some sad feelings about the fact that he’d be (inevitably) distancing himself from our family of origin and creating a new family with her. Sure, I haven’t lost a brother; I’ve gained a sister-in-law — but they now have to split their time between two families, so of course I’m going to see less of him than I did before. So I think it’s understandable that she would want to spend some time with her brother alone, although obviously this shouldn’t happen all the time (and can’t, if she is in another country!). I think a friendly overture from you (maybe a letter or small care package?) might help to calm her down a bit…that way she can see you as a friend rather than a threat to her relationship with her brother.

      • Sosuli

        Yep! I cried and cried after my mom told me my sister was spending Christmas with her in-laws. It can be surprisingly hard for siblings to adjust. Not that it justifies the sister’s behaviour – I can understand the feelings, not how she’s handled them. But with time, she’ll get used to it and hopefully drop the ridiculous clinging. I agree that reaching out to her might help that along.

  • ruth

    I just wanted to say to everyone who is in the thick of this right now – we got married almost 3 years ago, there was a lot of fighting and a lot of tears (we both come from warm, close, but very big, loud, intense, opinionated families) – and as someone on the other side now, all I can say is that it gets better – at least for us, marriage is so much easier than wedding planning. Everyone will eventually calm down. The craziness has an end. For most families. People used to remind me of this during our engagement, and it helped.

    • Laura C

      I, on the other hand, would say that the dynamics that make wedding planning difficult don’t disappear after the wedding. Kind of the back end of people not changing for your wedding; they’re the same after, too.

      Of course wedding planning can highlight all that … but so can your first holidays as a married couple, and heaven knows having a baby will do the same.

      • Eh

        I agree with this. I will say that wedding planning was just the first of many difficult moments with my in-laws. After my experience during wedding planning I am not surprised by their behaviour, especially at holidays (and not just the first ones – I’m 2.5 years out) or now that we have a baby (even though I wish it would get better). That said, my in-laws didn’t change when we got engaged, I just didn’t see it until around the time we were engaged.

      • Cellistec

        “The dynamics that make wedding planning difficult don’t disappear after the wedding.” This is the truest thing. And I suppose it makes wedding planning a reality check for how people will probably handle other stressful situations in the future.

      • Lawyerette510

        @disqus_NvUtaFqm42:disqus bringing the truth! I will say the silver lining to it is that for me navigating the dynamics that bubbled up or ballooned during wedding planning helped my spouse and I further develop our tools for dealing with those issues as individuals and as a couple.

    • TeaforTwo

      This was our experience, too. I had in-law challenges planning my wedding, and we get along great now. Mostly because we’re no longer planning an emotionally-laden Once in a Lifetime event for 150 people that costs tens of thousands of (their) dollars.

      What @disqus_NvUtaFqm42:disqus said below has been true, to some extent. The dynamics are still the same in that the people who have opinions will always have opinions and the people who are a bit flaky are always a bit flaky. But the stakes just feel lower now. Holidays? Happen every year. Having a baby? Doesn’t happen every year, but does feel more clearly “ours” than an event that parents are hosting to celebrate us.

      I think stress levels are lower all around, and it no longer feels like this is the ONE moment to make xyz happen, and I’m no longer worried that if we cave on this ONE thing we’re setting the tone for our whole marriage.

  • Lizzie

    We are a month out. MOMS, RITE?

    Mother in law: texting multiple times a day saying “just an idea!” and then 5 pictures of flower options that she found at Costco and wouldn’t that be great would we want her to bring the car a day early so she could pick up the orchids just let her know?? Or calling my SO saying “just an idea, the sale ends tonight so let me know!” and then describing elaborate wedding favors that she wants to arrange and how did that all sound to us did we have favors planned already?? (Spoiler: personal opinion alert – whoops I fucking hate favors.)

    Actual mother: calling me once a week (if that) to tell me about herself and demand information from me (well and what did you decide on menu. and what is your ring going to be. did you hear that your cousin had trouble booking a hotel block room.) without offering even an attempt at support or an empathetic ear.

    Given how insane it could be – and how lucky I am to have moms on both sides who are with us and ultimately supportive of our marriage – I have it pretty easy. But within the minutia, UGH. I feel simultaneously bombarded and unsupported and they both suck a lot. I wish we had a big, happy, community barn-raising-type wedding, but the reality of both NYC itself and NYC weddings/logistics is that we simply can’t lean on out-of-towners too hard without creating more problems. So we are shouldering a ton of the weight ourselves, and some emotional support from my mom + some f**king chill pills for my MIL would be pretty great right now.

    • Lizzie

      (Also relevant – we’re planning the whole thing in about 3.5 months, so the name of the game is triage straight through. So the constant pings are especially aggravating in this situation in particular!)

    • MC

      Ha – your MIL sounded like my MIL. She loves wedding planning and was so excited to help that what she thought was being supportive actually drove me bonkers. I dealt with it by having my husband be the person who responded to her, which meant I could ignore her but she didn’t feel ignored. My husband just had to say, “Thanks, but that’s not what we’re doing/going for/that’s not important to us” a million times. But we also said yes a few times to things that didn’t really impact us that made her happy.

      You can do this! Best of luck!

      • Lizzie

        YES. Exactly. I am envious of your husband’s firm responses and am hopeful for the same from our end!

        I finally think we made progress a few nights ago when I explained to my SO that his mom will keep being “helpful” like this (she really thinks she’s being helpful) until he (not me!) gently explains how it’s actually really UNhelpful, and if she could do x/y/z that would be really great.

        She’s also already taking on a lot – coordinating homemade dessert offerings from several relatives and displaying them at the reception, planning a bridal shower for me on short notice, among others – so we are partly wary because we truly don’t think she gets how hard everything is in NYC. Like, chill on the handmade favors, trust us, no one gives a shit, and carrying that junk (sorry) on the subway or even in a taxi is gonna be disastrous.

        Hah, I think you just helped me realize how badly SHE needs APW! : )

    • Kara E

      Hang in there! It sounds like you’ve got a ton going on. Some people say “I love you” with service; she might be one of those people. And it does sound like she’s doing a lot, from your perspective already.

      As a potential partial solution, if you can /give/ her some things that she can just *do*
      without input from you (like edible favors or some flowers or
      something), do you think she would back down a bit? Or would that just up the ante? Maybe she could just surprise you with
      favors or something similar? Or have her to come up with 3 ideas for
      you two to choose from and give her any constraints you really care
      about (like “all of them must fit in a grocery bag so you can take it in
      a taxi without stressing”?). I planned most of my wedding as the only key player in DC (I
      was in a LDR and my parents and bridesmaids lived out of town). I had a
      couple of friends take on stuff that needed to get done (like bathroom
      “girlie” stuff and stuff for the kids and church decor) and run with it. Best gift ever.

      • emmers

        Yea, it helped my mom when I let her go crazy with the favors. I didn’t even really look at them until I saw photos of them, but it made her heart happy, since she realllly wanted to help.

    • Sosuli

      I hear you on the MIL. Latest is she’s decided she wants to get a cake for the wedding in addition to our wedding cake, to have before our wedding cake and so she can decide what it is and what it looks like. Initially I thought it was weird… now I think, if she’s paying for it, she can go right ahead and focus all her energy on sorting that thing out… and hopefully that’ll take up a bit of her time so she won’t think of a million other things too.

      • MDBethann

        Is she from the southern US? I understand that in many parts of the southern US, they have the tradition of the “groom’s cake.” Not overly familiar with it outside of some references in magazines and “Steel Magnolias,” so I don’t know how a groom’s cake is served vis a vie the wedding cake.

    • Danielle

      My mother drove me absolutely crazy during wedding planning last year. My parents gave us money for the wedding, said there were no strings attached, but there totally were. Every phone conversation we had during those few months involved them shutting down my/our plans and me sobbing on the floor while my now-husband watched.

      We watched “Mommie Dearest” and seeing a horrible, campy mother made me feel better about how some moms can suck. I started referring to my mom as Mommie Dearest (at least to my husband) and even dressed up as her for Halloween! It scared many children and helped me bring a little levity to the situation.

      FWIW my photographer said that mothers of the bride are usually the most insane. So you are not alone.

      • This is where the APW asking for the top three important things might be able to help. If it’s not in the top three (or five or whatever), then it’s not that important to them.

        • Danielle

          Yes, that did help to some extent. However they were not being rational AT ALL throughout the process, so at a certain point it was just “accept the crazy” and do the best that I could to move on and manage the rest.

          We got married last year and I don’t have to deal with it anymore; however it was instructive for how to deal with their control freakishness when/if we have a baby.

      • AS

        THIIIIIIIIS is happening to me right now. The worst.
        Love that you went down the Mommy Dearest route though, roflcopter.

        • Danielle

          Oh god. Sorry, girl. You have ALL my sympathy.

          Try watching “Mommie Dearest”! It’s on Netflix… might make you feel even an eensy little bit better about your mother. Or at least it will make you laugh for a little :D

          Good luck and stay strong <3

    • mary266

      omg WE HAVE THE SAME MOMS. literally exactly the same — my MIL hit me up last week because she found a sale on tablecloths that day (no one had asked her to do anything about tablecloths!) and because the sale was ending the same day she found it, she called me three times, texted me three times, emailed me and then CALLED MY MOTHER to ask where i was (I live in LA and my mom lives in boston…soooo…yeah).

      and my mom — same thing!! with the never-ending questions, the utter lack of support, the blinders when it comes to anything other than her own concerns, and the constant criticism. today i sent her a full and complete budget spreadsheet, with every subcategory we are spending money on listed out (50 line items in all). all she said was, “two of these are wrong, and i told you we’re not paying for [my fiance’s] suit,” the last part of which is a whole other problem.

      THANK YOU for sharing, you just made me feel not alone!!

  • EF

    a note of support to those who are planning without families. IT WILL BE OKAY. no one says anything dumb at the wedding/reception, you still get to walk down an aisle if you don’t have a father around, and no one misses parent toasts. IT WILL BE FINE.

    but yeah, along the way it can suck a little. that’s allowed, too.

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  • Rachel

    I’m struggling with whether or not to invite my bio dad. He’s a toxic person and I recently cut him out over some very racists remarks he made (and he conveniently forgets the fact that his own children are half Mexican. What the hell!). He acts like he’s Parent of the Year, but in reality he skipped on most of the parenting, avoiding the hard parts and doing the easy stuff and buying us stuff so we’d like him better than my mom and stepdad. If I don’t invite him, he’ll probably hold it over my head for the rest of my life and constantly throw it in my face (because that’s what he does). On the other hand, if I do invite him, he’ll probably act like he did at my undergrad graduation and tell everyone he’s always been supportive of me and he’s been *so welcoming* to my fiance when neither of those statements have been the case. I’ve been talking with my brother and my mom about it, but so far I still have mixed feelings. My mom and stepdad both told me they would support me with whatever I decide.

