This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Jasmine Guillory discuss a Prudie letter: “Mother-in-Law Over Mother of the Bride.”
Jasmine Guillory: Okay, my first thought is that this mother-in-law is going to be a NIGHTMARE, and the bride has to draw some boundaries or else she’s going to think she can walk all over her forever. It is hard for the mom to say that! But the mom has got to try!
Jenée Desmond-Harris: Yes! What I didn’t put in the response was that I immediately started thinking about the long game … How can the LW win the lifelong battle against this absolute demon of a MIL? But you are right, the healthier first approach is for the bride to draw boundaries.
Jasmine: Exactly! What’s going to happen at holidays? Or if they have kids! Or anytime the MIL thinks she can just “drop by”?
Jenée: She is a completely unhinged person. I would put nothing past her.
Jasmine: But I also get why the bride is panicking because she doesn’t want to start out her marriage with her MIL hating her (but also unauthorized save the dates???). And I do want to know why the groom isn’t dealing with his mother on this?
Jenée: Right, that’s the thing—winning this battle involves bringing a certain amount of conflict and drama to the wedding planning process and the wedding itself. And OMG I didn’t even THINK of the groom! You are so right.
Jasmine: Like, that’s his mom. He should be the one to make the call and say “Mom wtf no, you cannot invite all of these people.” (Maybe not in those words.) HOWEVER, I also think this is a good time for the mom, who cares about her daughter, to volunteer to be the Bad Guy.
Jenée: Hmm, that’s a good way of looking at it. I was initially thinking the mom being firm would just lead to a big fight that would be hard on the daughter. But maybe she really needs her mom to be the one to draw the line.
Jasmine: And say she is sending out the invitations, and she is paying for the wedding, and therefore what she says goes, and so the bride can be like “MIL I am so sorry, my mom won’t budge! What can I do??”
Jenée: Ooh, that is a great approach.
Jasmine: And yes, of course, this is sort of the coward’s way out, but sometimes in things like families and weddings you can’t have a fight about EVERYTHING. So, if the bride really wants to have all the invites she wants, the mom can play the heavy and get the MIL off the bride’s back. But I also think your approach is right—the mom has to really talk to the bride about what she wants.
Jenée: Right, and yes it will be super awkward when someone has to tell a bunch of guests they actually can’t come, BUT it’s going to be bad in some way. So it may as well be bad in a way that inconveniences the bad person!
Jasmine: Exactly! It’s going to be bad no matter what!
Jenée: And they need to make a plan to keep this woman from ruining the wedding in other ways. I don’t even know what those ways are, but I never would have imagined that someone would send out freelance save the date cards!
Jasmine: I also think another way the mom could play the heavy is to tell the MIL that she’d be happy to invite all of those extra people but they can’t afford it, and tell the MIL to pony up a whole bunch of money if she wants to do it.
Jasmine: That is a risk! Because the venue only holds 200 people. But I bet the MIL won’t give over the money.
Jenée: Of course not. To conclude, I think your “volunteer to be the bad guy” plan is the best approach. And the groom needs to step up and deal with his ridiculous mom, not just now but going forward—like that should be a BIG topic of premarital counseling.
Jasmine: Yes, absolutely! This is most definitely not the first time the MIL has shown how absurd she is. The groom needs to step up!
Jenée: Maybe the LW can even reach out to the groom like “Look, Bride already had an emotional breakdown—let’s team up to protect her and see how we can salvage this situation,” without (explicitly) telling him his mom is a bitch.
Jasmine: I like that idea but I don’t want the mom to also be crossing lines. This poor bride.
I’m worried for her!
Jenée: Me too! I mean she will be okay in terms of the actual wedding. Worst case scenario she’s surrounded by 60 good friends with a bunch of parent-aged strangers in the background, but … this can’t be the start of a pattern.
Jasmine: Yes, the actual wedding will be fine! It’s … everything else.
Jenée: I want an update on this one.
Jasmine: Me too!
Jenée: I actually want to go to the wedding because I like drama.
Jasmine: I very much want to know how the wedding goes!
Jenée: But we know damn well they can’t spare any invitations.