Witches of the Weddings
Momsters, Smothers of
the Bride or Groom, SIniSTER/SIniSTERs-in-Law, Bothers/Bothers-in-Law and Dadulas
Jun-Dec 2000 Archive
Jan-Jul 2003 Archive
Jan-Jun 2004 Archive
Recently my brother got married to a wonderful girl, and the
wedding went off without a hitch aside from a couple of the bride's family not
wanting to be there. These comments were prompted, not by anything that was done
to them, but the fact that they just didn't want to be there! But this was just
the tip of the iceberg. In the months leading up to the wedding my brother's
future mother in-law had made several interesting comments to her friends.
To begin with, it wasn't my brother's wedding, it was her daughter's. Secondly,
when they found out that they were pregnant, my brother and his fiancé were
very happy, but it wasn't my brother's baby, it was just her daughter's!
Fast forward to the day after the wedding. Since the wedding
was about 100 miles from the city my brother and I grew up in, some of the
members of the wedding party had to drive in for the wedding, and one of the
groomsmen and his wife stayed an extra day. The day after the wedding, the
groomsman and his wife were eating the local cafe when my brother's mother
in-law walked in and went over to talk with them, but this wasn't just any
conversation. She proceed to tell them how immature my brother was! Apparently
she either didn't recognize them, or most likely didn't care!
My daughter changed the location of her reception to
my former in-laws' house instead of having the reception at the church. Trouble
is I couldn't be at the in-laws because I am not welcome. (Even if I
were, I wouldn't want to be there because of two terrifying, severely
emotionally abusive decades of marriage including threats with guns,
knives, etc. He had ended the relationship when one night I was confronted
by a deputy and an order for me to leave my home immediately. My ex-husband had
obtained the order after swearing to a magistrate that he was
afraid of me-he swore I would shoot and stab him!???)
Anyway, my daughter explained very sweetly that if I had a problem with
going to the reception, that was okay with her. Huh?
The day before the wedding I found out that I would not
be allowed to sit on the front pew in the "honored Mom spot," and the
seating had been reserved for the ex-husband and his girlfriend. Huh?
Despite everything I had gone through in the marriage, my family decided to
attend the reception and continually pressured me to go also. There was going to
be massive amounts of alcohol, so between that and all the fear, there was no
way I would be able to attend. Too dangerous, and highly charged since the
ex-husband has refused to settle the marital property for more than five years,
and his lawyer had finally set a court date for the month after.
My family kept me abreast of all the lovely food, cake and
champagne that would be served at the reception that I could not attend. Was I
wrong for feeling hurt? My mom even called to ask which brand of
champagne to buy for the reception I could not attend. They kept asking me if I
was going to attend the wedding. Huh? The day of the wedding
was scheduled on a week day, and that morning I received a job offer for a job
very long awaited. I was in dire straits financially and decided to
take the job. My financial situation was that I didn't even have enough money
for the gas to get to the wedding. My employment situation was that I had been
struggling since the divorce to survive, didn't have a job, and I was thousands
of dollars in credit card debt from paying rent, gas and food. I was very
So I made a very hard decision and took the job. At least
the wedding would go on as planned, my family would be glad that
I finally got a good job. Right? Wrong! My brother, father and
sister had some pretty nasty things to say to me the day of the wedding/my first
day on the job. My Dad called to say he wouldn't hire someone like me, who
would take a job over going to the daughter's wedding. My brother came to my
home, got on his knees and begged me to go, saying my priorities were all wrong.
He continued to harass me as I dressed for work, and would not leave. I found
out later that he tried to find out from a friend where I was working. My
sister called to inform me that my relationship was shaky enough with my
daughter, really? I didn't know that, but was beginning to get the
picture. This hurts so much after always putting my kids first. I
was a stay at home mom who cooked nutritious meals at every sitting, sewed nice
clothes, read bedtime stories, took them to church,
piano/dance/band/drama/ROTC lesson, drove them everywhere, the whole list. I
always thought of things I could do as a mom to enrich their lives. I
wasn't a mean mom or a boozer, cheater or anything like that at all. I kept a
very clean and fun home with vegetable gardens and the whole Martha Stewart
Background: My parents were divorced more than 17 years
ago; my father had an affair and married my stepmother after the divorce (I
don’t condone that but it was not a one-sided divorce; there was issues with
both of them). My mom got 80% of the assets in the divorce and threw it
all away on get-rich-quick schemes, and she married a man who is just like her
and treats her badly. My dad and stepmother have rebuilt their life and
they are financially comfortable. Because of this, Mom’s bitterness
knows no bounds.
In Feb 06 my DH and I became engaged. I have never been
close to my mother, however I thought that my wedding would be an excellent
bonding experience and of course she would never miss her own daughter’s
wedding, even though she had to travel to my state and be around her ex’s
family. Since she is over 60, I assumed she was an adult. She
behaved herself at my sister’s wedding in 2000, which was in a neutral state.
I called her and told her in February that we were engaged and
we made small talk. She said she would be happy to come to my state in
October for the wedding. I said that I knew it would be very hard for her
and I would do everything in my power to make it easier for her. She said,
no problem, she would start saving money right away.
I started making wedding plans, and I had basically no
maternal help. My mom was unresponsive to emails, and my stepmother
insisted on “bowing out” so as to not step on my mother’s toes.
