Carolyn Hax: Mother-in-law plans big redo of their small wedding


Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi Carolyn: I got married during the pandemic and the wedding was small and quaint. It was the wedding of my dreams.

My mother-in-law wants a bigger wedding post-covid that she’s going to pay for entirely, but it is on her own terms. Certain people I know from her family are not invited, which I frankly feel is terrible given the fact that I get along with them. She is also shooting down all my suggestions for a venue aggressively and rudely and will not do it in the state where I live.

At this point, I am completely uninterested in her ego-driven plans, and I want to focus on my life and new family. I feel I had the perfect small wedding with good memories, and I am worried the one she’s planning is going to be a nightmare, but I also realize the second wedding is about her and not about me. Should I just let her drive the plans and go along for the ride? Canceling can start a war.

Worried: Um. Where is your spouse? “I,” not we, “had the perfect small wedding?”

I’ll wait. Pending the other half of the story, I am 100 percent pro-war.

(Update: I did not see a follow-up post.)

Tell us: What is your favorite Carolyn Hax holiday column?

· When we were wedding planning, my mother-in-law had several suggestions and was REALLY bothered that we weren’t taking her up on some of them. And my husband quietly took her aside and said, “Listen. This is what she wants. This is ours. Her choice is the one that is important, and I’m on her side.” Without that attitude, there is a strong chance we would not have gotten married.

· If the mother-in-law “wants a bigger wedding” then she should get engaged or renew her vows. Problem solved.

· Start the war! Don’t feed the ego! If you give in to this she will continue with bad behavior and unreasonable demands. We can all imagine what she will do for the first birthday of a future baby.

· Say NO. It is gross to have a fake wedding when you are already married. And if your spouse can’t stand up to this, time to think about annulment unless you want this deranged doink running the rest of your life.

· This amused me and then frustrated me. Amused at the idea that mother-in-law is plunging ahead undeterred with planning this huge affair the couple doesn’t want, then frustrated because how can you call yourself grown enough to be married when you can’t say no? “Thank you for the sweet thought, but our wedding was just what we wanted. Please don’t spend any time, energy, or money planning something for us that we won’t attend.”

· I think I’d take the opposite tack. If mother-in-law wants this big shindig and wants to pay for it, let her have at it. Take the role of the stereotypical groom and stay out of all decisions. Just ask where you need to make an appointment for fittings and what time you need to show up. Anytime anyone asks you any details about the wedding, just say, “Beats me, mother-in-law is planning everything. You’ll have to ask her. We had our wedding last year and this one is for her.” Let her run with it and be very careful what you accept money for in the future.