Moms and Maids

Parental say when cost is split 50/50 between parent sets

edited September 2014 in Moms and Maids
Long story short: Fiancee and I get engaged.  Both sets of our parents generously agree to split cost 50/50, give us the $ upfront.  The party line from both is "this is a gift, we want you to design the wedding of your dreams, whatever you want is fine by me".  Best case scenario, no?

Now one of the four seems to be changing attitudes.  [ETA: Took out details for anonymity, just in case].  Let's just say that she has becoming extraordinarily difficult, demanding, is at the point where "you've made enough decisions, the rest is me", wants me (groom) out of wedding planning picture completely (half the money is my parents).  I would say at a scale of Momzilla she is at a 9 in terms of difficulty.  But don't want to say more out of privacy.  Wants to be involved, but then when we ask for her involvement in some things, she says "Oh, I'm not interested in that".  But then will just destroy my fiancee on the things that matter to us.

The other three are still very much "whatever choice you make, we are happy with".

I get the etiquette.  We need to involve her and make some choices, because she is paying for some of it.  And we love her, we want her to have a special day.  However, it is not 100% her money, and the others giving money have said with their money we are free to choose whatever we want.  We made the mistake of not explicitly breaking down the money from the get-go, however.  How do you set the limits this far in the game and assign what she can have input on and what she cannot?  Assume that most of the major decisions have been booked (all of which she hates and is constantly negative about, while the other three are wildly supportive).

She was a perfectly delightful and thoughtful woman before this process, and I know she will be afterward.  We just need to figure out how to proceed from here, because we cannot keep doing this.

Re: Parental say when cost is split 50/50 between parent sets

  • This Momzilla is your future mother in law, yes?  I'm basing that assumption on your statement that she wants you out of the planning.  If it is, then I think your fiancee is the one who needs to do most of the negotiating/navigating of this issue.    Perhaps its because FMIL expected this would be an event in which she would have more control or input, not anticipating that you would be actively involved; perhaps its because FMIL's money secretly had strings.  Perhaps she's just allowing her emotions about this life change for her child to get the better of her.

    I would personally try to do a course correction to what you said you didn't do in the first place.  Ask each set of parents or each parent (whichever level the money is from) what remaining elements of the wedding are most important to them.  If you are lucky, the set without the 'zilla will continue to maintain a "do what you want" attitude.  But this will give FMIL a chance to say she really cares about flowers or musician or having a say in the ceremony venue. 

    Your FI may need to be blunt, along the lines of "Mom, we know you've been having a tough time with the wedding planning.  It's important to Groom and I that everyone be comfortable with our plans.  We know you aren't interested in being involved in Thing A, Thing B, Thing C she's passed on helping.  We still need to make our final decision on This X, This Y and This Z - which is most important to you so we can include you in the process?"  The downside to this is that on X or Y or Z, you do then need to at least hear out her opinion.

    If that doesn't work, then I would stop talking about the wedding with her.  Assuming FFIL is happy with plans and isn't joining in the objections, you and FI just continue to keep him and therefore her in the loop but don't try anymore to actively engage FMIL.  When she complains, you both maintain a "We've got it covered. How's the dip?" approach.  If she tried to suggest something else, it's "we're pleased with the decision we made.  How's the dip?"

    Plan C would be to just steel yourselves, ignore her complaints, realize she'll see the wedding as wonderful once it's actually happening, and then exhale in relief when your wedding planning is over.

  • I would hope your fiancee would remind her mother this your wedding too, and if you would like to be involved you have every right to do so!  Since she is sharing the payment role she does get to be involved but should not be controlling everything.  If it is not too late, find out what she is really interested in and give her some control there.  Hopefully she will listen to her daughter's (and your ) wishes and does not try to do something you are uncomfortable with. 


  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited September 2014

    If there is any part of your wedding that you or your FI don't care about, then let FMIL run wild with it.  Maybe that will help.

    But if the parts she wants to control are already decided, your FI should be telling her mom. "Mom,  I'm sorry but we have already decided on x.  If I had known you were interested previously, I could have asked your input.  But when you generously gave us wedding funds you said you wanted no input.  I have already paid deposits on X and we cannot go back on this decision now.  Again, I'm sorry you're upset." 

    For the nonsense that you shouldn't help plan your wedding.  It could be that she is harkening back to her wedding.  When my parents married, my dad had not one say in the wedding (my mom had minimal input and her parents paid).  When I went to plan mine, my parents were paying for the reception.  My dad honestly wanted to know why my FI was coming with us to view reception venues.  I thought it was a trick question!  I said, "Because it's his wedding too?" And my dad was like oh, ok.  Then he explained how my parents wedding was planned, so his point of view made more sense.  So it's possible that is FMIL's thinking too.

    If with the coping techniques we've provided here to not stop FMIL.  Consider giving her back her portion of the wedding funds.  Your FI tell her, "Mom, you know that I love you, but we just cannot agree on how to plan this wedding.  So I am giving you back your portion of the wedding money.  I wouldn't want you to pay for something you don't like."  Have that check ready to hand over too.

    Also, as tough as it will be, you handle your family and your FI handles hers.  So support her in her dealings with FMIL, but she should be the one speaking to her.

  • edited September 2014
    Great advice, all.  I agree that FI is the one who should deal with not want to rock the boat.  We're just trying to come together to get a strategy.

    My parents' wedding, even though they are baby boomers, was entirely up to grandmother was a bit unconventional for that era, because while she paid for all her daughter's weddings, she let them have complete control.  So that's where they are coming from, in that they understand wedding funds as a gift to get the wedding the children want, not the parents.  FFIL is the "whatever my daughter wants!" type.  I think FMIL is probably the type where her mother may have planned hers, or at least came from that background.  However, we feel that if FMIL wanted to have this be a strictly MOB/Bride type thing, with MOB opinion counting for more, then they should not have accepted my parent's money (since my parents made sure to ask FFIL/FMIL which way they preferred to do things, whether they wanted us to pay, just bride's family, or both since my parents viewed it as the bride's parent's choice first and foremost and didn't want to deny them either "their" event or a "lesson in saving and living within the bounds for the kids" if that's the direction they wanted to go). They happily accepted the money and jointly decided we would handle it ourselves and get to do whatever choices we wanted.

    We are coming up with a list of things for her to go wild with, and will see how that goes.  She is not a rude woman...I think the drama and frustration is perhaps her not being clear with us, FFIL, or my parents that maybe she would have preferred it where she planned the whole wedding.  Or, she may have genuinely wanted to give us free reign, and only later realized what she wanted.

    We will work it out...just tense at the moment.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited September 2014

    That's too bad. FMIL probably had good intentions when they gave you the money. Weddings bring out the worst side of some people.

    Ditto everyone else's suggestions. Your fi should deal with her own parents. Assuming the MOB and FOB are married to each other, it might be a good idea for fi to talk to them both together. Her dad might be able to rein in her mom and remind her that the money was given as a gift, no strings attach.

    It sounds like your FMIL might want some mother/daughter time. Try not to take that personally, like she's trying to exclude you. Your fi could arrange a mother/daughter date for lunch or the spa. And if you want to look like the best FSIL in the whole world, you could surprise them with gift cards to a spa or restaurant.

    Since your own parents are being such good sports about all this, don't forget to let them know how much you appreciate their generous gift. You might want to treat your own parents to dinner. Make sure they are kept in the loop with the wedding planning so they don't start to feel like MOB is overshadowing them.

    Good luck. I hope your FMIL is back to her own sweet self before too long.

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