Can I Tell My MIL I Don’t Want Her With Me When I’m Getting Ready?

I need some space

Q: Dear APW,

How can I politely tell my mother-in-law and sister-in-law that I don’t want them to hang out with me while I’m getting ready for my wedding? They are very nice, but I am anticipating a high level of anxiety and emotion on my own part. I don’t want to feel responsible for entertaining them, and generally want some quiet time before being so very “on” for the rest of the day.

I am not having a wedding party, but am hanging out with my closest friends and my family the morning of the wedding, so there’s no way to say it will be just the bridesmaids. I called my mother-in-law to be to ask her if she wanted to have her hair done, and her response was “No, but we’ll just come and watch you get ready.” This is exactly what I do not want. I am happy for her to come get her hair done, but then I would really like to be alone with my closest people.

My response to her was that I think my fiancx wants to spend time with her while he’s getting ready, but she wants to hang out with “the girls.” I have already enlisted him to make the request for family time himself as well. If that doesn’t cut it, what do I do? Suck it up?


A: Dear Anonymous,

Not at all. You’re not obligated to have anyone around while you’re getting dressed.

But, “getting ready” is a really long stretch, depending. So maybe sit with your schedule and see if there’s some room to have them pop in for a chat, some champagne, a few photos of them posed as if they’re adjusting your veil. You can definitely set aside a good stretch of time for you to relax and center yourself with just your nearest and dearest, if that’s what you need. But you might be able to give them something just after that (and before the wedding begins) as a way to ease yourself into the day.

There are different ways to do that. You don’t have to be transparent around what time you’re actually starting to get ready and who will be there. But it’s probably easiest to be honest: “I’m setting that time aside for myself… I already anticipate my nerves being on edge, so I’m gonna need it! I’m looking forward to having a toast with you after!”

Your in-laws probably want to be supportive and involved. So, tell them how to support you, and then try to find a small way to involve them.

—Liz Moorhead


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