Apparently, at my sister’s wedding, my mom had told my stepmother that she
appreciated my stepmother not becoming involved. So my stepmom didn’t
want to be involved in my wedding so as to not make my mom mad. What
happened instead was that I had no help in planning my wedding, and I felt very
lost and alone, like I had no mother at all.
In August, my sister started making noises to me about my mom
not being able to afford to come to the wedding. She didn’t say for
sure; she just said that Mom had mentioned something to her about it being
difficult to save money. I tried emailing my mother and heard nothing
back. At that point I would have been able to save the money for a plane
ticket if she had told me for sure that she couldn’t afford it. But since I
didn’t hear back from her, I sent out the wedding invitations. She
RSVP’ed that she and her husband were coming. I sent her several emails,
asking her what they liked to eat and drink, because they were staying with us,
and I wanted her to be comfortable and feel at home. She asked for coffee,
which we don’t drink, so I bought a coffee maker. I stocked her favorite
foods and got some films I thought she would like (she was staying for 3 days
prior to the wedding and flying out 2 days after). My DH and I cleaned out
our guest room and I bought tons of decorating supplies to make it pretty for
her. I was very proud of the room and I emailed out pictures; she didn’t
About two weeks before the wedding, my mom dropped a bombshell
on me: she wasn’t coming because she couldn’t afford a plane ticket.
Her husband definitely wasn’t coming (he said that if he saw my dad, he would
“do something bad.” Very adult of him). I was hysterical at this
point, crying and shaking; at this point, all expendable cash had been spent and
we had no extra for a plane ticket. (If it was my daughter’s wedding, I
would hitchhike to get there. But I digress.) My dad, being the kind
adult that he is, offered his frequent flyer miles so that I could purchase my
mom a ticket (on the condition that she not know where the funds for the ticket
came from, because we both knew she wouldn’t accept it). I got the
ticket and gave my mom the details. She said, “Oh, ok, great.”
Plans were made to pick her up at the airport.
She flew in on a Tuesday and the wedding was on Saturday.
At first, she was fine. We all went out to dinner with my sister and her
family; she seemed in a good mood. After the wedding, however, my DH told
me that when I wasn’t there, my mom started talking about how my dad ruined
her life, that my stepmother “stole” her life, and how horrible it was for
her to have to come to my state for this wedding. Everyone kept her
kvetching from me until afterwards, for which I am grateful.
I had invited a couple who were friends of my mom to the
wedding, so that she would have friends there. She opted out of the
wedding rehearsal and dinner, so that she could stay at the hotel with them and
drink. She just couldn’t face my dad and his wife. As I found out
later, my MIL had taken her under her wing to keep her entertained and keep her
away from my dad (have I mentioned how awesome everyone was, except for Mom?)
and Mom talked her ear off about the same stuff, my dad ruined her life, etc.
My in-laws told me later that they wondered how on earth I turned out normal,
with such a bitter woman as my mother.
The morning of the wedding dawned. The bridal party and
I were getting into the van to go get our hair done. My stepsister and her
daughter (my stepmother’s daughter and granddaughter) were in my bridal party,
which my Mom knew since February, and it was a no-brainer that they would have
their hair done with the rest of the party. I felt calm and happy because
it was my wedding day, until my mom refused to get in the van. She hunched
into herself and said, “I’m so upset.” I said, “What?” and she
responded, “You didn’t tell me that they were coming with us…” At
that point, I just started crying. I’d been walking on eggshells around
her for months, bent over backwards to make her stay as easy as possible for
her, and she was pitching a fit at zero hour. My mom just walked away from
me. My stepsister and her daughter tried to bow out gracefully, but I told
them that they were in the party and they deserved to have their hair done up
prettily, just like everyone else. My best friend offered me a shoulder to
cry on, my sister finally got Mom in the van, and we went to get our hair done.
We somehow made it to the salon on time. My mom, by the way, never thanked
me for paying to have her hair done, or for providing room and board for a week,
let alone the plane ticket.
I thought the wedding went fine. My stepsister and her
daughters were gracious and stayed in the background so that my mom could
participate. I found out after the wedding that my mother had glared at
the two little girls (13 and 7, a junior bridesmaid and the flower girl)
throughout the ceremony. As if it was their fault who their
mother/grandmother was! The poor girls didn’t know why this strange lady
was giving them the stinkeye. My dad’s family was very gracious and nice
to my mother, but she stood there with a sour look on her face the whole time;
the pictures that she is in are awful. As always, I bent over backwards to
make sure she was comfortable, that she didn’t need anything, etc. On my
Fast forward to the reception. I had to use the restroom
so I tried to go out the side door but my sister stepped in front of me, saying
“That’s not a good idea right now.” I looked past her and saw my mom
and dad arguing in the hallway. Great. Apparently, she dragged him
out there and started chewing him a new one about how he ruined her life, how my
stepmother stole her life, and so on. Remember, the divorce was 17 years
ago and they had both been at my sister’s wedding in 2000, so this isn’t
like it’s the first time they saw each other since the divorce. So
apparently, my wedding was the proper venue for a throwdown, and my sister
supported it. My dad says that he just let her rant and told her, “I’m
sorry you feel that way.” He is a true gentleman.