    Fiance, on the other hand…hoo boy. His mother sees him as the Golden Child, so of course she always wants to be in his business and had said she was thinking about moving to our town, to which fiance responded with “If you do, I’ll never speak to you again.” She keeps calling to tell him he can move back home (nope). When we told her we were engaged, she responded with a list of people we had to invite. We said no. She offered to pay for only them. We still said no. She got her sisters and a family friend to try and bully fiance for a wedding invite. Answer was still no. She saw my ring and kept telling fiance he did a good job, despite fiance repeatedly telling her that we picked it out together. We’ve been very low contact with MIL since last summer (very long story), but somehow she found out our new home’s address and sent me a passive aggressive card saying if I needed anything for the wedding, to call her or text her or email her (and provided the numbers/email). She is invited to the wedding, but we’ll see what happens. My bridesmaids know the story with her and are fully prepared to kick her out if needed. I hope she behaves, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

    • Hey nonny nonny

      I’m also struggling with inviting my dad…as of right now, he’s not invited. It’s really strange to me that it has come to this, but honestly, I think it’s for the best. We don’t talk. I texted him to let him know that we were engaged (which he didn’t respond to for two days until I texted him again asking if he got it). The only reason I let him know was because we had announced it on Facebook and I’m friends on there with a few people in my small hometown, I didn’t want someone to mention it to him and have it be really awkward when they knew and he didn’t. Before this text, the last time we spoke had been three and half years ago. The last family gathering we were both at was my grandmother’s funeral seven years ago, which he ruined by throwing my mother out (they’re divorced, but she was very close to her former mom in law). He married a woman that I had never met, whose name I didn’t even know. She was awful at my grandmother’s funeral and made more than one person uncomfortable with inappropriate comments about my mother. I don’t want that woman at my wedding. I don’t want my amazing mother to feel the least bit uncomfortable at my wedding. So, he’s not invited because I don’t want to spend one second of my wedding day worried about it being awkward or uncomfortable or what he’s saying. He would probably put on a good show and tell people a bunch of lies if he were to come, also. I just don’t want that farce. It’s been really hard to get to this place, and I still sometimes second guess myself about it, but it really is for the best. Now I’m just scared that he’ll find out about it and crash it.

  • Scissors

    My parents are opposed to my fiance because of his race and, though we’ve been close my whole life, they basically only speak to me now to say appallingly racist things. My sister is “not choosing sides” but my brother has been very supportive and honestly it wouldn’t be the worst if he were the one walking me down the aisle. Also on the plus side, we don’t care what they think of floral arrangements.

    Good luck to everyone with family drama! It’s the worst.

    • ART

      My brother and mom walked with me – in the end, I wanted the people that were going to mean the most and who wanted to be there with me for that part. I was so happy with that arrangement and it was really nice to have them there to look at and say “here we go!”

    • clarkesara

      I decided, when my parents went through an acrimonious divorce my senior year of high school that ended up ruining literally every aspect and milestone of my 18th year, that there is no way in hell my father is walking me down the aisle. He’s a great dude and our relationship has grown a lot over the intervening years, but nope. No parents having any kind of iconic, visible, central role. I’m getting my three brothers to walk me down the aisle instead.

  • AnonThisTime

    Anon for this. I’m worried that my dad is going to get really drunk and embarrass himself and/or me/us. He’s not officially an alcoholic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fit the criteria. Jokes like “I can’t wait to get everyone drunk before the ceremony” don’t make me feel any better. I’ve tried telling him that they aren’t funny and I really don’t want that. He doesn’t get why that bothers me. “It would let everyone have more fun.” Um..no.

    I don’t want to have a dry wedding – the vast majority of our guests are adults and should be able to hold their liquor. We are going to limit it to beer and wine, though. My sister and her bf have said in all seriousness that we should have a bartender so that they can tell him/her to cut my dad off after a certain period of time but that’s REALLY going to end in yelling and tears so I don’t know what to do other than hope that he does his usual amount of drinking and just…behaves. Or that no one else notices.

    My fiance says he hasn’t noticed that my dad gets drunk at family dinners, but my sister and I can feel it. Mostly because he makes terrible jokes and says really inappropriate things when he drinks. My sister is more outspoken and shuts him down, but sometimes that ends in a lot of yelling. He used to be a lot worse growing up (without alcohol) but now the closest he gets to the short-tempered man of my childhood is when he drinks. Fiance has never seen dad’s temper in full flare (which is good – it hasn’t gotten that way in the years we’ve known each other).

    I feel like there isn’t anything I can do in this situation other than just try to not let the anticipation bother me or his behavior (whatever it ends up being) ruin however wonderfully everything else goes. So I’m not actually looking for much advice. Just a safe space to vent.

    • H

      Totally been there. Fortunately, you and your sister almost definitely notice it more than anyone else. Also, people are typically pretty drunk and carousing around at weddings, it’s not like everyone will be stone sober and alert to personality changes in one person. Hang in there!

    • alanon

      My Dad’s an alcoholic too — it doesn’t have to be diagnosed by a doctor to be true. I’m getting married soon and worry about how he and the rest of the alcoholics in my family will manage the wedding. My advice would be to assign someone, maybe your outspoken sister, to keep him in check on the day. Maybe that means providing him with glasses/bottles of water between drinks, making sure he eats, or nudging him to keep his drinking in check. I would also sit down and have a long conversation with him (while he’s sober) to tell him exactly how hurtful he can be when he drinks. Also follow it up with how excited you are, and how important it is for him to be there for you, to be present (and mostly sober), so you can both enjoy the day and have fond memories.

      At the end of the day, an alcoholic is going to drink, whether or not you serve alcohol. But, having a few safeguards to protect yourself could be helpful. Having an alcoholic father sucks, but if you can prepare for it, and focus on yourself and your FH, you’ll get through it. xx

    • knolan12

      Hi! My BFF was worried this would be the case with both of her parents (not diagnosed, but definitely borderline) and they were actually fine! It’s definitely something only you would notice, but I’m sure he’ll try to be on his best behavior anyway :)

    • Lawyerette510

      I feel you so much. Both my parents have track records of getting drunk and behaving badly. While we tried to take some steps to limiting consumption at our wedding (the bar was supposed to be closed prior to the ceremony, and while there was wine on the tables during the family-style meal they were slowish to refresh the bottles and we had a bartender for after the meal); although it didn’t necessarily work because a miscommunication resulted in the bar being opened before hand and the like, everything worked out ok. Yes my dad and mom were both drunk about an hour or so after dinner was over, but so were a lot of other people and by then all the ceremonial stuff was done, and no one really noticed. While there was the possibility of either of them behaving badly, neither did and I think it helped me that I just delegated that concern to close friends.

      What I mean by delegated that concern is I used the idea I came across in the APW universe of emotional bodyguards. I had one friend who was point person for my mom and another for my dad (my parents are divorces) and each parent had one very close friend who was also a guest (at our otherwise very small wedding). I spoke with my friends specifically about my concerns and they were each happy to take the role of giving my parents lots of attention and being on the look out for any flare ups and were both comfortable with putting out fires. I didn’t speak to my parents friends, but they are their long-time friends for a reason and so I knew they would want their friends to look good and behave well.

  • Anon

    We eloped at the end of Feb. We had been engaged for three years. Eloping felt right and romantic and well I’m really glad we did. But now we are dealing with some fallout. We told family and close friends that we were planning to get married while on a short trip so it was not a complete surprise. Overall it was well received.

    My Mom on the other hand… has barely acknowledged it happened. When I told her, she seemed surprised and a little hurt. I only let her know about a week ahead of time so admittedly there wasn’t much time for her to process. But since we got back… it’s been hurtful how disinterested she is. We posted some pictures on FB and I asked if she saw them – she responded by saying that she saw “three of them”. And that was it. She saw them. No reaction.

    Since then the only conversations we have had about the wedding were about the reception we are planning and mostly just her very strong opinions about one thing or another. She has never said congratulations or expressed happiness for us.

    This whole time I’ve been trying to be understanding that I robbed her of getting to plan/attend her daughter’s wedding. But then she recently made a comment that she tried to convince my stepfather to elope when they got engaged… and that just kind of broke my patience.

    I don’t know if I should confront her about it or just let it go. My family typically sweeps things under the rug and I think the expectation is that I won’t call her out on it, we’ll pretend it never happened and all will go back to normal. BUT THIS IS MY WEDDING. And I’m not sure I can do that this time around.

    • Amy March

      It’s been less than a month! It’s hurtful to you that she is disinterested, but I’m sure it’s also hurtful to her that you were disinterested in having her be there.

      Eloping is great! But it has consequences, and people have feelings. I don’t think confronting her about feeling not great about your elopement is any better or different than her confronting you about eloping.

  • clarkesara

    Uggghhhhhhhh between my mom who is confused and thinks maybe this is HER wedding, my dad who is completely disengaged and mostly just doesn’t want to pay for anything, the fact that they are divorced, the fact that I’m white, my fiance isn’t, and I’m from the South with the stereotypical relatives you can probably imagine, the fact that I’m feminist and a super nontraditional bride (no engagement ring, no bridal party, no tossing the bouquet, maybe no registry, etc. etc. etc.), and the fact that my brother is also getting married this year and is having a much more traditional wedding, there is so much drama that eloping is already on the table and we’ve been engaged for a month.

    I kind of don’t know how else to deal aside from just putting it all aside and not doing wedding planning stuff until the last possible minute. But that doesn’t help either as I get 20 texts a day from my mom about venues and caterers and photographers etc. (because, again, she thinks this might be HER wedding.)

    • Lizzie

      No helpful advice to give, just a I FEEL YOU on both counts. My MIL is being like your mom, and I too am trying to have a nontraditional wedding and am getting side-eyes on that front, too. (I actually don’t care for favors and don’t want them at all! No, I’m not a “Future Mrs” but thank you for asking!)

      Actually, one piece of advice that may or may not be helpful – my SO and I waited almost a year after getting engaged to start actually figuring shit out. It was total panicked evasion, not a planned romantic phase. But it inadvertently helped because everyone got their “OMG VENUES!” juju out early, and then got more and more desperate for us to do something, ANYTHING, so once we started planning, our moms were just relieved that we were making forward motion, and that they’re invited! It did get annoying to have to say “no plans yet!” a trillion times, but it also shut everyone up pretty quick. Some tactical delaying might help you here, if you don’t mind deflating other peoples’ emotional wedding starry-eyes over and over. (I……kind of relished it.) Also, our 3.5-month span from venue contract signing to wedding is helping keep the bullshit to a minimum. Don’t think there’s any way to cut it out entirely, sadly, hah.

      • Eh

        Because of the push back we got on everything (my inlaws had only ever been to traditional weddings so our less traditional wedding was a huge deal – no wedding party, husband in a suit, no church/minister) we got to the point where we stopped sharing with them because they claimed everything would be a disaster just because they had never been to a wedding like the one we planned. After the fact they said they liked our more causal wedding more than some of the traditional ones they had been to.

        • Lizzie

          “After the fact they said they liked our more causal wedding more than some of the traditional ones they had been to.”

          Why am I not surprised?! Similar situation for me. I had a breakthrough moment recently where I got really, really, REALLY proud and excited to be having the kind of wedding that neither my SO’s 15-year-old cousin nor my 14-year-old cousin (both girls) will have ever seen before. I feel hugely proud of that. Hopefully the family will come around (as aggravating/”I told you so” as that would be!), but what’s really getting me through is being able to show the younger ones that, if they choose to marry, it’s OKAY to do something a little different. (Dare I say, awesome!)

          • Eenie

            I’m in the same boat. No one gets it (besides APW).

          • Eh

            My FIL’s mantra is that all weddings are different and reflect the couple. This apparently does not apply when you are not religious and decide to have have a secular wedding, and want to have a more relaxed feeling (which is totally us).

            Our first breakthrough was when we had them sign off on our invitations which were casual in look (“oh you are having a casual wedding”) but they were still hung up on game boards as centrepieces and no wedding party. After seeing our wedding they agree that everything worked together.

