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Motherzilla of the Bride

May03

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Hi Amy!

(Brace yourself. It’s long. I’m sorry.)

I know your column is mostly babies and mom stuff, but I’ve seen the occasional wedding/life/other article as well. I was hoping that maybe you could help me out with a situation I have going on over here (it falls in the “wedding category”. Dun dun DUN.).

Anyways, in the beginning, we each talked things over with our separate parents as to who would pay for what. My family agreed to cover the entire wedding (except the videographer and centerpieces, which we are paying for ourselves). For financial reasons, my fiance’s family can only afford to cover the cost of a rehearsal dinner, and we are paying for the honeymoon itself (I tell you this so you understand budget-wise where I stand).

At first, it was great. My mom was my main planner, my biggest helper – all of my bridesmaids are pretty spread out geographically speaking, so Mom was the only person available to help. And like I said: at first, it was great. It’s like we both had the same mind. She was very supportive of every decision I made, and completely understood my vision for the wedding. I’ve been completely grateful to her throughout the planning process; without her, things wouldn’t have run as smoothly as they have.

However, as the wedding inches closer (we are down to the last few months now), things have gone steadily downhilll. The proverbial stuff really hit the fan a few days before Christmas. Apparently, a potential vendor had insulted my mother over the phone. I called them and demanded an apology, etc. However, they called my mom back before I could. While they did apologize, etc., all it did was make my mom angrier at them, and angry at me. She called immediately afterward to yell and scream at me and accuse me of not trusting her and a lot of other really hurtful stuff. Mom called to apologize the day before Christmas, and since then we haven’t spoken of it. However, things have not been the same. She has been outright mean to me in most (if not all) conversations about the wedding ever since.

A few days ago, I mentioned to Mom that if we went to the hair salon of my stylist (instead of having her travel to the hotel we’ll be staying in the night before and day of until the wedding), we could save a lot of money for the bridesmaids. The stylist is pretty close to my fiance’s family (which is why I chose her), and said that if we came to her instead of the other way around, she’d only charge anybody else involved in the wedding $25 to have their hair done. Personally, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to travel to the salon when you consider that discount (the full travel price per person is $75). It’s in the next town over, but it’s only a 20-30 minute drive at the most. If we all make sure to do our nails the day before the wedding instead of that day, we’ll be fine time-wise. We don’t have to be at the church until 4:30pm the day of the wedding, and the wedding itself doesn’t start until half past six. If we start early, we’ll be fine.

When I brought this up to Mom, she screamed at me about how she didn’t care about the other bridesmaids and she was only paying for my hair. Literally. Screamed. Before I was even finished speaking, really. I could barely get a word in – I’ve known my parents weren’t paying for the maids hair to be done since the start, and so have they. One of my maids was literally sitting next to me in the car when I called my mom about it, and she could hear every word on the phone. After a few minutes, I finally got her to calm down long enough to just listen to what I had to say. Afterward, she just flat out said “no”. When I asked her why, she said it was because she didn’t want me to be stressed out on my big day. I finally just said that I thought it was worth it, and reminded her whose wedding it was. Mom just said that she couldn’t talk to me about it anymore and hung up.

My bridesmaids mean a lot to me. They are all family, yes, but that’s not the only reason I chose them. I chose them because they each in their own way have special meaning to me. They are all spending a lot of money just to stand up next to me for 45 or so minutes. One of them will be coming from out of state. One of them will be moving out of state days after the wedding. One of them lives several hours away where she just started a new job in a new city and the other is a new and single mom. THEY DON’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS, and in at least two cases probably can’t really afford to do this, but are doing it anyway. If I can save them a little extra cost, I’d like to do so (I know that they could just do their own hair, but they all agreed they’d rather pay someone to do it instead).

I’ve talked to my fiance, and he said he’d be willing to pay the difference in cost to have the stylist come to the hotel to do everyone’s hair. The thing is, between the honeymoon and the videographer and the centerpieces, I’m not sure we can afford to spend the extra $200 (we are both in our last year of college…we’ve saved a lot of money since we first got engaged, but we’re still stretched pretty thin with the extra costs of day-to-day living). My dad…does not want to get involved. He just wants me to do what mom says, period. On the other hand, I feel really strongly about this issue. I have only argued with my mom on one other thing, and that’s the centerpieces – which we have agreed that I will pay for myself. Everything else we’ve agreed on. I’ve had reassurances from both my fiance and my maids that I haven’t been a “bridezilla” at any point during the planning; I know I can trust these people to get up in my face about it if I do (and I made it clear in the beginning that they were to knock me down a peg if I did become one).

