Lauren: Reading Between The Pins

When your mom has secret Pinerest wedding boards. For YOUR wedding.

Reading Between the Pins | A Practical Wedding

My mom sent me a pin on Pinterest. It was an infographic called Make Your Diamond Match Your Personality, and presented a list of diamonds and corresponding personality traits. It’s exactly the kind of image that perpetuates the uncomfortable message of engagement ring equals self-worth. My knee-jerk reaction was to close out of the screen and pretend it hadn’t happened. Was she serious? I deleted the notification and ignored the pin.

It then occurred to me that if my mom is sending me pins, she probably has a few Pinterest boards. Indeed, a closer investigation revealed that she has ten of them. There, among “Books Worth Reading” and “Art” was a board labeled “Wedding ideas.” The most recent pin was How to Make a Face Mask to Remove Blackheads. I gaped at the close-up images of an anonymous nose, before and after its owner sat around for twenty minutes wearing a mixture of egg white and lemon peel. I mean, yeah, the after nose looked way better, but who knows what kind of fancy camera work was involved?

Her pins leapt off the screen in an onslaught of expectations. Mason jars wearing sweaters made of lace doilies. A heart-shaped bouquet. A chalkboard requesting that guests “Instagram our wedding.” I started to panic a little. I’m not even on Instagram! There were some pins taken from my own boards: a vintage lace dress from Etsy, a mint green color scheme that I’d liked the look of but had no intentions of carrying out. Seeing my pins on her board felt strangely invasive, like she was climbing into my brain and lifting out my thoughts without context, then trying to create new ones and silently insert them without me noticing.

I think about the last time she attempted to approach me outright with a question over email, mere days after we set a date: “Do you have a timeline or checklist of the wedding that I can have? I saw an illustrated list on Lauren Conrad’s website. Have you seen it?” My reaction was one of exasperation. “Mom, I don’t have a timeline. And no, I haven’t seen Lauren Conrad’s website.”

I’m resistant to playing the game, to getting sucked into the belief that I’m doing it wrong. I fear that if I give an inch, I’ll be caught in the gears of the wedding machine and churned through until nothing’s left of me but a one-dimensional paper doll in a white dress, holding a heart-shaped bouquet in one hand and Lauren Conrad’s checklist in the other. (Forty-eight hours before: Get Tan!)

The result is a bride-to-be who feigns a lack of interest in all things wedding. A bride who insists that her dress doesn’t have to be made of fairy wings and unicorn sparkles, that it can just be a dress. A bride who is happy to forgo flowers, a band, a bridal shower, and even a bachelorette party because I don’t need any of those things. And in my rage against the machine, I have become a bride who forgot that this wedding is not just about Jared and me.

As the oldest of three girls, the first to get married, and the one who moved to Australia, I’m making it hard for my parents to get their bearings on how to help their daughter plan a wedding. Instead of extending a hand to guide them, I am lifting it to brush away suggestions, insisting that I want to do things my own way. It’s clear to me that my mom is taking great pains not to overstep any boundaries or crowd me into a corner, but at the same time she’s dying to be involved.

To compensate, she’s scouring my Pinterest boards for an opening into my mind, access to my guarded wedding thoughts. What I need to tell my mom is that this is all new to me, too. I need some space to figure it out. I don’t have a meticulously curated wedding book like Monica in Friends. There is no vision—just a landslide of options that lead to confusion and soul-searching. It feels like our wedding tapped me lightly on the shoulder only to slug me across the jaw when I turned around. You thought this was going to be easy? You thought this was just about throwing a party? Suckaaaaa.

Because the wedding, I’m learning, is so much more than what you see, eat, wear, and say. It’s about navigating budgets, expectations, respect, personal truths, and family dynamics—times two. Sometimes I want to chuck it all in and elope. Screw the wedding! We don’t need this shit. But then I think of the joy of having all our people in the same place at the same time, and it makes my heart hurt with longing.

I’m pretty sure my mom and I want the same thing; we just have slightly different ideas about how to get there. I think it’s my turn to reach out and let her in, though I’ll forgo Pinterest and skip straight to a video call on Skype. Which I plan to do as soon as I sort out these blackheads on my nose.

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  • Jessica Nelson

    I just had a phone call last night in which half of it was spent listening to my mom complain about the horrible customer service at David’s Bridal…which I picked because she had shot down my suggestions for Little Borrowed Dress and a few other options (my three sisters, ages 14-20, are bridesmaids, so my mom preeeeetty much had the ability to veto any dress suggestions given that she’ll be paying for at least two, probably three of the dresses). So thanks for this reminder to be compassionate! I’m also the first to get married, and yeah, none of us really know what we’re doing…

    • Eh

      No one really knows what they are doing with wedding planning (as my FIL repeatedly said while we were planning, “every wedding is different”). My dad and step-mum have seven kids between them. I was the sixth to get married. My wedding was probably the first that didn’t result in a fight/hurt feelings over something (at least one my side). On the other hand, my husband only has one brother and he was married the year before us so his mother had some very vocal opinions about what she wanted/didn’t want (mostly common sense things like writing thank you notes and guest comfort, but also who to invite and having a church wedding) and how involved she wanted to be in our wedding (as she was cut out of their wedding planning). Communication is important. At first she was pretty demanding with her requests but after talking to us and realizing that we were willing to involve her and take her suggestions she backed off. She had a bit of an issue seeing our vision (our wedding was secular and practical – not over the top and WIC-driven as she is a custom to) but she put her trust in us and on the day she saw everything come together.

