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 When Future Inlaws Become Outlaws

Weddings can bring out the best and worst in families. Brides who have always had good relationships with her mothers may be shocked to suddenly be at odds with her during the wedding planning process. Sometimes future mothers–in-law who seemed to lovely at first, seem to want to take over wedding plans and make demands. Try though you might to avoid such conflicts, they are all too common when weddings are being planned.


Think long-term


First, when it comes to the mother of the bride, keep in mind that it’s her big day, too. She has probably dreamt of you marrying for as long as you have. If she is paying for all or a portion of the wedding, she has a right to make some decisions. If your mother is over-riding your wishes, the best thing to do is hire a wedding planner. A planner can be an excellent buffer and will take some of the immediate pressure off, answer etiquette questions and keep things on an even keel.


Even if your relationship with your mother normally requires that you set boundaries, you should be respectful and mutually supportive during this time when you need to work together. After deciding what aspects of the wedding and related choices are most important to you, let your mother handle some aspects of the planning and decision-making for you, if she wishes to do so. Give her guidelines and know when to draw the line and hold your own.


If the groom’s mother is difficult, she may feel left out. This is an opportunity for you to make a life-long loved one of her, too. Invite her to bridal showers and ask her to join you shopping when you have narrowed down the china and crystal patterns you are considering. Review your list again to identify something she can do to support you. Graciously offer to include her by giving her a list of helpful things to do. Be clear about guidelines, limits and tolerances so she has a good chance to successfully support you.


Where issues exist, weddings bring them up–even with dads. Brides are well within their rights to choose to walk down the aisle alone or to forego the father-daughter dance at the reception. However, when a father is paying for the wedding, he should always be asked to offer the opening toast at the reception. If there is a stepfather to whom the bride feels close, it is also perfectly acceptable to have both “dads” split the duties. One could walk the bride halfway down the aisle and hand her off to the other dad who can walk her the rest of the way.


When parents are divorced and don’t get along, the father of the bride can sit a row or two behind the mother of the bride and the same applies for the groom’s side. Keep in mind that you will need to take group photos and let the photographer know in advance of any sticky relationships before the photographic sessions begin. Even if you aren’t fond of your stepmother, she needs to appear in family photos with your father. You should also include her and all family members when ordering corsages and boutonnieres.


Yes, brides, this is your day, but it is also the first day of the rest of your lives together as a couple and as members of each others’ families. Have the type of wedding you want, but demonstrate a little flexibility and willingness to share. Advance planning and diplomacy will go a long way to avoid hurt feelings and will make your special day the first of many happy family events.


“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.”



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