Whether you have the kind of relationship with your future mother-in-law that makes less-fortunate women go green with jealousy or one that mimics the horror stories we've watched on the big screen, chances are you don't welcome a confrontation with the woman who will soon be your family. And that's just one reason why hating the dress she's chosen to don on your big day can be super stressful.
But before you break down and confess your contempt for her attire, "balance your dream wedding with the possible damage you could do by telling her it's a horrible dress," warns April Masini, a relationship expert and advice columnist. If your wedding is more important than your future mother-in-law's feelings, then you know what to do — but buckle up for the long-term consequences."
To predict the outcome of this uncomfortable conversation, look to "how she typically reacts to feedback like this," suggests Rachel Needle, licensed psychologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "You might also want to think about how important this really is to you. Is this worth possibly hurting her feelings or creating tension? Chances are, it's not."
But if you simply can't allow that dress to make a cameo in your wedding photos, ease into the conversation with positive feedback, working any criticism into the middle of your approach, Needle suggests. Try out something like this: "'You know, you're much prettier than that dress shows,'' says Masini. "Then, if you've done the leg work, you can tell her, 'I saw an amazing dress that would really flatter your figure — here's the website for it — or, I've even asked them to hold it for you in case you want to try it on.'"
If you can keep perspective, the experts agree, on what this day is really about and whether your mother-in-law wears an inappropriate or distasteful dress will be less important. "Remember that this one day, while important, is to celebrate your love for your future partner and your commitment to each other," reminds Needle. "Most women fantasize about this day for their entire life and have very high expectations of what it should be like — but focus on the positive and what will be right and amazing about your wedding, as opposed to those things you are unhappy with, like your future mother-in-law's dress."