  • Em

    “It feels like our wedding tapped me lightly on the shoulder only to slug me across the jaw when I turned around.” Oh god, yes, this.

  • Awww, your mom sounds sweet. This reminds me of how (in my case anyway) your parents will mention that you’re really into something when relatives are seeking gift ideas for Christmas or your birthday, like, your sophomore year of high school…and then for the next 10-20 years, you continue to get gifts that relate to that thing…even though it was just kind of a brief phase you went through. I think it’s so true that people who we aren’t around as much are just trying to see what we’re into and connect with what we like and make us happy. So it totally makes sense that your mom used your Pinterest board to do that! I can see her being totally in the dark about what you’re into and thinking that the thing you pinned without really thinking about it was, like, your THING.

    • MisterEHolmes

      I have gotten ladybug-themed gifts from my grandmother since I was 8. 20 years of ladybugs! I mean, yeah, 8-year-old me was into ladybugs, but that’s sort of a short-term and light infatuation!

    • K.

      Totally – I have an aunt who I’ve really just been connecting with in my adult years and she has a Pinterest board called “K.’s wedding”. It’s so, so sweet even if 99.9% of her pins are the opposite of my taste (she’s very traditionally formal, I have a more natural/romantic taste). But it’s more an excuse to call me and tell me about the things she found and express interest in my life, so I just humor her and compliment what I do like. It’s kind of fun, but admittedly, since she’s my aunt, there’s less pressure than if it were my mom.

      Overall, my mom has been great about honoring my tastes for the wedding despite an occasional odd comment like, “We should hire swans for the grounds.” (??? Like, what does that even mean?) Luckily, these are passing fancies and she takes my WTF faces seriously, ha. Overall, there’s a lot of sensitivity balance, though I’m lucky to live in the same town as my parents so it’s easier to have those ongoing conversations. I think my fiance’s family is feeling more in the dark and that’s where I have to push myself to involve others.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Swans for the grounds?! Someone’s been watching Father of the Bride.

      • Violet

        When hiring swans, do they accept personal checks, or do they prefer direct deposit?

        • Winny the Elephant

          Remember to always get a contract in writing

          • A contquack is a MUST.

          • Winny the Elephant

            Just peed my pants a little….oh god I love animal puns…..I’m going to tell my grade two’s that one

        • Sarah E

          They’ll just send you a bill.

      • Laura

        Wait wait. “Hire” swans??? Like, “We hired a caterer, a band, and some swans”? I will definitely need to see those swans’ professional website and reviews on weddingwire first.

        • K.

          I imagined something like this creeping around our ceremony.

          • NicoleT

            This is the best thing I’ve seen all day!

          • Alyssa M

            Sitting behind the counter in the lobby of the hotel i work at CRACKING UP. Hope I didn’t wake anybody up…

        • Jenni

          “This vendor was prompt in their correspondence with me, professional, and a good value for the price charged. However I am deducting one star for poop they left on the lawn.”

      • Vera

        Real talk, swans are terrifying.

        • Alyssa M

          I know, right! I feel like intentionally putting swans into a crowd of people is up there in the risk category with self catering mayo and chicken casseroles.

    • umm check out your last name, right?!?!? am i right???

    • That is spot on – my grandma sent me cat journals until I was in college. And it works on the flip side because my poor dad got golf-themed gifts for years, even though he’s only ever been mildly interested in golf. And this –> “people who we aren’t around as much are just trying to see what we’re into and connect with what we like and make us happy” sums up so much the (seemingly arbitrary) pins that my mom zeroes in on from my board.

  • MisterEHolmes

    Using Pinterest to stealthily plant ideas? Definitely a real thing. My (problematic) MOH tried it on me when she was trying to get me to switch dress colors to a color completely out of my color scheme; she went from never posting to the group board I’ve had for 9 months to posting 4 pins within an hour, all overly exclaiming the joys of poppy.
    At least with a mutual board, you can delete contributors and then delete pins. (Hey, passive-aggressiveness moves both ways!)

    As frustrating as this must be, though, it must be heartwarming to know your mom wants to be involved. Though “mason jars with sweaters of lace” is pretty hilarious!

  • Alisha

    Man, APW always knows when I need to hear something. I’m also the first in my family to get married, as is my fiance, so we’re getting this from both sides. My mom has been giving me decoration ideas since the first day we were engaged, and it’s driving me crazy. I *might* have freaked out when she suggested making lace napkin rings. Very curious how others are handling this. I’ve tried explaining what I want (clean, minimal, no froufrou), but she doesn’t really seem to get it. Maybe showing her pictures would help her visualize it?

