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Wicked Witch of the Wedding (And her flying monkey of a son)

I have never been close to my Stepmother, as my Father had married her when I was in my late teens, and I had never lived with her, but until my now-husband and I became engaged, I had no idea that she bore me so much resentment and jealousy. Nor was I aware that she was capable of this much venom and pettiness. Both my now-husband and I have doctoral level degrees; I have a Ph.D. and am a university professor, while my husband is a physician. My husband also comes from a relatively affluent family in comparison to my family which is comfortably middle class but by no means wealthy. As such when we became engaged, my husband was able to present me with a beautiful engagement ring. I assure you that I would have been thrilled to marry my husband with a plastic ring from a Cracker Jack box, but when we came to visit my Father and Stepmother and announce our engagement, my Stepmother took one look at my ring and said, “It looks too big to be real. It must be fake,” and proceeded to grumble about marrying for money for the rest of the night. At the time, I was too busy being excited about my engagement to give her poor manners much thought, although my soon-to-be husband reminded me that in the past, my Stepmother had conspicuously absented herself from my graduations, feigning an illness at my college and Master’s graduation, and refusing to attend my doctoral graduation (her son never completed college, which has been a source of a lot of pain for her). Wisely, my soon-to-be husband said, “Your Stepmother is going to be trouble”. Boy, was he right…

During the wedding planning process, my Stepmother repeatedly asserted that her family should have a big role in the wedding. My Stepbrother, her son, was given a role, but since I am not very close to her daughter-in-law, her son’s wife, she was simply invited to the wedding as a guest. My Stepmother was very upset by that and asked me why I was including my husband’s sister and one of my dearest friends as a bridesmaid in the wedding but not her daughter-in-law. She was also very upset that her grandchildren were not invited to the wedding (but since the wedding was a black-tie Saturday evening affair, my husband and I opted not to invite any children to the wedding and included our nieces, nephews and our friends’ children at the rehearsal dinner which was held at times when little ones would be much more likely to be awake, not bored and enjoy the festivities). She also repeatedly assailed both me and my Mother with questions about what my Mother would be wearing, what my Mother-in-Law would be wearing, etc. I did not ask the women in the family to wear a particular color, trusting their tastes, but my Stepmother accused me of lying to her and not telling her what the color was so that she would be left out. At the end, she chose to wear a nice, although very low-cut evening gown, but because she wanted to show up my Mother-in-Law, who she was convinced was a “snotty rich woman”, she decided to top the gown off with a rented fur stole. Mind you the wedding was in the winter, but it was in the South (the temperature was around 60 degrees), and it was indoors. Fine, you want to wear a fur stole, go for it. Whatever.

She was also offended that I chose to only take my Mother dress-shopping with me (I had wanted it to be an intimate bonding experience with my Mom and didn’t even ask my bridal party to come with me). When my dress was purchased, she repeatedly criticized me for wearing a strapless gown since we are Jewish and getting married in a religious ceremony. When I told her that my Rabbi had said that righteousness is not determined by dress sleeves but by the content of someone’s spirit and deeds, she told me that I shouldn’t wear strapless, anyway, since my arms are too fat and my breasts too large to look nice in a strapless gown. I bit my tongue and told her that I thought my dress was beautiful, as did my Mother and other family members who had seen it.

At my wedding shower, she proceeded to criticize me for registering rather than asking people to give me money and told me that I would “make more money at the wedding” if my husband and I did not in fact, register. I gently reminded her that a registry was not a mandatory list, simply some items that the couple would like to own, and no one was compelled to shop from it, or even to buy a couple a wedding gift.

The day before the wedding, all the parents and the two of us, the engaged couple, got together for brunch. My Stepmother refused to come, even though she knew about it for months because she was going to watch her son’s children. Since his parents lived across the country from mine, I called her and asked her to please, make time to attend, which she did..for ten minutes. During which, she proceeded to critisize my Mother, me, the food and then, left to visit with her son and his family (it turns out that his children didn’t need babysitting; it was simply an excuse to bow out of the festivity). She had only met my husband’s parents once prior to the brunch.