I helped my family clean up after the reception; my mother did
not, she went down and sat in the car. My FFIL tried to engage her in
conversation and all that she would say is, “I’m never coming back to this
state again!” My in-laws were flabbergasted that a grown woman would act
this way on her daughter’s wedding day.
After the reception, the bridal party (minus Mom, who went to
her room to sulk) went back to the hotel and sat around the pool drinking and
having fun. That’s when I learned about everything she’d done so far,
complaining to anyone who would listen, glaring at the little girls, etc.
I was mortified and apologized to everyone, but they were all very nice and told
me not to worry, that they understood. I wish I did.
Two months after the wedding, I told my sister how angry I was
at my mother for her actions on the best day of my life. But for her, my
wedding was perfect. My sister said, “We tried to tell you she didn’t
want to come!” They never said that, ever. If they had said that,
honestly, I would have been upset but I would have also been relieved – I knew
that she would do something,
I just didn’t know what until it happened. I would
have preferred to avoid all of her childishness and I would have told her it was
fine, she didn’t have to come. It never occurred to me on my own that
any mother would ever voluntarily miss her daughter’s only wedding. All
my Mom ever said was that she couldn’t afford it. If they had been
honest with me and told me that she couldn’t handle coming (remember, she
handled my sister’s wedding fine, but apparently two weddings was too much to
ask of her), then I would have accepted it. As it is, she alienated my new
husband and his entire family, and me as well.
We hardly ever speak now. I send birthday and Christmas
cards and that’s it. She cried to my sister that I didn’t send her a
gift for Christmas – but she won’t talk to me about anything that’s
happened. She said that she “can’t handle confrontation” so she
won’t talk about it. I refuse to deal with her until she accepts what
she did and discusses it with me like an adult, so we are currently estranged.
That makes me very sad, but on the bright side I have an
excellent relationship with my awesome MIL, so I guess my mom’s been replaced.
My cousin is getting married in a couple of months. This
cousin is a pretty nice person (except that she's never written a thank-you note
in her life, but that's separate from this). The ceremony and reception are
going to be outdoors, very laid-back (it says "dogs and kids welcome"
on the invitations), and a 12-hour drive from where anybody else in the family
lives. (Which, again, is inconvenient but fair enough, considering that that's
where my cousin and her FH live...) My cousin has been very cool and laid-back
about planning this whole thing; she wants it to be more fun than fancy.
Her mother (my aunt, though thankfully only by marriage) has
other ideas. I suspect this woman is the reason my cousin gave only three months
notice that she was getting married: she knew her mother would try to take over
everything, and wanted to have most everything planned before that happened.
Starting the day after my cousin's engagement was announced
(before invitations were sent out, even), her mother called us at least once a
day asking if we were going to come. It turns out she "took the liberty of
renting a house" for the family--again, before we even knew of the
engagement--and it would be *such a shame* if we were to waste all the money
she'd spent by not going.
I repeat, this wedding is 1000 miles away from here. I'm not
going to be in the country at the time, my father needs at least 6 months' lead
time if he's going to put in for vacation time, my sister is still in school,
and my mother has health problems that mean that she has to keep traveling to a
Each time she called was at a different time of day--as she
said, she was trying to reach all of us so one of us would give a solid
"yes" which we were not yet prepared to give. It got to the point
where my mother stopped answering the phone and told us to say she was out if
this woman called. Well, this woman, who's never caught on to anything in her
life before, caught on. But instead of getting the hint and waiting for us to
RSVP, she called the other family members who were for sure going to the wedding
and told them to call us and start asking. Most of them did. She asked the ones
who wouldn't if *they* knew whether we were going. None of them did, of course.
She called another aunt of mine--one who was going to be visiting us in a very
short time--and told her flat-out "OK, it's your job to get an answer from
these people." (Again, we hadn't even received invitations yet.) Said aunt
and we had a good laugh over it. But honestly, how tacky is it for this woman to
do such a thing?
I have been married now for going on 18 yrs. I remember
planning for my wedding. Getting the dress, the flowers, the cake the
invitations, and all the other niceties that go along with a traditional
Most families (at least that I know) have a black sheep. Well,
I happened to be very close to the black sheep of our family. She happened to be
married to my father's brother. She is a very wonderful, caring person who would
give the shirt off of her back to help anyone! Why she is the black sheep is
beyond me, but no one in my father's family can stand her, for whatever reason.
I had planned on not only inviting this family to my wedding
and reception, but also to have their 12 yr old daughter be a junior
bridesmaid. The plans were all going well, until my father announced to me that
he uninvited Aunt "Mary" from the wedding! I couldn't believe my ears!
What? He had to be kidding! I mean this feud or whatever the problem was has got
Apparently, there was some stupid thing that Aunt
"Mary" had done that embarrassed my grandmother and that was what got
her uninvited to the wedding! Well, not only that, but then her daughter
also couldn't stand up as a junior bridesmaid! I would have much rather not have
my grandmother and my father's other siblings there than not have this aunt and
her family! I was so mad.
As it turned out, Aunt "Mary" showed up for the
ceremony at the church. She wasn't able to attend the reception, but she showed
up for the part that really mattered. After all, a place of worship is a public
place and no one can kick her out of there. That was her idea!
Many years later, the daughter I was going to have stand up in
my wedding got married and my family (husband and son) were the only ones out of
the father's side that were invited. Karma is a bitch, ain't it?