    • twofishgirl14

      Man, if you figure it out let me know. Right now I’m just trying to change the translator in my head so that when someone says “You have to have altar flowers!” or “You should change your color scheme to match these earrings I like!” I will hear “I love you and I’m excited for your wedding and want you to be happy” instead of what I currently hear, which is “ALERT ALERT THIS PERSON IS STRESSFUL AND WRONG.”
      I don’t know that changing this translator will help me get them to understand what I want, but at least I won’t have to carry this negativity around all day.

    • Eh

      My MIL didn’t get it either. I found it takes time and reinforcing your vision (or she might not get it until the wedding – other family members didn’t get it until the wedding). No matter how many times we told her that we wanted a secular, personal, family-focused, (more) casual wedding she didn’t get it until day she saw our invitations. A switch flipped – “oh you aren’t having a big formal wedding, you are having a more casual wedding” (our invitations were hand bills, and we were getting married in a theatre). Even after that she still had some concerns because she’d never been to a wedding like ours but she put trust in us that we had a vision (open bars aren’t common where my in-laws live but it was important to me that my family not pay for drinks but she was worried about cost and people being drunk, and when I told her that we were having board games as centrepieces she said “aren’t you worried that people will take them home”).
      Pictures might be a good idea. Your mom might think that weddings need a ton of decor and showing her pictures of your vision might help her realize that it’s not going to be non-exsistent. Another suggestion would be to give her a job. We asked my MIL to host our rehearsal dinner and day after brunch (plus she hosted my shower). This gave her something to do that she likes to do.

    • Hannah B

      Pictures are worth a thousand words (and sometimes thousands of dollars, especially in the case of Pinterest!) But yes, I think “minimal” is one of the hardest things to visualize for a person, because it’s really hard to define, in words, with clarity, the difference between your “minimal and clean” and their “plain/boring/looks like we don’t care at all.” (Also, if you have ever seen what David Tutera calls “minimal” on his show, which your folks are probably watching, then I think sending pics of your vision would be essential.)
      On another note, you could just say WHOA FRANCK and send her this link

      or this one:

    • AG

      Pictures will really, really help. Some of my bridesmaids/ parents/ friends/ florists (?!) were a little hesitant when I said I wanted my bridesmaids to wear dresses of their choice in spring colors. I finally put together a pinterest board for my bridesmaids with dresses that I liked (that they were welcome to buy or just use as a reference), and they were able to see what I meant. I think people tend to default to the WIC, “traditional” wedding look, and sometimes they just don’t believe you when you say you want something different. I had to convince my bridesmaids that I really, truly, was OK with them not matching, and now they seem to be excited about how it will all look.

      • Alyssa M

        Man, I tried to do the same thing but with fall colors and it was such a can of worms I ended up back tracking and telling them to just wear brown. They just would. not. get it.

  • Jen

    Oh god. My father has been asking me questions about my wedding and each one annoys me more- I read this article feeling more and more angry until the middle when I sheepishly realized that your insight was also relatable to me.
    Maybe someone could help me to figure out- how to I incorporate my future MIL and my step-mother into wedding plans when we are doing a very minimalized wedding? And the few craft things that I am doing- I truly want to do them. I could maybe chose to do them with my MIL by visiting her, but my stepmother is states away and she will not be anywhere close to help.

    • Eh

      Ask them how they want to be involved and be clear your vision of your wedding. My dad and step-mum lives far away so they were consulted about things (e.g., wording on invitations, logistics, guest list) but they were not heavily involved in the planning part of our wedding. My step-mum carried in the rings and was ushered to her seat and wore a corsage, she also had her make-up done with me. My MIL loves to be a host and since my family was coming from out of town we asked her to host the rehearsal dinner the day before and a brunch the morning after. She also hosted my shower. We didn’t have many crafts (to keep my sanity) so we did them ourselves. Some people were upset that we didn’t ask them to help or we didn’t take them up on their offers to help and we pointed out that there was nothing to help with – we didn’t have programs, we didn’t have favours, our centre pieces were board games, we didn’t decorate the ceremony venue, and there was few decorations at the reception venue. Photos were a big part of our decorations so my MIL scanned some family pictures for us.

    • AG

      If they’re far away, you could maybe just set aside some time to talk with them about logistics/ decor/ ideas. My mom doesn’t live nearby, so we haven’t done a lot of wedding stuff together, but I do talk to her frequently and just share what I’m thinking about various things. She gives great advice and is super supportive, so I benefit from that and she still gets to be a part of the process from far away. I’m sure she wishes we could do more together, but I think she’s happy to know what’s going on and be helpful to me in a way that few other people can. (Did I mention my mom is the best?) My MIL is more of the pinterest type, with lots of ideas about various details and things. That’s tough because I don’t always like the ideas she brings up, but whenever she has an idea that I’m OK with, I let her take the reigns and do it.