The day of the wedding, she was over an hour late (she and my Father had planned to arrive separately, as she had to pick up her elderly Mother and bring her to the wedding), missed the formal photos (we took formal pictures prior to the ceremony) and almost missed the ceremony. Mind you, the wedding was taking place in her home town, and my Father had previously driven with her to the location of the wedding and reception to make sure that she knew exactly where she was going. She also had a GPS and a map. Her son and his wife proceeded to be even later and walked in about 30 minutes into the ceremony. She was clearly worried about them being late because she took her cell phone with her down the aisle, and it began ringing under the chuppah!!! (In a Jewish wedding, all the parents stand under the chuppah with the bride and groom). Thankfully, the Rabbi gave her a glare until she turned the phone off. Her son’s entrance made a lot of noise, but the ceremony continued, we were married and off to the reception.

At the reception, things had proceeded smoothly, or so I thought. At the end of the day, my husband and I were thrilled with what we thought was a lovely and elegant wedding, and our guests seemed to have a great time and praised the food, the music, etc. Instead of a guestbook, my husband and I had had an engagement photo blown up and framed with a mat that could be signed by our guests, and we had it displayed on an easel next to our ketubah, so the guests could sign it on the way in and out of the reception. My Stepbrother had signed it in huge letters writing, “Where’s the bathroom? My wife needs to pee”,  right underneath our wedding portrait. He also signed it (so that there was no doubt whose idiocy this was, I guess). I didn’t see this until after the reception, but both my husband and I were livid that next to the good wishes and congratulations written by our guests was this drivel. My Dad and my Mom were furious when they saw it, but when my Dad confronted both my Stepbrother and Stepmother about it, they both denied that it was him (he signed it, for crying out loud). So, the portrait is ruined. It has taken copious amounts of White-Out to cover it up, and now, it just looks like a mess.

About a day or two after we returned from our honeymoon, my Stepmother called me and proceeded to tell me in detail about how awful my wedding was, with too many guests, too rich of food, too modern of floral arrangements (instead of roses, we opted for hydrangeas and calla lilies and orchids, which I guess, did not agree with her), too loud of music, and how everyone of her guests hated my wedding. Funny, the same people called my Mother and me to tell us how beautiful the wedding was, as did our other guests, and our wedding subsequently made it into a national wedding publication.

My Stepmother also told me that my Mother’s cleavage was too low (hers was downright nun-like compared to my Stepmother’s whose lacy bra was visible through the dress), and finally, that my husband looked “tired and like he didn’t want to be there”. Meanwhile, my husband is beaming in every wedding photo. My Stepmother also accused me of bad manners for spending too much time walking around the reception and thanking my guests for coming (Isn’t that what a bride is supposed to do? Personally thank every guest for attending her wedding?) instead of “staying put”. The entire time, she also told me how my Stepbrother’s wedding several years back was much better than mine, even though fake flowers, a windowless hall and poor behavior on the part of the bride (as I recall, she did not budge from her chair and insisted that everyone come to her rather than visiting them) were the main features at that wedding.

While I had tolerated her insults to this point, at the end of this conversation, I was livid and in tears. I did talk to my Father after I calmed down (and calmed down my husband who was just as furious) and asked him to speak with her about leaving me alone, and I have had little contact with my Stepmother since the wedding. The latest news is that we are 15 weeks pregnant, and she has yet to congratulate us.   0402-10

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • TychaBrahe April 6, 2010, 7:43 am

    I am so sorry about all that happened to you. May you and your husband be happy together.

    But mostly I am writing to suggest that you take the portrait to the photographer who took the original. He most likely can copy it photographically, and edit in the section that was damaged by your stepbrother using the original source photograph. Plus, the photographed ink will not fade over time.

  • Wonderfullyanonymous April 6, 2010, 8:02 am

    The picture ruined by such an ingrate infuriates me. Poster, you should take the picture to the photographer who took the picture, they can fix it for you. It will be a copy, but they can take the awfulness off, and leave the rest for you to share.

  • Claddagh Lass April 6, 2010, 9:28 am

    First, congratulations on your pregnancy. 🙂

    I’m sorry to hear about the ruined photo OP. I second TychaBrahe’s idea. They might be able to photoshop that terribe writing out.

