Monday, August 5, 2013

my fmil wants to wear a miss america dress


Dear East Side Bride,

My partner's mother is very sweet and supportive, but she can be pretty oblivious. She picked out a dress for our wedding the day after we got engaged, and it is about 2+ levels more formal than what anyone else will be wearing (my mom, my attendant, etc.) Although we've talked a lot about having an intimate, not overly formal wedding (I am wearing a simple vintage dress), she picked out a borderline Miss America dress.

When she showed it to me online and asked what I thought, I showed her my mom and attendant's dresses, hoping she would come to the conclusion on her own that she picked something overly formal. No such luck. The dress came with this over-the-top pitch about how much she loved it, and, since it won't clash color-wise with my mother's dress, and she was so excited, I just said I thought it was fine.

In retrospect, I should have told her I thought it was a great dress for a more formal wedding. They live half-way across the country, so I'm not likely to see her again for a while (wedding is next spring). We have a good relationship, but very different personalities.

On the one hand, who cares, right, as long as she feels good? On the other hand, it would be nice if she didn't look totally ridiculous.

Any ideas?

*****

YOU ALREADY TOLD HER IT WAS FINE






Time to fixate on something else.

Tilda Swinton by Tim Walker for W

36 comments:

  1. Almost nobody cares what the mother-of-the-groom is wearing. Plus, if your wedding is next spring, there's still a LOT of time for her to change her mind as she sees the wedding develop. But if she wants to wear a giant ballgown, and you already said yes, there isn't much to be done.

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    1. Allegra! small world! grabbing this chance to thank you again for helping me secure the Korshak gold brick. there couldn't have been a better wedding gift for my friends & it was all thanks to you and your sweet gallery crew. <--(see? relevant post!)
      --Rachel

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    2. @Rachel WE WANNA SEE THE POST. also the brick.

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    3. @Rachel wow! That IS a small word! So glad you like the brick! I gave 2 as a wedding gift last year.

      @esb you can see the gold brick (a version of it)

      here

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    4. @esb sorry I just meant that my giving the brick as a *wedding* gift justified my random comment to Allegra. or something.

      but yes! the brick is this magical piece of amazing! the recipient already has a gold-plated bobcat skull so this was the only logical move.

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  2. If I were in your shoes, my only concern would be her embarrassing herself or feeling awkward on the day of the event because she's dressed so much more formally. I would not care about it reflecting on me or anything.

    So if she's super excited about the dress and has plenty of warning that everyone else won't be as dressed-up, then I'd think it's fine. She's an adult and should be able to dress in an appropriate way for the events in her life. She's clearly making a decision to wear this dress.

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    1. Exactly.

      YOU may think she'll look ridiculous. She's clearly excited about this dress. Maybe she doesn't get many occasions to play dress up.

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  3. I don't think it would be wrong to give it one more shot. Just be honest...give her a call and say "Hi Debbie, as we're doing more planning, it's looking like the wedding is going to be more informal than we originally thought. I love your dress, and if you're happy with it than so am I, but I wanted to give you a heads up in case you're worried about being overdressed."

    It's kind of an awkward conversation to have, but then you can feel like she has all the information. If she still doesn't want to change it, then I would let it go. (The biggest concern for me would be that, blinded by love of the dress and a FDIL who is too nice to say anything, she shows up in the crazy dress and then feels ridiculous.)

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  4. have you talked to your partner about this? if my mom was over/underdressed for something even if she loved her duds, she would be bummed and embarrassed day-of. if my dad was over/underdressed for something, especially if he loved his duds, he a) wouldn't notice, b) wouldn't care.

    people generally fit into one of these two camps. with your love, figure out which one this mom fits into. if it's the first, maybe it's worth another conversation such as the one anon 7:23 suggested.

    if it's the second, LET IT GO.

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  5. Man, let her rock out what makes her feel pretty. She picked it, she's wearing it- you just worry about you.

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  6. Just keep her updated on all of the fun wedding details (decorations, flowers, etc.) and let her decide on her own. She'll love hearing about the wedding and it will give her an opportunity to decide that if you're telling the guest to err on the side of casual that maybe she should rethink her dress option. Or maybe not, who knows? Does your FH have other siblings? If not this will probably be the last big role she ever has in someone's wedding so she's going all out. And hey, you have a FMIL who is super excited for her son to marry you. That's an awesome thing.