          • BSM

            Totally agreed :D

            The most common (and appreciated) feedback we got on our restaurant wedding at a trendy Caribbean restaurant in Venice was that it felt very “us.”

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      I’m not sure if this is realistic for you, but can you hire a DOC or have a friend stage manage the wedding? 3/4 of what I’ve done (doing both) for some wedding is just run interference. It’s really really hard to communicate with loved ones when there’s a lot of FEELINGS going on–sometimes having a third party can really help.
      Also: Hugs. It’ll be perfect in the end, because you’ll be married to the one you love.

      • clarkesara

        That is absolutely in the cards, and is probably going to be invaluable because my mom wants to do all of the judging and opining with none of the actual helping. But oh, the feelings…

  • anonnnn

    My mom just insults all my ideas and then sulks that I don’t include her in planning. First she said my venue was ridiculously overpriced and I was wasting money, then, when I bought a very inexpensive dress and decided to send email invitations to save money, she told me I was being tacky and cheap.

    • Caitlyn

      It really sounds like your mom thinks you are planning a wedding in 1970 – when wedding venues were practically free and paper invitations were both affordable and expected. Not helpful for you since you are planning a wedding in 2016, but maybe if you try to explain to your Mom that the WIC is a real thing and has completely changed the face of weddings in the last 15 years (in a nice way)? That honestly helped my Mom understand things a bit better when we started having a lot of the same conversations.

  • Megera

    I’m 1.5 years out, and am still annoyed with my mum; she made my wedding dress (Hooray!) and the bridesmaid dresses (Awesome!) and spent twice as much time on the bridesmaid dress my sister wore than on my wedding dress. Which didn’t really fit. Although my mother is a professional dressmaker. Le sigh.

    • Totch

      Yeah, that would get to me. That’s soooo many conflicting feelings!

  • Christy

    10 days until my wedding. Honestly, family hasn’t been bad. We’re only inviting immediate family, and apparently my aunt asked my mother “Do you think Christy would mind if we just happened to be at [venue] that day?” which my mother shut down IMMEDIATELY. Basically, my mom is running a lot of interference. I just wish she wouldn’t TELL me all the interference she’s running. I don’t need to know how upset my grandmother is about not being invited. Maybe she shouldn’t have voted against gay marriage. (Mine is a gay marriage.) I also don’t need to know how much you’re spending on the next-day party that YOU wanted to throw. If it’s beyond your budget, then make different plans next time! I’m having a small wedding for a reason, and part of that is so I don’t have to pay to feed 80 people like she is.

    And my father in law is going to be in town for literally 36 hours, booked nonrefundable from Expedia so it can’t be changed. He’s going to be at the wedding and dinner, but not at the larger party the next day. DUDE. Maybe check with your daughter first before booking?

    • Eenie

      Ah parents. Are you having an April 1st wedding day? If so that’s rad.

      • Christy

        We are! My fiancée and I both hate March so it’ll be a celebration of April and spring every year. Plus it’s April Fools Day! I’m like 5% sad that we aren’t getting married on 4/2/16 (because 4 ^ 2 = 16) but I’m consoling myself with the family party being held on that day. Plus 4/1 is a better overall anniversary than 4/2.

        • Eenie

          I agree with all your reasons! I hope you two have so much fun with April Fools Day!

    • Caitlyn

      Sorry it’s stressful and it would be great if your Mom could run interference a little more quietly – but SERIOUS props to her for shutting down your aunt. I mean REALLY good on her!!

      • Christy

        I know–she’s been great overall. She’s kind of the black sheep, but still really close to everyone, so she’s used to having to stand up for herself in the family. Bless her for shutting that down.

    • emmers

      “Basically, my mom is running a lot of interference. I just wish she wouldn’t TELL me all the interference she’s running.” Truth! That is a stressful part. Hang in there. And congratulations on getting married. That’s the exciting part, even though other crap is hard.

  • Riot

    Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve been saying! The stress does not come from the planning and admin, but the relationships! I thought I’d be immune to wedding meltdowns because I like planning functions and decorating them. Then other people entered the equation…

    • Michela

      Yes yes yes to this!! Exactly.

  • z

    Family was the worst. It was so awful. Mostly because of my mom. She likes to present her divorce as more amicable than it really is, and that we’re all a big happy family. But I was unwilling to let her partner (the man she cheated on my dad with) be in the wedding party, and my dad was unwilling to co-host any events with her. (My parents don’t really fight, it’s more like my mom occasionally starts pushing for this kind of “happy blended family” type BS and my dad stonewalls her and everyone else ignores the issue.) It really, really upset her and made her anxious that she couldn’t present a happy family to all our friends and relatives. But we aren’t a happy family, and I’m not willing to pretend that we are, especially if it involves Mr. Infidelity standing next to me when I take my vows. I deal with enough lingering crap from their divorce and it’s getting worse as they age, I had no interest in accommodating her infidelity drama on my own wedding day. So she was an anxious mess throughout the whole planning process, kept trying to twist my arm about her boyfriend, drove my dad crazy too. Her boyfriend at least had the decency to be mortified by this. I have no sympathy. Choices have consequences.

    • Giselle

      Oh man – I feel you on the divorce cloud over your wedding. No infidelity issues complicating it for my family, but the lingering…..it just doesn’t stop having downstream effects. Good for you for standing up for what you feel comfortable with even if it was uncomfortable doing so.

      • z

        Thanks…. The experience of dealing with my mom has really made me give side-eye to everyone who claims to be amicably divorced, and that their kids are fine with it. I’m like, really?, or do you just like to feel that way? The disturbing part is that my mom *actually believes* these things. But it’s what she needs to do to cope with the cognitive dissonance of having been unfaithful.

        You better believe it lingers– actually it gets worse. As it turns out, finding two assisted-living homes is twice as hard as finding just one, for example. And they still charge you for two rooms even if the divorce is “amicable”!

        • Sosuli

          Aaaaaahhhh. The “what happens when my parents are elderly now they’re divorced” thing has been haunting me recently. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, which my mother is has as a result been terrified of getting herself… and I always thought dad would take care of her… eeerrr…. not anymore.

          • z

            Yep, it’s gonna be tough (and expensive and time-consuming). The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can prepare. My parents’ Boomer short-sightedness prevented them from even considering the possibility of getting old, so we’re all trying to deal with their lack of planning. And I’ll be damned if I help my mom with her loser boyfriend as he ages… of course, he also has no savings… New parental partners can really help you out in this scenario, or they can be an additional burden.

            The only positive thing I can tell you is that you have a lot of company. Adult children of divorce don’t tend to talk about it much, but over the next few decades we’re going to have to really lean on each other.

  • Keri

    So on the topic of moms and mom reactions but also just bad news: I got an email from our venue this morning that they MAY be shut down for events by the county because of not being up to code for hotels in the guest houses, and we may be moved to another venue or let out of our contract, and I really want to call my mom about it but I think she’ll go nuts and just make me crazier and I don’t want to tell her about it until it’s for sure. She drove me a little crazy about deposits and wanting us to “jump on things” because she was afraid they’d get booked up and we’d lose a place we fell in love with if we didn’t instantly throw money at them, etc etc, and so i’m sure this will just make her go bananas. I’m pretty calm about it right now, because it’s not definite, and there’s a chance everything will work out, but there’s also a chance we’ll have to find a new place for August. I feel like this is only slightly related to the topic but I couldn’t wait until happy hour to share! :-/

    • Totch

      This really stinks! Good luck with the venue, and with notifying your mom (if/when you choose to).

    • Michela

      Girl I feel you. Our venue went up for sale in the fall. 20 of the 26 acres sold, but luckily not the bed & breakfast itself. Then our Innkeeper, who we met with multiple times and totally loved, told us she quit. My fiancé called the B&B owner last weekend to confirm our booking and ask about the new Innkeeper, when we were informed the owner had no idea we were booked for our wedding that weekend because the B&B was booked with two other guests. I think I have 40 new gray hairs.

      All this to say- it will work out eventually (ours did), but not without some annoying work and planning on your part. Hopefully your venting here will make it easier to avoid getting stressed by your mom! We’re all here for you. Good luck sorting through this issue!

      • Keri

        Ah, thanks guys! I am hopeful that something will work out – it just seems CRAZY that they would have to cancel/move a whole summer’s worth of weddings for a zoning issue, and I am super grateful I am at the back of the pack in August and not someone who is hearing this about their wedding in a few weeks. After talking to my fiancé some more last night, we agreed not to start looking for new places or alert the moms until we know more or get an update from the venue, which should be in about a week.

        • Michela

          That seems like a really level-headed, calm way to handle what is no doubt a stressful situation. You have 5 months to rearrange plans if you have to, so it seems really wise to wait until you have more information next week. Best of luck, and please keep us updated!xo

    • Lisa

      That is so rough. I completely feel you on the venue craziness. Our event coordinator at our restaurant venue went on maternity leave partway through our wedding planning, and we were turned over to the interim coordinator. We had booked the top floor for a seated dinner with minimal to no dance floor. When I started to work with the second coordinator two months before the wedding, she informed us that what we had planned was not an option given the space and now we would be having passed h’or d’oeuvres with cocktail tables and minimal seating. I flipped a shit for about 24 hours (including e-mailing the old coordinator to ask WTF happened), but eventually the restaurant agreed to shut down the main room for dinner at no extra cost and have us move to the top floor for dancing and cake. It was an even better deal than we already had!

      If there’s anything I’ve learned from event planning, it’s that everything can be fixed, and many times, the new solution is even better than the original plan. Things will work out for you!

      • Eenie

        Lol. We had something similar happen. The events coordinator at the restaurant told us we could do a seated dinner when we decided to sign the contract. Met with the CEO 6 months later who would actually be running our event and he explained it would take up all of the space, no buffet area or dance area or ceremony area. Cue us switching to a cocktail style wedding, for which we could have found a way cheaper venue (our main issue was finding a venue for 100 person sit down dinner). Overall, happyish right now with how it was looking, but still a little disappointed.

  • Hey nonny nonny

    My fiance’s family is really frustrating me. First, his older sister was trying to NOT COME to her little brother’s wedding. By extension, nor would her husband or children, his nieces and nephew be coming. I just can’t with this. I am so hurt on his behalf and angry that this would be even something that would be a possibility because there is no animosity or estrangement or anything to justify it. They have to travel for the wedding, as we live in another state across the country. This was her excuse. They don’t have money issues. Supposedly his mom has talked her into coming and bringing the kids by paying for where they are staying. What makes me even more furious about this is that at Christmas, before any deposits were paid, we basically polled the family to make sure that everyone was on board to travel out to where we live for the wedding. We had checked out some venues in the city close to them where we used to live and would have been just as happy to have the wedding there so they wouldn’t have to travel. Everyone said, of course, have the wedding there, we’re looking forward to visiting!
    Second, his cousin has said that if she and her husband can’t bring their (tiny loud toddler) children, they’re not traveling to come either. We had limited the children on the guest list to just nieces and nephews only on both sides, since we each have three and the youngest one will be nine by the wedding and all are very polite and well behaved. Our evening wedding is at a very nice hotel. It is black-tie optional. We are having a plated dinner and an open bar. This is NOT a tiny child friendly wedding. If we allow her to have her kids at the wedding, her sister will want her (also tiny and loud) kids there too. I cannot imagine being so rude and entitled to insist that my small children be included in an event that is entirely inappropriate for them. I would just say, “Fine, then I guess you won’t come,” but it is important to my fiance that they be there. I am really really hoping that they will agree to have the kids in a room with a nanny. I have already said that if one of them throws a tantrum during the ceremony, I will be very not pleased.

