Moms and Maids

Conflicting Family "Styles" With How Wedding Prep Should Be Done

Ok, so I have posted before about my troubles with FMIL (she's the only parent left between my fiancé and myself, and his father passed suddenly in May).  She is an older mother at 74 because he is the youngest of 8.  She hasn't been very supportive of practically anything since we began planning in August for our April 2016 wedding.  We are paying (as far as we know) for everything including the rehearsal dinner which is fine.  Our wedding = our financial responsibility.

With that being said, I am constantly researching ways to keep costs as low as possible without anybody but FI knowing how much we are REALLY spending.  We have found amazing deals on venues, my wedding planner has planned several weddings before but she's using this wedding to really jump start her portfolio (which means in exchange for pictures, etc, we get a discount!), our musicians and DJ are all friends... very, very talented friends, and while my dream photographer was out of our budget, her second shooter shoots in a very similar style (and even she has a second shooter - awesome!).  Basically this is the long story short way to say I will put in as much work and planning, leaving no stone unturned or any question answered prior to the week of the wedding.  (Keep in mind, my fiancé has plans Friday and Saturday morning for golf - so it is just me that isn't supposed to be de-stressing and spending time with my friends and family!)

I made the comment that once people start arriving in town for the wedding, I don't want to have anything left to do or stress over.  I said there will be a phone list with everyone to call in order if there are questions or a problem arrises, but that my number won't be anywhere on that.  I believe that is my planner's job.  And then she can call a close friend, then a family member, and finally my sister should it turn into a serious issue.  Not having my parents or any family really (two aunts and two cousins) makes it all the more important that I am able to keep my emotions and anxiety and panic disorder under control.

Well let's just say I came off as a spoiled brat apparently when I expressed the above sentiment about turning off my planner hat and turning on my "bridal glow" come Wednesday or Thursday of the wedding week.  The words used were "well we are a family that does for ourselves and works with our hands and you can't just say you won't be doing anything...".  My fiancé understands that to a certain extent, but he also wonders if I would be more hands-on if it would save us money.  I'm cutting every cost possible and delegating to my vendors so I can enjoy my guests, my fiancé/husband/, and really focus on the joining of our lives in the eyes of God.  With such a long engagement which was done on purpose to literally get every possible plan made, diagram created, so on and so forth, but of course I'm not going to throw a fit or anything if I have to help decorate, etc.

Do I need to apologize for wanting to just be a bride on the wedding day especially since I've hired legit professionals to take over?  I also said to her in the same conversation that I don't really want her name on the emergency phone tree list either because it is her youngest's wedding, and it is a time I want her to be as stress-free as possible too.  I just feel like there is no pleasing her.  She's mad at the town we decided to get married in.  She's mad at our ceremony venue because she doesn't like the inside of this historic home from 1830 - but the kicker is that NO part of the wedding is going to be taking place inside.  We are getting married on the lawn under a beautiful magnolia tree.  She is insisting that her entire immediate family (7 groups of people) process in just as the mothers traditionally do... But keep in mind, nobody is processing as a family member for me.  She's also wanting me to seat all of her friends at the ceremony together - WHAT?  I understand having a few people in certain seats, but a group of 30 people?  That we aren't even related to???

So maybe this turned into a bit of a rant.  I just feel like there's no winning this woman, and it all feels so amplified by the fact that I don't have my mom to talk to or even just tell me it will all be ok.  Am I just crazy?!  (Please be as kind as possible because I am leaving tomorrow to go spend the next week with her because she has summoned me to help her with organizing her storage unit... all while criticizing me for not having found a new job yet or cooking and cleaning for her son.)  HELP!!!

Re: Conflicting Family "Styles" With How Wedding Prep Should Be Done

  • First of all, it's a long time until April 2016, so I do think you need to consider that that's a long time to keep getting worried about or worked up over things.  I'd try to keep that in mind and maybe consider not being so committed to things going exactly according to X right now.  To some people, it may be off-putting you are expressing such specific notions of who certain days will go when there is a lot of time ahead of you and plans may change.