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  7. Oh, God, devote worshiper of all things Tilda- that is an amazing photograph.

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  8. Assuming you have a good relationship with your FMIL, and she's a generally reasonable person, I think you be really straightforward about why you didn't say anything earlier -- you could see how much she loved the dress she picked out, and you didn't want to hurt her feelings -- and tell her that you now are worried that she'll feel uncomfortable wearing a dress that is a lot more formal than what others will be wearing. Then let her decide.

    Also, she's seen pictures of your mom's and attendant's dresses, but has she seen yours? She may be more sensitive to out-glitzing the bride than anyone else.

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  9. yeah, my own mom was more glitzy than I was, and more formal than other guests, but she was happy and I'm sure anyone who noticed understood why she might be extra excited for that day.

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  10. Let it go, man. Your FMIL is sweet and supportive, you don't get to demand that she be ultra chic as well.
    My family is full of weirdos who dress weird (more serape+track pants + tye die weird than Miss America weird), and let me tell you, they brought their weirdo A-game to my wedding. You know who cared? NOT ME.

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  11. my MIL wore a BRIGHT teal First-Lady-esque skirt suit. To an all neutral (my "pop of color" was a maple brown against ivory and golds) wedding on the beach. In Oregon. It was fine. Didn't bother me at all until we got pics back. Just turned the ones that we ordered prints of to b/w. I second Anon 7:23. But really, if this is the worst thing that goes down with your wedding, you've got it good :) Have fun!

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  12. nth-ing many of the above.

    If your FMIL wants to play Mother-of-the-Groom Barbie at your wedding, so long as she isn't wearing a dress that is the same color of yours, then I say, "learn to love it." Personally, I love a chance to get dressed up. Granted, my tastes are more like what you were hoping her's would be - that she would find the perfect, awesome dress to *suit the occasion* instead of her pageant wear - but to each their own. "You do you" to the FMIL.

    I worried about the pictures AND her feeling overdressed when actually at the wedding, instantly. I say use both of these things together for more effect *IF* you approach her again. You must *directly* address it in that case. "I just want to make sure you know everyone will be more casually dressed than the dress you showed me, so you don't feel you look overdressed in all the pictures you'll see for years to come." And then if you wanted to be extra kind and gracious to her, you could add, "Otherwise, I am so happy you found a dress you love and I hope you feel as happy and beautiful as I will on our wedding day."

    With sincere kindness to you, I must say I think that learning how to diplomatically relay something as inoffensive as your concern about this matter will be extremely important for your relationship with all of your new family... and many other people on this Earth.

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    1. Oh, I see. I was speaking to the letter-writer for the "you" - not you, ESB.

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    2. Wait. Sorry. I'm a long-time reader bit first-time commenter. I seriously don't mean to condescend but now I'm wondering if you were wondering about my "nthing" - "n" like a mathematical variable, "to the nth degree" meaning something like, "fully; as far as it will go." I swear I know you are smart. Of course.

      Or else you hate my (wordy) comment and its tone. I know brevity is queen 'round these parts; but, anyway, I still stand by my comment and agree with what you said.

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    3. The way you phrased how you would approach FMIL in the original comment ("I just wanted to make sure...") is... not really nice? And how can you know *everyone* will be more casually dressed? If I heard that comment from someone, I'd feel sort of hurt, as if i were being judged about my style in a passive-aggressive way, and become pretty defensive and/or self-conscious. bleh.

      And the advice that learning how to diplomatically relay whatever to many other people on Earth is definitely condescending.

      But I'm so happy you are able to share your thoughts and I hope you feel as considerate as the OP does in asking ESB about this!

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    4. @Jen I agree with everything you said, actually!

      That last bit of my original comment was definitely was condescending. I don't think condescension and kindness are necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe I'm dumb. Of course, I should not have presumed I'm gifted enough to carry off something that nuanced, so, perhaps I should have nixed the kindness and expressed how I am baffled that the writer can acknowledge that she and her FMIL have very different personalities, then passive-aggressively share outfit choices hoping her FMIL would just "get it," like the writer might. If she's really concerned her FMIL is clueless to the point she'll embarrass herself, rather than just being annoyed that somebody's dress isn't going to contribute to the feel of the wedding, then being passive about it at all wasn't the way to go.