So Amy, what do you think I should do? Battle this one out with my mom? Or suck it up and pay the difference in cost? Sadly, there is no option C, as it is too late to run away and elope.

I’d really appreciate your input on this. Thanks!
-Jen-

P.S. I know. That was depressing, wasn’t it? Here, check out some pictures of cats with badly spelled captions. You’re welcome.

So I woke up this morning thinking that we could probably use a break from all the baby/pregnancy stuff that’s monopolized the conversation over here, and decided that I would tackle the first non-parenting-type question I came across in the queue. And yet now that I really think about this one, we’re STILL talking about parents and mothers and how we are pretty much crazy forces in our children’s lives forever and ever amen. One day we’re stressing out over how to get you to sleep in your crib and the next day we’re having some kind of mental break with reality over your WEDDING HAIR.

My God, but motherhood is bleak.

ANYWAY. In case you were wondering, yes, your mother is acting pretty crazy. And also, a lot like a lot of OTHER mothers that a lot of OTHER brides have written to me about. Everything starts out fine and fun and wonderful, and then as the months and weeks tick by and the wedding gets closer, stuff gets less fine. Control issues abound, tempers flare, power struggles ensue. The key is to (basically) survive this patch of crazy without major damage being done to relationships, reminding yourself over and over again that it will all be over soon and things *SHOULD* return to normal after the wedding and your mom’s adrenaline levels go back down to non-Hulk levels. At which point you forgive and forget and never bring this behavior up again.

(Just weeks before my own wedding, my mother discovered I’d gotten a tattoo at college. She kicked me out of the house, asked for my college tuition money back, all while frantically ripping down wallpaper in the upstairs guest bathroom because she couldn’t possibly deal with any wedding guests possibly seeing that ugly wallpaper, even though everybody was staying at a hotel DON’T ARGUE WITH ME ABOUT THE WALLPAPER, YOUNG LADY. NOW PACK YOUR THINGS AND GET OUT OF MY SIGHT. BUT DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR DRESS FITTING TOMORROW.)

(I’ve forgiven and forgotten, for the most part. I do occasionally bring it up at Christmas once we’ve all had some wine. LOVINGLY. She is suitably embarrassed, but still thinks the tattoo is trashy and the new bathroom wallpaper is much better.)

So basically: the wedding stress has eaten your mother. Hopefully it will spit her back out once it’s all done. She’s made YOUR wedding the focus of HER existence, possibly shoving aside her emotions of “losing you” by overextending herself in both time and money. A Xanax prescription would probably be in order here. This really does seem to happen a LOT with weddings, which is why I retell fairy tales to both of my children to include a magical happy elopement at the end.

As it’s been a REALLY long time since I got married and my wedding was a simple backyard half-a-shoestring affair, I bet the commenters can provide better general coping tips about how to avoid blow-ups from this point forward. It seems like she’s really having problems with anything deviating from the set plan, no matter how silly — this mostly tells me that she’s just wound WAY too tight. I’m sure you know this isn’t about the hair or the cost or you being stressed out on your wedding day, it’s about…something else, and until she gets a grip on her emotions and stress level and some DISTANCE from this highly-charged situation, nobody will ever figure out what, exactly, she’s really wigging out about.

Big-picture freak-outs aside, let’s look at the Hair Dilemma. I am totally with you: saving your bridesmaids some money is REALLY NICE. Nobody needs to get their hair done at a hotel if it costs hundreds of dollars more. A car trip on the day of your wedding will not cause anyone to burst into non-fairy-tale-wedding flames. Your argument that your friends are already laying out enough money for the wedding is absolutely reasonable and enough.

Your mother thinks she has a say in this situation because she’s paying for your hair. So…pay for your own hair. Consider that part of your obligation to your bridesmaids. (And I’m guessing that would be cheaper than your finance covering the cost to bring your stylist to the hotel.) You can continue to walk on eggshells around your mother and cave to this freakout but don’t kid yourself: There will likely be another freakout later, and another concession she’ll expect you to make.

