VIP October 2020

Difficult Family Decisions

ThePeoplesBride, on January 27, 2020 at 8:36 PM Posted in Family and Relationships 0 10

Hi all,

I apologize in advance for this being a potential downer. I realize that there is an emphasis on positivity for the current iteration of the forums but I really need some outside perspectives on this situation.

I have a FMIL who is...difficult. During the last 3 years of my engagement to her son, our relationship has grown so sour that we no longer communicate for reasons that are perhaps too personal for a random wedding forum. All that I will say is that she has said and done - and continues to do and say - some very unsavory things that have hurt a great majority of her family, myself and my immediate family included.

Now, she is still on our guest list because my FH would like her to be there if she is willing to participate. We want to at least extend the offer because he is her son, after all, and it only follows logic that a mother would want to be at her sons wedding, right? She has already said several things in opposition of our wedding - not to our union but to our planning of a traditional wedding event - so it wouldn't surprise me if she didn't come. If she doesn't come, that's perfectly fine. There is already a plan for him to dance with my mother at the reception. FH would probably be super hurt if she was a no show but it's not as if he's ignorant to her behavior.

My worry is that she will decide to show up. I'm worried about where to put her at the reception. Do I sit her with her friends and her sister in the corner where they can gripe about the details together? Do I HAVE to sit them with my parents and siblings? I am so worried that she has plans to try and ruin our day whether that be by loudly complaining, speaking up during the ceremony (whether the guests are asked to or not), or creating some kind of scene that will be the centerpiece of the event that everyone will remember for years to come.

So my question is this for those who have a difficult family member, or someone that you wish you didn't have to invite, at your wedding:

What did you do? How did you seat them? Did you have any fail safes or back up plans? How did you navigate pictures? Am I overthinking this?

Thank you for reading. I really do appreciate any input that you may have about this.


Latest activity by Katie, on February 3, 2020 at 11:29 AM
  • Kristen
    Master November 2020
    Kristen ·
    • Flag

    I would ask your FH how he feels about her seating arrangements but if you feel she will be negative do not sit her with your family as I know my mom would have gone off on someone disrespecting my wedding day and it will cause issues. You seat her elsewhere with her family but you said many of them have issues with her so take that into account too.

    • Reply
  • Sweet'N'Rhodes
    Devoted March 2022
    Sweet'N'Rhodes ·
    • Flag

    I'm following this, as I have two potentially problematic family members to deal with as well. One on FH's side, and one on mine (if invited). They are one the reasons I would be happy to elope.

    • Reply
  • Rebecca
    Master August 2019
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    I had the same problem with my own mother. She elected not to come, and solved the problem for us.

    However, we had members of our BP ready and willing to run interference with her, to enforce boundaries, and our venue coordinator was also aware that she could cause problems. (Check with your venue, they may have policies in place to handle this.)

    I'm sorry. It's always ridiculously difficult in our culture to be open about toxic family members - particularly mothers. You're not alone.

    • Reply
  • ThePeoplesBride
    VIP October 2020
    ThePeoplesBride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Alerting our coordinator to the issue is an incredible idea. I'm not entirely sure why that hasn't crossed my mind but it would potentially make a world of a difference.

    Thank you for the suggestion and the kind words. I'm glad that you understand. Hopefully she makes the same decision your mother made and saves us the anxiety.
    • Reply
  • Nikki
    Devoted April 2021
    Nikki ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Completely agree with this. My cousin’s FMIL was a nightmare throughout the planning process. My cousin alerted the bridal and groom’s party so that we could run interference if needed. We also made sure to keep an eye on the FMIL and step in if she was talking to the bride too long. Giving the coordinator a heads up should help wonders, and make sure your photographer knows too so that they can pose her further away from you
    • Reply
  • Allison
    Savvy October 2020
    Allison ·
    • Flag

    Every situation is different, but have you possible texted and just asked her where she wants to sit? That way she feels like she is having a say, but you have actually the ultimate decision. It works with children too... which ya know...sounds like her (;

    • Reply
  • Nodyia
    Expert October 2020
    Nodyia ·
    • Flag

    FH has to have a seat down one on one talk with his mother. He needs to find out what are her intentions with the wedding and truth be told he can set some ground rules with her respectfully, basically letting her know she should support him with this special day in his life or miss this important day the choice is hers and also let her know how disappointed he will be with her if she decided not to come and be respectful...Good luck


    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    Are you talking about sitting them at the reception or for the ceremony?

    For the reception we are grouping people with common interests and friends together as opposed to keeping it strictly on a "role in wedding" basis. My FH and I are sitting at a sweetheart table by ourselves and I'm planning to keep my mom with my cousins as opposed to putting her with my FH's family and members of our wedding parties will be seated with their SO's and friends, so may be dispersed at different tables as opposed to all sitting together. If that is your plan for seating I see no issue with keeping your FMIL with her sisters and friends.

    During the ceremony I do think you need to allow space for her to sit with family and she shouldn't be relegated to some seat in the back unless that's where she wants to sit.

    • Reply
  • M
    Dedicated August 2020
    Morgan ·
    • Flag

    We personally aren't having assigned seating at our wedding, that way our guests can sit with whom ever they like. I don't know what it's like to have a FMIL that is so difficult, I'm sorry you have to deal with that. I would just plan on her coming and hope for the best. Maybe have your FH speak with her before hand to be sure she doesn't stir up any drama and ruin your big day.

    • Reply
  • Katie
    Devoted March 2019
    Katie ·
    • Flag

    You can absolutely seat her with her friends and find a few fail-safe measures to make sure that she is very cordial if she does attend your big day!

    I was in a similar situation with divorced parents. Ultimately we had my mom and dad on different sides of the reception area at tables with their close friends/family that they would enjoy having dinner with. We also did the same for my husbands (still married) parents, and sat them with their favorite family members.

    I was very worried about pictures as well, but it really turned out to not be a big deal. Talk to your photographers - from a logistics standpoint, they'll want a general list of the pictures you want (bride + parents, groom + parents, bride + siblings, bride + parents + siblings, bride + groom + all parents, etc. etc) and this is a perfect opportunity for you to mention to them a difficult relationship - they don't need details but making them aware will keep the process quick. All I told my photographers is that "my parents were divorced and mom does not like dad's girlfriend" and they worked skillfully to make family pictures quick and not have them with each other. You could do pics with MIL and that side of the family first to be done with it! If you have a patient mother, or your FH has a sibling that is aware of your FMIL's behavior, enlist them to talk to her during the reception, keep things light and pleasant (and appropriate!), and keep her out of your hair Smiley smile You're not overthinking, as her behavior is very real, but I promise once it's your wedding day you won't be giving her a second thought.

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