  • twofishgirl14

    Oh my god, APW, are you psychic? Are you listening to my life?
    My mom just called me deeply upset last week because she feels shut out of the wedding planning. I had NO idea that she was feeling that way. I’ve just been muddling my way through this thing. I’m a very independent person, and I’m not comfortable taking money, time or effort from the people around me. So I’ve just been marching forward and getting things done, the way that I’ve always done every project in my life. I didn’t want mom to help with my homework as a kid, or to help me shop for a car or to apply for jobs. And I think she was always proud of me for being so capable. I didn’t realize that this wedding thing would be different. How was I supposed to know?
    Also, wedding planning has been exhausting. My fiance and I carefully research and discuss options and only move forward when we’re very certain of what we want, so when every single decision receives public scrutiny, negativity, passive aggressive commentary, etc. it feels like it’s not even worth it to try to bring people in on this thing. I feel like I’m yelling “THANK YOU FOR YOUR OPINION BUT WE’RE HAPPY WITH OUR CHOICES” against this wall of people yelling “IT’S NOT A WEDDING WITHOUT PEONIES” and “IF THE BRIDESMAID’S SHOES DON’T MATCH IT WILL BE DISTRACTING.”

    So, thank you for your lovely and compassionate article. I’m working on letting people gift me with their love and effort, and it’s comforting to know that you are too.

    • Jenna

      I deliberately created a secret “Wedding Plans” board on Pinterest to be shared only with my mom. She lives 600 miles away from me and was feeling really left out of the process. This way, we can both pin and comment on things we like (or don’t) and keep up a running dialogue. It’s given her a really good (visual) perspective on what I actually like and want, and I’ve been happily surprised by some of the cool things she’s found and pinned for me. Not to mention that she surprised me with the APW book after I pinned an APW post!!!

      Sharing wedding planning, such as it is, like this also helps us avoid fighting about stupid shit in real life, because Pinterest is neutral territory. We’ve both been clear about expectations around the pin board, and we know it’s not personal when the other disagrees with our opinions…on Pinterest, at least. ;)

      I know Pinterest is silly and may seem like a waste of time, but it’s also an easy way to help someone far away (geographically or emotionally) feel more like a part of your process. And you can take the ideas shared there to your fiance for further review/discussion/research, the way you’ve been vetting things already.

      Plus, it’s a good place to share supporting documentation for why the bridesmaids’ shoes not matching is NBD, or why you really feel passionately about having an unplugged wedding, or whatever is important to you.

      Hang in there!

      • AG

        This is such a great idea. I think it’s a lot easier for moms/ family/ wedding party to let go of some of their preconceived ideas of decor or style if you are able to replace it with your ideas.

      • Alyssa M

        This is so similar to how i approached it. My partner and I are the ones planning our wedding, but a week after we got engaged I made a wedding board and invited my mother, sister, and best woman to it. It already had some pins to indicate what direction I was leaning, and they just got all the crazy pinning out on that board. I’m not expected to DO all those things, just maybe take some ideas I like, and they got to feel involved in “planning” and brainstorming even from far away. :) Just wish my FMIL had pinterest too.

    • “I’m not comfortable taking money, time or effort from the people around me” – I am really struggling with this too. I always subconsciously feel like accepting help means that I owe something in return, so I keep fobbing it off. At one point my sister said to me, “People WANT to help. In return, they just want to feel appreciated.” I remind myself of that every time I automatically push people away.

    • Guest

      LOL – “it’s not a wedding without peonies.”

      • twofishgirl14

        A real thing. That was said to me. In my real life.

  • Laura C

    If I had anything other than a tongue-in-cheek Pinterest board and my fiance’s mother was able to function on the internet, this would be us. Except with a lot more anxiety about relationships and boundaries.

    Today’s task from her to me: measure my father for his rehearsal dinner Indian attire and choose from one of about seven embroidery patterns for said garment.

  • Katie Mae

    “And in my rage against the machine, I have become a bride who forgot that this wedding is not just about [my partner] and me.”

    I had to learn this too. My mom was so excited and had such strong opinions that I felt overwhelmed and scared that if I said yes to anything, the wedding would be all her vision and not reflect the values of my partner and me. But after I seriously hurt my parents’ feelings by excluding them from planning, we had a big talk. They didn’t realize why I was scared, and I didn’t realize how personally invested they felt in the wedding, so it became easier once we got that out in the open. We communicated much more after that and I put my mom in charge of decorations – she loves to decorate and is very good at it. I made a few requests (minimize disposable items; local flowers and favors, if at all; green and purple) and she took it from there. She spent more and made things fancier than I would have, but it turned out gorgeous and made her really happy.