My senior year of college, I got engaged to my boyfriend, whom
I had met the year before while studying abroad. I told my parents over the
phone that we were engaged, but was not able to show them the ring until a few
weeks later, when we all met up at a family event.
Now, my engagement ring was beautiful (in my opinion), but it
was not traditional, nor was it enormously expensive. The stone was an
oval-shaped light blue aquamarine, set in white gold. My fiancé didn't have a
lot of disposable income, and he wasn't sure of my taste in jewelry, so he
wanted to err on the side of caution. When I proudly showed the ring to my
mother, the first thing she said was, "What, didn't he love you enough to
buy you a diamond?" and laughed as if it were a joke. I was of course very
hurt by this, as was my fiancé when I told him about it.
A few weeks after that, I was back at college, and I received
a newspaper clipping in the mail from my mother. The article was basically about
how a lot of people were choosing unconventional engagement rings for a variety
of reasons, but the author of the article concluded that if your fiancé doesn't
get you a diamond ring, he's either cheap or doesn't love you. My mother
attached a post-it note to the article on which she had written, "Thought
you might be interested in this. Love, Mom."
My husband still gets upset when he thinks about these
incidents, and unfortunately they've had an impact on his relationship with my
mother. (And for the record, he did buy me a beautiful diamond wedding band, but
because we both loved it, not because it was "proper.")
Since day 1 of my engagement to my fiancé, my future MIL has
tried to control the entire wedding. She is the world's worst control freak;
when Fiancé and I were dating she would leave notes everywhere for him, clothes
pinned to light fixtures, complete with highlighted phrases and little pictures,
reminding him of various things that even a five year old can remember, like
"brush your teeth", and "turn off this light!" When they
went out of town, she would write a 5 page schedule on taking care of the dog,
and if he and his siblings didn't sign next to each item, she would freak. He
told her to stop several times and she would cry, saying, "I am
just trying to help you!" She even wrote on a little piece of cardboard
that fit in his checkbook, "Put this in between your checks to keep the
carbon copies fresh!"...complete with the highlighter and smiley faces
again. She would also CHECK to make sure that it was in there...and if it wasn't
she cried. (The day fiancé moved out we burned that together btw.) My fiancé
tried at first to just ignore it by listening to her and then doing whatever he
wanted later, but he got fed up finally and moved out. She never lets
anyone speak, and if you try to she will interrupt you and say bluntly,
"I WAS speaking!" My parents cannot stand her because they say
they have never met a woman who can hold a conversation with just herself for
several hours, but she exists.
I should have known that it was a really bad sign when she
told me after my fiancé and I announced our engagement how excited she was to
plan our wedding, since her mother had planned all of hers and she never got a
say at all. Really, really bad sign. She would call everyday, "I have the
PERFECT place for your reception," or "I know the PERFECT musician for
the ceremony." So I would go meet with them to please her, but it was never
what I wanted at all. Soon, I started booking the vendors, and none were the
ones she picked (not out of spite, we just had different visions), so she
naturally could NOT have that. So she calls me one day and says, "I booked
musicians for your ceremony, and I already paid them for you! Yay, its
nonrefundable!" Well, I had already told some friends that they could play,
and when I told her that....well, you guessed it....she cried. "But it was
sooooo much money...I can't get the money back!" I had told her long before
this that I already had musicians for the ceremony, but she let forth such a
river that I took pity on her and told her that the ones she picked could play.
Luckily my friends had a good laugh about it, and I am grateful that she at
least paid for them, but I would have loved to have a say.
Well, after this fiasco I told her that she cannot pay ANYONE
else without asking my fiancé and I if its what we want first. Then, the
notes began. Those dreaded notes....she was leaving them under our door and
handing pages to us every time we saw her. I even got them on my car while at
work. I had already booked the vendors by then, but she continued to research
others and try to change things, but luckily my fiancé put his foot down. So,
since she couldn't pick the vendors, she would ask who they were and then call
them and try to change things. I had to tell the vendors that only I can make
changes, and if anyone called without the "codeword", then ignore
them. This frustrated her even more. I tried to include her in the planning at
first, taking her to dress shops and tastings, but finally I had to cut her out
because she argued with me about everything, it was wasting my time.
So, one day she shows up with these invitations that she was
so proud of because she made them herself on her computer, and they were going
to save us money. Well I am a graphic artist, and I was doing all that myself,
and I printer I worked with a lot was printing them for free. And I must say,
the ones she made almost made me throw up.....they were printed on this horrid
floral background, with more type than should have ever been put on that tiny
page. It started off saying "You are cordially invited to the nuptial mass,
ceremony, and ring service of ___and ___ by FIL&MIL, along with my
parents." first off, its marriage. period, don't make it so wordy.
Second....MY parents paid for ALL of the wedding! (besides the musicians, of
course). So I took her invite, tossed it, and then just sent out the ones I made
without saying a word. I told her I lost hers and didn't have time for her to
make another. And of course, she cried. Use to it by now.