    Finally, as of right now, my dad isn’t invited. I keep going back and forth on this decision. I never thought that I wouldn’t invite my own father to the wedding. It’s even more awkward because other than my mom, my closest family is my dad’s brother and his family. My cousin (dad’s brother’s daughter) is my best lady. They’re not close and everyone gets it, but it’s just tough. I worry about what my fiance’s family will think, even though they know I’m not close with my dad. It just feels so final that he won’t be there, like I’m finally saying, this just can’t be fixed and I’m done trying.

    Thanks for listening everyone!

    • TeaforTwo

      It sounds like you have a lot on your plate, and I’m sorry there are so many family stressors.

      I would gently suggest having a bit more compassion for your fiance’s cousins, though. We have had some good threads about kids at weddings before, and I think the general consensus is that no one gets to pick for anyone else.

      That means you can have a no-kids or no-toddlers wedding for sure…but also that some parents of toddlers might not be able to come. Especially if they are travelling. Parents of kids that young are often uncomfortable leaving their child for a weekend with a sitter to travel, and may not want to leave their child with a sitter they don’t know in the city where the wedding is. All of that is totally understandable, and the parents’ primary responsibility has to be taking care of their kid. So it’s not that they are insisting you gave to invite their kids…it’s that they have to say no if their kids can’t come.

      I hope you can find a solution that works for your situation.

      • guest

        this is totally what I was trying to find the right way to say. sometimes the toddlers just won’t be okay with strangers and sometimes arranged babysitters cancel last minute (this happened to a couple I know who travelled to out of town wedding with kids, they ended up stuck in the hotel room for the weekend since kids not welcome at the wedding or reception). or it might not meet their parenting style to leave them for a weekend yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that. just like there’s nothing wrong with having a kids free wedding! one persons choices mean another person just gets to make choices and none of those are bad, maybe just disappointing to the other parties.

  • Giselle

    Anyone else struggling with feelings of balance between two sides of family? I’m trying to embrace the joining a new family, but I have to admit, realizing the family numbers got to me.

    My parents are freshly divorced and there’s a long history of my mom not feeling valued/respected by my dad’s side (some intentional, some people being who they are and not especially her type of people). Even before we got engaged my mom made it clear she would not attend a wedding if my father’s sister was invited. She stopped short as she heard herself say it, but then stood by it as ‘her truth’. Ok. Fine, I want my mom present and it won’t happen if the aunt is there (we’re not thaaat close, but it would have been nice for my dad to enjoy having a family member there, especially since it is his 70th birthday the night before). Add in being estranged from my mom’s side and deceased grandparents means I have exactly three family members coming from my side. My parents and brother. We were always a small family unit and I try to remember that the friends coming are my family too. But this slight sadness compounds when my mom refuses to be in photos with my dad, says that she really can’t imagine seeing him there, she’s trying to work on her feelings & tears about all this – but the divorce was 3 years ago and we’re getting married in 6 months – how much is really going to change?

    This tension, added with me realizing that my fiance (who’s parents are together) 20-30 family members we are inviting (there could have been 30), makes me feel just so…..sad…..about my family of origin. Trying to get over it, but it’s not that easy.

    • Sosuli

      I feel you so much. My parents will be just shy of 2 years divorced at our wedding. Luckily they are trying to be adults about it (will sit next to each other for the service and at the top table for part of the day, with my niece between them ) and not quite as demanding as it sounds like yours are being… but I have definitely broken down in tears more than once to my FH saying “I just wish my parents had a relationship like yours do.” All I can say is it is okay to still hurt about it. To get through it I try and focus on the good times my family had and how we can still make happy memories together for the future, just with my parents separately. It doesn’t mean you weren’t a good enough family then and you still have a family now… it’s just different.

      • Giselle

        Glad to year your parents are setting things aside for you guys. :) To new families!

    • Eenie

      That sounds rough. I wouldn’t worry about the uneven numbers of family members. That’s something you can’t control. You don’t get to choose how many family members you have and how many are supportive.

      With your mom, I assume you’ve had some talks with her. Have you asked her what would make the wedding easier for her? Is she someone who exaggerates leading up to an event, but may actually suck it up for the 30 seconds for a picture? What is really important to you for the day? Is there any way you can use your brother to help in the situation? Hugs.

    • Anon for this

      I’m kind of going through a similar thing as far as “family numbers”, but minus the divorce stuff. My family is pretty big, but my extended family isn’t close at all due to a lot of family drama. I haven’t seen a lot of family on my mom’s side in years, and while I’d like to think they’d all come to celebrate, I don’t know if that would be the case. My fiance’s family, however, is pretty large and pretty close. I’m still early in the planning process, but I’m definitely already having that anxiety of “What if my wedding is a total flop? What if no one comes?” Meaning, what if no one from my side comes? It sounds stupid and petty, but I’d feel disappointed if our wedding basically turned into a party for his side.

      I’m also trying to remember that the friends I’ll be inviting are my family too, but I do feel a little sad that my family isn’t as close as his. So I definitely feel you on that front. It’s really hard, and honestly I haven’t quite figured out how to not feel sad/stressed/anxious about it.

      • Giselle

        I have the same thought of “This is silly, I shouldn’t let numbers into my head!” – but then they’re on the list. We’re having the same friends = family feelings, and I think it’ll just be time and then excitement that sweeps us past it!

    • Rebekah Jane

      In regards to the large vs. small family – I’m the one with the larger family in my relationship (46 total just on my mom’s side, due to her being the youngest of six sisters) and it initially worried me that my partner would feel overshadowed or sad about his family being smaller. But, he said something that I hope you’ll remember on the day of – that’s your family now too. So, while you might not start the day with a large family, you’ll end the day with one!

  • Jess

    Thank you for the perspective, APW.

    I have a lot of family related frustrations today, between the emotions from doing the Wedding Planning Weekend recently, and magnified by the fact that there have been issues with our room block at our hotel that I’m frantically trying to fix.

    But, most people have come from a place of good intentions, even if I am hurt by their execution. I’m taking a moment to be grateful for that.

    • OliveMC

      Thank YOU for the perspective, Jess! I appreciate the reminder to consider others’ intentions and feelings.

      One of my favorite yoga teachers ends class saying “Walk with grace and gratitude,” and I’ve been spending way too much time wallowing and not enough in gratitude.

      • Danielle

        Ha ha, I read this too fast and thought you said “Walk with grace and attitude” and was like, aww yeah!!! Grace and a bit of sass sounds like the perfect combination ;)

        • OliveMC

          Haha! Love it! Grace & attitude are necessary sometimes!

      • Jess

        HA! I was super not feeling grateful to anybody yesterday, mostly just angry and sad.

        And then I got to this open thread and was like: wow. All my frustrations are just people that want to either be there to celebrate with me or to help make the celebration good. This is going to be ok.

  • Camille

    So my fiance’s mom is unable to attend due to a perfect storm of money/anxiety/logistical reasons and we went through various stages of frustration before coming to terms with it. Basically, mom is anxious about being around her ex husband and his family. Fiance told his dad the news and his dad was really not happy about it and now wants to write her a letter or get in touch with her in some way (she’s been no contact for about a decade). He wants to offer to have her sit with him at their family table…which I’m pretty sure is her nightmare and exactly what she’s trying to avoid…

    So yeah, that’s happening.

    Also, my mom doesn’t like the reading my stepdad is doing that we chose together, but helpfully has zero other suggestions. If you don’t present another option, you don’t get an opinion!

  • Anon

    So my situation is complicated but here are the basics. We got engaged two months ago. I’ve always had a close relationship with my parents, but they are very opinionated and can often say hurtful things. My parents don’t approve of my fiance because they don’t think he’s good enough for me (in my mother’s words, she feels like her “most precious jewel has been sold at a bargain price.”). When I told them we were engaged, they didn’t express any happiness or well wishes; instead they told me all the reasons why they think he’s not right for me and told me that I can always change my mind. They also asked me if I had self-esteem issues and wanted to go to therapy to figure out why I want to be with this completely unsuitable person.

    Another complicating factor is that my fiance’s mother is terminally ill and likely won’t make it past this year. My parents are aware of this and feel that my fiance’s decision to propose is all based around his mother and wanting her to be at the wedding. And they don’t understand why it matters if she’s at the wedding. My fiance and I went back and forth on whether we wanted to have a smaller ceremony sooner rather than later so that his mother could definitely be there or a more “traditional” wedding on a longer time frame, which would be our preference absent his mother’s illness, and hope for the best. Ultimately, we decided that we wanted the more traditional wedding and started planning for something this fall.

    About five weeks ago, I tried talking to my parents about the wedding and how they feel about the marriage. They said that they didn’t care about a wedding, and they didn’t understand why we needed to rush things and get married this year because “usually people wait an entire year before they get married.” I asked if they wanted to be involved, and they said they weren’t even sure if they wanted to be at the wedding. And my mom told me to go ahead and plan my wedding because she didn’t care. So my fiance and I have gone forward with the planning.

    Last night I talked to them about the venue and date we’re considering. Once again, they said they didn’t understand why were getting married in the fall and said that they weren’t going to jumping up and down for joy and didn’t want to take part in any planning because it’s too hard for them. And they told me to just do what I want. This morning my father called and said that maybe the best thing would be for my fiance and I to wait until some time next year to get married so that my parents will have more time to get used to idea of us getting married because it’s just too depressing for them right now. He also suggested that if we went ahead with the fall wedding, then my parents probably wouldn’t be able to have a good relationship with me ever again. We don’t want to wait until next year for a variety of reasons. Obviously maintaining a relationship with my parents is a big thing, but it feels like we’re being asked to be understanding and compromising without any reciprocity on their part.

    I want my parents to be involved and want to have a relationship with them, but there’s only so much I can hear about what’s wrong with me and my fiance. And of course I feel terrible that my fiance has to deal with this situation, too. There’s a lot more I could throw in here, but ultimately the whole situation is very upsetting and exhausting, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.

    • H

      Jesus Christ. What are both parents’s objections to this union?

      • Anon

        As they put it, they don’t think he’s my equal in anyway, not in terms of education, income, looks, or social skills. To flesh that out, I have a professional degree, and he “only” has a college degree. He runs a small business, and I work at a bigger corporation and make more money than he does. On the social skills side, he’s “just so nerdy,” which he would actually proudly agree with. They think I’m throwing myself away on the “weirdest looking guy” they’ve ever met and that I’ll be supporting us while he’s “just” a stay at home dad.

        • OliveMC

          Haha! My husband is a proud nerd as well. :)

          I’m so sorry you’re going through this. We got married probably sooner than my parents would’ve liked, my dad kept telling me “I hope you finish graduate school before you get married” (now married, still in grad school). Their relationship isn’t great but it’s not bad either. Hopefully your FMIL, though ill, can be excited with you.

          I suggested family (or individual) counseling to my family before my wedding and my grown mother screamed at me that “We don’t need therapy!” which is probably a good sign that we do. I have my own therapist, who knows all of this, and has helped me stand up to my family and work on self-confidence and communication. Unfortunately you can’t force people to change and if they’re unwilling to realize their flaws, the best thing you can do for yourself is know that you’re doing things for the right reason.