So make the appointments at the salon. The next time the topic comes up, just tell your mom that you felt really strongly about doing this for your bridesmaids and since she has a problem with it, that’s fine, and that’s why you are no longer expecting her to cover any hair-related expenses. She might get super-insulted, but as you’ve already reminded her: this is YOUR WEDDING. If she can’t let you have any input or make any decisions without a temper tantrum, then you will continue to take back expenses and pay for them yourself, or go without them entirely, because SERIOUSLY.

(And as hard as it might be right now, since she’s in Raving Crazy Person mode, is there some kind of NON-WEDDING-RELATED outing you could take her on for some quality mother-daughter time? A day where all wedding talk is strictly off-limits while you two shop or see a movie or just have lunch at the place you used to go with her as a kid? I know it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, but maybe a little gesture like that would help trigger her reset button and remind her of the early planning days. Back when it was about her DAUGHTER’S wedding instead of her daughter’s WEDDING!!11!!!)

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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35 Responses to “Motherzilla of the Bride”

  1. been there! May 03 at 11:49 am Reply Reply

    Wow, the memories. My mother was regularly referred to as “Momzilla” by my friends. As soon as my husband and I got engaged she became a completely different (and totally unreasonable!) person. She had freaked out at my college graduation and nearly ruined it, so I thought the wedding preparation might be tense. To avoid any potential problems, I asked her what three aspects of the wedding were most important to her, and then I made sure that each of those desires was accommodated. Even being proactive wasn’t enough. Everything from our photographer to my shoes to the hors d’oeuvres became subjects of contention, with pleas that it was “just this one little thing.” She tried to make me seem unreasonable about everything! BUT, (and here’s the good news)she was great the day of the wedding. Beginning the day before the wedding, I think it totally hit her that it was, like Amalah put it, her “DAUGHTER’s wedding” rather than her “daughter’s WEDDING,” and she (finally!) got some perspective. And all was–and still is–well. So hang tight and stand your ground on reasonable things. Things will likely get better. Also, try to remember that she’s mostly just upset that her baby is getting married. Even though you’ve probably felt like you’ve been in an adult for years, this may be the ceremonial step that makes your mother feel like you’re an adult. And that may be a little scary and a little sad for her.

  2. Keli May 03 at 11:55 am Reply Reply

    I paid for 100% of my own wedding and it didn’t stop my mom from FREAKING OUT THE DAY OF THE WEDDING about how everyone was getting to the chapel. And it was my job to fix it.
    How I “fixed” it: I took my mom completely out of the equation. I told her that she was not helping and that she needed to stay away from me and shut up until the problem was fixed. Which, it turns out, my brother fixed cheaply and easily.
    When it was done, she was embarrassed and ended up having a great story about the Hummer limo she rode in to my wedding.
    My point is, it’s always going to be something. Finances aside, I think some parents are going to freak out and take it out inappropriately.
    Make your voice heard and be straightforward. Everything will be fine.

  3. Ashley May 03 at 12:29 pm Reply Reply

    Oh man. My Mom did the same thing. We ended up in counseling, it was BAD (there were some other issues there, ahem, a step-mother who was NOT welcome but invited…I thought 10 years would have been long enough but APPARENTLY NOT).
    Regardless, I completely agree with Amalah and the other commentors, this is not about the wedding and 100% something else. Remain calm, be the adult. My Mom was excellent the day before and day of my wedding (thank God) and hopefully yours will be too. The important thing is to not say anything hurtful and really damage the relationship. This too shall pass. (And I am sorry you are going through this but I am so glad I am not the only one!).

  4. Christina May 03 at 12:37 pm Reply Reply

    Girl, do I feel for you. In fact, just this weekend I sat down with my parents and fiance and printed 150 programs. We all managed not to freak out even when the printer ate really expensive card stock and my mother had a computer crash.
    I have 48 days until my wedding and I’m spending every single one reminding myself why that day is important.
    The only way we’ve managed to lessen the freak outs (there have been a few, I wont lie) is that I decided very early that I was going to pick the things I cared about, I was clear about them and fought for them when necessary. The other stuff I ignored, even when my grandmother made herself look like a total ass in front of the priest.
    Obviously, saving the maids money is something you care about so you should fight. In the fights we’ve had mostly I’ve just stayed really calm and allowed everyone else to be the screamers. Eventually they would stop screaming, realize they were being a jerk, and I ended up doing whatever I wanted in the first place.
    This tactic also works in my job, ironically.