  • Ellen

    My mom has gone Pinterest-crazy and then hired a day-of-coordinator “as her present to herself” and said to the coordinator to use her Pinterest boards as inspiration. I do not care for my mom’s Pinterest vision (and I honestly don’t think that she does, either). I have never even met this woman!!! The ONLY way that I saw of fighting this, or at least mitigating the damage, was coming up with a point-by-point list of specific ways that I see this DOC helping (ie coordinate parking with this person, decorate venue using these specific things, etc). My mom actually loved that I gave that feedback and now I feel like maybe, for the first time since we started this planning, we are actually seeing somewhat eye-to-eye!

    • Winny the Elephant

      Holy moley… good luck with that one…

      • Anon

        I can relate to the “doings things without even asking me” behaviour. I’m getting married in my home town (ie my mum lives there, I don’t) which is halfway across the world. So I have shut her out of EVERYTHING as once she gets involved there’s no stopping her. Finally, in the spirit of getting her involved, I suggested she could be in charge of florals. Should be contained, right?


        She has ignored almost all of my styling ideas and is going way overboard and ovwrnudget (150 bunches of flowers for 90 people?!) She has booked in multiple reception viewings without telling me and started hectoring my event planner about how the venue setup doesn’t work for her (I only found out when the planner wrote to me to ask her to back off). She FIRED my otd coordinator, again without telling me. She moved my hair & makeup without telling me because she wasn’t happy with her makeup trial (yes that’s right, she had a makeup trial and I’m not). And to top it off if I ask her to stop she says that this is just how it has to be to get things done Nd she is so stressed and I should be happy.

        I am gritting my teeth on the basis all the important things are done and it doesn’t really matter. But, breathe….

        And we’re paying for all this!

  • My mom is the “let’s talk about all the details at once” type of person and I’m more the “focus on one task at a time or else my ADD will let me get nothing accomplished” type. So while her ideas for aisle runners aren’t bad per se, they aren’t something remotely on my radar. I’ve found it easiest to just tell her what thing I’m working on and then refuse all talk on other subjects. Right now it’s collecting addresses. Unless she wants to talk about updating the Google Doc for addresses, I can’t talk wedding planning. It took awhile but now she starts each conversation, “So what thing are you working on?” and then she knows she has my full permission to wax poetic about that one thing until the decision has been made. Blessedly, she hasn’t the foggiest idea that Pinterest even exists. Sanity for all!

    • YetAntherMegan

      OMG my mom is the same way. We have this “to do list” in a Google Doc but really it’s more of a list of thoughts and things that are in various stages and inevitably every time she calls about the wedding I have to have it open in front of me because she will ping pong from topic to topic. And at least once a month we go through the entire thing together, even though I update it every time we talk. I so wish I could figure out how to get her to talk flowers and then when that’s decided talk music and so on.

  • Winny the Elephant

    Raise your hand if 95% of your wedding related stress stems from your mother…

    • Peekayla

      I feel guilty about it, but I pretty much only tell her things now after I’ve already put the deposit down on my decision. We fought about the photographer back in September. It wasn’t about which one to choose, but how I thought it’d be useful, but not necessary, if the photographer I picked had been to my venue. She disagreed and wouldn’t even agree to disagree! I was very upset and called her the next day to tell her she had hurt my feelings. She told me that if I was going to get upset like that then maybe I shouldn’t tell her things about the wedding. So I took her at her word. I feel bad about it, but we don’t fight nearly as often, and if she makes a shitty comment, I’m able to brush it off so much more easily than before. I’m hoping to bring her in on some smaller details now that the big stuff is done and paid for.

      • Winny the Elephant

        For me a lot of the grief has been about the guest list. I asked my parents last July who they wanted to invite…they have been adding to that list ALL FU*KING YEAR. Today she called again with 4 more people to add. After I finished making the last batch of invitations and doing the seating chart over the weekend……FML………

        • Peekayla

          Our list went from the 80 people we really wanted to over 130! Ah, family politics where you can’t invite the one cousin you like and hang out with, without inviting his/her sibling that is 15 years older than you and have no relationship with. We gave in, but not have drama from people not getting a Save the Date. We sent them to everyone, just because it got lost in the mail doesn’t mean it’s our fault!

          • Eh

            I wanted a smallish wedding and our ceremony venue only held 140. Our invite list ended up being about 160. In the end we had about a 50% decline rate (my side had to travel and it was October) so we ended up having only about 78 people at the wedding so it was closer to the number I wanted. Guest lists are a huge balancing act. Our biggest issue is that my husband doesn’t know who is in his family and his mother didn’t check the list very closely. They forgot someone’s husband and one person that always goes to things with another relative – I hadn’t met any of these people so I didn’t know any better. In the end these people invited themselves.

          • S

            Oh my gosh yes to this: “They forgot someone’s husband and one person that always goes to things with another relative – I hadn’t met any of these people so I didn’t know any better. In the end these people invited themselves.” I don’t know these people, you guys!! I’ve checked my side, it is YOUR job to check your side!! And not look at me in wonder when they’re forgotten.

    • Laura

      So, yes. This. But I have a lot of trouble talking about it without sounding/feeling like an ungrateful asshole. Because 1) she’s my mother, and 2) she (and dad) are paying. Ugh.

