Ask Wendy

Help! How do I Kindly Stop My Mom From Controlling my Wedding Plans?

Reprinted from December 2, 2016
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I’m 30, and in the planning stages of marrying the love of my life. We both grew up in conservative, religious homes. My family is Catholic, and his is Lutheran. Religion didn’t stick for either of us, and we’re socially progressive; we love our gay friends and support gay marriage.
My mother insists that what’s most important is we get married in the Church, because she believes that marriage is a blessed sacrament.
I love my mother, and I don't wish to hurt her. I also realize that this wedding is not all about me and my fiancé. Truth be told, if financing and planning the wedding were entirely up to us, I doubt we would have a wedding at all, but for maybe a small dinner party.
My parents are financially able to pay for a wedding, we are not (or, I suppose, we just would never opt to spend so much money on one day of our lives).

Mazel tov! Here’s the thing: If you and your folks were on the same page (or even nearby pages in the same book), I’d say negotiate it out and maybe let them host your wedding. But you and your mom are worlds apart on this one. And guess whose wedding it is? Yeah, not hers—she’s probably already had her big church wedding, right? I’m not sure why you say this day isn’t all about your and your fiancé, cuz actually, it is. I recommend doing this on your own.

Your wedding event is about celebrating the connecting of your community and your family to your union. It’s not a religious experience for you, so don’t go through an elaborate charade for other people when it is, in fact, your day. Invite those who will support your union. Some of them may not come if it’s not in a church, and that’s okay—it’s their choice.

Consider tradition and convention, but scrutinize the hell out of it, and after you’ve picked through the vows and prayers and poems and songs and maybe even Office-style goofy aisle dances, create something meaningful that reflects the two of you.

Anyone over 18 can get an official license to marry you for twenty bucks on the Internet. Pick a loved one to perform your ceremony. Wear clothes that make you happy. Say words that matter to you. And pick a place that has special meaning for you both, or that affords you beauty or serenity on your special day.

Need help telling Mom? Here you go:

“Mom, I understand you want us to get married in the Church. We aren’t doing that. Cousin Jeff is performing the service in a beautiful, private dining room in our favorite restaurant where we met on our first date. The room holds 30 people. 10 of those 30 spots are for our family. Do you want to help pay for this, or would you like me to do it on my own?”

Then, if you can’t imagine footing the bill for all those people, create a “honeymoon fund.” Your wedding guests can contribute to it in lieu of gifts, and you can use that money to pay the dinner bill, and if there’s anything left, you two can go camping.

Still too expensive? A potluck in your back yard in summer would be lovely. I know plenty of people who have opted for this option or something similar, and they all couldn’t have been happier with the results.

Boom: that’s what that whole “adulting” thing everyone keeps talking about looks like, my friend. Congratulations, and good luck!

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