    It boggles my mind that the father would put up with his second-wife’s behavior like that. If it were me I’d be running for the hills apologizing to anyone she’s hurt along the way.

  • phoenix April 6, 2010, 9:41 am

    I am curious about the OP’s relationship with her father here. He seems to be a non-figure, even though it is his daughter the Wicked Witch is tormenting. Was he there? Is he completely passive against his new wife, or is his relationship with his daughter of so little importance to him? There seem to be some more family dynamics in this story than we’re seeing, especially since the stepbrother and stepmother were included despite no apparatus relationship and obvious animosity. Was someone pressuring the OP to include them?

  • Kay April 6, 2010, 10:54 am

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this. But I have to ask why you even listen to this woman and why you seem to go out of your way to try and include her and appease her. Why insist she join you for the lunch? Why stay on the phone while she rattles off a bunch of complaints about your wedding (which you KNOW is lovely)? It’s not like you were raised with her always doing this so you’re used to it. She’s been a pill for years. Why care if she’s wished you well for your pregnancy? I’d be distancing myself from this toxic woman ASAP and not giving 2 figs if I ever saw her again. Let her make your dad happy, but you’re an adult now and you don’t need to have her in your life.

  • Without Issue April 6, 2010, 11:06 am

    I’m sorry you had such an unfortunate and unpleasant experience with someone who, clearly, was not happy for you. However, to be fair…

    “The entire time, she also told me how my Stepbrother’s wedding several years back was much better than mine, even though fake flowers, a windowless hall and poor behavior on the part of the bride… were the main features at that wedding.”

    A grand ballroom and real flowers do not a good wedding make. They had reasons for making the choices for their wedding, as did you. That sounded snobby.

  • Vivian April 6, 2010, 11:38 am

    *eek* What a horrible experience. I just wanted to mention a few options that may help you salvage your signed mat that was ruined by the evil stepbrother. If it is directly below the image, your framer may be able to recut the opening so they can remove the offending section. (then have the photo resized and reprinted) Another option may be to have your names and the wedding date, either in calligraphy or computer printed in a nice font, put on a piece of quality paper and then attached to the mat to cover the problem area. If it’s an odd shape then talk to an artist, a friend or someone local you like, and have them design an image that could be put over the area. A more complicated (and costly) way is to have all the good wishes scanned and then copied onto or engraved into a new mat. Some lovely steel ones are now being made or it can be done onto glass or mat board by anyone who has a programmable laser engraving machine. A bit of work, but it does look great. The signed mat is such a terrific keepsake that I hope you can find a way to reclaim it for yourselves.

  • ladycrim April 6, 2010, 11:46 am

    OP, can you perhaps affix a small plaque with your names and wedding date over the whited-out portion of the mat?

  • Nightibis April 6, 2010, 11:56 am

    It sounds like the offensive words were on the mat, not the photo. If that’s the case, I’d recommend going to a frame shop with a good mat cutter and have them create an additional mat that will enhance your photo and eliminate the boorish “note”. Unfortunately it would probably be impossible to mask (or gag) the offending relatives.

    Best wishes for a long and happy marriage,

  • Joe J April 6, 2010, 11:56 am

    The stepmother sounds like an absolute monster. However, I felt there was a point where her behavior should have led to her just being flat-out excluded, regardless of whether or not the FOB would come as a result (assuming that was the reason this harridan was being included in the first place). I give the poster a LOT of credit for trying to include them, particularly given the history, but there got to be a point in the story where I, like Kay posted above, was wondering aloud why the poster was bothering with the effort, or even picking up the phone when the stepmonster called for the latest dose of snotty.

  • Kate April 6, 2010, 12:59 pm

    I’m not sure why people put up with this type of behavior! It wouldn’t take much for me to tell her where she could put her “advice” and “opinions”. Enough of keeping peace…..it’s just enough. The abuse by this woman should have been stopped when she first started. What a horrible person to have to deal with while planning the happiest event of your life! You seem very patient…..:)

  • Dove April 6, 2010, 1:25 pm

    I think you have some good ideas as to ways to repair the mat around your photo.