        • Lawyerette510

          No offense but your parents sounds really superficial and sexist. I’m really sorry you’re having to go through them being so emotionally damaging and manipulative because your fiance doesn’t conform to their ideas of worth based on physical appearance and income. If your fiance is your person, then I’d encourage you to move ahead in doing what is right for him, you and the baby family you’re building together. It’s not the job of you and your fiance to try and change your parents ideas about how they judge someone’s value, and it might be time to stop offering them the power of input. If you ask them for their input it signals that they have a vote, but really it sounds like they don’t have a vote (and shouldn’t get one IMHO) as to if you are getting married, so now it’s up to them to do the work and either come around or not.

    • Sosuli

      Wow. I wish I had something more useful to contribute apart from shock that anyone could behave so appallingly toward their own child. Is there any way you can suggest to your parents talking about this through some kind of mediator? A counsellor? Something? It doesn’t sound like they’re hearing you at all.

      • Anon

        I think mediation or counseling would be great, but unfortunately, I don’t they’d agree. They don’t believe that family matters should be discussed with strangers. I’ve floated the idea to my brother (who has been wonderful and supportive, so there is that!), and he thinks at best it’s a dead end, and at worst could make things worse because they’d be upset that I even suggested it.

        • Sosuli

          Oh man. Thinking about it they could also end up imagining a mediator would convince you not to get married, which obviously is not something your parents hold any hopes about. All I can think now is… tell them you have made your decision and don’t want to hear their opinions any more. If they can’t respect your decision and support you, that’s on them, not you. I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but as a stranger it sounds like they crossed a serious line a million miles ago and you shouldn’t have to deal with it any more.

        • emmers

          Even if your family wouldn’t be into counseling, it may be something that’s helpful for you to do, yourself. I’ve found counseling really helpful in grounding myself, especially when there are crappy life events that are out of my control going on. It sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate, and that might be a way to take back a little control.

    • Scissors

      Our situations are so similar – hurtful disapproving parents, fall wedding, supportive brother. What’s working for us is 1) shutting down parents’ talk about fiance; 2) shutting down interactions with parents outside of counseling (it’s too draining) and 3) enlisting my siblings to vouch for us all going to counseling. I’m not saying anything has changed yet but we are going to family counseling next week – I’ll keep you posted. Good luck!

    • clarkesara

      Oh, man. One member of the couple’s parents not getting that the other member of the couple is a human being who is also getting married is one of the things bumming me out the most about all of this. My mom very much acts as if this wedding is about her, or when prompted, that it’s about me but also kinda her. She’s really not hearing at all that I have a fiance, and that my fiance not only has aesthetic preferences but also should feel comfortable, should get to have his family at the wedding, and that it’s his day just as much as mine. And definitely not hers.

  • Hindsight always being 20/20, had we known what we know now, my wife and I would have eloped. The amount of bullocks that went (and, for some reason unbeknownst to me, continues to go) down surrounding our wedding and families is mind-blowing.

    My family in America is extremely small — just my grandmother (who raised me), my aunt (who I [was] incredibly close to) and her husband. For the drama on my side, you have my grandmother and aunt who exhibit searing jealousy of my new MIL. My family shamelessly talked shit about my MIL to me prior to and during the whole weekend of my wedding. My MIL has been nothing but an angel to me and them. She even gave a welcome-to-the-family shout out to them during her toast (during which my gran and aunt were nowhere to be found. In fact, they missed all of the toasts and neither of them spoke). The night before my wedding, my gran got drunk (I have seen her drunk one other time my entire life) and threatened to not come to the wedding. Their behaviour the whole weekend was abysmal (seriously, I’m not even telling you the whole story) and to this day I haven’t quite forgiven them.

    On my wife’s side, her divorced parents have gotten along relatively well since their split when she was two, yet they aren’t speaking currently because of budget drama.

    I never imagined my wedding would be the cause of so much familial strife and it really broke my heart. Luckily for me, I have a gorgeous new wife to ease the heartache.
    //end rant

    • Lawyerette510

      Hugs to you and your wife. I’m sorry you’ve got heartache to heal from, but it sounds like you have good resources to help you heal.

    • Totch

      Sorry your wedding was such a gauntlet, but congrats on your marriage!

  • Anon for this

    Last month we found out that my fiance’s father has had a secret family for about half of my fiance’s life. Fiance’s parents are divorced now, but the extramarital relationship (and kid) started at a point when his mom would still have been fully invested.

    Most of the stuff around this is regular life stuff, from how to navigate a half sibling down to the question of who should know and who should be the one to tell them.

    But since this is APW, I’ll admit that it’s turned our wedding on its head: it was a factor in changed dates, guest lists, honeymoon plans, just a lot of weird ripples.

    DIL actually chose to come clean after more than a decade because fiance seemed so happy about the engagement and everything. We didn’t expect fiance’s dad to attend the wedding, but we had planned on inviting him and now won’t be (which goes back to the question of who should know and how they find out). Fiance is processing a lot and would prefer that this be kept separate from the wedding. I’m being as supportive as I can, but I admit that when my mom asks about why his dad isn’t on the guest list I don’t enjoy lying.

    My hope is that by keeping the whole thing under wraps for a while, I’ll be able to help my fiance get to a point where he can tell a few important people (people who should know). Fiance understands on some level that it’s not a secret he’ll take to his grave, but hasn’t worked through his own stuff well enough yet to tell anyone else.

    But yeah, this sucks and it’s stressful and I wanna talk to my mom and dad about it!

    • Lawyerette510

      I’m so sorry for the hurt your fiance and his family must be going through, as well as the challenges this has placed on your planning.

      When you say that you don’t enjoy lying about why is dad isn’t on the guest list, do you think there’s a way you could find language that works for both you and your fiance to answer those questions? Something like “It’s a private matter between fiance and his dad that’s best left between them” or something like that? Then you’re not lying but also you aren’t giving away any information.

      • Anon for this

        Thanks. At the moment, my fiance is the only family member who knows. That’s a way bigger discussion, and it’s not mine to have alone (even anon in a comment session). I tried to limit my comment to just how I’m feeling about the more surface level stuff and how it’s impacting my relationship with my parents for that reason.

        RE lying: For me, it’s kind of a sliding scale. We have a line that will work, since we already knew there was a good chance DIL wouldn’t be able to attend.

        To me, that’s not a lie if I’m talking to a friend or vendor or even sibling. They just dont need to know everything. But because of the relationship my mom and dad have with my fiance and I (regarding this kind of thing in particular–there are many things I’m fine lying about), saying it to them feels like a lie.

        Like I said, it’s only been a month and eventually it’s something I believe he’ll want to talk to select people about (including my parents). But my priorities are my fiance’s mental health and his family, so I’m OK feeling uncomfortable for a while.

        • Lawyerette510

          Oh goodness, I didn’t realize your fiance was the only one from his family who knew. Big (internet stranger) hugs to both of you. It sounds like you’ve got a really good perspective of how to navigate this.

          • Anon for this

            Thanks! Yup, fiance just seemed so happy and stable that DIL figured he could handle it!* I mean, they recommend couples counseling before the wedding regardless, right?

            *This info gleaned from one of their semi-annual 20 minute phone calls. I’ve had a lot of unkind thoughts about this man, but never expected anything quite this bad.

    • z

      Sigh. I’m so sorry. These situations always just baffle me. In what bizarro world is it fun to have a second secret family? I can’t even contemplate thinking that’s a good idea.

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    Thank you for starting a thread I really needed today. Engagement has not been a happy time for me. It’s all too easy to log onto Facebook after a wedding-planning argument with my mom and get gloomy seeing all the happy faces at other couples’ engagement parties and wedding showers. Even though part of me knows almost every engaged couple is going through at least a little bit of family drama, I feel so alone. On the bright side, I’m now more prepared than ever to provide emotional support for any friends who get engaged in the future!

    • Being in the aftermath of it all, it blows my mind how much angst there is around weddings. It’s a ~*wedding*~, people! It’s supposed to be a happy celebration of the merging of two families for Christ’s sake! You are not alone, doll. Five months later and I’m still upset at my family for their behaviour at my wedding. But the love you share with your partner makes it all bearable. So just replay the reasons you want to be married in the first place, and remember, the wedding is only one day [or weekend if you’re like me] of the rest of your life. You will get through it.

  • Michela

    Shout out to APW + its readers for the community created in this thread. It seems like we all need this!

    From pretty much any perspective, I have it easy. Both our parents are still married, we have great relationships with our siblings, and our parents have given us (mostly) free reign when it comes to plans for the wedding. Unfortunately, I think this lulled me into a false sense of security a little. I’m currently dealing with my dad’s siblings, one half of which do not speak to the other half, and trying to remain an impartial and 100% equitable player as we traverse the issues of invitations, +1s, and the like. The most recent challenge was keeping my calm when my aunt- who has yet to acknowledge that I am engaged, let alone getting married in two and a half months- told my cousin she was allowed to bring her boyfriend, even though we didn’t extend a +1 to my cousin since we are at max capacity for the venue (my aunt also hasn’t RSVPed for the wedding she feels she can invite guests to). Unfortunately, due to the family drama, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so I didn’t say anything except smile and vent to my bride tribe via text. Sometimes it feels like people forget what this day is really all about it- not me, or even me and him necessarily, but the beauty of love and commitment and community. It’s hard not to take it personally when people try to distract from that…

    We also have added complication because my fiancé is from the Netherlands. Imagine planning a wedding when half of the family is on a 6 hour time difference, speaking a different language, and totally aghast that they must wear matching ties in the bridal party (wait till they see the Beyonce-quoted napkins I got off Etsy…). But this morning, when I woke up and heard about the Brussels attacks a mere 40 miles from where my finance’s family lives, at the airport where we fly in and out of on an annual basis, it put a lot into perspective. As frustrating as my family drama can be and as hard as it is to coordinate ten days of fun for The Dutch in the days before the wedding (wedding weekends seem like a luxury at this point), we are so lucky to have so many people who love us and want to be there on our day to support us… even if that means those people are sulking on either end of the tent and refusing to speak to one another- ha!

    Best of luck to all you badass people fighting the hard fight. We will survive!

    • Riot

      Me too – pretty much all of this (substitute aunt for grandmother and the Netherlands for another country). So glad this thread is here.

  • BridePlanningAlone

    My family (including my fiance) has been kind of disappointing on the helpfulness front. I’ve read so many articles that say “just ask people for help – they love you and want to help you” and I just have not found that to be the case so far. I have taken care of easily 95% of planning.

    Currently, the issue is my bridal shower. I was kind of opposed to the idea of a bridal shower in the first place – it just seems antiquated and like I’m asking my friends for more gifts – but my mom seemed really excited about it. So, I wasn’t going to stop her if she wanted to have one. But she actually tried to get me to coordinate the whole thing too! I feel like the shower is supposed to be the one thing I DON’T HAVE TO PLAN! I mean, not that I care much for traditional etiquette, but the bride is way not supposed to have to do that because of the weird gift-grabbing thing.

    The only help I’ve asked for my sister was for her to pick out a bridesmaid dress. I actually thought this was a nice thing to ask, since she’s the one who has to wear it. And yet, it’s been two months and she has made zero progress. I know she’s very busy at work, but I feel like she could spend an hour at David’s Bridal trying on some dresses!

    Okay, I read over my post and these seem relatively petty, but it’s still nice to get them off my chest.