      • YetAntherMegan

        Add in the fact that I’m her only child and we have a winner. Ugh. (She’s really good at guilt)

        • Laura

          Sames. Ugh.

    • Innocent until proven guilty

      <— Raise your hand if 95% of your wedding related stress stems from your mother in law.

  • Jenni

    This hits home. My mom pointed out yesterday that every time she asks me a wedding-related question, I get snappy and defensive. And … she’s kind of right. Oops.

    I think I’ve been mixing up *questions* with *assumptions*. Which, is true some times, but not all the times. I’m really close with my mom (also the first of three girls), and I know she’s so excited to help with the planning. She’s already helped me out so much. I need to take a step back when she asks me something and remember that she’s not expecting me to have it all figured out right then.

    • Yep. All of this to me too. It’s really unfair that when other people (i.e. virtual strangers) ask me how the wedding planning is going, I can answer with a smile, but when it’s my mom I immediately transition into (totally uncalled for) sulky teenager mode and feel like a caged animal. And all she’s done is ask how things are going.

  • Brooke

    Our moms come from a generation where THEIR moms planned and paid for their weddings. Our world, in which we want to do our own thing and pay for it, is very foreign to them.

    • KH_Tas

      Well, for most of us. My parents made the break from this themselves, planning their own wedding. They have shown only mild interest in planning mine for me

  • Gina

    Loved this! I can (happily) tell you, from the other side, you will look back fondly on the pinterest-ing. (Pinning?) My best friend, who lives much closer to my mother than I do, sent me so many texts saying, “I just stopped your mom from buying/doing _______ for your wedding– you owe me!” My mom ended up planning most of my wedding, for which I was thankful, but we definitely had some moments where I had to politely and firmly say “that’s really not our taste, mom. But thank you so much for looking into it!”

  • breezyred

    Yes to all this. I have reread this post at least five times now, each time remembering more crazy stories from my mother. I am so happy I don’t have to go back and relive that!

    At one point, my mom was sending 10+ pins every day to my email. I had to stop opening them because that was taking too much time out of my already busy schedule. Also, the anxiety… the anxiety of never knowing what I was going to see and the effort and the fact that she wanted to discuss all the things was just a little too much. Later, when my mom would comment on a specific pin she had sent, I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. In her mind, she had cultivated a lovely and helpful collection of images around what she thought I wanted. In my mind, she had just sent me 400 random pictures of wedding-ish details that were horrifically not my style. It was like sitting through someone’s vacation photos, not really taking in anything more than anything else and wanting to be done with it all because dessert sounds better.

    I sometimes think that I could have honored my mom’s Pinterest craze a little better. I could have allowed my mom to send me 2 pins a week instead of just shutting the idea down all together. Pinterest boards gets overwhelming in the fact they are a visual collection which gets easily cluttered in size. By forcing her to only send 2 a week, it would have actually forced her to think through what pieces on her board actually meant the most or seemed most helpful. Pinterst wasn’t the problem. It was the enormity of it all. It was the fact that she wanted to chat about all the things, while I am much more of a focus-on-one-thing kind of person. It was the blanket address of “things” in my otherwise less-things life. It was chaos in an otherwise linear plan. This is not to say that I regret standing up for myself in any way. I am just acknowledging that for others in the same position, there could be a way to work with the board rather than against it.

    • I relate to your “in her mind/in my mind” breakdown. I 100% know that my mom just sends me pins – which she so rarely does – because she thinks they are amusing, interesting, or helpful, so I have to get some perspective on this. But if she sent me 10+ pins every day I think I would quit Pinterest altogether (in a spectacularly passive-aggressive move).

  • Amy March

    Sigh. My darling mother is mad I have cut my hair short because she always pictured it long for my wedding day. I am not engaged!

  • Sara Goodwin

    Am I the only one whose parents are pretty much saying “do what you want, it’s your wedding”? Even though they are contributing about 80% of the money for it. I feel guilty now, seeing how many other people have so much trouble with their mom’s expectations.

    I honestly wish they would have more of an opinion. Go figure.

    • NicoleT

      Eh, I’m mostly in that boat. They gave me a set amount of money and I can spend however much I want of it. Every now and then, my mom will give an opinion and I’ll usually (very politely) veto it. If she keep going, my dad will tell her to stop saying it’s my wedding and I don’t need unwanted advice. It’s an interesting dynamic…

    • Actually, my parents are the same – despite the pinning and occasional cautious emails, neither of them has ever tried to control any aspects of planning. I just found it jarring to discover that my mom has all of these ideas (visions? concepts?) about the wedding that don’t reflect my thoughts…and then I feel like a total jerk for resisting them because she’s just trying to help. Wedding planning is weird.

