I'm a relatively new poster here, but I've learned so much about how to handle people by reading all of your brilliant advice, so I have to thank you all; now, unfortunately, I have a situation where I could really use some independent perspective, as things as about to reach a head. And, possibly I could also just use an, "ugh, good luck," and things of that nature, but you know. I'm going to try to get all of the background in here, but there's just so much, and the scheduled event is fast approaching, so forgive me if I'm sort of all over the place.
Major Players: [Awesome] Husband (mine) and myself; we were married in September.
Kay: Husband's incredible mother. She has two sons, Husband and his brother, Bob. Kay has always been a huge part of their lives; she has lunch with Husband at least once a month, and she comes to watch Husband play soccer every weekend. I got to know Kay because we would sit together on the sidelines, and we became close. Kay has lost both of her parents in the past year, and she is the only living child, so she's had a lot to deal with. Husband, Bob, Bob's wife, and I have been helping her a lot with the estate, giving her support, all the regular stuff. Kay was also heavily involved in the wedding planning, and threw the rehearsal dinner on her own.
Joe and Jane: Husband's father and his wife. Husband and Joe have never been very close. Joe was discovered to be having an affair when Husband was young; he worked things out with Kay, but subsequently had another affair when Husband was about 15. This affair was with Jane, who had previously been a friend of Kay's. Joe left Kay, and married Jane. Husband ended up providing a lot of emotional support for Kay during this time, and obviously, they remained close. Husband's rel@tionship with Joe and Jane has always been at arm's-length; while Husband sees Kay regularly, he sees Joe and Jane about three times a year. They also live about 90 minutes away, while Kay lives about 15 minutes away. Husband has always been respectful of Jane, and polite to her, even while the divorce (which was uuuuugly) was going down. Jane also has two children of her own, as well as grandchildren. Joe and Jane are perpetually in financial straits, and have asked others for money (not us, yet). Kay...detests Joe and Jane. She is civil to them, but she flat-out hates them.
SO. There's the background. Leading up to our wedding, Kay announced that she wanted to throw us a rehearsal dinner. Our wedding was very large and frankly, pretty expensive, and she wanted to do something commensurate. Kay contacted Joe to see if he wanted to contribute, but he declined. We were all fine with that (and really, expected it), so Kay threw a wonderful rehearsal dinner on her own. She and my mother made the decorations and found the location together, and we all had a good time planning and preparing; seemed like all was well.
My first hint of a problem came a few weeks before the wedding. Joe called Husband and said that I owed Jane an apology for failing to invite her to all of my bridal showers. Now, I had two bridal showers -- one thrown by my bridesmaids (the guests were friends my own age, as well as my mother and Kay), and one thrown by my mother's friends (where the guests were primarily friends of my parents; my mother and Kay attended that one, as well). Jane was invited to, and attended, the Grown Up Shower (as we called it). Later, however, she'd seen pictures people had posted and tagged of the Kid's shower on Facebook (stupid Facebook), and had gotten her liver in a quiver. She told Joe that since Kay was invited to both, that she should have been invited to both, as well. When Joe called Husband to complain about this slight, Husband told Joe that they were being ridiculous -- Jane had been invited to one shower, and that was enough; he also reminded Joe that Jane isn't Husband's mother, and she simply couldn't expect the same treatment that Kay receives. Joe didn't seem to take it particularly well, but he said he understood. This turned out to be a preview of things to come.
On the night of the rehearsal dinner, Joe was clearly irritated about something, but we were frankly too busy to figure out what it was; the best we can tell (even now) is that he was angry that there weren't enough pictures of him in the slideshow my sister had prepared (although we'd asked Joe and Jane to give us pictures, they never did; Kay provided all of Husband's childhood images, and actually, Joe WAS in a lot of them). I also suspect that Joe was angry that he and Jane weren't listed as hosts on the invitation, but they didn't throw the party; Kay did. He hasn't mentioned that, but we'll see, I guess. I really don't know what else was chapping his hide at that point, and Husband and I were so busy being excited and getting ready to get married the next day that we weren't even fully aware of the problem. Husband talked to Joe and Jane for a while at the party (I spoke with them, too, though not for as long, as we were both getting grabbed from every direction) and they didn't mention anything being wrong.