    • tr

      Yeah, at least for me, “ask people for help” has been super hit or miss…like, it’s not that my people don’t want to help, it’s just that most of my people are either (a) super workaholics who I can’t bear to ask for help because they already have zero time to themselves, or (b) wonderfully intentioned flakes who do well to successfully get themselves dressed in the morning. There is no in-between–all of my friends and family members are at either the Sheryl Sandberg or Phoebe Buffay extremes of the spectrum.

      A couple of the flakes have all made some extremely generous offers, but I’m sort of leery of counting on them too much, because flakiness. Like, their hearts are in the right places, but I know their organization and planning skills are not.

  • Ann

    So this hits home today! I’m pretty sure my future MIL thinks this is actually her wedding and not mine! I feel like the day is all about her expectations/wants/needs. She tried to bully her way into our final with the venue which she would have made twice as long by asking nosy questions, giving her opinions, and telling us our plans were wrong, and grilling the staff. Thank god future husband put his foot down! Then she made a list of easily 50 songs for the mother-son dance and narrowed it down to a few. I don’t think we put that much effort into picking our own first dance song! Thankfully, the song she picked was the one we had in mind (which won some brownie points). She tried to push her old veil and cake topper on me from the 1980s…no thank you. Then she started telling us what songs to play at the reception…all very non-appropriate wedding songs and all to her taste. Meanwhile, we gave everyone the option to request a song on their RSVP (which she has not returned and seems to refuse too for some reason…along with his brother who is in the wedding party!) Also, we had to push back our intended wedding date because his brother was getting married in the Fall, and then they had a ceremony only and invited his mom the morning of–we were not invited. So I am mad I had to change my plans to accommodate something they only invited two family members too! She is also complaining she can’t find anything to wear (she normally wears a t-shirt/shorts combo to weddings. Truth.) I asked her to find a dress or pantsuit, and she just complains she doesn’t like anything or it will be “too hot.” (She will be too hot because of her size, not what she is wearing!) At this point, I want to say “if you want to look horrible in the pictures next to everyone else, that is your decision.” She has also been pushing outdated favor ideas on me and we don’t even plan to have favors! Non-family related….I just found out in the past two weeks that two of my invited friends (one from HS, one from college) are divorcing from their husbands. In one instance, the husband cheated on my friend and in the other, the friend cheated on her husband! My HS friend plans to attend solo and is looking forward to my upcoming bachelorette, but there have been ripples in the group of friends over her actions…and the husbands were all friends and of course, are very upset with her. I’m trying to have an open mind, but feel like this is all going to cause drama at both the party and wedding. I wish I had eloped!

    • Nicole

      Oof, girl, I feel you. My future MIL is the exact same way, wanting a say in every little detail. She told my fiance that she feels “left out,” but I’ve made sure to include her with all the big decisions – texted her a picture of the two dresses I was deciding between, she came along when we picked our venue, texted her the photographer we chose, the caterer, etc. etc. So really, it’s more like she feels “left out” because we’re not picking her suggestions. We did the same thing on our RSVP cards with the song request and she decided to request TEN songs (she even wrote on the back of the RSVP card!), all not-that-great-to-dance-to songs. Re: the mother and son dance, she announced that she and my fiance would be coordinating a “surprise” dance routine (aka a way for her to take over and be in the spotlight, as my fiance is SO not that person and he and his mom don’t have that kind of relationship in the first place). She’s done a lot of “announcing,” actually, announcing that she was going to host my bridal shower (after my MOH had already started planning one for me, oh and it was to be on my fiance’s birthday!), announcing that she’s taking me shopping for decorations (I already have plans for the decorations and we do NOT have the same taste, plus I’m out of town the day she planned for us… without first asking me), I could go on. I had to shut down all these things, or tell my fiance to shut her down/suggest alternatives and now she’s all butt hurt about it. The most recent thing she did: she informed my fiance that even though we didn’t invite her cousins (that my fiance has never met), she told them about the wedding, and now they’re expecting invitations. The wedding is less than 2 months away, and this is 5 people we’re talking about adding. Not gonna happen! To top it off, she’s incredibly emotionally manipulative and this has left lasting effects on my fiance. I can’t waaaait until this planning process is over! I have no advice, sadly, just wanted to commiserate with you.

      • Ann

        Oh wow, they sound like the same person! And there’s just no compromising. It’s all “well why are you doing that? why aren’t you doing this? I don’t like that.” I get that she was totally cut off from her other son’s wedding, so this is the only one she gets…but I’m the one walking down the aisle! And I don’t plan to do this twice. My own mom has been pretty laid back about things, mainly because she understands these are my decisions. And wow! I could see her doing that with the RSVP…if she ever returns it. I see it sitting on her side table any time I am her house (so frustrating). She also is constantly trying to add people to the guest list! I also have a secret fear that she will sneak into the reception venue and put up decorations to her liking! (This is why I was adamant she not see it at all before the wedding — I put her in charge of decorating the church to keep her away the day before!) Also, originally we were paying for the entire wedding ourselves. We were unhappy with the first venue we looked at (which was inexpensive) and decided to look at another that was double the price and of course, fell in love with it. We flat out asked her if she planned to contribute anything money-wise, just to help us make our decision between the two. To our faces, she said no, she couldn’t afford too. Well, after making some cost spreadsheets, I just thought it was going to be too much for us to handle, even at the cheaper venue and decided we should have a small affair at a bed and breakfast with only immediate family and close friends. Well, after hearing that, she couldn’t whip out her checkbook fast enough and offered to pay for the venue! And I don’t think it was to “help us,” I think she wants her day in the sun (so to speak) as the mother of the groom. A lot of his family members have gotten married in the past year and she was ready to have her turn!

        • Nicole

          Ha! They really do sound exactly the same! I totally feel the same about my future MIL “helping”/not helping and really wanting a day in the sun. It’s almost like she’s thinking of it as a big family reunion that she’s hosting, rather than our wedding. I feel like we’re the same because my parents have also been supportive but pretty hands-off, which I actually prefer, being independent and decisive and pretty much only asking for help when I actually need it. It’s hard to find the balance of being inclusive but also doing what I want. My future MIL also has another son who got engaged about 6 years ago but there was never a wedding, so I try to remind myself that she probably has a lot of residual excitement that went unfulfilled… but STILL! I tried to compromise her wanting to be over-involved and me not wanting her involved (ha) by allowing her full reign over the rehearsal dinner planning. Well, just this week she told my fiance she has an extremely limited budget and wants to throw a pizza party at one of the pizza places in town. I really think of myself as pretty laid back but I truuuly don’t want a soccer-party style rehearsal dinner with arcade games pinging right next to where we all are. I hate feeling like a “bridezilla” (hate that word, actually), but I also want my own way! IS THAT SO WRONG?! :P

          • Ann

            I don’t know you, but I really feel like we are living the same life! Yes, exactly…a family reunion rather than a wedding, that is a great way to put it! Oh, and my future MIL just wanted to have her sister make lasagnas to serve in the church hall after the rehearsal? That just seemed sad to me. I would honesty take pizza over that! Haha. And beyond that, I’ve told her repeatedly my mom is a very picky eater and is not going to be able to eat a lot of things at the reception, I really wanted food at the rehearsal she would eat, and she does not eat lasagna (I know, weird, but what can you do?). And along with that, future MIL had kept pushing this one restaurant on us for catering the wedding, so I figured she would love to have the rehearsal there….we looked at the menu, they had a ton of options and were really cheap (it was going to cost about $200 to feed 25 people). And she completely balked and said “but my sister makes really good lasagna.” I said “I don’t care if its the best in the world, my mom will not eat it because she doesn’t eat lasagna!” And then started saying she had eaten there recently and it wasn’t very good anymore. Really?! And actually, we’ve decided to have the rehearsal at a bowling alley (with pizza!) just as a way to give her an activity to do…and a best man will be bringing his one year old with him as another distraction. So hopefully she will not have time to drive me insane that night!

          • Becky

            Reading through this thread is crazy, because your and Nicole’s moms and future MILs sound just like mine! Mom is super hands off, future MIL is super nosy and controlling. I get that future MIL is excited – this is her first wedding and it’s her oldest son – but I want to tell her that she has 3 other kids and therefore 3 other weddings she can plan, whereas my mom only gets mine. Not that my mom is trying to dictate the planning process, but I definitely plan on prioritizing my mom’s involvement over MIL’s. Sorry not sorry.

        • Mooza

          About the RSVP – I could see my parents doing the same thing (or myself, one day). Maybe she just thinks that since she’s the mother of the groom it’s obvious she’s coming and she doesn’t need to RSVP. I’m obviously a complete stranger on the Internet, but I was slightly surprised that a parent involved in the planning would be expected to RSVP – so for your peace of mind, I suggest giving the benefit of the doubt? It might be sitting on her side table as a memento…

          • Ann

            I guess for me, it’s that I had I said “well, I know you’re coming for sure, you know where the church is, you know where the venue is, and you know what time its starting, so you don’t need to receive an invitation” that would not have been okay. I took the time to have the invitations made, assemble them, hand address everything and buy stamps…all she has to do is check a box and put it in the mailbox.

            And my fiance and I are just genuinely excited to see the envelopes in our mailbox, it’s upsetting us that we haven’t received 50% of them back yet…mainly from his family and the “deadline” is April 1st. So its frustrating to me, that having shared all this with her…she gleefully declares she’ll never send hers back. My mother returned her RSVP immediately, my sister RSVPed…all the members of the wedding party sent their RSVPs (except for his brother – who also won’t commit to being at the rehearsal!). So it is a minor thing I could probably get over, if not combined with everything else and the general inconsiderate nature of his family.

            Sorry…I guess I just really needed to get that off my chest! :)

  • orienteeringirl

    I really think there needs to be a support group for the children of narcissistic parents planning a wedding. I thought I’d made peace with who my parents are, but trying to plan a wedding and keep some semblance of a relationship with my parents has been HARD. Part of it is their usual narcissistic behavior – the worst being the ONE TIME I’ve probably really needed my mom to be a mom and there for me in the past ten years. Dress shopping, of course. It was going horribly because I’d been working full time and not-quite-full-time on my masters, and I’d gained weight and felt awful and ugly in every dress. When I admitted to her that I didn’t think I could face a second day of dress shopping because I was having body image issues, “comforted me” while she assured me she knew exactly how I felt because she was “determined” to lose those last 15 pounds before the wedding if it killed her. I cried in the shower. By some miracle, I actually managed to find my dress that day, which made me feel amazing and beautiful. That high lasted till about 5 minutes out of the bridal shop when walking back to the car my mom said she blamed my fiancee for the reason we’re not “close like girlfriends anymore.” And there have been so many other moments of emotional manipulation, lack of respect, and self-centeredness along the way. The only way I’ve been able to get through our 2+ year engagement has been to build an emotional brick wall between her and I. We used to talk once a week and now I barely call once a month. I need to do this for the sake of my own emotional well being, but it also makes me feel like an ogre. I know she’s hurt, but giving her what she wants hurts me more. I know that the traditional “hallmark card” wedding is a total farce, and I wouldn’t even want it if it were possible, but I can’t say that the perfect family picture that the WIC tries to sell as “normal” doesn’t make it even harder to deal with your own reality. I’ve got two months and six days to go till our “big day” and I think I’m equally as excited for it all to be over with as I am to finally marry my love. I know that who my parents are, and aren’t doesn’t go away after the wedding, but I’ve got enough to deal with now. I’ll worry about that after we’re back from our honeymoon.

