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Dear ESB: The mother of the groom needs a swift kick in the butt

September 29, 2011

Ah East Side Bride. She get’s some GEMS coming through her inbox, doesn’t she? This one is a doozy, you guys. There’s an unlikely cat fight brewin’. Rrrar!

Dear ESB,

My very best friend (from kindergarten) and I have been working our butts off for 16 months on her wedding to make it absolutely spectacular and everything she could ever have dreamed of. It’s going to be a homemade, hands-on, DIY, awesome wedding. While I was able to do the majority of MOH planning on my end at my old job, I recently started grad school and have been tea-staining doilies while reading books on the migration of the Indo-European language (riveting, let me tell you). So, now I’ll get down to the brass tacks of this and why I’m even more frustrated now than before since I’m killing myself to get everything done for the wedding and school now.

The bride’s family has always lived on a tight budget, but her parents graciously gave her $10,000 from their savings to put toward the wedding of her dreams; she and her FH planned on picking up the rest of the bill. After they gave her this money, she told her future mother-in-law (whom I will refer to as FML…how appropriate) how excited and grateful she was that her parents wanted to help her out. The FML made a snide comment along the lines of, “Where are you going to have the wedding? A carwash? You cannot afford anything with $10,000.” Of course, this reduced my friend to tears. Also, FML then made it explicitly known that she and her husband would not be helping to pay for the wedding at all. Now we can jump forward to present.   

In planning the rehearsal dinner, FML did not want the bride to know any of the details because the rehearsal dinner is “a party for her son,” not the bride; the wedding is the bride’s party (FML’s words, not mine). Well, these details are what make me want to push the FML into a pile of mud. The rehearsal dinner is at a ranch very similar to where the wedding is being held (actually just down the road). For this dinner, there is a party planner, a florist, a caterer, a band, and a photographer. All-in-all, FML is dropping $8,000 on this rehearsal dinner. Here are the details of the wedding: the bride and I are the wedding planners, the bride is bartering some of her handcrafted dessert trays with the florist to get all of the flowers she wants, her dad has a lot of chef friends from culinary school that are catering the wedding, her aunt is making the cake, there will be a DJ because she wanted to put more money towards the photographer.   

Here is the big problem — the bride hasn’t told her parents anything about the rehearsal dinner because she knows it will make them feel bad and like they haven’t given her everything she wants for her wedding. She is afraid that she will be reduced to tears on the night of her rehearsal dinner (I think I might be too) depending on how her parents react to the extravagance of everything. My parents want to boycott the rehearsal dinner. I must add that FML decided that the bride and groom didn’t need an invitation to the rehearsal dinner –she showed it to her son, but would not allow him to take a copy home to the bride. I’m mailing her mine after I begrudgingly RSVP to this ridiculous party. Although this is an extremely nice gesture, the FML is throwing this extravagant party is for the wrong reasons. From watching her interact with everyone (especially the groom) at showers and such, it is easy to see that FML doesn’t like it when the attention is not on her.  

So, I come to all of you to ask what on earth I should do about all of this. I don’t think the bride wants to rock the boat with the wedding just about two weeks away, but she called me almost in tears today to discuss all of this. I’m tempted to drive the 300 miles to the FML’s house and hit her in the face (not really, but I wish I had the balls to do that). My mom has suggested that I pour all of my frustration about this and love for the bride into my speech for the rehearsal dinner and emphasize how love, not money made the wedding that everyone will be attending the next day. I really want to encourage the bride to tell FML how she feels about all of this. Her FH is grateful that his mom wants to throw this party, but he doesn’t see it from the bride’s perspective. I have been to weddings where the rehearsal dinner trumps the wedding by far…and it’s always kind of sad. After all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this (and yes, there have definitely been tears since I started balancing school and the wedding), I don’t want the wedding to be upstaged by the rehearsal dinner. FML has swooped in and shit all over everything.

So, help…

A really pissed off Maid-of-Honor


Well, you can’t ask the bitch to cancel the rehearsal dinner. The only thing you can do, really, is be gracious.

Your mom pretty much nailed it. Except: Don’t you get to make a speech at THE WEDDING? Usually the father of the groom* gives his toast at the rehearsal dinner, and then anyone else who wants to talk can grab the mike. But the father of the bride** gives a toast at the wedding, as do the best man and the maid of honor.

So yes. Emphasize that love made this wedding. There’s no need to make any mention of money. (Those who attended the garish rehearsal dinner will read between the lines.)

And guess what?? Feel free to tell me I’ve gone totally cheeseballz, but I fully believe that the wedding will be better than the rehearsal dinner because it was planned with so much love.

Photo: Anais Pouliot by Greta Ilieva for Zoo #32 via Fashion Gone Rogue

*And sometimes the mother of the groom. I wish more mothers gave speeches at weddings.
**And, at my wedding, the mother of the bride, thankyouverymuch.