    That said, I think it's your FI's job to manage his family's expectations when you and he are paying for the wedding.  "We've got it covered!" or "We're all set there!" may need to become phrases that answer questions about the wedding planning.  Not discussing what you are doing keeps people from feeling like their advice or opinion is welcome.  Additionally, because you and FI are paying (and it's your wedding), it's okay for your FMIL to be unhappy with your choice of location and venue.  FI can call her out ("I'm sorry your unhappy with that, Mom, but it's what we want.") and can decline to discuss it with her anymore ("It's too bad you feel that way.  We're happy with our plans.  How's the bean dip?"). 

    At the same time, FI should be the one to talk with her about her requests for the ceremony and seating.  Perhaps there is a compromise to work out - special seating for her, of course, and her escort, and perhaps one or two VVIP friends or relatives.  This might be something your FI could help her determine.  Special aunts, godparent-type people, etc.  But he may also need to be blunt with her that reserved seats for 30 aren't possible.  It isn't wrong to decline to accommodate an unreasonable request.  To me, that's unreasonable because it would a long, logistical nightmare that would bore other guests and make them wonder why those people got preferred treatment.  "Mom, that's just not possible for us to do.  I hope you can understand we want to make all of our guests comfortable and therefore we can't reserve seats for the Bridge Club at the ceremony.  We will make sure they are seated near each other at the reception" - seems like a good compromise to me.

    As for the contact tree, in all honesty, to me it does feel a little over-dramatic to have an emergency tree with several layers of people that begins several days in advance of your wedding.  I think it's fine to ask your planner to be the primary contact for vendors.  As long as you've worked that out as part of her contract, it makes sense that she would serve in that role.  Nevertheless, I would serve as the person she calls up until your rehearsal starts.  It will streamline any last-minute decision making if she can go directly to you.  And there shouldn't be big, dramatic decisions that need to be made. (Example - for my dad's wedding, some of the greenery the florist had planned to use didn't arrive because of a weather delay.  She called to okay a substitute for something else.)  Once the rehearsal starts, I would pick one person to take over for you, to be the person your planner calls with last minute changes/questions.  Something like this is a lot easier to explain than start with Friend Mary, then call Aunt Suzy or Aunt Linda, then Sister Paige.  It's just "Planner Person, you can call me until 4:00 PM on Friday but then any question you can't answer should be sent to my sister Paige. Her number is..."

    I don't necessarily think you need to apologize, but do consider that you've got a while to go and it may be easier for you in the long-run to be less forthright with some people about your plans.  They then don't feel like there is room for debate or discussion, and it gives you time to be sure you are happy with the way things are going.  And if things feel like they are building up to much, a hiatus from planning - a weekend, a couple of weeks, whatever you need - can be a good way to make sure the forest isn't lost for the trees.

    lilacck28[Deleted User]speakeasy14amelisha
  • I think that you have an excellent handle on all situations and should not second guess a single bit of your planning.  You sound very considerate and budget conscious.  All of your hard work deserves on day off.  I would, however, put you back in the loop just in case a very serious decision needs to be made and your sister is not comfortable with the responsibility.  You owe ZERO explanations to anybody, especially since you are footing the bill.
  • Stop talking about the wedding with her. It sounds like you're sharing too much and she's using it as a jumping off point to criticize. 

    I agree that having a family of 30 as part of the processional is ridiculous. Often, it's grandparents, parents and WP. That's it. No one else. Plus, there aren't really hard and fast rules about this, so do what you want here. Just be like "thanks for the suggestion" and change the subject. 

    I don't think it's weird to want to "just be the bride" on your wedding day, but that's what your wedding planner is for. The more prep work you do on the front end, the fewer questions she'll have. However, YOU or your FI should be the one to field her questions. It's not cool to give one of your guests the job of answering vendor questions. We had a DOC who had all the information needed to interface with vendors. However, H was the contact if anything needed to be escalated. It was NBD since we had done so much prep work to ensure things went smoothly. Since your H isn't doing much of the planning, can he take this on the day of? It should be you or him - not an unpaid wedding guest.

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