    • Anon

      You should check out reddit.com/r/raisedbynarcissists if you haven’t already.

      It seriously saved my life. I was considering therapy if I hadn’t found this group of people and realized what was going on and that other people experience it too.

  • runeatrun

    I have just started the planning process and my intended has put me in a bit of a spot with regards to his 2 sisters. Apparently he had told them a YEAR AGO (before even proposing, and without talking to me about it) that they would OF COURSE be bridesmaids in our wedding. The thing is – I’m not sure if I would have picked them to be in my wedding as bridesmaids (this is putting me at 7 maids, way more than I had ever wanted), and now I am stuck with some issues that come with having them as such an important part of our wedding.

    Both of his sisters are not local to us (or to each other!), nor do they have ANY discretionary income. They, along with my future mother in law, will be putting pressure on myself and the other members of the bridal party to plan events in their hometowns (places that don’t hold any special meaning for me, nor are they destinations I would choose to visit in the absence of family), structure my dress shopping (dates and locations) so they can be included, and influence the choice of bridesmaids dresses. Sister 1 just had her second child, Sister 2 is overweight, and both of them will never be able to afford ANY dress I pick out. I’m not a bridezilla who will mandate $14,000 bridesmaids dresses (a couple of my maids are in grad school now and I’m trying to be mindful of everyone’s budget) – literally ANYTHING I pick that’s over $35 will be seen as out of reach or demanding.

    I have a couple of other maids who have life things that preclude them from being involved with everything, and that’s fine. I don’t expect that everyone will be a part of every single wedding related thing; I just want everyone to participate at a level they can afford and are able to. Intended’s family is just going to push for EVERYTHING to be geared so that his older sisters can be 100% involved in every aspect of being bridesmaids and I am getting an ulcer just thinking about it. I keep feeling like these thoughts are making me seem like an entitled jerk, but I really needed to vent anonymously. Any advice is welcome.

    • Jenn

      Is there a different way you could honor his sisters without having them be bridesmaids? Maybe they could do a ceremony reading, or give toasts? They could still pick a complementary color dress to your wedding colors, but it would be entirely of their choosing.

      Or maybe you could pare down your total number of maids, just to have less people to corral? For example, if 3 are friends from high school and 2 are friends from college, you could stick with the 3 you have known longer + the sisters. If you are able to draw a clear line like that it will be less likely to offend the maids you had to cut- i.e. these people have known me for 10+ years or are family. I think most friends would be understanding if you had to prioritize family, especially if you explained the whole situation! They could still get ready with you, attend the bachelorette and showers, etc.

      • runeatrun

        The issue with “downsizing” their involvement is that they were told they could be bridesmaids without my input at all, before I was even engaged! I’d be happy to have them give readings or toasts and be a part of the ceremony, but now I feel like it’s on my Intended to break the news to them; I’ll be seen as the horrible spoiled brat that doesn’t want them in the wedding party.

        I’d also love to have them attend any and all bridal party events that they wanted/were able to – the problem there is that both of them and my FMIL are not above guilt tripping, shaming, and/or demanding that ALL events be planned, organized, and budgeted so that they can attend, even at the expense of what I want or what my other bridal party members can do.

        • Jenn

          When he told them they would be bridesmaids, it was purely hypothetical. I think he could frame it in a way that points out that it is actually more convenient for them to have a different role. But, I agree that he should be the one that breaks the news to them.

          I would probably go 50/50 on bending events to suit them. I tend to think showers are more family-oriented and bachelorette parties are more friend-oriented, so I might make sure the shower works for them, but worry less on the bachelorette. They will still complain some, but it sounds like they will complain no matter what, so you should still do some of what you want!

          • Amy March

            Omg yes. That was not a real promise. He needs to untell them.

    • Jenn

      Another thought if you aren’t opposed to non-traditional wedding parties: the sisters could stand on the groom’s side instead, as part of his wedding group. They could wear a dress that matches the tuxes. That way, the groom fulfills his promise without overly increasing your number of maids.

      • MDBethann

        We did this! My SIL was my husband’s “best woman,” because it was important to me that he had someone stand up with him and he didn’t want to ask his BIL or his cousin, since both had been in his first wedding. My SIL got a great black satin dress and no one batted an eyelash that she was standing up for her brother. I love my SIL, so I wouldn’t have minded having her as a bridesmaid, but I already had my sister & 3 closest friends on my side, so to have my SIL too with my husband having no one would have been incredibly awkward. Their his sisters, so why can’t they stand up with him???

    • MDBethann

      Separate showers, for starters. My friends are all in MD and our families are all in PA. So my ‘maids in PA threw a small shower for me here with my friends and our sisters (who were also in the wedding) threw a family shower for us in PA. So maybe if your future SILs and MIL threw a family shower for you in one of their towns for all of their relatives, that might help smooth things over? It gives the 3 of them a discrete event they can plan and direct, hopefully keeping them occupied enough to not bother you about wedding stuff.

      As for dresses, have you thought about picking a color or a group of colors, giving some simple guidance on style, and letting your ‘maids pick their own dresses? i.e. – various shades of blue, knee length, not jersey material – something you could wear to a nice cocktail party or fancy restaurant. Maybe create a Pintrest board just for them with samples of things that you think might work. Then each ‘maid can find a shade of blue (or whichever color you choose) that works for her complexion and a style of dress that works for her shape. Then you also don’t have to have any crazy “let’s all go shopping for a dress” gatherings. If any of your friends want to take you shopping with them for their dresses, they can, but it wouldn’t have to be something your FMIL or FSILs would need to know about.

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  • Anon for this

    Not sure if people are still even posting here, but…I feel like my mom isn’t super into the planning process. I think it could come from a place of good intentions (my dad’s mom was really controlling about my parents’ wedding, so she doesn’t want to be like that?), but I guess I expected her to be a bit more enthusiastic. She is supportive and has said she’ll help out with anything I ask, but she’s nowhere near as outwardly excited as my FMIL, who is also trying to nose her way into EVERYTHING and is showing signs of controlling behavior already. And I’d like to keep FMIL’s involvement to a minimum. She’s mostly fine, but I’ve seen a lot of nasty behavior out of her over the years: guilt tripping/shaming, bullying, generally treating my fiance like shit when she doesn’t get her way, and I’m so afraid that will carry over into the wedding planning if we involve her. For instance, the other night she said that because she’d be paying for the DJ (which we never asked her to do and didn’t even plan on asking her to do) she gets to pick the songs. We would love the help, but if it comes with strings attached…we’ll take care of it ourselves. And I have the feeling this is only the beginning with her.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, it sucks that the person I don’t want involved is trying to involve herself without asking, and the person I do want involved doesn’t seem into it.

    Oh, and this weekend I found out that fiance’s cousin assumed 1. her friend was going to get an invite as her “date”, 2. I was going to take the whole family wedding dress shopping (LOL, no), and 3. that she hoped she would be asked to be a bridesmaid! Granted her perception of things can get a bit skewed (she has some kind of learning disability and maybe something more, but it’s very hush-hush), and she’s sweet and means well, but I wanted to be like “Where are you getting this from?!” We’re not close, and I would never even think to involve her in the wedding. So that was a big ball of awkward and I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into drama down the line.

    Thanks for the thread and space to rant. Families really can drive you crazy.

  • tr

    Late to the party here, but I can’t help but take this opportunity to complain…even if nobody will read it!
    1. My mom is 100% focused on her divorce right now. (It’s her third divorce.) She brings it up every time I make any mention of my wedding. She keeps making “helpful” comments like “Maybe your marriage will be one of the ones that does last. But you know, it’s totally okay if it doesn’t.”
    Beyond providing such “helpful” commentary, she’s had virtually no involvement.
    2. My MIL, normally a truly wonderful, kind, lovely saint of a woman, informed me that “I hope you know some people to invite, because I don’t think anybody from our side will be there, and I feel like it would be embarrassing for nobody to show up.”
    Somehow, she’s been even less involved than my mother. She has, however, pointed out at least 483 times that weddings are a huge waste of money, and that she doesn’t understand why we “can’t just go elope like normal people”.
    On an ironic sidenote, her own wedding back in 1975 was downright magazine worthy. Come to think of it, that may be her issue right there…
    3. My fiance may have the worst case of “champagne taste on a beer budget” that I have ever seen. At every turn, he insists on the grandest, most opulent option available…until he learns the price. Then he starts complaining about how the cheap-o option is waaaaaay too expensive. Despite the fact that he initially wanted a 300 person wedding at the fanciest historic hotel in the state, he has now thrown at least five tantrums over the cost of our INCREDIBLY modest, budget friendly wedding.
    I love the people in my life so much. I really do. But dang if this wedding hasn’t made me want to strangle almost all of them.

    • Mooza

      Somebody here readin your comment! Also this sounds truly frustrating but you write in a way that makes it sound kind of hilarious too. Which makes me think you’ll be just fine, in the end :)

      • tr

        Oh my gosh, thank you so much!!!!!!!! Honestly, it is sort of hilarious…just not always at the moment. At the end of the day, though, I know I’m pretty lucky to be surrounded by such good people. As annoying as they all are (and oh my gosh, sooooo annoying), their hearts are all more or less in the right place.
        Thank you for letting me know that someone actually read my comment, and for reminding me that things really will be okay:)

  • myprozacdream

    First time poster and long time reader.

    YES this is happening to all of us in some way or another.

    In my situation, I love my mother, always have, always will. In general, we get along. But as soon as engagement and wedding come up, it’s been a total nightmare. She has certain ideas on how things should be and drives me nuts when I say “No, we are doing it this way”. I texted my 3 other sisters who got married and all three said she was nutso when they were going through it, so it isn’t just me.

    My parents (mom, stepdad) told me that we could either do a big wedding or we could do a courthouse thing and a little reception at someone’s house and they’d just give us a check for $10,000. They offered this to my sisters as well, but we were the only ones who were going to take them up on it. My mom freaked out and wouldn’t let us do that option. It was obvious that, at least on her part, she just said it thinking no one would go for it. So now I’m having a much bigger wedding than I anticipated (over 200 invited) and I can’t really say anything cause it’s mostly her family and she’s holding the purse strings.

    More recently, she is giving me crap on the invitations. I have two sets of parents, my mom, my dad, my stepmom (who is now divorced from my dad but still in my life) and my stepdad. My mother has ALWAYS been kind to my stepmother and she is still a fixture in my life in spite of my dad marrying her when I was 21 and divorcing her just a couple years ago. She’s been invited to family parties and is even friends with my siblings my stepfather had (we’re pretty close and don’t refer to each other as “step” anything). I told my mother I want the invites to read “Join us in celebration of” or “Along with their parents” so we didn’t have to exclude anyone and, also, I thought it was cute. She is being adamant that she “doesn’t like the sound of it” and my dad is “no longer married, so she shouldn’t be named on the invite”. So, basically, she wants me to do a formal invite with everyone’s names and exclude my stepmom. To make it worse, she leaned over to me DURING OUR TASTING at the venue with my fiance’s parents to reiterate this convo from earlier in the week. I was mortified. It was bad enough that I apologized to my fiance’s parents (who thankfully didn’t notice) the next time I saw them.

    I love my mom, but she is driving me insane. It sucks too because I anticipated I’d have her help in a lot of the planning aspects, but she is giving me so much anxiety (I literally have diagnosed anxiety and she is making me have panic attacks) I have been just on my own and running stuff by her when needed. I’m lucky that my fiance’s parents are so cool and his mom has even let me vent a little to her and been so emotionally supportive in the whole thing. I can’t wait for the next six months to fly by so no more planning and no more anxiety. Ugh….