  • JDrives

    We have been making 99% of our decisions independently of our parents, mainly since my mom (who is usually my go-to) is in the midst of both tax season aka CPA hell, and dealing with my step-dad’s severe leukemia diagnosis and treatment. I’ve avoided talking about most wedding things for fear of being a further stressor or burden, and figured she’d let me know on her own how involved she wanted to be. We had a lovely mother-daughter bonding moment when my dress came in, but decisions about vendors, aesthetics, etc have been between me and my fiance.
    After reading this article, I immediately sent her an e-mail asking her whether she’d like to be more involved. I want to be proactive and not have her feel left out for even a moment. Thank you APW for another timely post!

  • Aubry

    My mom and I have been at odds on the wedding quite a bit, and it makes me feel bad. At the beginning, she and I had different views, but that was mainly generational. She had not planned a wedding since the 70’s and while she knew I wouldn’t want a church wedding that didn’t leave her with a lot of experiences to fill the voids of what was done instead. Also, she had no idea what things cost so holding a traditional wedding with full dinner for $5K seemed totally doable. In one of the most expensive cities in the world… Ha.

    There have been a few points of contention that I didn’t expect (morning ceremony battle = the hill she is willing to die on apparently) but she really just wants to help. I have gotten so defensive over everything, and she just wants to be involved. I react negatively to almost everything anyone says now, and I don’t like it. Because they are just offering suggestions, but I have been through all those ideas months ago in my head and weighed the options and decided on doing one of them or not due to money or personal aesthetic.

    I think I need to find things we can do together and make a point of getting her to help me craft etc. And ask her opinion on stuff, even if I don’t end up taking it. I really do value her opinions, and I feel like I have written her off a bit which is totally unfair. She is one of the smartest and most capable women I know, and I trust her with a lot. I just have to transfer that sentiment to the wedding stuff now!

    • twofishgirl14

      “I react negatively to almost everything anyone says now, and I don’t like it. Because they are just offering suggestions, but I have been through all those ideas months ago in my head and weighed the options and decided on doing one of them or not due to money or personal aesthetic.” <——- THIS
      The only real lost-temper moments I've had with wedding planning came from someone saying/implying "I don't don't think you've really thought this through."

  • Beth R

    Both our parents were very much the “do what makes you happy” kind of parents and I kind of ran with it – not asking for many
    suggestions and only really telling them about decisions we’d made
    after we made them. My parents live across the state and his across the country, so this was
    fairly easy, and they were all very supportive. Right up until my parents came to
    visit a month out and we took them to see the venue and then BAM!
    Every single decision we’d spent months making came into question. They
    questioned everything as if we hadn’t thought it through, which
    was so incredibly frustrating and surprising. Then I realized that they hadn’t
    been part of the process of making those decisions, so they had no idea
    why we chose to do what we did. We’d had all the same questions at first, but we’d had months and many discussions to work out the answers.

    In retrospect, I would have at least explained our decisions a bit more as we went along and would have given them more easy decisions to help with (should I pick this brand of compostable silverware or that brand of compostable silverware?). I don’t know if they wished they had been more involved – I tried to bring them in on some things, like letting my dad pick the song we danced to (which backfired when he picked a song I would NEVER play at any point of my life, let alone my wedding) and sent my mom pictures of the dresses I was considering (also slightly backfired when I didn’t pick her favorite….), but I should have reached out at the start to see what they wanted to do.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t usually comment on APW, but this post was so timely for me. The issue that I’ve been having is that so many people want me to have an opinion on things that I just don’t care about. Some recent ones include: “What shoes should the bridesmaids wear?” (read: exactly what specific pair of shoes should we all buy and of course they are going to match right?) or, “Did you pick out a dress for the flower girl? Should she wear white or colors, what about her shoes??” and I find myself becoming irritated with these questions because I don’t care about the bridesmaids shoes and the flower girl is adorable and will continue to be so so regardless of what she’s wearing. I find myself getting more and more irritated with these types of questions and when I think of the stress and the money spent, I ask myself “why didn’t we elope??”

    But I think when I answer these questions with an exasperated “I don’t care”, my family and friends might hear “I don’t care about you,” when what I’m really trying to say is “I don’t care about those details, but I DO care about you being here.” This post was exactly what I needed to hear, a reminder that the people who keep asking these questions really just care a whole lot and they want the day to be amazing for me and my fiance. There are a lot of great ideas in the comments section to help them feel involved and to try to better deal with ALL THE QUESTIONS. I think if I can keep that in mind, I can try to keep my WIC cynicism down a little and enjoy the process more. Thanks APW!

    • Helen

      I’m the same, but realised early on how stressful it is being in a wedding without some sort of brief. So I assigned a far-more-asthetically-interested friend as chief stylist. Now all questions are directed at her, and Im looking forward to being surprised on the day.

      • Stephanie

        Thanks Helen, thats a great idea!! Delegate delegate delegate! Someone else (who I trust!) can have an opinion about bridesmaid shoes :)

  • Vic Horsham

    My MIL is being an absolutely wonderful woman about our wedding. My mum lives abroad, so I don’t get to talk to her about this stuff as often as I’d like to with her, and MIL has really stepped up as someone I can natter about wedding stuff with.