    I commend you with trying to keep the peace and do the ‘right thing’ including the evil step mother in your festivities, brunch etc. However when her true colors were at thier brightest, I would have pulled dear ole dad aside and asked him to keep his female dog on a leash or escort her home.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about her being late- it was a blessing. Look at it this way; if she was 30 min late, that was 30 min you didn’t have to deal with her theatrics.

    Congrats on your pregnancy. Be thrilled she is not acknowledging it. I can only imagine the damage and drama she could stir up duringthe planning of a baby shower! By all means… don’t waste nicieties on her. Make sure sh eis NOT on the guest list for the shower and whatever relious cermeonies you have for when the baby is born. Do be a sweet step daughter though, and for mother’s day; buy her an Ettiquette Book!

  • Enna April 6, 2010, 2:28 pm

    That is bad – I would’ve hung up as soon as the step mum started saying bad stuff about the wedding. I would also say “if you want to come, behave, stop harasing me and back off”. At this point, if step mum carries on being nightmare-step-mum tell her “no thank-you you aren’t invited”, block her number. As for the comment about the step brother’s wedding, although it is snobby OP does have some kind of point to make – don’t critise by comparing other people’s weddings – everyone’s different and has different expectations of a wedding. Maybe OP should have gone into more detail but there is no exuces for a rude bride as the step-sister-in-law seems to be.

  • Fox April 6, 2010, 4:53 pm

    I get quite steaming when I hear stories like this, because to me they indicate that the parent married to the monster cares more about appeasing their spouse than their relationship with their children. I do not begrudge anyone their happiness, but I also wish that people would recognise that just because YOU love someone doesn’t mean your kids have to, and if that if there is any friction, it is YOUR duty to reign in your spouse.

    Your stepbrother sounds like someone you do not want to invite to any important gatherings (hell, I’d say any gatherings at all) in the future. If stepmom whines about it, point out the lateness and complete lack of respect of the photo signing. There is no reason you should allow these people to ruin any future events simply because your father decided to marry into them.

    You went above and beyond trying to involve your stepmom in your big day, and she spat on your efforts. I wouldn’t bother reaching out again.

  • Cady April 6, 2010, 5:10 pm

    If the autographs are on a mat rather than the image, a framer or someone should still be able to create a same-sized mat with prints (or even embossed representations) of the signatures, minus the crude one. My advice to you in the future: Ignore this woman, and don’t acquiesce to any demands she may make. Remain cool, calm and aloof, and don’t let her bother you. If she complains or tries to argue with you, just say “I’m sorry you feel that way” as many times as it takes for her to leave you alone. Your dad may be a glutton for her punishment, but you didn’t marry her.

  • PrincessSimmi April 6, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Congratulations on your wedding and pregnancy, I wish you every happiness.

    I’d just like to add to all the other commenters here that, if you continue to include Stepmum in your life, there is a possibility that Baby will at some point begin to behave like her. It may be better to begin distancing yourself now.

    Apart from that, you seem to have a fairly good grasp of ettiquette, however I have to agree with Without Issue – maybe a windowless hall and fake flowers were all your Dad and Stepmum could afford, or all they wanted. I love weddings, but if I ever got married, I’d be going to a celebrant far, far away (my family is nearly as bad as yours) without music or flowers at all. Please don’t look down on them for this, take the high road and just accept that you have different tastes (and that she’s a mean old bat) 😀

  • librarianinhell April 7, 2010, 10:27 am

    I can understand why the OP said, “The entire time, she also told me how my Stepbrother’s wedding several years back was much better than mine, even though fake flowers, a windowless hall and poor behavior on the part of the bride (as I recall, she did not budge from her chair and insisted that everyone come to her rather than visiting them) were the main features at that wedding.” Step mom complained about OP’s wedding, for example, “too modern of floral arrangements (instead of roses, we opted for hydrangeas and calla lilies and orchids, which I guess, did not agree with her),” but doesn’t use the same criteria for her own son’s wedding. I don’t think the OP intended to imply that only her tastes were good.

  • stargazergirl74 April 7, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I would think about taking the mat from the photograph and contacting a talented tattoo artist. An excellent tattoo artist will be a master at a cover up job and be able to design something to your liking and draw the design right over that horrible comment.

