FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE

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ElleNChuck Posts : 50 Registered: 6/10/10
FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 10:54 AM

Hi Ladies,

Let me just say that I've been lurking around since before I got engaged because I love reading everyone's honest and usually entertaining opinions. My FH and I got engaged in December and aren't planning on getting married until September 2012 for various reasons. This past weekend FH and I were visiting my FMIL (4 hours away) and she said some things that are giving me a bit of worry. I'll try to sum this up as briefly as possible.

FH and I come from pretty different backgrounds. My parents both went to college and worked in "white-collar" type jobs. His father (who, sadly, passed away in October) was a coal miner and his mother left school at 16 and was a stay at home mom to my FH and his 4 brothers and sisters.

I've never really give this stuff much thought until we were visiting his Mom this weekend. She was asking about wedding plans and since we're so far away from the actual date I really couldn't give her many details, just general ideas. I want to get married at my parents home and have a "back yard" reception. They have a pretty good sized house and yard (20+) acres, so renting a tent and room for parking and all that isn't a big deal.

My FMIL has seen pictures of my parents place and said that it "looks really fancy." It's no mansion by any stretch of the imagination. Just a restored farm house. FMIL has never actually seen the place in person. My parents invited her for dinner the last time she was in town but she had made other plans. Ok, cool, no biggie. But FMIL is planning another trip in July, and when I suggested getting together with my parents she changed the subject. Maybe she just doesn't want to plan that far ahead?

I was talking to FSIL yesterday and I mentioned FMIL's trip to see us in July. She told me something that I had to promise not to tell my parents. FMIL confessed to FSIL that she feels intimidated by my family because they went to college and she thought that my parents would look down on her! SOOOOO far from the truth. My brother never went to college, I went for 3 years, quit, and just went back 2 year ago. My parents aren't pretentious or snobby, they're old hippies! I don't know what to do! I don't want to say anything to FMIL that would embarrass her, and I've talked to FH and he's at a loss too!

FMIL is a sweet, kind, caring person. I just love her to pieces and want her to get along with my parents. She's also a hoot when she's had an amaretto sour or two, and my mom drinks wine out of a box!

FMIL's other worry is a rehersal dinner. If FH and I have "a big wedding" she feels responsible for the rehersal dinner. We would NEVER presume to ask her to take on such an expense, we know that it is just not possible on her income. But she is worried "how she'll look" to my family.

So, does anyone have any ideas on how to a) get FMIL to meet my parents and b) get her to stop worrying about a rehersal dinner that is potentially 2 years away?

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 11:59 AM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Yes, your FH has just got to get her to meet them, somewhere relaxed like dinner at your home, because until she does that, she won't get over her fears. I would do this sooner, like when she visits in July, so she can relax more over the next two years. Then, you could also put her at ease with an informal rehearsal dinner so IF she wants to, she could contribute and it wouldn't be way out of her financial abilities to do that.


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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:04 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Dear Elle,

I was in exactly the same situation. Almost a mirror image.

My parents were comfortably upper middle class with a beautiful house. Our wedding was in my parents' backyard.

Husband's parents were working class; his dad was a tile setter (tile in floor, kitchens, etc) and his mom was a housewife. They struggled to make ends meet.

My MIL was similarly anxious about meeting my parents. Would they look down on her? Would they be snobs?

Here are my suggestions, having been through the exact same situation.

Have your parents meet FMIL on neutral territory. Don't stage the meeting at your parents' house. Instead, pick some affordable family restaurant somewhere in between the houses. Pick some place where FMIL is comfortable.

Before the meeting, have a quiet word with your own FH. Tell him this:

Making a pre-judgment about people based on their perceived income and perceived social status is snobby. It doesn't matter if the other people are of "higher" status or "lower" status. It's snobby to make a decision about people before giving them a fair chance.

Thus: FMIL needs to meet your parents with an open mind and give them a fair chance, just as your parents need to meet FMIL with an open mind and give her a fair chance.

