Dear E. Jean: My new husband's family is loaded; mine is solid middle class. He and I took great pride in planning and paying for our own small wedding and saved up for a very budget-minded honeymoon to Rome. On our wedding day his parents gave us a card that said, "A little bird told us you could use some help with your honeymoon." The card contained a check for $10,000! Although we knew we should have saved it, we blew every cent of it on an upgrade at a fancy hotel and swanky dinners and had the time of our lives. When we returned, the first thing I did was call his mother and thank her again for the wonderful gift. Imagine my shock when she said, "You're welcome, dear. Take all the time you need in paying us back." What the?!? It was a gift, not a loan! My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck. I have no idea how to handle this, and my husband doesn't want to confront his parents. Eeeek! —Blushing and Bewildered Bride
DEAR ABBY: I am a bridesmaid for my brother's upcoming wedding. However, his fiancee is throwing out some crazy mandates for the big day.
1. All family members must wear contact lenses. Glasses will not be allowed because they look ugly in pictures. (Both her mom and my parents wear glasses.)
2. She made my father get dental work to "improve his smile."
3. I recently tore my ACL, and she says I can't bring crutches to the ceremony because she doesn't want them in the pictures.
How much more of this should our family put up with? I love her as my niece's mother, but not as my future sister-in-law. Would it be better to tell them I won't be a bridesmaid? I am afraid to speak up because I want a relationship with my niece. -- AFRAID OF BRIDEZILLA
DEAR AFRAID: Your brother's fiancee appears to have gone off the deep end. Weddings are supposed to be about love, commitment and the joining together of two families, not the photo album.
While I sympathize with her desire for a "perfect" wedding, the idea that your parents and her mother must invest in contact lenses or miss seeing the ceremony and reception because glasses aren't "allowed" is ludicrous. And the suggestion that you leave your crutches and risk further damaging your ACL is off the charts.
Talk to your brother. Perhaps he can make his ladylove see the light. If not, I wouldn't blame you -- and your parents and her mother, by the way -- if you decided to skip the "show."
Mods: can I have an ableism tag?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).
I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.
They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.
My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.
Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.
Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?
GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?
While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.
If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.
Our family has been close, seeing each other every week. My children are all in their 20s and have their own homes. Our only daughter got married earlier this year and we adore our son-in-law. Our son got engaged about three months before our daughter’s wedding. Our daughter was vocally angry that her brother got engaged before her wedding. When the newly engaged couple were looking for wedding venues, I (mistakenly) recommended the place my daughter planned her reception. It is a lovely location and I was thinking it would be a good fit. Unfortunately, they decided to book this same venue for their wedding scheduled a year later. Now my daughter is furious. She is demanding they move the reception somewhere else even though it will mean losing the substantial deposit. This has created a great deal of anxiety, especially for me, because I mourn the loss of our close-knit family. I don’t know what to do. We have even offered to pay the deposit and that angers her too. She says they have to pay the cost (I guess as a form of punishment). This is tearing our family apart. Please help.
I fail to see how your daughter has been harmed in any way. Her ability to spin offense out of the thinnest strands of “thunder-stealing” rivals Rumpelstiltskin’s ability to spin straw into gold. Don’t think of this as losing your tightknit family. Part of what makes a family tightknit is the ability to handle conflict. Your daughter is throwing a tantrum and the best thing you can do for her (and yourself) is to refuse to humor her. She’s denying herself the opportunity to celebrate her brother’s wedding (and trying to manipulate him into giving up a substantial security deposit!) because she thinks the love and celebration that children deserve is a zero-sum game. It isn’t. Her brother proposing to his fiancé did not make her any less engaged to her own; her brother hosting his reception in the same building she once had hers does not diminish the uniqueness of her marriage. I hope very much this is an unusual lapse in grace for her. Tell her that she is being unreasonable and churlish, and that you look forward to her being able to put aside this imagined slight in time to celebrate her brother’s wedding. It’s going to be a lot of fun. She should try to have some.