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Etiquette

FFIL Questions

Hi all,
My fiancé and I are getting married in about 7 months and are anticipating some very awkward moments with his father.  My FI does not have a good relationship with his dad, who has a lot of personal issues with anger and alcohol.  After a particular incident a few months ago that involved me (short story is that my FFIL yelled at me in the way he yells at everyone in the family, and when my FI stood up for me, his dad stormed out), my FI has decided he no longer wants to have any real relationship with his father.  However, in order to not create a massive family feud, we have decided we have to invite his dad to the wedding. (I should note here that FI's parents are no longer together.)

There are two things we're especially worried about - that he'll want to give a speech at the reception, and that he'll try to insist on contributing to the wedding.  At the reception my FI imagines his mom may want to get up and say something (he's very close with her and she's a wonderful public speaker).  Any tips on this, besides just refusing to give FFIL the mic if he tries to take it?  I suggested to my FI that we instead have any parental words spoken in the ceremony, so it is more pre-planned, but he didn't like that idea as much as toasts/speeches at the reception.

Second, FFIL has hinted in conversations to my FI that he plans to contribute money to the wedding.  I think these hints have always been dropped when others are around, so my FI didn't feel he could say anything at the time.  If his dad tries to give us money, my FI suspects he plans to take it out of his retirement plan or something equally ill-advised (his dad has mentioned this in the past when needing money quickly).  We really don't want him to make a poor financial decision OR do anything that would make him think we're in his debt OR give him any control in how we plan our wedding.  He's also a terrible braggart, and we know he would boast about paying for our wedding to everyone in the family, which would make us deeply uncomfortable.

If he does bring up the money directly to my FI (we wouldn't initiate the conversation), what should he say to politely turn down the money?  It's possible that just refusing the gift would set his dad off so much that he wouldn't come to the wedding anyway, in which case the first question is resolved...! 

Thanks for any help you can give!  I've been a member here for a year or so and have only posted a few times, but I have a lot of respect for the collective wisdom in these forums. :smile:
«1

Re: FFIL Questions

  • Are you having a DJ/master of ceremonies? If so, give this person explicit instructions to only give the microphone to approved people. 

    If your FFIL offers money, politely decline. "Thanks, but that's not necessary. We have it covered." 
    If he gets angry and refuses to attend, oh well. 

    Yes, we're having a DJ - good idea.  I guess I'm mostly worried about him making a scene if my FMIL says something to the guests and he doesn't get to as well.  But I don't know if there's anything we can do to prevent that. 

    I guess my question is also partly how to handle an irrational, easily angered person when planning an event they might feel like they have some say over...

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hi all,
    My fiancé and I are getting married in about 7 months and are anticipating some very awkward moments with his father.  My FI does not have a good relationship with his dad, who has a lot of personal issues with anger and alcohol.  After a particular incident a few months ago that involved me (short story is that my FFIL yelled at me in the way he yells at everyone in the family, and when my FI stood up for me, his dad stormed out), my FI has decided he no longer wants to have any real relationship with his father.  However, in order to not create a massive family feud, we have decided we have to invite his dad to the wedding. (I should note here that FI's parents are no longer together.)

    There are two things we're especially worried about - that he'll want to give a speech at the reception, and that he'll try to insist on contributing to the wedding.  At the reception my FI imagines his mom may want to get up and say something (he's very close with her and she's a wonderful public speaker).  Any tips on this, besides just refusing to give FFIL the mic if he tries to take it?  I suggested to my FI that we instead have any parental words spoken in the ceremony, so it is more pre-planned, but he didn't like that idea as much as toasts/speeches at the reception.

    Second, FFIL has hinted in conversations to my FI that he plans to contribute money to the wedding.  I think these hints have always been dropped when others are around, so my FI didn't feel he could say anything at the time.  If his dad tries to give us money, my FI suspects he plans to take it out of his retirement plan or something equally ill-advised (his dad has mentioned this in the past when needing money quickly).  We really don't want him to make a poor financial decision OR do anything that would make him think we're in his debt OR give him any control in how we plan our wedding.  He's also a terrible braggart, and we know he would boast about paying for our wedding to everyone in the family, which would make us deeply uncomfortable.