Once your FH has this message in mind, he talks to his mother, privately, and tells her exactly that. Once she's on board, then he makes a few restaurant suggestions and ask her which one would be most comfortable for her.

You can, similarly, have a quiet word with your parents and tell them of FMIL's insecurity. If your parents are as nice as you say, and if they are as nice as my parents were, they will make a sincere effort at friendship with FMIL.

Then, have the first meeting at the neutral restaurant and hope for the best.

As for the rehearsal dinner, ask FH to talk to FMIL and find out what she has to offer. How much money, if any. Then you and FH can decide what you want to do. Do you and FH want to help FMIL with the cost? Can you pare down the guest list to just the essentials? Can you have a rehearsal dinner at a pizza parlor or other affordable place? Reassure FMIL by telling her, in strong language, that no one should ever be embarrassed by living and entertaining within their means. FMIL can do the best she can, and hold her head high.

****

Our own "neutral ground" for the first meeting between my boyfriend's parents and my parents was our college graduation. Our families hit it off just great, all four parents bursting with pride at their college grad children. They all got along just great in the following years, up until their respective deaths. Now, my MIL is the only one of our four parents still living.

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ElleNChuck Posts : 50 Registered: 6/10/10
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:34 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

FH and I live in a studio apartment so while it would be HILARIOUS to try and have dinner for five adults in our 450 sq ft. space I like the idea of a neutral restaurant. His mom loves O'Charley's and wants to go there whenever she is in town, maybe I'll suggest that.

FH and I talked a little about the rehersal dinner issue and here is my plan:

FH and I will pay for the dinner at this great seafood restaurant close to where my parents live and list FMIL as hostess on the invitations. I think you send invitations, right? I'll google it. Anyway, would that be wrong to have everyone think FMIL is hosting when FH and I are really paying?

edit- I'm thinking for the RD that it will only be about 30-ish people. I personally like the idea of pizza YUM! But it seems that this is really important to FMIL, and FH and I don't mind picking up the tab!


Edited by: ElleNChuck on Jun 10, 2010 12:35 PM

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:38 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Dear Elle,

"Anyway, would that be wrong to have everyone think FMIL is hosting when FH and I are really paying?"

That's between you, FH and his mother. If the three of you agree on the hosting and funding situation, then that's your business and no one else's.

And, yes, you do send out invitations. You have to control the guest list for the rehearsal dinner as much as for the wedding and reception. Otherwise, all sorts of gate crashers will invite themselves.

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:43 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Nothing wrong with that at all. But also, isn't this his second wedding and your first? I know the traditions are different if that's the case. Ordinarily, or historically (and I'm sure AOTB will correct me if this is inaccurate) families only paid for the first wedding, so it wouldn't be odd at all for her not to pay for the rehearsal dinner as your FH's mom. The way you're doing it is fine too. But, second weddings generally were not hosted by parents (I don't think anyway) so there'd be no thoughts by most that she even should pay at all, or any questioning. He is over 40 besides with three adult kids of his own, right? Generally, over 40s pay for their own weddings entirely, and even some 20 somethings do. There is really nothing for her to stress about at all.


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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:44 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Dear Elle,

"edit- I'm thinking for the RD that it will only be about 30-ish people. I personally like the idea of pizza YUM! But it seems that this is really important to FMIL, and FH and I don't mind picking up the tab! "

Pizza is fine.

Remember, you don't want to go way far out of your FMIL's perceived means. If you pay for a rehearsal dinner at a very expensive place, there will be gossip along the lines of "How ever did she come up with the money for this?". I suggest you pick a place that is roughly within FMIL's budget, then you pay for it yourself as planned. That will quash the negative gossip. Unless you, FH and FMIL want to publicize the "true" financial arrangements, you need to make everything in line with what she might be able to afford, given her circumstances.

