Wednesday, July 11, 2012

please convince me to have my wedding


FH and I are having a very small, intimate wedding. We rented a big house in the woods, invited immediate family and a few dear friends to spend 5 days with us, housing / food (we'll cook) provided. Less than 20 people. At some point we'll do a small ceremony outside with FH's dad officiating and then have a hopefully affordable catered dinner on the deck and party all night. It's exactly what we wanted.

Except, my immediate family... are kind of assholes. Very, very tiny things regularly set them off. Last week, after discovering FH and I had taken down an online video of us giving wedding details, and my mother was outraged when she went to show it to someone and it wasn't there. This prompted her to say "she didn't even want to come," she "doesn't want me as her daughter," and "all I care about is her paying the bill." My sister seconded this with a lecture about how selfish I am to, and this is a quote, "rob (my family) of the dream wedding (they've) always had for me." She expressed that I have "stolen" from her the opportunity to be in the bridal party with "the dress" and place of honor in front of 300 people. She says it's not fair. (And no, she's not 12.  She's 22.) She's MOH, by the way.

Obviously, this really, really hurts. But to be honest this isn't outrageous coming from either of them. My mother has a terrible temper, she flies off the handle, and she says whatever she wants. By next week she will have gotten over/completely forgotten it. My sister is The Drama Queen. Several months ago she said she wouldn't come because we didn't give her a +1. (And no, she is not in a relationship.)

Please believe me that I am a strong, communicative person (despite my family, and thanks to years in therapy) and if I didn't know that trying to calmly express to them that this is a day about love, and intimacy with a few close people (based on expenses, not the desire to exclude extended family, etc) would only backfire into more vitriol from them... I would try. But this isn't how they operate. This is a cycle I am familiar with. Small issue, explosion and nastiness spewed all over me, and then they get over it and it just "never happened." Trying to defend myself (at all, evenly calmly and apologetically) only results in a longer, more drawn-out blow-out. All I can do is apologize (hollowly) and wait it out.

But. They make me so sad, and they hurt me so much. At this point, I don't want to have this wedding.

I want to go to the courthouse, do the deed, and move to the moon to avoid the anger eloping would cause. I don't feel able to finalize the catering bill that my mother is paying for, and/or all the other expenses we couldn't afford without help from my parents. She offers to pay (we never, never asked her to) but then says shit like "I'm only good for sucking her dry." It's a nasty, manipulative game. If I told her we would pay ourselves, she would be offended by that as well. It would be "shutting her out."

But FH is a supportive and strong darling and won't budge on the fact that we're having this beautiful wedding and it will be joyful and celebratory and my crazy family is not going to take that away from us. And he's right, I know. He is amazingly supportive and sweet. He is the family I got to choose for myself. But he has a darling mother and family, and probably can't accurately imagine what I feel like. I am just an adult child who wants my mother and sister to be sweet and happy for me.

I guess I was just hoping for some encouragement. I need you and your readers' spunk and support to help me put this in perspective. I need to get back to a place where I am excited to be having this beautiful, tiny wedding in the trees with my dearest friends, and yes, my immediate family. Because I do want them there. They are, after all, my family. But right now... I just want to crawl into a hole and stay there. With FH. And no telephone.


HAVE YOUR WEDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And for fuck's sake, stop apologizing to these people.

You can't make them be happy for you. No matter what you do. Haven't you been over this with your therapist??

Kate Moss by Juergen Teller for Vogue (December 1994) via Maia McDonald via Sasha Darling


  1. Pretty sure that's everything H's family wanted to say to me but didn't. :(
    DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU ORIGINALLY WANTED - anything else won't feel right in the end! They'll get over it. ((hug))

  2. Lady, that sucks. While I don't think you are over-reacting at all, remember that this is an emotionally amped time and therefore everything feels worse. If it was just a big birthday party you would just shrug them off and think 'here is my family being nuts again, whatever'. Try and do that now (easier said than done, I know). You have a great guy who is only interested in YOU. You have friends who are pumped about all this. Talk to them, get excited with them! Your wedding sounds great, you got it within budget, and you will be surrounded by people who love you and will be there if your family try and stir things up. And come the day, your family will probably calm the f down and you won't even care. It is your day with your man. Now, try not to think about it for the rest of the day.