Now here comes the final straw for me. She had been going to
strangers' weddings for months, trying to get ideas. She went to one almost
every weekend, and how she found these weddings to attend, I don't know. Well,
after one of these weddings and seeing that they had a few pictures in the back
of the church with passed away family members, she decided that she wanted to
honor a few people in our wedding. I said not a problem, I was putting a page in
the program to mention them. But that wasn't enough. She pulls out these HUGE
portraits of fiancé's great grandmother (who passed away before fiancé was
born), and said "We are going to put these ON the ALTAR IN THE CENTER, so
that great grandma can be watching! then we can put a poem in the program for
her too!" Well, to say it bluntly, I was HORRIFIED. This was NOT a memorial
service, and my fiancé never even got to meet her! And I did NOT want this huge
ugly portrait in EVERY SINGLE wedding picture of us up on the altar! At
this point, I just said it flat out "No way....that is the worst idea ever.
If you want the portrait somewhere at the reception, then fine. but not in the
church, and certainly not up on the altar." My Fiancé made this face in
agreement. She cried and called my FIL, who also told her that was a horrible
idea. So she said, "FINE, I don't want to give it to you at all....It
doesn't deserve to be at the reception, this is a holy woman who can only have
her picture on the altar or not at all!" Of course I said, "Okay, not
at all sounds good to me."
Now, we have just a few more days before the wedding, and Fiancé
and I have not spoken with her about any more plans, and we are going to keep it
that way so she cannot change anything else. I love her son with all of me
heart, but she is nutty to say the least. Hopefully the day goes smoothly......
I have read many stories on this site, but I have one that
still truly horrifies me.
My very best friend had planned a modest yet tasteful wedding
and reception. The ceremony was beautiful, the Bride was beautiful, and the
reception pavilion was beautiful. The bride had invited her biological mother
and her 2 step-sisters that she hadn’t seen in 10 plus years. The problem you
ask? Towards the end of the night, we began to fill the limo with the gifts,
cards, money from dollar dance, etc. As I was very intoxicated and in charge of
this endeavor, I had asked the limo driver, who is also a good friend, to assist
me with getting everything into the limo. (Note: I couldn’t climb in and out
in my dress!!). On one of my last trips, I notice that a very special handmade
gift bag was not on the seat where I had left it. I ask the driver about this.
He said that bio-mom and step-sis wanted to see the pictures that were on the
bag. Okay, no big deal.
We then attempt to locate them, when in the pit of my stomach
I get this horrible feeling. Frantically we search, but to no avail. They seem
to have disappeared, all three of them. We find the bride; I try my best to
explain what we think may have occurred without naming names, it is her mom
after all, and continue to search for the bag. By the time everyone is ready to
leave, the bride and I are in tears. She had attempted to make contact with
bio-mom and was threatened with physical harm if she tried to contact them
Long story short, I felt extremely guilty, the bride was
heartbroken, not only over the money that was stolen but over the fact that she
wouldn’t be able to properly thank everyone for their gifts, let alone the
gorgeous bag that was made for her, and the groom was steaming mad that someone,
especially family, would do this to someone on there wedding day.
It was very sad, but in the end it all worked out. Everyone
that had given checks or gift cards, cancelled them, and everyone else was very
understanding of the situation.
This was 3 years ago, and bride has yet to hear from bio-mom
or her step-sisters. The nerve of some people.
My husband and I got married in the summer of 2007. When we
got engaged a few years prior, my mother made it clear that she was disgusted
and furious that I would get engaged behind her back and not inform her
beforehand. Keep in mind that my husband had asked my parents for permission
before even asking me, and they had given their blessings! From then on, most of
my family acted as though the engagement was a joke and would never come to
fruition. I decided with a heavy heart that we would just have to take care of
the entire thing ourselves and hope that the family showed up when the time
On the plus side, we were able to plan the private, liberal
ceremony that we dreamed of without anyone interjecting. Every little aspect of
the wedding meant something to us. Things were going well... and I thought they
had gotten even better when, a few short weeks before the wedding, my mother
decided to reconcile! She even promised to help take care of any remaining
details about the wedding and stay true to the vision my husband and I had been
working on for two years. I was so grateful; I was in tears of joy.
Unfortunately, I failed to factor in the fact that my mother was a control
freak, and that being the only liberal and feminist in the family (my mother is
the most conservative of everyone) has always caused us to butt heads in the
The ceremony was to take place in my hometown, 1500 miles away
from where I was/am currently living, so all my planning had been done via phone
calls and sending illustrations and written descriptions/instructions to various
people via "snail mail". And before you think I was this crazy
Bridezilla who had ridiculously detailed plans, my main concerns were that we
were doing this as environmentally friendly as possible, using locally-grown
foliage, fairly-traded chocolate favors, and so on. I would check in with my
mother and ask her about certain details, and she would assure me that they were
done according to my wishes. She would even talk about some of the things I had
sent in the mail, as well, so I had no reason to believe my plans weren't being
Three weeks before the wedding, I made my way to my hometown
to check on things and was horrified that my small ceremony of 20 people (all
family members and close friends) had grown into almost 150 people. Many of the
family members I had invited were cut from the guest list without my knowledge,
and many of our female friends were insulted when the invitations were addressed
to their male partners with them being "and guest" (even though we
didn't even know their partners; we had asked for their names so that we could
include each of them by name on the invitations. I thought I had made it clear
that those were our intentions!). The reason? It's "not proper" to put
women before men!!!! What???? Are we in 1956 or 2007? Furthermore, my mother
tried to convince me that I specifically told her that that's how I wanted them.