    If he does bring up the money directly to my FI (we wouldn't initiate the conversation), what should he say to politely turn down the money?  It's possible that just refusing the gift would set his dad off so much that he wouldn't come to the wedding anyway, in which case the first question is resolved...! 

    Thanks for any help you can give!  I've been a member here for a year or so and have only posted a few times, but I have a lot of respect for the collective wisdom in these forums. :smile:


    Ditto Climbingwife.  Don't let the DJ allow any non-approved people have the microphone.  I'm not a fan of using the ceremony to make the speech/toasts either.  Besides, what if FFIL got up to try and make a speech during the ceremony right after his ex spoke?  That would make any scene much more visible for everyone.  If FFIL tries to get the microphone during the reception, most people will be pre-occupied eating, chatting, or enjoying the music.

    Politely declining money from FFIL should help stem off any potential issues.

    If FFIL can be prone to angry outbursts, let your venue know.  They can handle him and escort him off the premises if he tries to get out of hand.

    All that being said, if you FI truly wants to have no relationship with his father any longer.  I would consider not inviting him to the wedding period.  Start the no relationship now, why wait?  Your FI will probably be able to relax and enjoy himself at the wedding if his father isn't there and anything he might do hanging over your heads.  But if your FI isn't ready to actually break ties, then invite FFIL, but keep a distance from him for the next few months.

    bluebell42InLoveInQueensHeffalumpcowgirl8238
  • For the mic, do you all suspect he would say something inappropriate?  Otherwise, I personally might let this go.  But, if you all are worried about what he might say, @climbingwife's suggestion for the DJ is great.  If no DJ to control it, that does make it a bit tougher. 

    For potential money offer, from your FI, "Dad!  That is so kind of you to offer!  But @bluebell42 and I already have everything taken care of."  Rinse and repeat.

    Of course, he could always choose to give whatever money he had planned to give as a wedding gift*.  And perhaps he will (though hopefully not at the expense of his retirement).  But then it doesn't come with "strings" and "bragging rights".

    *For lurkers, this should NEVER be a suggestion made by the couple.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    bluebell42kimmiinthemittenHeffalumpcowgirl8238
  • Are you having a DJ/master of ceremonies? If so, give this person explicit instructions to only give the microphone to approved people. 

    If your FFIL offers money, politely decline. "Thanks, but that's not necessary. We have it covered." 
    If he gets angry and refuses to attend, oh well. 

    Yes, we're having a DJ - good idea.  I guess I'm mostly worried about him making a scene if my FMIL says something to the guests and he doesn't get to as well.  But I don't know if there's anything we can do to prevent that. 

    I guess my question is also partly how to handle an irrational, easily angered person when planning an event they might feel like they have some say over...

    Is your reception in a venue? Does it have event security? If so alert them, or the staff that there may be someone who needs to be escorted out in the event they are making a scene or are inappropriate. They have dealt with that before and will be better equipped to manage that in the moment. 

    But I also agree with everyone, have the DJ control the mic, don't let anyone else make a toast, and if he asks/insists tell him you're sorry, but the mic is closed and you've moved on to dancing/music portion of the evening. 
  • I guess I would just plan on him not taking the mic.  If he insists and you don't think he will say anything inappropriate, then let him have the mic for 5 minutes.  Any close friends and family will know if he is boasting/lying about his relationship with your fiance.  I would just ensure FI that even if FFIL takes the mic, it won't be the end of the world (any may be a good story later).

    It reminds me of a close friend's wedding where her dad stood up to talk (he hadn't contributed the wedding but she wanted him to speak since they were close - not that those two things are mutually exclusive).  Dad said, "I never thought Friend would find anyone good enough for her.  And I was right.  I made a song for Friend and here it is."  Cue the DJ playing a jingle Dad had written and recorded entitled, "You should have signed a prenup."  Was Friend horrified?  YES!  Was it terribly inappropriate?  YES!  Do we still laugh about it today?  Heck yes.