  3. AMEN ESB!!

    Also if they're being crazy, this is about the time I'd start giving them crazy back, after all this is probably the only time in life where you without apology get to be insanely crazy. Dig deep and find your inner Bridezilla and let fly.

  4. About your sister... can't she have the big wedding? I'm sure she'd be miserable either way, so maybe you can frame it as wanting to do something different so that when her time comes, they won't be compared? Flatter her in some way? (You know that if you WERE having a big wedding, she'd probably be bitching that you were stealing all her ideas anyway...)

    My SIL just had a wedding very similar to what you're doing and it was truly lovely and relaxing, a great way to spend time with our family and get to know her wife's family. It will be worth it!!

  5. The wedding description sounds absolutely great, but I would cringe at the 5 days part. 5 days is a long time to spend sharing even a big house with 20 people.

    1. Yeah - I'd suggest choosing which day you're doing the ceremony in advance - that way if crazy people want to be selfish, they can selfishly choose to only be there for a couple of days and you can have only the most wonderful ones around for the whole long shebang. (and from my experiences with my selfsh family - they WILL have a reason they can't stay the whole 5 days)

    2. Why is it selfish to not be able to stay FIVE days? For most people that's asking them to miss 1 to 3 days of work which is not really feasible for a lot of people in this economy.

  6. Your wedding sounds perfect! And from the sounds of your email... You seem like the type of person who can really see the big picture. Even if your immature and explosive family are brats you'll be able to focus on the positive of the family you're making for yourself.

  7. Well it sounds like your mother and sister are going to go bonkers NO MATTER WHAT you you may as well do what you want, right?

  8. This email made me soooo angry for you. I too have people in my (non-immediate) family that are dramatic beyond words and so much of your email made me think of them and cringe. Do your wedding EXACTLY how you and your FH want it and like ESB said, DO NOT APOLOGIZE!

    And if they REALLY go off the rails before the 5-day celebration, go to a courthouse and do the deed, just in case they make some ridiculous scene about banal minutia before the 5-day event.

  9. Your wedding plan sounds downright LOVELY if it were not for being stuck in the same house as your hurtful and dramatic family...I would definitely rethink the plan a little bit.

    You might all need more space from each other than what one house can provide. Are separate cabins an option?

    I feel bad for your FH's family too, being thrown into that mix. You're used to your family's antics and have developed coping mechanisms but THEY will presumably be experiencing it all for the first time and it could be *very* uncomfortable for them.

    It seems to me that cramming everyone together *sounds* nice in theory, but doesn't play out well when you have people with extreme personalities like this. :\ My heart goes out to you!! I hope it turns out wonderful with minimal annoyances. I think if it were me I'd cut and run. You're obviously a kind person and I hope they realize how lucky they are to have someone who will put up with them and still love them at the end of the day.

  10. It sounds amazing!

    A big lesson I have learned from this blog is pay for own wedding, particularly if the alternative is having an insane person pay for it. Never seems to turn out well!

    1. This. My mom made similar comments when I announced we would pay for it ourselves. She got over it and eventually came to realize that it was the right decision for us. She did insist on paying for my dress, which was fine - I didn't want a foofy princess dress, but my (now) husband wanted me in one, so it was one less expense. :)

  11. I just want to give you a great big hug. This situation sounds horrible. I had something similar with a member of my family at my wedding. They suddenly decided the day was all about them and spent the morning shouting at me and hiding (alternatively) before finally deciding they would show up after all. It wasn't my favorite moment from my day, but I will say that my other family, my husbands family and my friends were all so supportive despite it all, and standing in front of my loved ones to say 'I do' to the man I love was amazing. A year later, I try not to think about the bad stuff and focus on all the good things that happened that day.

  12. Your mother = grandmother. My mother spent years and years getting over the shame and guilt inflicted upon her by her mother's irrational anger and envy. A friend of my mother's actually wrote her PhD dissertation on the effects of narcissistic parents, and interviewing with this friend served as therapeutic catharsis.

    All I can say is, your therapy has served you well. And apologies are the only thing that placates. It may seem weak to others, but they don't know your family.

    And please, if you have a daughter, TELL HER EVERYTHING. Give her both sides of the story. Keep your distance but don't cut off communication - she needs grandparents. Then allow her to visit them and see for herself. She will understand you better.

  13. This could be me: "I am just an adult child who wants my mother and sister [father in my case] to be sweet and happy for me."