  5. Susan May 03 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    I think Amy’s right on this one. Book that salon and don’t mention it to mom. Let her know what you’ve decided at a time when she’s feeling all neutral and happy … liquor her up if necessary! And, be sure to heap praise upon her for all of her “help” and let her know that you “couldn’t have done it without her.” Maybe even stage a fake crisis (about something silly like a garter) and let her come to the rescue and make the important fake decision. She needs to feel needed and important, so let her. And, then, scheme behind her back ; )

  6. Cobblestone May 03 at 12:48 pm Reply Reply

    I’d ask mom and see if she can articulate why this is so WRONG! BAD! NO! Is she afraid it will be a sitcom set of errors where the one car breaks down and the best man speeds off to come get you and then the traffic is bad and the day turns all rushed and late?
    I would totally not pay the travel cost but it is worth it to make sure you are in two/three cars and you won’t be traveling in rush hour so you aren’t jogging down the highway in your up-dos while your mom strokes out at the hotel and pockets her champage before the ceremony toast.

  7. Jaymee May 03 at 12:51 pm Reply Reply

    This is exactly why I eloped!! Good luck!

  8. Christen May 03 at 1:03 pm Reply Reply

    Oh Sweetie, I feel you! I am just shy under 5 months from wedding day (!) and my mom wavers between being awesome or full-tilt batshit crazy. I know this is in part because I am her only child and she has ALWAYS pinned a lot of hopes and dreams on me (she didn’t get to go to college, but I did, etc). She has been married twice and neither wedding was what she really wanted. Therefore, this is her big chance! I will have everything SHE has ever dreamed of even if I don’t want it at all. You didn’t mention if these kinds of dynamics exist in your relationship, but this might be part of it. Between you being close to graduating from college and getting married she may be realizing that she is not going to be your touchstone for big life stuff anymore; your husband is. And that is a sad moment for a lot of parents. She is holding on to little things because she can, not because it even matters to her one way or the other.
    I could totally be projecting my own family stuff onto yours but my mom is obsessed with save the date cards and gets about as excited over pieces of paper as your mom is over hair appointments so… yeah. I agree with Amy’s idea of a day out with NO wedding talk or planning just to hang out and reconnect as mother and daughter and reassure her that you still “need” her and value her.

  9. Katie May 03 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    Same, same, same! My mother’s mental state deteriorated as we got closer to the wedding day. We were getting married in their yard, like Amalah, shoestring budget, and my favorite episode was her absolute FREAK OUT that we had OMG NOWHERE TO PUT DRINKS AND WHAT WILL WE DO I KNOW WE’LL BORROW MY TEACHER FRIEND’S TREE GREEN PLYWOOD TIKI BAR! NOW WE MUST GO PICK IT UP IMMEDIATELY, NOW, DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING! Everything else at our wedding was pink and white. Nothing green. And this is why my then fiance is my now-husband-of-10-years: he saw my face, hugged me, and immediately put me in the car to go to the fabric store, then spent 3 hours wrapping a giant plywood tiki bar in white fabric and pink tulle.
    All of that to say you’re not alone, I totally agree with Amalah’s advice about going to the salon, and you may still have to have a wedding day Mom-stay-away-from-me-now intervention like Keli (I had one of those 10 minutes before our ceremony as well). 20 minutes into the reception, Mom was back to herself and has stayed that way ever since. It will all be over soon, I promise!