(I sent out thank-you letters the day after the wedding, and my mother was
confused as to why I wouldn't just address them the "proper" way.)
Moreover, most of the 150 people who were invited were people
I had never met in my life. She admitted that she went to her job and invited
all the rich people. She assured me that there would "only be one or two
black people". I am mixed race, mind you, and many of my blood relatives
just so happen to be black. (Not on her side of the family, though.) Instead of
a wedding registry, my husband and I set up a "charity registry" where
guests could choose between three charities of our choosing to donate any amount
of money. Rather than let guests know this when they asked, she told them,
"She's not accepting gifts; she just wants money". I was mortified.
She still doesn't understand why that was a rude thing to tell people, and said
that if I wanted to donate to charity, I could do it myself. After all, the
reason she invited rich people was so that they would give me lots of money.
As for our green wedding? Not so much! When I pointed out that
I wanted to be environmentally conscious, I was called "ungrateful"
and "ugly" because I didn't appreciate other people's hard work. I'm
still not sure what my physical appearance had to do with anything. I tried my
best to compromise with my mother and the wedding coordinator, but my mother was
extremely irate because I didn't do exactly what she wanted, as though it was
HER wedding! Meanwhile, she and my dad were going around bragging about how much
money they spent on the whole thing, and that I didn't have to lift a finger...
after they asked me to pay for 1/3 of it, and that's after they decided to offer
financial help, so I had already paid for dresses, my husband's tux, shoes,
jewelry, some favors, decor, etc. And I certainly wasn't sitting back and
relaxing the entire time, either.
The day of the wedding, I decided to let it all go and just
enjoy the day. Whether or not the ceremony and reception turned out the way I
wanted, I was still married to the man who had put up with all this family drama
and was not frightened away. And hey, even though my mother tried to take over,
at least she was there... in a very revealing dress that had a see-through
bodice. My husband and I both agreed that, if we had to do it again, we'd just
This little pocket of wedding-related etiquette hell requires
a good bit of back story - please bear with me. I had a friend/room-mate in
college who was, shall we say, kind of a 'testy' girl in general. I'll call her
"Jane". Most people had a hard time dealing with Jane because of her
demanding and unpleasant demeanor, but I got to know her pretty well and I
believed that past pain and issues with her family caused her to put up this
'front'. I thought she just needed a good friend to be persistent and to try
like her just as she was. I knew she had a good heart somewhere underneath the
bristles, because of her extreme kindness to me at a particularly difficult
period in my life, and it was this knowledge and this kindness that caused me to
continue to try hard to be her friend long past the point of sensibility.
Before I met Jane, I dated a good friend of mine -
"Dave" - throughout one summer, and though we had fun and there
was definite chemistry, we were young and things never got very serious, so we
stopped dating but stayed good friends. After I met "Jane", she
expressed an intense interest in Dave, and as he and I were no longer
romantically involved in any way, I saw no reason not to try to facilitate a
meeting. She basically begged me to help her 'set them up'. I knew he thought
she was cute, and they had things in common, so why not? I let Dave know
that she was interested in him as she requested, and so he called her and asked
You can imagine my surprise when he called me back and asked
me what the deal was and wondered if I had been setting him up in some way,
because when he called to ask her out, she said no! I knew Dave well enough to
know that he never asked a girl out twice if she said no the first time, but I
was flabbergasted that she had turned him down after all the 'hoo-ha'. I could
only assume that she had VERY suddenly changed her mind about him (and by this
time, I was learning that this was a good possibility with her), and so when he
invited me to the same weekend-long event that he'd called to invite her to, I
said 'sure', assuming we would be going as friends, like always. When I called
Jane to ask her why she turned him down after seeming so interested she
explained to me that she was 'playing hard to get'. I decided to be up front and
let her know that I had accepted the invite and she seemed fine with that. Dave
and I had attended several such events platonically since our romantic interlude
ended, so I didn't see the harm, and she seemed to agree. I received a few spiky
barbs from her before the event, but as this was common with her, I thought
nothing of it.
Dave and I attended the event, and our romance was rekindled
that weekend. As I said before, I knew for a fact - before he even invited me on
the outing - that he would never ask her out again (and I also knew that he
would be even more adamant if he knew her reason for turning him down. He hated
"games".) and since they had never even been on a date, I didn't feel
that I was trespassing.
Fast forward a year to Dave and I planning our wedding and a
life together. Jane and I remained friends, but as mine and Dave's relationship
moved forward, Jane's barbs became more and more hurtful. She had romantic
relationships that she seemed very happy with, and her parents had just bought
her a lovely home of her own, so I just chalked it down to Jane being Jane. Even
when she became outright vicious at times, commenting harshly on my weight (she
was very slim and I am a big girl), or - knowing well that as a much displaced
foster child I had always longed for a home of my own - whispering, "You
may get all the cute guys, but I got a house!," during a game at a
gathering, I continued to persevere with the friendship, trying to remember that
such behavior is often the result of needing more love and understanding. I had
my work cut out for me.