    I got married not so long ago and my family were a f-ing nightmare in the build up, slightly different brand of crazy to you but the highlights were that my father didn't come to the wedding in part because my mother was going to be there; he made it clear to me for months that he thought I was treating him badly/being unfair to him by involving her to the extent I was (she bought me up from age 5).

    My mother and I have a difficult relationship and I basically wanted her to be nice to me and support me through our wedding to make up for years of her being fairly horrible to me. I gave her opportunities to be nice to me/us, she was helpful for a few months so I gave her more of a role in the wedding, thinking (hoping) she would continue to be nice. Right before the wedding she changed her tune completely and became really emotionally manipulative (and boy, does she know how to hurt me when she wants to) but by that stage it was difficult to cut her out (I tried).

    The advice I was given pre-wedding by well meaning friends and family was 'just do what you and [my boy] want, ignore your family' but when the main thing I (and I suspect you) want is for your family to be nice to you, that doesn't help at all. I wanted to cancel the wedding a number of times but in the end we went ahead; cancelling it because of their mentalness would have been, on some level, letting my family win. And it would have denied my boy and his lovely, supportive family a wedding they were SO excited about.

    I did enjoy the day itself, I felt beautiful and loved and got to choose to start a new family with my boy (we made that part of our vows); my mother stopped scowling at me for at least some of the day, I didn't miss my father not being there and all our friends and my boy's family were around and were just brilliantly happy for us. Right now, if I'm honest, the hurt is still so raw I do still sort of wish we had eloped and just avoided all the mentalness but I hope the hurt will fade and the happy memories will take its place.

    My only advice is to not expect too much from your mother/sister or put them in positions whereby they can hurt you by acting crazy; you know these people of old, unfortunately the fact that it's your wedding and that you'd really really like them to be nice to you, just for a bit, and allow you to the be the centre of attention for once, doesn't make it any more likely than usual that they will behave well.

    Oh and do not let them get between you and your FH - being able to show a united front to my family, telling them that x/y/z was something WE wanted, not something just I wanted, made it much harder for them to manipulate the situation.

    Hope some of that helps, and good luck.

    1. I totally agree, this stuff is way to emotional and close to just pretend you don't care, because ofcourse you do! it's your family and even tough they are totally crazy you want their support. July's advice is very realistic I think... I feel for you lady!! Good for you for pouring your heart out to us. Very brave! I too hoped that it helps a bit and I hope you will have a great day despite all the non deserved drama! Big hug from Holland

  14. i had the same mother and have the same sister and my wedding was only 17 was extraordinary and magical and incredibly memorable so have faith and congratulations!! its about you and your husband--no one else.

  15. I'm with ESB. STOP. FUCKING. APOLOGIZING. If you can't bring yourself to stand up to them at least just stare at them and say nothing. They'll get the hint. You are probably totally enabling their vitriol.

  16. First, HUGS!!!!

    I'm with the commenters above. 5 days is a looooonnnnngggggg time for a big group of people to enjoy eachother, let along crazy people. Pick a day for the ceremony and put the option of guests spending just a portion of the time with you.

    Enjoy your wedding! It sounds perfect!

  17. I have a similar family. I think you should pay for it. They will fight you, but they fight on everything, right?

    Just say,"No, I want you to be my guests because I love you and choose to have you in my life on this special day, not because anyone is obligated to do anything. This day is about choices, not obligation." Let her know that it is your choice to have her in your life. Haha. I'd love to see her face.

    Throw a lovely wedding. Say some really lovely things about her and your sister in your speech. It's your show. Give them some glory but no control. Take it from someone who has done the therapy for years too, and has the ragey / passive aggressive parents (whom I also love) to prove it.

    I felt guilty on my wedding day for a few things I didn't let my parents guilt / fight me into, but every time someone (one of them or one particularly bad jealous friend) said something weird, just as I was about to get my feelings hurt, I walked away to the huge mass of people who were giving me 100% love. Anyone who was mean immediately came back up to me and tried to be nice to make up for it. You will be on your home turf with friends and husband and new in-laws all on your side. It will be great.

    Sometimes family needs to be gently reminded that just because you are related, doesn't mean you have to stay in their lives. If you said that outright they would freak, but if you can remind them in a super subtle way, I've found it works.

    I have found my mantra is "I give my family love, but not control." No control. Ever. Over anything. They hate it, but they still love me - in their own weird way.