  10. Bethany May 03 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to give you props for thinking about your bridesmaids and trying to save them money. I’ve thankfully only been in weddings of seriously awesome brides (seriously awesome–first year out of college, living in super highrent/cost of living city far away from the wedding with a super low salary–the bride’s family bought me my dress and just said “well, it was above your budget and we didn’t want you to stress” seriously, LOVE that girl to death because I had been so nervous about my finances).
    I’ve heard so many horror stories though from other friends in other wedding, so you rock for being awesome and considerate.
    Good luck with your mom. My sister asked my mom to sew her dress (she’s an amazing seamstress–it ended up this gorgeous couture-looking dress) and she was too busy to really care about anything else. Anytime someone questioned a wedding thing, my mom just said “it was all daughter’s decision”

  11. Beeeee May 03 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with the “get away from the wedding” idea. I think that it’s inevitable that from engagement on, EVERYTHING becomes about the wedding, and sometimes you need to remind each other of your relationship beforehand.
    We have a similar wallpaper-type story about my mom before my sister’s wedding, but you know what? My mom passed away before my wedding, so you never know what kind of crazy antics you’ll look back on with a smile.

  12. Cobblestone May 03 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    Oh yeah, my second wedding was essentially a justice of the peace affair. My folks were the only other people we saw that day, I had asked my mom to do the pictures (which she is great at).
    One night she was pleased and proud that she had found a cake that met my husband’s wack-a-loon dietary habits. I said thanks but no (honeymoon etc ….) she burst into tears and wailed about wanting to do something special for us.
    “Really mom??? A CAKE is the part you want, not the lunch not the pictures, not the part where we are spending time with you and dad …. you want a CAKE!!!????”
    “sniff … um …. yes? Well, um ….. no I want that other stuff”
    Happily it has become code for “your priorities are getting out of whack and you’ve stopped making sense”. We just ask if the other wants cake with that.

  13. Jenny May 03 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, we have all been there! The best advice I got was from my cousin, who had dealt with her own Momzilla the year before — she said remember that your mom has been planning this day (in her mind) since you were born and you can’t get mad at her, but you can and should set boundaries and pick your battles. The part about not getting mad is the hardest, especially when mothers lose their cool and are mean or rude and otherwise being impossible. But it IS your day, and your fiance’s, and you have to make the decisions that make you happy. Do not feel guilty about that! Oh, and since it sounds like there WILL be something else she loses her cool over, the Xanax is an excellent idea!

  14. Lisa M May 03 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    Will you mom get defensive if you ask her what’s eating her? Sometimes the best way to get beyond it is to just ask. If she suddenly changed after the one vendor incident, then maybe it’s still bugging her, and avoiding the topic isn’t helping, so maybe talking about it will.
    Also, if she’s getting all squirrelly about changing the game plan at this stage, try approaching the subject in a way that will make her feel like it’s her idea. Like the hair, for instance, instead of presenting it as a solution to a problem that she didn’t think she had; let her know that the stylist suggested traveling to the salon to save money for the ‘maids.
    That’s my $.02. But also, looking at it from 10+ years…I wish my bridesmaids hadn’t worried about stuff like that. Yes, they looked awesome, but I know money was tight for them, and they both look beautiful anyway. I wish I had thought to suggest that they skip the hair and manicure (if they wanted) and just DIY. Who knows, they both might have voted for it anyway, but…when I look at photos now, it doesn’t matter that everyone had special hair and make-up, most of the candid shots I have framed are from the rehearsal dinner anyway. Again, that’s just my experience, YMMV.
    Congrats and good luck!!!!!

  15. mel May 03 at 2:50 pm Reply Reply

    Amy- a Tattoo!!! What is it- where- seems quite unlike you. Bride- my mom can now laugh about our mutual insanity during my wedding, but it has taken 7 years. Best of luck to you.

  16. Procrastamom May 03 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    I’m filing all of these tips away for the next 5 to 15 years. At least one of my children is bound to get married in that time-frame and I DO NOT WANT TO BECOME THAT MOTHER! Over their lifetimes, I’ve slowly been planting the seeds of “run off to Vegas and elope, then come home and we’ll throw you a party in the backyard”, but if that isn’t the case I’m pledging right now to behave myself, Amen.