  • Anon55

    Wow absolutely love this community for making the hard stuff in life seem more relatable/not-really-that-bad/wait-til-you-hear-this. My partner and I spent the last 2 years hearing all about the trials and tribulations of planning for my younger brothers’ weddings (and both my brothers neglected to ask my fiancé about his plans for proposing to me before their proposals despite our relationship lasting twice as long as theirs had at that point, and now my fiancé and my brothers have a sliver of the good relationships they used to have) that were 2 months apart, one in the Carribbean (long, expensive trip coming from the west coast) and the other over-the-top, spare-no-expense for my SIL who is an only child, wedding that really offended our sensibilities. We thought once we got to this point (after their weddings) we could focus on our wedding and breathe a sigh of relief. Alas, now all my parents are trying to do is over-involve my side of the family (by literally offering to ‘buy’ extra seats at the rehearsal dinner my fiance’s family has so carefully and nicely planned) that couldn’t make it to the Carribbean (my brother basically had no say/didn’t care that they had their wedding right before Xmas). And offer the same over-indulgent excesses at our wedding that were at my other brother’s. I’ve never spent so much time crying in the shower wondering what my planet my supportive family went to and if they would ever come back. Luckily, I think we can still have the wedding we want, but I was not expecting so much resistance! The man marrying us wisely told us: ‘weddings aren’t a movie about you, they’re just the projection screen for everyone to place what they want on it’ so you can see it all before you try to wrangle what little part of the screen you have left to be yours.

    • CMT

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sucks that weddings can change relationships so much. But why would you be offended by somebody else’s wedding? It’s no reflection on you. Maybe try to let go of that bit as you move forward.

  • Samantha

    I moved across the country partially due to a painful relationship with my parents. When I called them to tell them I was engaged, my father’s reaction was “oh, that’s nice.” He seems to be encouraging me to elope, especially as a lot of my family won’t be able to travel down. Which was better than my mother’s angry tears over the fact that I’m a lesbian and marrying a woman.

    I kind of just want a nice party with my friends at this point. They’re all incredibly enthusiastic and happy for us.

    • CMT

      Do it!

  • Sarah Nielsen

    I have a variety of dilemmas that are making this wedding planning process complicated for me. First of all, my fiance is from Switzerland. He is a student there, and I am moving there marry him. We both wanted the wedding to be there, so we booked a venue straight away, and that was that. But this created tension between my family and I for a few reasons, the main one being money. Plane tickets are expensive, add in the fact that I have a large family (6 siblings), and you have the potential reality of only some of my siblings being there. I’m the first child in our family to get married, and that makes the situation feel even more important. My parents recently got divorced, so then there’s that added layer of possible tension. Next, we have my mother. My mother and I are pretty close, and quite open with each other. So when she told me that she didn’t think we were ready to get married, it stung. I base her statement on a few things, like not wanting me to move across the world so soon, and her desire for my fiance to be finished with his schooling first. However, after talking extensively with my fiance about the reasoning behind my mother’s judgment, we both agreed that we weren’t rushing into anything hastily. We remain confident in our decision to continue with the wedding. Coming back to America from my trip to Switzerland when he proposed, I was filled with dread. Was seeing my mom, and knowing that she disapproved of our choice to essentially ignore her advice, going to be extremely uncomfortable? Yes. It was, and still is. I don’t think it will get better until the wedding is over, and even then, it may be years until I feel she is fine with us getting married when we did. As if being apart from my fiance until the month we get married isn’t hard enough, dealing with the tension in my family has been difficult. I am really looking forward to when the wedding planning is over.

  • AS

    My parents have always been nurturing and supportive– that is, until I started planning my wedding. It came completely out of left field. They’re never excited. They just get tense and stressed when I even talk about it. They don’t even have to do anything, but they say they want to– in fact, they threw a bit of a fit in the beginning because they wanted to be a part of planning. So we let them, because why not? They both worked weddings for years and years, I thought they would be helpful. But now I’ve included them and they seem to just darken the whole process. My fiance and I are planning a very unique, intimate wedding, and they just seem to pout about not being able to invite everyone they ever met, or even that it’s too expensive (even though it’ll be under 10k, which is a friggin miracle, and I’m paying for 80% of it). I just don’t understand. Now my cousin is getting married, and they’re more excited about his wedding than mine, or at least that’s how it feels. This just really hurts because they’ve never acted like this before, and I’m at a total loss. The only thing I can think to do is kick them out of the process. I’m just so disappointed in them. They’ve really let me down.

  • Commentator19

    my dad isn’t coming. I tried everything I could think of aside from an unconditional invitation (my conditions were to not make me or my mom cry) — I wrote a choose-your-own-adventure powerpoint invitation just for him, I called, I emailed, I met him in person twice, we texted… nothing. At first he said no, because I’m not even really his daughter anymore (we’ve been estranged 5 years). Then, “no, because he didn’t ask my permission so I can’t bless the wedding”. Then “no, because you’ve hurt me too much.” Then “of course — I always said I would go. But I won’t be happy about it! But it’s your day so” Then “I am insulted at these conditions and refuse to accept them on principle”. It’s been so much whiplash and so much crying but I still feel like it’s my fault for having conditions, or for being stubborn, or whatever.

    Part of me really wants him to go still. I can’t imagine not having him there. My biggest fantasy is having everyone I love in a room, happy for me. I thought my wedding would be the one day I could have that happen, where he couldn’t make it about himself. It makes me so angry that he can’t/won’t do this for me. I’m upset with myself because I’m worried my demands are too much, or that I should have been more patient, or that I shouldn’t have left when I was 17, etc.

    Everyone keeps asking about what im going to do about all the father-daughter traditions, and suggesting I can use various relatives as stand-ins. It feels so weird. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the whole day without it being an elephant in the room, and it’s so ironic because this whole thing is because I didn’t want that elephant there in the first place.

    I feel like I have 5 weeks to dismantle my old dream wedding and build a new one without him. Or just somehow find a way to make myself small enough that he’ll care enough about me to support me. I don’t know.

  • Arynne Olenski

    some advice on how to approach my mother in law 2B

    if i attempt to let her help, or take money she offers she then takes over everything. colors. vendors. my dress. bridemaid dress. songs. flowers. guest list. you name it! my love and i have tried telling her that because we are not accepting the money due to the issue, or even if we eventually did, she has no say in anything. not to say we wouldn’t listen to advice but this isn’t the case. its a takeover. she has recently been hounding my fiance because we made a no young children rule for the following reasons: we are hiring an expensive videographer and dont want wailing and “hey mommy” yelled the entire time, we want it to be adults only to enjoy more people, keeps costs down paying by not paying for their kids food and etc, and because we rented out a huge park. what does any itty bitty kid do when they see a playground? they want to go see it. we dont dislike children, but we dont want to worry about them either. this only cuts out 2 kids from the wedding, a young cousin….. and the grooms youngest brother.

    with this said, his youngest brother is not to come. my brothers were on the autistic scale (they did grow out of it), and they had some strong tantrums. his brothers tantrums are beyond theirs put together. his brother is just not disciplined and the mother does not take control (ironic). even my fiance says theres no way. he wont sit still. he cant be taken out in public. nothing and he’s 6. he’s beyond destructive and his mother is doing anything to make my fiance feel like an awful person, and myself for not having him be present. im not asking what to do, because the decision is final. but how do we approach his mom about stepping back? she’s making everything a nightmare.

  • Whitney

    Oh dear god, this thread is EXACTLY what I’ve needed over the past few months.

    So, I’m originally from Tennessee, but went to college and grad school in New England. I’ve been living and working in Massachusetts since 2009, and it’s where my fiance and his family live. My entire family, both sides, live mostly in Alabama. After we got engaged, we decided to get married a few miles away from where we live in Boston area. We told all parents (both our of parents are divorced, our dads have remarried) where we were thinking and our rationale behind it. Despite a laundry list of reasons why we chose to have the wedding up here, my mother has been passive-aggressively been saying that it should’ve been held in my hometown. despite me NOT living there for 10 years.

    As my parents paid for my younger sister’s wedding in February 2015, they said that they would do the same for ours. Great, awesome. Definitely learned a thing or two from my sister’s dry wedding with no dancing or music! Kept a google doc of all possible venues, photographers, caterers, etc. Every time we got a quote, my mom had the same reaction to everything: “well you know, if it had been down here, everything would’ve been cheaper.” Of course it’s more expensive up here, it’s Boston! You can buy a four bedroom/3 bathroom house in TN for the same price as a one bedroom condo in downtown Boston. After I explained the cost of living differences, and that we didn’t want to go with the cheapest option just to save a buck, she quieted down for a bit.

    Fast forward to about six months ago, to when my maid of honor is trying to plan for my bridal shower/bachelorette party. She’s asking when my mom will be hosting one for me, as she doesn’t want to have conflicting dates and times. Found out the hard way that in the South, it is considered rude and downright tacky for the bride’s mother and sisters to host a shower for her, because apparently it’s seen as greedy and self-serving (yet I live 1000 miles away, so I’m still confused on that one), so they flat out refused to host anything for me. Fine, I get that. But I straight up told them that if that were the case, they could not bad-mouth me to people for not having anything down there. They said ok. Despite this conversation happening, my mother made no contact with my maid of honor and refused to make any indication that she would be coming up for my bridal shower. She financially has the means and she doesn’t work, so she could come up here easily. Every time I texted her or called her about not RSVPing yet, she would say something along the lines of “so and so down here offered to host a bridal shower for you”. Literally every time she said that, I would remind her that NO ONE had contacted me via phone, email, or text to say that they wanted to throw me a bridal shower. I would also remind her that this stuff can’t just happen on a whim, as I would have to book a flight to get down there, take time off from work, etc.

    My bridal shower is in 8 days. My mother STILL has not booked a flight and had the nerve to bitch to me about how expensive flights were……meaning that she hadn’t actually looked at flights until this afternoon, despite having known about this date since March.

    To add to this mother drama, my younger married sister is 10 weeks pregnant and has now decided that not only is she having a gender reveal party 2 weeks before my September wedding, she’s also suddenly a high risk pregnancy and does not want to be in Boston for three days as she’s 1000% sure that she’ll be sick the whole time. Never mind that I planned her bacherlorette party in Memphis from Boston and took over a week’s worth of vacation time for her bachelorette party and wedding. To make matters worse, I called her out on her bullshit (she’s perfectly healthy, not a high risk pregnancy at all) and paranoia about miscarriage and she then threatened to not come up for the wedding at all “if I wouldn’t stop talking to her that way.”

    So, my mom and sister are more or less refusing to come up, my mom is ambivalent about the wedding as a whole, and my sister is threatening to not come at all. Thankfully, my dad recognizes their collective batshit craziness and says that they’re both lazy and self-absorbed women. My fiance, a social worker, describes them both, in all seriousness, as having either histrionic or narcissistic personality disorders (he even read all of the symptoms from the DSM-5). I am also a social worker, and told my colleagues about the drama I was having to deal with. EVERY SINGLE one of them said that that was complete builshit and were shocked that my own mom and sister would intentionally do this to me. Even my colleagues who have had kids before said that they were living their lives and doing everything minus drinking at 10 weeks.

    Wow, I feel so much better since writing all of this

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