When the wedding-time came, Dave and I each chose one
attendant. He, his best friend for more than a decade, and I a close,
sister-like cousin whom I had known since birth. I tried to include other close
friends in ways that would be fun for them but not cost too much time or money,
because we were all on a shoestring, and Dave and I wanted a VERY simple homey
wedding. Jane was a wonderful seamstress and loved to sew, so I asked if she
would help make my gown and my cousins'. I bought all material and trim, chose a
pattern that was simple and that I knew Jane had made before and attended to and
helped with every stage of the sewing, including doing all the hand-beading
myself, so that she wouldn't have to do the most tedious part. I also made sure
to let her know that I wanted no more of a gift than her wonderful handiwork on
my most important dress ever. She seemed delighted and honored.
However, at my bachelorette party she randomly announced to
all my girlfriends (who were singing Dave's praises) that he had asked HER out
first. Then, two days before the ceremony, she let me know that she had
accidentally burned a cigarette hole in an obvious place right on the waist of
my dress. The fabric was expensive, and obviously time was short, so we ended up
having to just add some appliqués - but I never got upset and I rolled with the
punches. Then, the topper. After the wedding she made a point to tell me that
"someone" (she would never say who) said I looked like a
"couch" in my wedding gown (she may have said "cow" - I was
so upset, I may have mis-heard, but I believe it was "couch".) I think
it was just about then that I FINALLY got the hint. I still didn't have the
heart to be harsh and rudely/publicly sever the friendship, but I did happily
let us just naturally drift apart.
By the way, Dave told me more than once - and quite vehemently
- how happy he was that things worked out the way they did and that he ended up
with me instead of Jane.
One of my cousins fell pregnant her freshman year in college
and, as a result, discontinued her studies and entered into an unhappy marriage
that eventually failed. Years later, her younger sister became engaged to
her boyfriend of several years and they were married in a traditional wedding
with the usual bells and whistles. Unfortunately, the older sister could
not bring herself to feel happiness for her younger sister. Instead, she
was consumed with jealousy.
The older sister sulked through the entire affair. She
sat in the corner of the wedding shower, staring at the wall and refusing to
communicate. She snarled at the groom whenever he came near, referring to
him as, "that short, annoying yuppie." She sulked through
dinner at the reception, and when she deigned to speak, it was only to tell
everyone how "stupid" she finds weddings. Her foul mood was so
noticeable that a small, spontaneous cheer erupted when she was required to
leave the reception early to catch her flight home.
My husband and I just got married on June 1st of this year.
It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and we couldn't have been happier with
how everything turned out...except for one person. His sister, we will
call May. She was a horror from the beginning. His family is from
Iowa and mine is from Illinois. We decided to have all of our events in IL
because my parents were hosting most of everything. Well May decided not
to show to either Bridal shower (one in IL for my friends and family, one in IA
for his friends and family). The first one she claimed that she had to
sleep (even though the shower was at 1 pm) but we found out she had just gone to
a friend's house instead. She missed the second shower because she
"had to work" but when we called her work to see when she got off work
they said she wasn't working that day! She had lied to us again!
She didn't even get the proper undergarments for her chosen strapless
bridesmaids dress until a few hours before the ceremony when we were at the
salon getting our hair and makeup done! She had to leave with the mother
of the groom in the middle of the hair and makeup process causing us all to run
late to the church! It doesn't end there, sadly.
At the church she spent most of the pre-ceremony time outside
smoking so she is missing from most of the pictures. After the ceremony
she "misplaced" her bouquet and is the only one without it during the
photos. Now comes the worst parts. At the reception, even though she
is underage she keeps stealing drinks off of tables and chugging them.
Then, she gets the DJ to play "The Thong Song" by saying that the
bride told her to tell him to play it! This was a conservative reception
full of older family members and clients of my father and mother! The song
came on just as I was talking to someone in the foyer and all I can say is that
I became a white blur when running to the DJ booth and sternly told him to
"turn this song off right now!" Not only was it tacky to
request, it was even tackier to play at a wedding reception! When it comes
to May's wedding, I'll make sure to be extremely gracious and show her how a
proper person behaves.
My husband's older brother got married about a year before we
did. They live about an hour away from us and his parents, and so we were of
course all staying in the same hotel. My husband and his younger brother left
early for the church, since of course they were in the wedding party, so my
now-in-laws said that I could ride to the church with them. I was ready before
they were and beat them down to the lobby. They arrived a few minutes after me,
and when the elevator doors opened, my jaw hit the floor. There stood my
husband's mother in a floor-length, strapless, white satin gown!!! She said,
"Do you like my dress?" All I could say was, "Yes."
First the story was that she had no idea she wasn't supposed to wear
white...then we found out that she had called my sister-in-law a few weeks
before the wedding, after the dress had been purchased and altered, and asked if
she minded if her dress was white. My sister-in-law, who is the nicest person in
the world, didn't feel like she had much choice! Everyone knew
she did this because she never had a "real" wedding...she and my
father-in-law got married in the courthouse. But still, that's no excuse to
hijack someone else's wedding!!!
Last year our godson, "TJ" got married to
"JB" in quite a lavish ceremony. JB's mother struck all of us
from TJ's side as the "Queen B", the "B" rhyming with witch.
She not only did NOT have flowers for any of TJ's family except for the parents
and grandparents, she didn't have any for TJ's only sister (who wasn't invited
to stand up). Queen B had all sorts of flowers for JB's aunts and uncles
and godparents and special friends and but none for TJ's side.