  17. stacy May 03 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    Wait, is your mom my mom?? Because it sounds scarily familiar! Actually, we are 10 days from my younger brother’s wedding and my mom has kind of lost her mind. She’s already renovated her entire house because the rehearsal BBQ is in her backyard. Just new wallpaper?? No, she’s re-tiled the kitchen, re-painted 2 bedrooms, re-wallpapered a bathroom, and rented a storage unit to house boxes of stuff she had removed from her house but “doesn’t want to get rid of”…Uh huh. Oookay.
    I planned my own wedding and only gave my mom the tasks that I was happy to let her run with. It worked out a lot better that way, even though she did accuse me of keeping her in the dark on several occasions. And she’d make suggestions that I made vague “uh-huh” noises at, then did what I wanted in the 1st place. She does take credit for the whole thing however. Yeah, okay, mom, whatever you want to believe!! ;-)
    Hang in there and stick to your guns.

  18. Melissa May 03 at 3:20 pm Reply Reply

    Just a thought: Can you postpone the wedding? No, seriously.
    We have religious differences and lots of kooky relatives that have their issues. So we decided we were going to pay for everything, soup to nuts.
    40 guest, for a cocktail party. No attendants. We did ask some folks to say something on our behalf, Quaker style, but nothing else. Wine and beer at the bar only to hold down costs.
    Did paying for it ourselves make everything all peaches and light? No. But is was much, much easier to refuse “suggestions,” to smile and say “no thanks,” and generally to have the wedding we really wanted.

  19. Hayley May 03 at 3:26 pm Reply Reply

    It was my mother-in-law that did this kind of stuff. I eventually let her tell me what she wanted me to do (Catholic Mass wedding, even though I am not Catholic; 100% seating at the reception; wedding colors; wedding flowers; etc.) and then did what I had been planning on doing anyway.

  20. incognito May 03 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    I think there’s a question of whether you want to try to fully repair the relationship before the wedding. If there’s an issue of her feeling ignored, just paying for your own hair and brushing her freakout aside won’t solve anything but the hair issue. Which would be valid if you all just had to grin and bear it for a couple more weeks, but you have a few months, so maybe there’s time to address the underlying issues?
    Recently, my brother and I were planning a surprise party for my dad. To eliminate points of contact at the house, and frankly in an attempt to lower my mom’s stress level, we jointly reassured her that we would take care of everything. Well, a week before the party someone hadn’t RSVPed, so my brother emailed her to ask for the phone number. She sent a nasty, snarky email about how “Your SISTER wanted me to STAY OUT of it” and griping about having to look up the number.
    My usual pattern would be to call her on it and express my annoyance that she was taking this out on me, but this time I Mommed her right back! With an email that just said “This really hurt my feelings.” She called to apologize, told me how stressed out she was about something unrelated, let me point how much effort we had spared her, let her confess that she had secretly visited the restaurant “to make sure it was okay” – and, shocker, we agreed that we needed to have a mom-daughter weekend to get back to “us”, which is something we have never done. (My brother and dad change the dynamic something awful.)
    I guess what I’m saying is, maybe just straight up talking about your feelings and her feelings – rather than wedding logistics – will help her chill out and see the bigger picture.
    One more thing: I secretly assigned one of my mom’s very good friends to Mother of Bride duty. It was her sole “job” to keep my mom fed and liquored and distracted and, when necessary, out of my hair. Worked like a charm.

  21. clare May 03 at 4:47 pm Reply Reply

    oooh, i just threw up a little in my mouth. four years later when anyone says something about my wedding i say, “yes, it was lovely, the wedding of my mother’s dreams” and go take a xanax.
    it’s only too late to elope if the wedding already happened.

  22. Elizabeth May 03 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

    this is a refershing read. For some reason, all my married friends had saints for mothers during planning. I thought mine was the aberration.
    In retrospect, my mother’s control issus and sniping came down to two issues:
    1) She, like many a mother before her, had been dreaming of my wedding day longer than I had. So that’s 27 years invested in whatever vision she had. Sometimes she was fine with differing decisions. Other times, not so much. One particular high point was when she flat out said it was “HER” wedding since her name and my father’s was at the top of the invitation. Looking back, I could have been better about picking my battles over the small stuff rather than fighting because “mom was being such a control freak and I shouldn’t let her.” In reality, I think she would have calmed down if she felt her opinion was being heard more often.
    2) She didn’t feel involved enough. I grew up in the midwest but married in DC, where my husband and I met, dated, and now live. The decision to not have the wedding in my hometown totally threw her for a loop and she immediately read it as excluding her from the process and that she would feel like a “guest at my own daughter’s wedding.” This fed into a lot of bitterness and difficulty on her part which I didn’t always have the patience or maturity to handle. I tried to keep her involved as much as possible but there was only so much I could do as a committee. She bristled whenever I brought something to her already decided upon. I think if I had written her a letter or had a calm conversation saying I wanted her involved and would need her help with logistics, she may have been less “OMG I’m excluded!” defensive.
    Or not. Who knows. Moms are f’ing crazy.
    2)

