Attention Seeking Future Sister In-Law
To start: My FSIL, who is 24 years old, is a huge attention seeker and has never been supportive of my relationship with her brother. Whenever his family gathers, she immediately draws the attention to herself in grandiose ways. Just to name a few examples: purposely burning her hand while helping to light FH’s birthday cake, crying in public places so her parents have no choice but to focus on her, and speaking quite loudly and rudely at holiday gatherings where the extended family gets to witness her behavior.
My FH and I agreed to distance ourselves from her in order to set healthy boundaries since speaking with her about her inappropriate actions does not work. When we got engaged, we made the hard decision to not include her as a bridesmaid for fear that she wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face or a tight lip during our vows.
With consideration of her attention seeking ways and blatant disrespect of our relationship, we created a new title for her: “Sister of the Groom.” She will appear in the bulletin and will still be part of the wedding party. We will let her walk down the aisle (bouquet and all), give her a special dress to wear, and do a small reading at the wedding. She will sit in the front row with her parents so there will be no risk of faked fainting spells or inappropriate gestures that will draw a lot of attention to her.
My FH let her know about her role in our wedding the other night over the phone. My FH and I were prepared for the blowback question of: “Why aren’t I a bridesmaid?” In response, we had been ready to flood her with love and appreciation. We were going to let her know that “Sister of the Groom” is a big deal and a big responsibility (which it is - reading in front of about 150 people is huge!).
Instead of the chaos we were expecting over not being a bridesmaid, she immediately started to complain about not singing at our wedding. Please note that neither my FH nor I gave her any indication that we wanted anyone to sing at our wedding, let alone his sister. We’re getting married in September 2019, and we have barely spoken with the director of music at the church we’re getting married at. That being said, for whatever reason, she had it in her head that she would be performing at our wedding.
“I thought I’d be doing more at your wedding,” she had whined to my FH. “I thought I was going to sing at your wedding. I’m the best singer you know. Tell your fiance that I want to sing at your wedding. Tell her that I’m going to sing either during the ceremony or at the reception.”
My FH calmly explained that we weren’t really looking for a vocal performance, and we're just really happy that she’d be with us on our big day. She insisted upon singing at our wedding until the point of hysteria. She couldn't contain herself because of her drastically high and low emotions throughout a somewhat simple conversation. My FH had to let the subject drop, trying to calm her down and having to ask her several times, “Do you accept the role of ‘Sister of the Groom?’”
She finally accepted the position when my FH told her that he and I would discuss the possibility of her singing at our wedding. After he got off the phone with her, we both agreed that he would need to let her down gently. We would need to tell her that we appreciate her enthusiasm, but we are sticking with instrumental music for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception. We also agreed that we made the right choice to not include her as a bridesmaid. The fact that she did not handle the phone conversation with gratitude and composure, and instead erupted into a fit of hysteria, proves that we made the difficult but right choice.
After my FH had informed FSIL of her role in the wedding, we decided we simply don't trust her to walk down the aisle by herself without causing a ruckus. With that in mind, we will have to ask FH's father to walk her down the aisle prevent her from acting out, which should fulfill his parents' twisted fantasy of using our $34,000 wedding in order to pretend it is my FSIL's wedding (see more below).
At this point, we’re very concerned that our wedding will turn into the “FSIL show.” Her demanding to sing at our wedding is just the beginning of what we’re up against.
The pressure from his family to include her is smothering, and we have even been told by his parents that “she might not walk down the aisle as a bride, so this is our only chance to see that happen.” AKA: his parents want to "play wedding" with FSIL at our actual wedding. FH quickly told them that we are not obligated to fulfill their fantasy at our actual wedding, and that day is supposed to be about two people starting their lives together.
Unfortunately, her parents don’t know how to handle her, and they enable her bad behavior rather than help with damage control. FH has tried to speak with his sister about her actions, but the last time he did, she threw a temper tantrum and nearly wound up in the hospital, she was so raving mad. He has also tried to talk with his family, expressing our concerns about her behavior and her mental well being, but they are in complete denial about the whole thing.
I’m so worried that if I invite FSIL to get ready with me on the day of the wedding (a traditionally nice gesture), she’ll purposely spill something on my dress or try to take away from the special moments of the day. From previous experience, I know she is going to try to get some attention on the one day that is supposed to be about true love and two people joining together as one to build a life together.
We’ve discussed having a cousin keep an eye on her during the wedding and reception. We’ve also talked about having her help with actual setup of the wedding in the church with a group of her family members to keep her in check. I suggested that I have breakfast with her, FMIL and my mother the morning of the wedding so the future in-laws still feel included, even though they will not be invited to get ready with me.
How do you deal with an attention seeking person at your wedding? How do I keep her preoccupied so I don’t have to worry about her doing something drastic at the wedding? How do I include her in the wedding while still keeping a healthy boundary?
Thank you in advance for the advice and support. This has been a trying time, and we've only been engaged for 3 months. Our wedding is September 2019, so any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.