The next day was our wedding day. Everyone in my family, as well as Kay, Bob, and Bob's wife, bent over backwards to make sure that everything was perfect. When the chance of rain suddenly jumped from 10% to 40% for our outdoor ceremony, my father and my sister's husband hopped in the car and spent all morning buying 200 umbrellas as an emergency back-up plan (fortunately, he kept the receipts, and the rain held off). My father also rented a car in order to transport guests through the ceremony location, in case they had trouble walking. He got dressed at my parents' house so the groomsmen could use the suite he'd rented at the hotel; he was so busy making sure everything was perfect for us, that the poor man never even got to eat anything all day. He -- like everyone else -- worked his tail off to make sure that this was the happiest day of our lives.
Meanwhile, long before the wedding, we'd worked out transportation to and from the ceremony site, because parking was going to be an issue. We had (nice. non-shady) coach buses picking guests up from the lobby of the hotel, then transporting them over and dropping them off; the buses then took people back from the ceremony to the reception location. We had champagne on the buses, and on the bus televisions, we played the wedding video my sister had made for us.
We also had a limo going back and forth; it made one pick-up for the groom and his groomsmen, and another for me, my bridesmaids, my mother, and Kay, taking all of us from the hotel to the ceremony location. After the ceremony was over and the wedding party pictures were taken, all of these people rode back to the reception on one of the buses; the return limo made only one trip, and was supposed to hold Husband, me, our best man and maid of honor, and our photographer.
Now, we'd originally tried to figure out a third limo trip TO the ceremony location so that Joe and Jane could ride in the limo, too (along with my grandfather, my sister's husband, my dad, and other important folks), but the logistics just wouldn't work out; first of all, there wasn't time (without having to rent a second limo), and secondly...well, Joe and Jane are both extremely overweight, and we just couldn't fit them into the limo with that many people. If they rode in the limo, we could only fit in another three or four people, maximum (and these were big limos, which were supposed to hold 12). Husband and I talked about it, and Husband explained the situation to Joe, and asked if he'd mind riding the bus (along with my grandfather and all the other VIPS); Joe seemed okay with that. Apparently, he was not.
By the time Joe and Jane showed up in the lobby before the ceremony, he was already furious. Bob's wife (Husband's sister-in-law), who was also taking the bus, immediately noticed, and tried to calm him down. He wasn't having it. When he got on the bus and the video started to play, he loudly announced that "Oh, you can see my arm in that shot; look quick, and maybe you'll see my face in that one." When one of my co-workers said, "Oh, are you the father of the groom?" he made a comment like, "Yeah, but you'd never know that." When she said, "Well, you must be so proud!", Joe answered, "Not really."
Of course, we didn't know any of this at the time; we had our ceremony, everything seemed great, and we were having a wonderful day. Then it was time to have pictures taken of the wedding party, and naturally, this led to total pandemonium. We were already running late; we had to hurry to get all of the wedding party members on the return buses, and meanwhile, my father and my sister's husband are flying all over the place in rental cars, helping anyone who needed transportation from one point to another for the pictures. You know, a typical herding-cats scenario. Anyway, we'd preplanned the family photos; for Husband's side, there would be one with Kay, Bob and Bob's wife, and us; then one shot of us with just Kay. Then, we'd do one with Joe and Jane, Bob and his wife, and us; then one with us with Joe and Jane. We definitely didn't want pictures of Joe, Jane, Kay and everyone all together (except for the larger group shots); we figured both families would have preferred to have their own shots, without the exes in them. In fact, Kay had even asked if we could please have shots of just her, without Joe and Jane; she'd also asked not to have to stand next to Joe or Jane in any of the photos. We didn't think that would be a problem, given the history between the three (and the fact that they pretty much keep a safe distance anyway). The photographer knew the plan, we knew the plan, and we thought we were good to go.
But, of course, confusion reigned, and when the photographer called for the first series of Husband-Family shots, Kay took her place; but then Jane immediately ran over, threw her arm around Kay's shoulder, and smiled. Now, this is where I screwed up, admittedly -- the photographer looked at me with these huge "Oh, nooooo" eyeballs, and Kay recoiled and turned to look at me, too; we were behind schedule and things were getting crazy, and Husband was talking to someone else, and I just sort pf panicked. I said, "No, I don't want Jane and Kay next to each other; put Bob and Bob's wife in the middle." YEAH, not the best way to put it, but you know; it was my wedding day, we were rushed, and I was honestly pretty taken aback that Jane was running up and acting like she and Kay were spontaneously BFF. But even, then, things seemed okay -- Jane, who didn't seem to have an issue, brightly said, "Over here?" and immediately moved over, Bob and his wife rushed to the center, and Joe took his place next to Jane. We took the photos, and then the photographer said it was time for some with us and Kay, alone.