    Listen, it won't be the end of the world no matter what.

    short+sassy
  • My MC had a subtle tug-of-war with the mike after one of DH's cousins grabbed it after the Best Man's toast.  Our DJ and MC had explicit instructions that only the BM and MOH were to speak...any decent DJ will be able to control the mike.  Let your venue's security know about FFIL just in case.

    Declining money is even easier, because it's on you and your FI, not your vendors.  "Thanks so much FFIL, but we're all set". 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    When it comes to the contribution, your FI can say, "Thanks, Dad, we've got everything taken care of."

    But when it comes to making a speech or other bad behavior at the wedding, PPs have given you some good ideas. To be honest, I would not have speeches at all, but that's my personal preference. If it's a must for you, then if you will have an MC, DJ, or DOC, I'd talk to them about making sure your FFIL doesn't get the mic (and definitely avoid open mics). And I think you're going to need security, period.
    ernursej
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hi all,
    My fiancé and I are getting married in about 7 months and are anticipating some very awkward moments with his father.  My FI does not have a good relationship with his dad, who has a lot of personal issues with anger and alcohol.  After a particular incident a few months ago that involved me (short story is that my FFIL yelled at me in the way he yells at everyone in the family, and when my FI stood up for me, his dad stormed out), my FI has decided he no longer wants to have any real relationship with his father.  However, in order to not create a massive family feud, we have decided we have to invite his dad to the wedding. (I should note here that FI's parents are no longer together.)

    There are two things we're especially worried about - that he'll want to give a speech at the reception, and that he'll try to insist on contributing to the wedding.  At the reception my FI imagines his mom may want to get up and say something (he's very close with her and she's a wonderful public speaker).  Any tips on this, besides just refusing to give FFIL the mic if he tries to take it?  I suggested to my FI that we instead have any parental words spoken in the ceremony, so it is more pre-planned, but he didn't like that idea as much as toasts/speeches at the reception.

    Second, FFIL has hinted in conversations to my FI that he plans to contribute money to the wedding.  I think these hints have always been dropped when others are around, so my FI didn't feel he could say anything at the time.  If his dad tries to give us money, my FI suspects he plans to take it out of his retirement plan or something equally ill-advised (his dad has mentioned this in the past when needing money quickly).  We really don't want him to make a poor financial decision OR do anything that would make him think we're in his debt OR give him any control in how we plan our wedding.  He's also a terrible braggart, and we know he would boast about paying for our wedding to everyone in the family, which would make us deeply uncomfortable.

    If he does bring up the money directly to my FI (we wouldn't initiate the conversation), what should he say to politely turn down the money?  It's possible that just refusing the gift would set his dad off so much that he wouldn't come to the wedding anyway, in which case the first question is resolved...! 

    Thanks for any help you can give!  I've been a member here for a year or so and have only posted a few times, but I have a lot of respect for the collective wisdom in these forums. :smile:
    Anger and alcohol are a volatile combination.  If there has been ample time to drink prior to the dinner and "microphone" portions of the evening, I'm not sure I would want to rile FFIL up by denying him access to the microphone.  Whatever he would say at that point would be chalked up to drunkenness, and seems a bit safer than an agitated, angry, and drunk guest.

    If, and it seems as if this would be the case, he and FI's mom are at separate tables, you could have the DJ stand nearby FMIL as she toasts you.  The SECOND FMIL finishes, the DJ could walk across the room, head immediately to his equipment table, and have a song ready to play.  He could switch his microphone off as he crosses the room.
    short+sassy
  • If FFIL offers money, I agree with "That's so kind of you dad, but we've got it covered!". If you think he would try to make changes to your wedding in anyway (whether that is take control or try to pay a vendor), you can let your vendors know that no changes are to be made unless OK'd by you or your FI.

    Good advice regarding the mic- I think one of the best is for the DJ to start playing a song right away after FMIL makes her toast. How many toasts do you have? I think your biggest trouble would be if he asks beforehand if he can make a toast- then what do you say!?!? I'm not sure- that is awkward to tell him no knowing FMIL is making a toast. I suppose you could tell him you're keeping the toasts short and only have one or two.
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I also think it's a good idea to make skip speeches are the reception if you're so concerned. Let her speak at the RD and don't invite FFIL to it. 

