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Chinese Weddings

need help with FMIL and family

Perhaps someone can suggest something here, or at the least commiserate with me. I am having some major lack of understanding on behalf of my FMIL and guest list. 
My fiancé's family is Chinese, they moved to Taiwan and then to the US over 40 years ago, where he was born and raised. I am a well traveled caucasian girl. From the beginning of our engagement, his parents have told us "you can't have a destination wedding", suggested the country club  (despite our objections), were appalled we did not want kids at our wedding, and could not understand why my fiance would not invite people who work for him. We settled on a gorgeous venue, but it only holds 200 people. We would prefer not to have that many, but he has a HUGE family. After a family reunion, his uncle sent an e-mail on his fathers behalf inviting EVERY family member, prior to our even finalizing the guest list! Out of this, his parents decided to host a second Chinese Banquet style wedding. His parents agreed it was all or nothing with inviting family to our Friday American wedding, and thus we thought we had a solution. I was very excited to learn about the wedding banquet and the culture and traditions of his family. I thought this was a win win, I can plan my wedding to my liking and she could plan her event to her liking (she had on several occasions told me I HAVE to have a big photo of us, have line dancing, games, etc and was trying to dictate what my wedding would be like) But, his mom didn't seem interested in the Banquet planning,  whenever I tried to ask his mom about it and learn about it she said she didn't know anything about them and then would try to convince me that royal blue was prettier than navy blue (my color). 
I thought all was ok, and then she apparently threw a screaming crying match at my fiance's workplace that she had to invite the aunts and uncles to Friday. We felt awful and said Ok, adding 27 people. Then we felt bad the cousins couldn't come, so we decided to invite them and clearly stated NO KIDS, adding 43 people. Then his mom continues to ask us.. "but so and so wants to come", "you have to invite so and so's kid", "just make an exception for this kid", "but you HAVE to invite so and so", "so and so is not coming so lets add so and so"...to the point where one day she threatened my fiance she wouldn't come. These arguments all occur in Mandarin, and I can only understand a few words. I try to interject when I can, explaining proper etiquette with invitations, that we can't substitute people because of the plated dinner, we have seating charts, i have no more invitations, etc.. She then will tell me it is Chinese tradition to invite everyone you know....but I thought that was why we were having the Banquet. She has also argued with me about American vs Chinese etiquette (but that is another story).
I thought this all all settled once I sent the invitations, but I was wrong. She is continuing to ask if we can invite more people and substitute people! 
I have a lot of family members and friends that will not be able to make the trip from the East Coast, and I did not invite quite a few local friends and close family friends because we don't have the space. Now his mom is trying to say "if this family member can't come, I want to invite this extended family member". My fiance says blood this thicker than water, and I agree family is important. That is the reason we added 70 people to the guest list and cut some of our friends. At this point though, I feel the whole wedding will be his family and just a very small group for my side. He continues to tell her no and that we have no room, but she argues and says we do because she knows "so and so" is not coming. We haven't even gotten the RSVP cards yet! I thought this was why we were having the banquet. 

I know that they are excited for their son and that they love me and want to welcome me to the family, but I am beyond frustrated with this. I am planning this entire wedding myself and paying for most of it on my own. It is also causing distress and arguments between myself and my fiancé. 

Does anyone have any suggestions. 

Re: need help with FMIL and family

  • if she's not paying then say NO. I'm Chinese and one thing that is important is MONEY. do the western wedding your way and let her run wild with the banquet IF she's paying. otherwise , politely say no, there's no room in the budget and tell her it's very stressful. it's just one day! no one wants to go into debt for a wedding.
  • xiaopeapodxiaopeapod member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited October 2013
    Not sure if you have already had your wedding but I thought I'll continue this for the sake of future brides.

    While not all Chinese parents are like this, your FMIL's behavior is quite typical. There are some who are worse and some less so. For example, my own parents who didn't paid for the wedding still insisted on getting involved when it comes to the guests. Chinese people love to have FACE, especially if they are more well to do or own a business. They will have customers or their own staff to prove or to show off, etc. (Sadly, people will talk no matter what.) I know it sounds crazy or even downright ridiculous considering everything else you have to stress about. But I commend you for having compromised so far and trying to make this work. Certainly don't let her take over the wedding, but don't offend her or ruin your MIL/DIL relationship before it even begun. In your case, continue to let your FI deal with her directly. Invite only immediate or close family to the Western wedding because seats are limited. Invite everyone else and their neighbors (j/k) to the banquet. I hope she will learn to compromise too.
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