Our wedding was Saturday! It was beautiful and amazing, and everything I could have hoped it would be. Unfortunately, I feel that there is also a dark cloud looming over it that puts a serious lump in my throat and knot in my stomach. My mother, who has been a closeted alcoholic for many years, seemed to do her best to outright humiliate me, steal the show, and antagonize my father/ her ex-husband during my wedding.
About a week ago, my husband said he would like an open mic/ open speech segment during the reception. Knowing my mom, he indicated that my mom shouldn't give a speech, but I said that we couldn't exactly have an open mic and then dictate who could and could not speak. I got "starry eyed" with the love and emotions of wedding planning, and when my mom asked if she could give a short speech, and say a few words about my husband and I, over instrumental music, I mistook her for a rational person and said OK. She asked for the DJ's phone number, and I said no, I would convey what she would like. I repeated "no choreographed dances" for at least the 5th time. My mom and step dad are line dance teachers, and she's always tried to steal the show, while it has never been my thing.
Day of the wedding. My mother and father are divorced and both remarried. Unfortunately my wonderful stepmother was in the hospital for over a week, and was unable to attend the wedding. My mom, stepdad, and dad were in attendance. My mom was extremely helpful leading up to the wedding, and although she was unable to contribute much financially, she did allow me too store and prep nearly everything at her house, and she and my step dad transported and set up a large portion of the decorations the morning of the wedding. The morning of the wedding, I spotted a solo cup of beer (from home..) in my mom's hand as she was setting up decorations at the venue.
I was fairly distracted, because there were also a number of other near-catastrophes happening (the gas main exploded at the venue that morning, the building was evacuated, causing the caterers to be very delayed.... etc. but we pulled it off miraculously.) My husband and I had planned and executed the entire wedding ourselves with tons of DIY, heavy research, and budgeting. We paid for 95% ourselves. It all came together at the start of the ceremony - The entire place was PERFECT. The ceremony was BEAUTIFUL. Not a dry eye in the entire place. It was beyond amazing and so full of love, it was literally staggering.
The family photo session during cocktail hour was very trying, it only took about 15 minutes, but my husband and I ended up literally screaming at everyone because no one would listen, take direction, or stop talking. We felt awful about it - My mom actually said "no" to my husband at one point when he gave direction for her to join a photo. During the lineup to enter the reception, my mom grabbed my dad by the arm and attempted to walk into the reception with both my dad and my step dad. My husband had to stop everything, fix the lineup, and my father was very uncomfortable. Again, remember- he and my mother are divorced, my mom is a well-intentioned loose canon with a poor understanding of boundaries, and my step mom was not there.
The reception began and my mom stood up, drunk, I saw my sister brace herself. Mom asked the DJ to crank up the instrumental version of "what a wonderful world" until it was blasting. She gave a speech that lasted at least five minutes, past the end of the song. It was extremely repetitive, painfully slow, and basically all about herself and how it was her job as a mother to "embarrass me"... It was AWFUL So, so, so awful. My husband squeezed my hand, and I just sat there and stared. My husband said a few things under his breath and had a hot mic from the videographer. I have no idea what sort of face I was making. It was like my brain melted or exploded. I couldn't even process what was happening. Then, she wrapped up, and just as I started to breathe, she gestured to the DJ, who began the music for "Greased Lightning". My stepdad jumped up, and my mom and stepdad then did a surprise choreographed dance for the entirety of the song. It felt like it took FOREVER. My step dad just trying to smile at me while doing the hand jive moves... It broke my heart because I know he just listens to her to try to make her happy. The crowd seemed to enjoy it... but again, I had explicitly said "no choreographed dances at the wedding" to her, with a straight serious face, at least 5 times over the past 8 months...
During our spotlight dance, my stepdad whispered an apology to me about Greased Lightening, and said it was something my mom "really, really wanted to do for me". I said I'm sure he was a "conscientious objector", and we laughed for a moment. I had no idea it would get worse.