    InLoveInQueens
  • Thanks for the advice, everyone!  I'd be perfectly fine with no speeches/toasts at all, but my FI seems to really want a best man speech and his mom to say something.  I'll have to talk to him about it again, and see whether he wants his mom to speak more than he wants to keep his dad from speaking... 

    We aren't having security at the venue, as it has no staff (it's a property owned by a friend of a friend), but FFIL isn't ever really physically violent, he just tends to yell a lot when he's upset about anything.  And when he's not upset, actually -- he's the loudest person I've ever met.  


  • Also meant to add -- we're not having a rehearsal dinner (not in the budget, and we're not having a rehearsal at all), otherwise that's a great idea.  Thanks, @climbingwife!
    climbingwife
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    I'm usually not a fan of altering your behavior to impact how a person (especially with a dependency problem) will react), but I have to say I agree with skipping the FMIL speech.  That's salt in the wound, even without alcohol and anger management problems.  Have FMIL speak at the RD.

    I'd also hire security.  Better to be safe than sorry.
    image
    MesmrEwe
  • If you're not doing a RD I'd let FMIL speak first, followed by best man or MOH. That way it's clear there is an order and FFIL can't jump right in? Also, maybe have the DJ/emcee stand near the BM/FMIL so he can take the mic right away? 

    Other than that if he's going to make a scene, he's going to make a scene. Unfortunately you can't control other people's behavior. Do your best to minimize access to the mic, trust your DJ to be professional, and manage any outbursts as they come. 
    SP29downtondiva
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'm usually not a fan of this, but is there a family of his/your FI that you can ask to help escort FFIL outside if he starts yelling? Possibly someone that could just be put on notice before the event, and that person could simply monitor the situation. I assume that FFIL's relatives are familiar with his behavior, yes? 

    SP29
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited December 2016
    Although we Knotties might have the cool headedness and clarity of mind to distinguish between "just drunkenness" and "haters gonna hate" and really threatening behavior from the FFIL in this thread, that might not be the case with wedding guests, who may be emotional and may not be sober themselves. 

    I think it's a bigger risk to allow the FFIL to indulge himself with the mic if he's angry and drunk than it would be to take steps to keep him away from it. The above suggestions about carefully timing the FMIL'S toast so that the DJ has the mic immediately afterward or not having any speakers are good.

    But I would not ask a wedding guest to monitor the FFIL. I think that could be dangerous, not to mention that being asked to babysit an adult can impair the guest's enjoyment of the event s/he was invited to.
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Thanks for the advice, everyone!  I'd be perfectly fine with no speeches/toasts at all, but my FI seems to really want a best man speech and his mom to say something.  I'll have to talk to him about it again, and see whether he wants his mom to speak more than he wants to keep his dad from speaking... 

    We aren't having security at the venue, as it has no staff (it's a property owned by a friend of a friend), but FFIL isn't ever really physically violent, he just tends to yell a lot when he's upset about anything.  And when he's not upset, actually -- he's the loudest person I've ever met.  


    Maybe I"m being nitpicky, but I feel like this isn't something to really worry about. Cross the bridge if it comes to it. People are supposed to offer to speak- I know too many people who have been asked to speak and freaked out for months because they hate public speaking (though sounds like FMIL is good at it). If FMIL offers, you can mention you appreciate it but worry how FFIL will react, and go from there. 
    If a best man offers to speak, cool- follow the advice above about having the DJ control things.
    Contrary to popular belief weddings don't need a parade of speeches/toasts to be valid. My dad spoke for about 15 seconds (really just to say "raise a glass"), then DH and I got up together to thank everyone for coming (another 30 seconds) (also having the married couple speak is rather non-traditional anyway), and that was it. 
    And yeah, if FFIL offers money, just express appreciation but assure him you've got everything covered. 
    One of my closest friends has a father who's basically a terrible human being. She fretted about his behavior leading up to the wedding. He offered money that never materialized (luckily she knew better than to rely on it). He was also a perfect gentleman at the wedding. You just never know. 
    ________________________________


    short+sassy
  • Hmm, this is a tricky situation as I would usually suggest having the parents speak at the RD.

