Friday, June 25, 2010

Wedding Wisdom: Mothers-in-Law

From APW's guest post on Mothers-in-Law on May 26.

"Here’s the thing. We have invested in our identities as good child rearers, and we’re proud of everything we accomplished. Our children represent us in one way or another. And you are about to make a public cultural and aesthetic statement which reflects on us, the families we came from, and the families we created. "

The list that follows is stuff that I eventually figured out on my own, but wish I had known sooner. It is everything you should know when you get engaged. But the most important thing to remember as you plan your wedding, in terms of how to deal with and include your parents, is that your wedding is a reflection of you, but it is also a reflection of them. It is a reflection of how you were raised by them. It is a reflection of your entire family's values. My family values family, food, sharing, good works, and charity. Our wedding reflects these values, from my choice to invite my entire, enormous, occasionally embarrassing family; to our delicious, varied dinner; to our non-profit venue; to the charitable donation we will make to celebrate our wedding. My family doesn't really value good taste or matching plates or decor. And if they do value those things, they also value common courtesy and would never say, "you know, the china you picked didn't match your table runners."

Mark's family has their own values, and we try to respect those as well.  But it's hard.  It's really really hard.

What have been your familial challenges?


  1. I read LPC's post on APW, and loved it. But reading it here just made something click. Of course my mom is upset about my nonCatholic wedding. Not just for me and my soul, but the fact that my wedding is a reflection on her, and if it's not a Catholic wedding, she's probably worried its going to look like she did a bad job raising me and instilling the Catholic faith in front of all her family and friends. Duh. Up until now I was just thinking her resistance was all about me, but actually it's about her and how she'll look in front of others too. Damn. I'm screwed.

  2. IMHO you are overstating the "reflects on your parents" theme. We happily take full general credit for your being an awesome young lady, but all of the particulars are entirely up to you.

    And we do value "good taste" just not in "wedding stuff"
    And just who is the "table runner" and why is she running?

  3. I really do not agree about the wedding being a reflection on your parents. I mean, I get why some people would think that way, but my parents genuinely do not see it that way. They want this to be my day, and I really do believe they would support anything that I wanted to do as long as they could be there. Perhaps that is because they raised me to be independent which I suppose amounts to the same thing as what you were saying, but at the same time, I was raised thinking that the wedding would be my day.

    And that is why it is so hard for me to accept that Daniel's family doesn't think of it as our day. Why it baffles me that non-immediate members of the family even have strong opinions. I haven't really had problems with them yet, but I know they're coming, particularly in regard to the guest list. FFIL gets to have opinions because he is paying for most of the wedding, but the others...well, I'm just going to have to let Daniel handle them, or there will be conflict.

  4. Well put. I read that post on APW and loved it. I struggle with remembering that our wedding is a reflection of BOTH of our families - and I completely agree that it is.

    My immediate family is laid-back and undemanding, which I truly appreciate now more than ever. His family is the complete opposite and I struggle to be considerate of them when I often see their actions as unnecessarily over-bearing. My gut reaction is usually to rebel against them and their neediness. But APW's post and yours is a reminder that their family dynamic and culture is different, but not bad or wrong. God help me! I am going to do better.

    And best of luck to you in your attempts as well!