      And as for my scripting/coaching to the writer if she was actually going to say something again... there's no totally-kind way to ask someone about their clothing choice with concern, because it's simply rude. The bride has to accept that she'd be a jerk to say something. It seems to me she wrote in because she's asking herself if it's okay to be a jerk about it, if she even cares enough about it to be a jerk about it, etc, etc. So I was offering advice for if she decided to go for it.

      I relate to the writer because in this situation I might fixate (ESB nailed that) on such a thing. It's not flattering, but true. But I wouldn't risk bringing tension into a relationship because someone may be overdressed. Not worth it. I'd be asking myself what I was really worried about, since it's really not that fancy dress.

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    5. @ESB Hahahahaha. Well, apparently so.

      Is this the part where I do something like post my name and blog URL in the comment even though it's linked in my username?

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  13. I'd say just let her wear it...as long as it doesn't have puffy '80s shoulder pads. Those things are a crime to humanity...

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  14. I really disagree with everyone saying that OP could talk to the FMIL saying "I'm worried you're going to feel uncomfortable and overdressed, oh but if you like it then wear it!"

    That is incredibly rude. Who cares if she's overdressed! The woman has had a lifetime of going to events and making these kinds of judgements, I'm sure she knows what she wants. She's an adult.

    Don't pretend you're solely concerned on her behalf - be honest - you don't like the dress choice and you want her to fit in.

    Clearly she has enough information to know that she's going big compared to everyone else. She's doing it because she wants to.

    The reason it's rude - if you tell her how you feel and she decides to wear it anyway because she loves it, then she will always know that you dislike her dress choice.

    Let it be.

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    1. hear, hear. ESB had it.

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    2. Couldn't agree more. She's a grown up. You treated her like one when you showed her what your mom was wearing and told her her dress was fine. She behaved like one when she listened to you and decided to go with her choice (which by the way, you said was fine). This is so not an issue, time to pick something else to worry about.

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    3. I’m the original poster! I’m sorry it took me a few days to check in.
      Thanks to everyone for their advice.

      I was leaning towards “let her do what she wants” with a dash of “I’m concerned she’ll feel uncomfortable/make my mom look under-dressed.” The thing I should have mentioned in my email to ESB is that she hasn’t really “had a lifetime of going to events and making these kinds of judgments” as Anon 4:08 said. It was a fair assumption, but my partner is an only child, and his parents lead a pretty quiet life, so a dress-up opportunity is rare (she mentioned my partner’s bar mitzvah as the last time she had to pick a fancy dress). So I think her decision is based on 1) being over-the-moon excited and 2) not having a whole lot of context about different types of wedding/event attire.

      But I think you guys are right – I need to just be grateful for such a sweet FMIL and let her rock out in her real-housewives-of-NJ dress. For Kelsi, who asked to see it, here she is: http://www.lightinthebox.com/Sheath-Column-Straps-Floor-length-Chiffon-Mother-of-the-Bride-Dress-With-A-Wrap_p263960.html.

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  15. Now that I'm a married lady, I'm here to report that you will not give a shit what your mil is wearing at your wedding. You'll need too busy getting married, smiling so much your face hurts, getting a teenty bit drunk, and dancing your ass off.

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  16. I got a million updates from my MIL about her outfit for our wedding beforehand. When she told me she found a white dress, I immediately thought "WTF is this woman on?". I was no Bridezilla but I kind of thought there were rules for weddings... turns out it was fine, I did not care, and it wasn't the kind of dress that was designed to compete anyway.

    I have to say, though, I am really curious about the OP's FMIL's dress. Is it strapless, long, and sparkly, pageant-style? Or like Golden Girls dress-up mother of the bride sparkly? Let's hope the latter.

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  17. I think you're looking at this totally wrong! Your FMIL is giving you a gift! With all the possible things that guests could gossip about under their breathes, trust me when I say that you would rather it be your FMIL's gaudy dress than something else, like say, bad food or not enough booze or how drunk the groom got.

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    1. Yep.

      I heard rumors of catty aunts bitching about how our caterer ran out of these awesome scratch-made biscuits at our wedding...and were loud-mouthed enough to complain to seemingly multiple people. Since you can't please everyone, let Mrs. Tacky be your built-in distraction.

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