  23. Catherine May 03 at 5:38 pm Reply Reply

    My Mom passed away when my sister and I were little. I spent the build up to my sister’s wedding and the actual Big Day playing some kind of hybrid mother of the bride / chief bridesmaid / wedding planner / family mediator role, while wanting to murder the other attendants for all sorts of reasons. I missed my Mom A LOT, however nuts she might have hypothetically got in the same situation.

  24. EB May 03 at 7:52 pm Reply Reply

    I’m T minus 2.5 months here, and just starting to sense that there are things we are going to start fighting about.. But of course in some sort of passive aggressive, “Oh but I didn’t know that you weren’t inviting (insert 6 second cousins who.. well, just no) and I already forwarded that save the date email. You should have told me!” “Well, did you even look at my finalized guest list?” “Yes. Weren’t they on there? Why not?” “So you didn’t look at the list…”
    They are paying for the wedding reception dinner, bits and pieces of the pre-wedding stuffs. We are paying for.. everything else. But apparently paying for the dinner equals inviting the super extended family members who generally disapprove of every decision I’ve made since I was 10. So much fun.
    Right now, I’m having a hard time not going bridezilla on some things. I want simple. I am not picking ‘colors’, I refuse to panick about centerpieces, etc. Mom knows this, mom continues to send me links to fancy centerpieces, party prizes, a more expensive photographer… etc. I think we will be having the, “Why are you doing this? And how can we comprimise/ just do what I want?” talk- real soon.

  25. Beth C May 03 at 8:44 pm Reply Reply

    I wonder too if your mother is stressed about the money. I don’t know what your parents financial situation is but I wouldn’t necessary rule it out, maybe everything is costing her more than she thought and she feels the need to regain some control … maybe?

  26. Eamons' Mom May 03 at 8:54 pm Reply Reply

    I did not much enjoy planning my own wedding, and was more than happy to turn portions over to my husband, mom, mother-in-law, bridesmaids, cousins, hotel managers, and anyone else who would be bothered to handle it for me. I mostly just wanted to pick the color scheme and then show up.
    I never thought about having to plan ANOTHER wedding until people started talking about one day being the “Mother-of-the-_____.” I always thought I wanted a girl, but now I realize that I really am better suited for the wonderful boy that I have after all. Let’s just all pray that he marries a girl with a mother who likes to do all that rot, because I seriously doubt I’ll be much help otherwise (“I like lavender and silver. Now when do you want me to show up?”) Three cheers for boys!

  27. Mary May 03 at 10:11 pm Reply Reply

    I will celebrate my 22nd anniversary next month, and I’m still traumatized by what my mother turned into before our wedding. Her sister died of cancer about eight months before our wedding, so she was going through that, and then doing her grieving. I wanted to spare her, and did most of the planning during that time. About two months before the wedding, she emerged from her fog and wanted to plan. And it was done, and she freaked. I am the oldest, the first to marry and the only daughter, so it was going to be bad anyway, but it was awful.
    She freaked out that I was serving both beer and wine at the reception, because beer was tacky. She broke down and cried when I told her the music we’d picked, because the ONLY thing my husband asked for was a song she doesn’t like, and it would ruin everything. I’d chosen a very lovely and traditional invitation, but it was a little more modern than she liked, and what would people THINK? Etc.
    The funny part is that I still remember every detail (and so do my husband and brothers, so I know I’m not making it up) but my mom remembers none of it. She remembers all the parties we went to, and how lovely the wedding turned out and what fun we had. Whatever.
    My subsequent sisters-in-law raved about how wonderful my mother was while they were planning their weddings, how positively helpful. It was because I was pulling her aside and reminding her that she better not pull that stuff again. And as time passed and she realized that life does indeed go on, she got more and more mellow. My youngest sister-in-law thinks I’m lying when I tell her how bad it was.
    I am getting to the point in my life when being the mother of the groom is not too far in my future, and I will not be that person. I don’t care if they get married scuba diving, I will smile and be supportive and tell them how lovely it all is. My whole focus will be NOT turning into my mother!