    But we still have moments where I feel like I’m being defensive and difficult! We’re VERY non-traditional, me and the mister. We’re having a pagan outdoor handfasting… with a gothic fairy theme because he’s a goth who loves fairies. We’re going weird with the clothes, the setting, we’re crafting an entire ritual for ourselves for the ceremony because there just ISN’T a standard one for a lokean marrying a chaote.

    And while it’s all new and strange and confusing for us because neither of us ever really thought about weddings before now, I think it’s weirder and more confusing and difficult for her. Because she has an idea in her head of what a wedding is, and while she understand that ours is different, working out what that means can be a challenge. I find myself feeling defensive about stuff she asks, which is silly because all she is really saying is “please explain what this means”, not “I judge you wrong and weird”.

    The most recent fun one was trying to explain to her why finding a willing pagan celebrant can be a challenge when you’re a Lokean, which led to having to explain that “having our gods at the wedding” didn’t mean literally dressing some of the guests up in costumes to look like them! XD

    • Alyssa M

      I feel like this is the issue for a lot of us. We get so used to being attacked for (or assuming we’ll be attacked for) doing things differently that we take simple displays of interest as attacks.

  • BA

    Basically this post nailed how I’m feeling. Thanks!

  • Liz

    Pinterest has been somewhat helpful with my mom because she’s not one to sit down and search the internet for All The Wedding Things, so I shared a Pinterest board with her and now she can refer to it for visuals while we’re talking things over on the phone (she doesn’t live in the same city as me).

    For my MIL, who doesn’t work full-time, spends the day surfing the web, and is someone who researches and analyzes Everything for hours on end, she started her own wedding Pinterest board as soon as she found out that I had one. Even though she doesn’t put pressure on me for anything and is always careful to qualify everything saying I don’t have to do it just because she’s sending it to me, it’s hard to remember that some things are really just ideas and not her pushing opinions on me. She was kind of on overload at the beginning of our engagement out of excitement, but it started to grate on me as I felt like I was getting grilled a lot. She’s toned it down now, thankfully. I think it’s just hard for her to understand that at 8 months out (and 10 months, 12 months, 14 months, etc), there’s not a whole lot that she needs to actively be doing.

    It also felt strange that my MIL started off way more active in wanting to constantly talk wedding details than my own mother. Part of that comes from them being two very different people with different processes. My sister is planning her wedding too, so my mom is having double the conversations! My mom’s not disinterested, but knows not to overwhelm me.

  • MEM

    My mom was…difficult…. until I gave her a job to do. I was not planning on having any decorations and really didn’t care what they looked like and I know that she enjoys that type of thing, so I put her in charge of it. Once she had a job of her own, she was much better at not getting her fingers into *everything*. plus, I ended up with beautiful decorations :)

  • Lauren I really, really love your writing. I had no idea a master’s in travel writing existed, but that is incredibly awesome and very inspiring. Totally subscribing to your site. Expect to see me lurking about haha.

    • Your comment makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You are more than welcome to lurk around the site. And as for the MA in travel writing – I was shocked when I learned of it – took a while before I accepted it as valid but it was!

  • Granola

    THIS: “Instead of extending a hand to guide them, I am lifting it to brush away suggestions, insisting that I want to do things my own way. It’s clear to me that my mom is taking great pains not to overstep any boundaries or crowd me into a corner, but at the same time she’s dying to be involved.”

    Reading that makes me think that I probably did this without realizing it when I planned my wedding and thinking of it in that light makes me quite sad really. I wish my mom and I had bonded more over my wedding, but it just felt stressful and hard. But maybe that’s just my WIC induced expectations creeping in.

  • karin

    Okay. I feel like I’m jumping into a potential pit of hellfire and shit here because guess what? I’m a mom of the bride. First of all I’d like to say I have no idea what your relationship is like with your mother. I only know my own with my daughter. It’ a pretty normal one – not without it’s bumps. But I’m pretty sure I’m not too far off when I say 95% of the moms are not trying to drive you crazy. The love you and want to be involved in this day that they probably have thought (a little bit) about since you were – oh, maybe two days old. Not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Really I’m not!
    So maybe you’re wondering why I am even reading this blog. I must be trying to take over my daughter’s life and wedding, right? Well, actually, a few weeks after my daughter got engaged, without any questions or prodding from me, my daughter called me and said “Mom, I’ve been thinking and I’ve decided that all I care about is my dress and that at the end of the day I will be married to Travis. But I really do want to have a wedding. A nice but small and casual wedding. Would you just take care of that for me?” Her words. The fact that she now lives 2000 miles from where the wedding will take place (here in her home town where I still live), is part of it, and the other part is that she tends to get overwhelmed by details and then procrastinates. Plus she trusts me. I send her photos/videos of anything I find that I think fits into her/our vision of the wedding and she and her fiancée say yea or nay. Then I take care of it. I love her (and him!) and I just want her to be happy with her day. And yes, I do feel so thankful that she has asked me to be a part of it all.
    One mom’s view. That’s all.