I dance a spotlight dance with my dad, and my husband finishes a spotlight dance with his mom. My mom jumps up, and again gestures to the DJ, who puts on "I loved her first" from Heartland. She pulls my step dad onto the floor, and gestures to my father to join as well. He was confused and waved her off, she ran off the dance floor grab him by his arm and attempted to pull him onto the dance floor as well, while calling to me. The entire reception was watching I stood up and walked over to my stepfather. My mother drug my father out onto the dance floor and attempted to awkwardly sway with all of us to the music. My father said "I'm sorry, this doesn't work for me" and left the dance floor. I gestured to the DJ to cut the music. I could have literally died. What was she thinking? How on earth did she think that was going to go? This could be the final straw that makes my father never agree to attend an event with her ever again. We all sat, and the DJ played something distracting. I couldn't even form thoughts about what had happened. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why...
Why would she do this? It hurt SO much. It what world does your child WANT you to embarrass them, and AT THEIR WEDDING? Does anyone in the known universe actually want to be surprised at their own wedding? How on earth is that appropriate, after all our hard work, and all the money, and all the time, and all the effort? To purposefully go against what we said? To embarrass my dad, stepdad, and herself? Why on earth can't she just give her ex-husband, my father, the smallest amount of space and understanding?
I didn't cry, I didn't yell. I calmly talked with my husband, My husband is the most amazing person ever. He gave me the champion of all pep talks. Reminded me what the day was all about. But it was like my brain had melted and it took me a good 20 minutes to put my head on straight. It was like there were just so many wild cards I couldn't function. I forgot to check on the vegan meals with the caterer, so my husband's boss didn't eat anything except a few salad leaves. I forgot to have my husband and I give a brief "Thank you for coming" speech before the cake, with a special shout out to my step mom (again who was in the HOSPITAL). I even forgot to have the DJ cue up the special surprise slow dance for my husband and I to dance to - a very sentimental song to him.
After some time, I somehow started thinking again. My husband and I had a blast. We laughed, ate, danced, talked with so many people, took special moments for ourselves. Our wedding was amazing. But at the end of the night, my husband and I found ourselves just laying in bed just staring at the ceiling. What had even happened during parts of the day?
The next day, I thanked my mom and stepdad for their assistance in transporting and prepping. I talked with my husband. I talked with my sister. I found out my mom aggressively hugged (groped?) my husbands uncle at the bar, in front of his aunt. Don't even know what to do about that. On the assorted nonsense of the night, my MIL said "she meant well", I said "it's been 30 years of her meaning well".
My conclusion is that I will need to have a very serious follow up conversation with my mom:
- On the topic of "it's my job to embarrass you". Well not anymore it's not. You're fired. Find a new title. I seriously have no idea where she got this idea, but it's wrong, and it will not continue another moment.
- I don't like surprises, not from her. She will never again be allowed to hold a mic in her hand and call something a surprise in my presence.
- Either she purposely tried to ruin my wedding, or her judgement is just that staggeringly bad. Either way it's a problem and she needs to examine why she behaves this way and own her behavior. Lack of judgement, lack of boundaries, and the root behind why she acts this way - they are all problems. She's overdue for counseling, and it's not an option if she and I are to have a good relationship moving forward. I don't need her to feel terrible and I don't need to ice her out of my life. I DO need her to recognize the effect her actions have, and there needs to be some reflection and learning and serious positive change to come out of all this.
- Alcohol is a problem for her. We're not ignoring it any more. She needs to join AA or address this complicated topic in counseling.
- I need an apology. My husband needs an apology. My dad needs an apology. My step dad needs an apology.
Thank you all. This was insanely long. It was not fun. It was not the happy take-away from a BAM that should happen. I hate that this scenario is even part of it, but I truly needed to get it out, and begin to think through it, and to re-frame it, and move on with a focus on everything that was wonderful about my wedding day. Because there was so much that was amazing and positive about our wedding! I really, really love my husband. I really love all the happy moments with everyone. In a little while, I will post another BAM, with all our amazing photos, and all our amazing details, because it really is about all the good, all the love, all the positive energy of so many wonderful people, and that's really the point. My wedding really and truly was wonderful. Much love to everyone