  • Cheryl April 8, 2010, 2:04 pm

    Stargazergirl, I never thought of that. *Intrigued* They could tattoo the mat, just like those little fake skin squares that people practise on? I suppose it’d depend on what the mat was made of, though… and people might not necessarily want a big picture on their wedding photo, but if it was of a bouquet or something, it could blend in well. Clever thinking there.

  • Kristin April 11, 2010, 10:38 am

    I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that. Congratulations on your marriage, and on your pregnancy.

    I’m a graphic designer, and what I would probably do with the mat if it were brought to me is scan the whole thing, edit the writing out in Photoshop, and move the other signatures around to fill in the blank spot. Very, very easy to do. Then I would output the edited version on a laser printer, and take it to the framer. Ask them to mount the edited version on a new mat, and reframe it. I don’t know how much the framers would charge for doing that, but the scanning and photoshop work would really be a fairly minimal charge. Don’t let these people steal your guestbook photo from you! 🙂

  • Jenna April 11, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Your stepmother sounds atrocious but I have to ask why are you still including her? Is it for your father’s sake? He doesn’t seem to care how she treats you. Life is too short to spend on people like your stepmother.

  • Amy April 12, 2010, 3:00 am


  • Lyons April 18, 2010, 5:08 pm

    Personally I am glad you were as gracious as you could be, anything less and it would have just been an excuse to be more evil than she already was, however, that said, yeah, at some point I think I would have pulled my dad aside and asked for his assistance in keeping her toned down. Honestly it sounds like she was very jealous and threatened by her husband’s family and most certainly by your mom, even though your mom wasn’t doing anything but breath the same air. I think your father should have stood up for you and your husband during all of this.

    I was really concerned about my own MOTHER making trouble at my 2nd wedding and literally made sure ahead of time that someone was in charge of watching over her so that she wouldn’t do anything to mar the day and basically she was okay. Only one time prior to the wedding did I have to stand up to her and put her in her place and she backed down. I was stressing about the rehearsal dinner because we were running out of money and I was trying to find a way to see if the guests could pay for their dinner, which ended up being a non issue because none of the guests even thought about about whether the bride and groom or the parents were paying or whether they were paying…they paid on their own AND some picked up the tab for us…because that’s what they wanted to do.

    Anyway, my mother had the gall to even ask, “well traditionally isn’t it the groom’s parents who pay for the rehershal dinner?” and while that is true, it was appalling to me because my parents DID NOT pay for our wedding…and I called her on it. She shut up right quick.

    I know conflict is hard and it’s hard to be assertive without being aggressive, but as there was a pattern of bad behavior, when she was continuing to be critical, I would have had to have said something and in strong terms. Even if it meant that she wouldn’t be at the wedding. Or at least when it was apparent half way through the planning stage of the wedding that she was being a pita, I would have talked to my dad and asked him for backup.

    I’m sorry about the picture.

  • BeenThereDoneThat May 26, 2010, 5:56 pm

    You handled her with grace. I also wonder where your father was in all of this. He married a crazy witch.

  • Ali August 13, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Why on EARTH is your father still married to this woman?

  • Lenera August 17, 2010, 3:03 am

    Having worked with a Jewish couple on their wedding, I do understand the significance of having your step-mother stand beside her husband under the chuppah. It obviously meant a lot to you that things be done right, and in a Jewih wedding – please, correct me if I’m wrong – that means having your father there, if he still lives. Parents play an important role in that wedding ceremony, and disinviting your father’s wife was not really an option, doubly so if it meant your father would not be present.
    I am so incredebly sorry that your father chose to attach himself to such a woman, and am even more appalled that he never called her on her behavior. While we all have one of “those” relatives, there comes a point where their nearest and dearest must say something, or they, too, are responsible for whatever occurs.
    Fortunetely, you now have a household and family of your own, and I wish you the best of luck with both. Congratulations on both your nuptuals and your firstborn!

  • SJ August 31, 2010, 4:02 am

    Why were you so insistent that she come to the dinner?
    I’d never invite her to anything again. Big loss.

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