  28. Angie May 03 at 11:10 pm Reply Reply

    Practice this phrase: “I’m the bride; it doesn’t bother me.”
    “I’m the bride; it doesn’t bother me if we make a trip to the salon that day.”
    “I’m the bride; it doesn’t bother me if we drive to the ceremony site in a minivan in stead of a limo.”
    “I’m the bride; it doesn’t bother me if So-and-So’s tattoos are visible.”
    Say it with a smile and an empathetic hand squeeze. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  29. Sarah May 04 at 9:25 am Reply Reply

    Ah….reminds me of my wedding and insane mother…who didn’t pay for a damn thing and yet still insisted on making things difficult and even went so far as to sneak meat into my vegetarian reception (even after we already conceded to let her have booze there, though we didn’t want it there at all). Ugh. Mothers.

  30. Nicole May 04 at 9:54 am Reply Reply

    I loved your letter. It brought me back to the two months prior to my wedding when I was crying in my work parking lot because my Mom was forcing a check on me to pay some vendor that I didn’t want to work with and telling me that if I didn’t do it she would never speak to me again… like ever. We got over it and she is making a wonderful Grandmother.
    Like most of the ladies here, she straightened out the week of the wedding when she realized that “My baby is leaving”. After the wedding she apologized and said that she wished she had spent more time with me and less time being the task master.
    I add my two cents because the main issue that caused her to freak out was that she thought I was defecting to my in-laws (heaven forbid!), when I merely thought I was being accommodating to my upcoming new family. So maybe making sure that she knows that she will always be your Mom and you will always be her daughter might be what she needs to hear. But odds are she won’t understand it until after the wedding.
    Good luck and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

  31. Liz May 04 at 11:17 am Reply Reply

    The mother of a dear friend of mine wept hysterically at the baker’s when my friend said she wanted fondant rather than buttercream icing.
    My experience is that wedding planning and baby having are the two biggest stressors on the mother-daughter relationship. If you want or do something different from the way your mom wants it or did it, she may take it as a personal affront rather than a simple difference of opinion. And little things can build up to the point that the blow up is not really about a 20 minute drive to a hair salon. Ask your mom if there’s something going on, and then get out and have a non-wedding mother-daughter day.

  32. Morgan May 04 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    Go read this post on A Practical Wedding about flighting with parents on religion. (http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/05/ask-meg-weddings-faith-and-honesty/) This quote really resonated with both my wedding (40 days ago) and your story. “Because weddings are a process of becoming a full-full-full blown adult in the eyes of your community.” Sometimes you have to fight for stuff as part of becoming a grownup, and to define your family – your new family, just you and your husband. Especially as you’re still very young, it makes it harder. Your mother may, like my mother, be struggling with watching her little girl grow up and away. My mother dealt with it in very … odd … ways, and from the sounds of it, so is yours. Good luck!
    PS – the best part about getting married? The husband. The second best? Never having to get married/throw a wedding again!

  33. Cristin May 04 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    This is why I’m going to the drive-thru at Vegas.
    Seriously, what is the point of all this stress?
    Is it worth it?
    I sound like a cranky old bitch,I know.
    But it irks me that brides spend months, years planning for this crap that is over in a matter of hours.
    My cousin has been planning her wedding for over 18 months and it’s all she talks about. It’s taken over every aspect of her life. I wonder what she’ll talk about when it’s over.
    PS. Sorry, I probably have PMS.

  34. Oof May 05 at 2:37 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, this is making me want to elope (some day)….I’m not the type who will be all, “Wasn’t that funny, how poorly you treated me!! Ha ha!!”, years afterwards.

  35. April May 06 at 5:33 pm Reply Reply

    All these stories make me so glad that my mother wasn’t nutbars about our wedding. But to be fair I probably had a fair share in that b.c I always said I was NEVER getting married and when I got engaged I just think she was so THRILLED that I was going to get married that nothing else mattered.
    I’m always about setting low expectations in order to win. :)

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