    I would do the following:

    1. Hire Security if you think there is any chance that FFIL may act out.  They are trained to spot issues (sometimes before they even happen) and effectively remove the problem person(s) with minimal disruptions.

    2.  Are you having alcohol?  Is it being served by bartenders or is it just going to be readily available?  It may be a good idea to give the bartender(s) a heads up that he has a drinking problem.

    3.  Skip the FMIL Toast at the Reception.  Offer the FMIL some time with the Groom alone before the ceremony to say what she wants to say.  You could also encourage a written letter instead that your FI can keep and reread whenever he wants.  (May work for FFIL then you can just ignore his once you have it).  I think having her speak without allowing FFIL to speak is asking for trouble.

    4.  Confirm that the BM/MOH even want to make a toast.  Most people here hate "speeches" and prefer a "toast".  A toast being about 30 seconds to a minute where a speech is much longer.  In general it is recommended to get through ALL speeches/toasts in about 5 minutes max.  (Less is more).  Only our Best Man wanted to speak so that was the only toast we had at the reception, and nobody missed anything.  (At the RD we opened the floor to anyone who wanted to say something...it was very nice as the room was more intimate friends/family only and people were less nervous)

    5.  Bean Dip is awesome! If your FFIL asks about financials (or anything else really), just say, "Thanks but we have it covered.  *Subject Change"

    Final thoughts, I know you mentioned in your original post that not inviting your FFIL would cause a lot of family drama, but you may want to consider just not inviting him.  If FI doesn't want to continue his relationship with him anyway, I would just start ghosting now and see how this all lands closer to invite time.

    InLoveInQueensOliveOilsMom
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    scribe95 said:
    Has anyone actually ever hired security? I see that suggested a lot on here and I always think it is just kinda crazy.
    Sometimes venues require it when they don't provide it themselves -- especially if alcohol is served.

    I think it's kinda crazy not to when inviting guests known to be volatile when drinking alcohol.
    charlotte989875InLoveInQueensMesmrEwe
  • scribe95 said:
    Has anyone actually ever hired security? I see that suggested a lot on here and I always think it is just kinda crazy.
    Depending on your venue it may already be included, I know mine included 1 officer for every x number of people. If someone is truly concerned they need it though they just might!
    image
    MesmrEwe
  • scribe95 said:
    Has anyone actually ever hired security? I see that suggested a lot on here and I always think it is just kinda crazy.
    We had to hire security for DD's wedding because it was a local ordinance.

  • Our venue requires us to hire an off-duty police officer if we're serving alcohol (which we are). The local department here charges $25/hour which isn't TERRIBLE budget-wise. I would definitely consider something like that and giving them a heads up. Also let your DJ/MC and bar staff know so they can handle the situation appropriately. This probably isn't the first time they've dealt with something like this.

    Regarding the money: change the subject, politely refuse, give it back if he physically hands you something, etc.

    Side note: I went to an AHR for a coworker many years ago. It was very casual, so pretty much anyone who wanted to say something just grabbed the mic. Our boss was wasted and gave a 20 minute speech about how hot he thought my coworker's new wife was and how jealous he was. It was SUPER awkward. Please do what you can to prevent this!
    cowgirl8238
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    scribe95 said:
    Has anyone actually ever hired security? I see that suggested a lot on here and I always think it is just kinda crazy.
    My venue required that we hire someone. We had one security guard and it was $250 ish for 7 hours which was super reasonable, I thought. 
    MesmrEwe
  • scribe95 said:
    Has anyone actually ever hired security? I see that suggested a lot on here and I always think it is just kinda crazy.
    My venue was a boutique hotel, so it had it's own security staff. We didn't have any issues, but if we did they had people on site. 
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Just to add ... do what you can and know that you can't control the rest.  You can mitigate these things, but realize that his behavior is out of your control and let it go. 

    My brother was in a pretty bad place when I got married.  He totally blew up at me a month before the wedding.  I drove myself crazy fearing he would make a scene at our wedding.  Fortunately he didn't.  Don't do what I did and obsess over this (not saying you are ... I know how easy it can be to let this worry a bride, though).  


    Mitigate what you can and try to not think about the "what if"s.  (easier said than done, I know)
    short+sassybluebell42
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