Sometimes people like the idea of the rehearsal dinner to be in contrast to the wedding. A formal wedding might be preceded by a relaxed, casual rehearsal dinner.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:47 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

Dear Cyndi,

" Ordinarily, or historically (and I'm sure AOTB will correct me if this is inaccurate) families only paid for the first wedding, so it wouldn't be odd at all for her not to pay for the rehearsal dinner as your FH's mom. "

Yes, true, that is tradition that first-timers are launched out into the world by their parents, and second-timers are considered "already launched".

Still, there's nothing wrong with a family contributing to a second-timer's wedding as they can afford it and are so inclined.

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 12:55 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

No, of course not. And DH's parents ended up picking up our rehearsal dinner at the end of the night, as a surprise gift although this was a second wedding for both of us and we budgeted and paid for all, including travel, clothing etc for the entire wedding party since it was our kids.

But, in OP's case no one would be expecting FMIL to pay, including her parents, since second weddings generally aren't paid for by parents. Hopefully, she knows this or someone (FH) explains to her that also. SHe'll still probably want to appear to pay anyway, but she should also know that it's above and beyond typical tradition for her to do it.

I agree about planning a dinner within her means if that's how they want to go, because if it's too expensive, it'll be kind of obvious. We had a mexican dinner buffet, in a private room in a restaurant, about 30ish people, and the total tab including a couple pitchers of margaritas, plus soda, was less than $450. Everyone had a good time, there was plenty of food and a nice variety, we were separated from the restaurant crowd, food was good, mood was casual/relaxed...really fun evening. ANd, we didn't use invites so DID have gate crashers too. THe same cousins who showed up at the wedding with 5 uninvited guests also came to the rehearsal dinner.

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ElleNChuck Posts : 50 Registered: 6/10/10
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...
Posted: Jun 10, 2010 1:21 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

Yes, this will be his second marriage and my first (that should have been mentioned in my OP.) His first was when he was in the Air Force and they didn't do the "big wedding" thing, just went to the court house.

I think that in the next two years FMIL's financial situation will change after she settles her late husband's pensions and so forth. But FH and I have no problem paying for the dinner. I understand that since he's already been married his family isn't expected to contribute (and wouldn't be "expected" even if it was his first) but my main concern is that it seems very important to his Mom that she get to do this, maybe because she didn't get to for his first marriage, but did hosted dinner when his brother got married?

I just want to put her at ease and let her know that she really doesn't need to stress about it, or do with out because she is trying to save money for an event she doesn't have to pay for. I'm going out for drinks with FSIL tonight and will discuss it further. She always gives me great insight into the family (and she knows all the juicy gossip too!)

I'm basically just trying to pull this off without any hurt feelings or undue stress.

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ElleNChuck Posts : 50 Registered: 6/10/10
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 23, 2010 8:46 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

FMIL and my parents FINALLY got together for dinner so I thought I would update you all.

It was a HOOT! We went to a fairly low-key restaurant and then had drinks and played cards at FH and my apartment after. Mom and FMIL got tipsy on my "boxed wine" and ginger ale cocktails (it's really freakin good, don't judge :P ) and talked about matching dresses for the wedding. Dad had that "how much is this wedding gonna cost me" look on his face all night and then proceeded to clean us all out at poker.

I'm glad everyone got along! I'm really looking forward to all the planning now!

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chris42005 Posts : 89 Registered: 4/6/10
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 23, 2010 8:57 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Glad to hear that the meeting went well and that everyone got along great. Thanks for letting us know how it went.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 23, 2010 10:50 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Dear Elle,

Great! I'm really glad to hear that. All that worry and anxiety is now past.

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 24, 2010 12:34 AM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

Elle - Trust me - as relieved as you feel, I bet your FMIL is also relieved!!!!

 

 

 

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: FMIL is unusually anxious about wedding plans...UPDATE
Posted: Jun 24, 2010 10:54 PM Go to message in response to: ElleNChuck

yay! Glad it worked out well. Gotta love that box wine. We drink it, makes good sangria too. There is no need to spend a ton. Most of our favorite non boxed varieties are 10 or less a bottle.

I'm very happy that they had a good time, sure your FMIL is very relieved!!

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