At that point, Joe took off his jacket, threw it on the ground, and stormed off. Jane started wailing. Husband asked what the heck was going on, and Jane whined that she didn't know, he'd been in a bad mood all day, etc. I told Husband what I'd said, but he didn't think it was enough to cause Joe to go stalking off; meanwhile, Jane's still standing there, saying how horrible all of this is, and how horrible for Joe to be doing this on his son's wedding day, and on and on. Eventually, the photographer -- who felt a little responsible for not reigning in the crazy when she was arranging pictures -- went and retrieved him, saying that she was planning on doing their photos next. Joe came back, but was clearly enraged.
But Husband and I were not happy, either. We finished the group shots, and husband and I went off to do our own pictures while the remaining wedding party boarded the buses. Our best man and maid of honor, along with the photographer, were with us (the intention was that just the five of us would be riding the limo back together); we rapidly became less happy as they informed us that Joe had been railing ever since he'd shown up. We also learned that one of Joe's major complaints was that Jane had not been walked down the aisle, as Kay and my mother had been. That made Husband furious.
Now, I don't know how this next scenario even came to be, but I suspect someone was trying to smooth things over, and that Joe was having a fit about having to ride the bus again; somehow, though, Joe and Jane ended up in our limo. Which we discovered when we returned to the limo, and found them inside, apparently prepared to ride back to the reception location with us. Which they did, although it meant I pretty much had to sit in Husband's lap, and the photographer had to ride up front with the driver. They did not speak to us during the return ride, and the mutual anger in that car could have fueled a nuclear reactor.
We finally arrived at the reception location and parted ways. For the rest of the night, Husband and I enjoyed ourselves, while Joe loudly complained to anyone who would listen. He was angry about being snubbed; we had not shown him enough respect; he was the father of the groom and deserved more; how dare we put him on the bus; why wasn't Jane treated exactly the same as Kay -- the complaints went on and on. Husband, who is a much more reasonable human than I, announced that we would ignore this and enjoy our reception -- he even chatted with Joe a bit, and they took some pictures together in our photobooth. Jane, meanwhile, followed me around like a lost puppy, crying that she didn't know what to dooooo, that she couldn't believe Joe would act this way, that he needed therapy, that he had PTSD from being in Vietnam -- on and on. I finally turned to her and told her that I didn't care, and that I wasn't interested in hearing all of the excuses. If he wanted to try to ruin his son's wedding and throw a tantrum, he could do so, but (a) it wasn't going to work -- we were still going to have a great day, and (b) he'd have to be willing to live with the consequences of that decision. She said she knew, but she also snapped, "But he's Husband's FATHER." I told her that meant he should be trying to do everything he could to make the day happy for his son; instead, he was actively trying to sabotage it, which didn't seem very father-like. Jane didn't have an answer to that.
All this nonsense aside, we really did have a wonderful wedding. Jane and Joe left early, long before the cake cutting, with Joe railing all the while about his mistreatment. Husband and I discussed the whole thing the next day, and Husband decided he needed to take a break from his father for a while. And so, they didn't speak for three months, until Joe finally emailed Husband, saying "I must have done something pretty bad to have you ignore me for so long." Husband and Joe then spoke; Joe listed his many grievances (most of which involved Jane not being treated exactly as Kay -- hmmm). He said I greatly disrespected him by telling his wife to move for the photograph. He brought up the shower again, and the fact that they didn't ride in the limo to the ceremony. He also complained that he hadn't been driven through the ceremony location (although there were cars there for that purpose; all he had to do was ask an usher, and they would have arranged it -- we even made an announcement about that before the service. He didn't ask). Husband responded to all of this, and basically told Joe that he had unreasonable expectations regarding Jane, and that she was just NEVER going to be Husband's mother -- the end. Husband also admitted that, while I probably could have phrased it better, there really was no reason for Jane to be standing next to Kay for the photos. To that, Joe argued that the two of them were friends, and I was the only reason they didn't like each other (...huh?). Husband explained that, no -- Kay doesn't like Jane, and never has. Joe seemed surprised by that, and said Jane claimed that the two had become close.
The whole thing ended with a truce, sort of. Husband offered to arrange for us all to sit down and talk, but Joe seemed lukewarm on that. Eventually, Husband decided that he didn't want to dwell on it, and I agreed to be civil to Joe and Jane when we next saw them (although, frankly, I would like to set them both on fire for trying to hurt Husband). That happened on Christmas Eve; we went to their house, everyone was civil, we gave them gifts, and things seemed to go well. We thought it was over -- no, we'd never be best friends, but Husband could maintain his arms-length rel@tionship, and I would continue to smile, and suppress the urge to claw their eyeballs out.