I started a new job in August, and one of my fellow trainees
looked familiar. I couldn't place her for the life of me, until one day
she asked if I'd been to an out of state wedding a few months prior. Then
it hit me--I'd seen her at TJ & JB's wedding. Once we established who
we were in relation to TJ & JB (she's JB's 3rd cousin, I'm TJ's godmother)
we discussed the wedding. My coworker never has much liked her 2nd
cousin, but came out of a sense of family loyalty. I said that none of us
on TJ's side had gotten a thank you yet, and my coworker said not to expect one,
unless my godson was going to write it himself. Seems that the Queen B
subscribes to the theory that the bride writes the thank you's for her side and
the groom writes them for his side. This pissed me off, since TJ was
not only going to school full time, he was also working full time while his
bride took the semester off of both school and work. She had nothing to
do, yet she didn't write ANY thank you's! Incredible!
She recently said that she finished doing them, (not sure if my questioning her
about them goosed her into doing them or what) but if she didn't like the gift
she didn't write one. This just floored me! I not only gave them a
substantial check, I also purchased towels for them. Even if she didn't
like the towels, the cash alone is worth "thanks for the money, we'll put
it to good use" for Pete's Sake! However, I have given up hope to
receive a thank you from this very etiquette challenged young woman. Of
course, she can't be fully blamed for her lack of manners, her mother has very
few as well!
My mom does not like my dad. (The preceding sentence
demonstrates my penchant for understatement). The two divorced, bitterly,
when I was a toddler, and my mom has never really let the bitterness go.
My dad, on the other hand, is fairly happy-go-lucky--almost ditsy, really--and
doesn't appear to harbor any ill-will after so many years.
After my big sister's wedding years ago, during which my mom
behaved deplorably toward my little half-sister (my dad's daughter with his new
wife), I was anticipating something similar at my own wedding. I didn't
know exactly what behavior would transpire, but I just had a feeling there would
be something... something that would permanently mar my happy memories of our
happy day. So, about a month before my wedding, I explicitly told my mom I
expected her to behave herself. (This did not go over well).
My dad's wife did not attend the wedding, probably
prophylactically. To her credit, my mom behaved surprisingly well during the
wedding, only muttering a few vicious statements while next to me, mostly under
her breath but just loud enough that I could hear them. Hey, much better
than having her shout them out loud for the whole party to hear. If she
did the same around other guests, our friends were sweet enough to never let us
The problem comes in the following day. See, my husband
and I held a two-part celebration over a weekend, with the wedding itself being
a rather unorthodox and casual event held in a great rustic outdoor setting to
which we invited our closest friends and immediate family, and the reception the
following day being a more traditional event for the benefit of my fairly
traditional extended family and our fond acquaintances. Maybe I should
have been more clear with my mom: When I told her to behave herself at our
wedding, I should have specified that I meant both events, not just the wedding
Again, to my mom's credit, there was never a huge blow-up or
similar traumatic spectacle during our reception. It was clear that she
was avoiding any contact with my dad (probably for the best). What there
was instead was a strained feeling of rush throughout the whole reception.
The reception was at my husband's parents' house, and my in-laws went to great
trouble (and great expense) to put on a truly lovely garden party-type event.
My mom arrived about the same time as everyone else (including my dad, again
sans wife), gifts in hand from out of town family members who could not attend
(very much appreciated that they would still want to send gifts along, and that
Mom would take the trouble to cart them over).
The gifts she brought were placed on the gifts table (a
somewhat embarrassing but very heartwarming thing: "the gifts
table"), and we all went about the business of having a wedding
reception--schmoozing, nibbling hors d'oeuvres, laughing, flattering each other,
taking photos. Then we sat down to eat a late lunch (casual, no seating
chart pre-determined). This was about an hour into the event.
My mom took a place at the new couple's table even before my
husband and I sat down, whereas my in-laws waited until everyone else had found
a place and then seated themselves. Mom was eager for my husband and me to
finish eating so that we would go inside and unwrap our gifts. She said
she had limited time and she wanted the photos. She said the family
members not in attendance were interested in seeing our expressions when we
unwrapped the gifts. Given Mom's rush, my husband and I cut our visits to
the various lunch tables a bit short so that we could unwrap the gifts (and I
regret to say we didn't visit everyone--not very nice of us).
With the new couple indoors, everyone else soon came in and
stood around apparently wondering what was going to happen. Mom got her
snapshots of us opening the gifts she was interested in, and then she was eager
for us to cut the cake (again, for the photo op). We obliged, and the
traditional cake-cutting and mutual feeding thing went off without any chocolate
getting on anyone's clothing.
Mom got her photos of the cake-cutting and the toasts, and
then she was off. A quick "congratulations, best of luck" and
she was off. Meanwhile, everyone else was standing around with glasses of
champagne and plates of cake in their hands knowing the cue to leave had been
given. Cutting the cake is pretty much the signal of the end of the party.
People chatted, finished their wine and cake, gave their best wishes, and
politely filtered out.
Perhaps the breach of etiquette was mine, letting my mom
dictate the flow of the entire event that people had come some distance to
attend and that my in-laws went to a lot of trouble to organize. Maybe
this can be a lesson to your readers: maybe it's better to un-invite one
unruly parent than to ruin the experience of everyone else on your guest list.
I hope my mom enjoys her photos.
Page Last Updated October 11, 2008