6 Things NOT to Say to Your Mother-In-Law

Written by Alex Reardon
Photo: Keepsake Memories Photography

We’ve all heard horror stories about the nightmare mother-in-law (“you won’t believe what she said to me!”) but the fact is your relationship is a two-way street. While you may not always see eye-to-eye during the wedding planning process, you don’t want to get things started on the wrong foot.

Here are a few comments to keep to yourself when it comes to your mother-in-law-to-be:

“Nope, not happening.”
Whether she’s gently offered a suggestion for your wedding day or brashly imposed a very strong opinion about how things should be done, you should at least pretend to consider her input. You’re under no obligation to accommodate her every wish, but hear her out. If the answer is still “not in a billion years,” we suggest sugarcoating that “no” a little. A little grace will go a long way.

“Here’s the rehearsal dinner plan.”
If she is hosting the rehearsal dinner, let her take the lead. Chances are she will ask you for ideas and keep you very involved in planning—but don’t jump the gun and start making a bunch of demands right off the bat. Feel free to voice your preferences and offer suggestions when prompted, but let her run the show.

“We don’t need your help.”
You may not want to burden her with tasks, but be careful how you phrase it. Declining her help could make her feel excluded or brushed off. If your mother-in-law offers to assist, it’s probably because she wants to feel useful and involved. Even if you feel like you have everything under control, accept her offer gratefully and assign her a couple small tasks.

“You’re wearing that to the wedding?”
Maybe it’s an unflattering cut, a freakish color (or, God forbid, white), is totally off the dress code, or has been hanging in her closet since the ‘80s. Making snide remarks about her wedding attire will just cause tension. If you’re really concerned about what she’s planning to wear or sense she could use a little help, offer to take her to lunch and go dress shopping together. Call it a girls’ bonding day. Everybody wins! PS - here are 10 spot-on tips for helping her shop.

"He’s not your little boy anymore!"
This one is just asking for trouble. No matter how playful your intentions are, this remark will be interpreted as a jab at least on some level. Your fiance may have a new lady in his life, but as far as your MIL is concerned, he will always be her little boy. Just leave it.

"My family does it differently."
Yikes, this isn’t a contest. Every family does things differently, and that’s OK! Constantly comparing your fiance(e)’s family to your own will not do anyone any favors. Plus, your future mother-in-law is now your family. You’ve heard the saying: You’re not just marrying your fiance(e), you’re marrying the whole family. Try to embrace the way she does things, even if it’s not what you’re used to.