Mother or Monster in Law – How to Help Choose

Planning your wedding can be a minefield of awkward situations just waiting to be inadvertently stepped on. One of the scariest is when your fiance’s mom reaches out to ask if she could help with tasks you’d preferably not include her in, such as dress shopping, choosing decor or dozens of other activities. How you handle this request could create a potential nightmare on many levels. If you say yes to keep the peace, you could miss out on special time with your own mom and girls or end up settling for things that don’t reflect your vision. If you say no, well, let your imagination go to that dark place if you dare.

Experts suggest you think this possibility through right at the start of your planning, rather than be blindsided once you are well into the process. When the future mother in law (FMIL) wants to get involved, it can be out of a real sense of generosity and (hopefully not) from an enormous ego. The best solution is to think of ways she can help and shine that won’t conflict with your wants and needs.

A carefully thought out response to her request, along with some responsibilities that will she can run with may just end up saving the big day! Here are some areas to consider having her take on, but be sure to discuss them with your fiance in advance to gauge the most useful ideas. When you are ready to talk to her, be sure to use the approach that you really need her help with the tasks you and your fiance have chosen for her, rather than that you don’t want her to help with other items.

The Guest List

Naturally, the final say in guest numbers and who attends should be up to you and your fiance, but most couples allocate a certain number of guests their parents can invite, once they’ve tallied up costs. This is a great practice that includes the bonus of not having to track down contact information for those she has invited, as well as having the FMIL be responsible for tracking down any late responders from her group. The key is to be very specific both in the exact number of guests and the tasks relating to them.

Wedding Dress Shopping

If you genuinely don’t want your FMIL to join you in this endeavor, how about making a date to shop for her outfit for the wedding? You could share your Pinterest board, your colors, and style. Over a nice lunch, you could ask her about her wedding day and allow her to share some of her own experiences; there is a chance she will share a tradition you may decide to carry forward yourself.

The Bridal Shower

Traditionally this task has fallen to the mother of the bride, but, there’s no reason not to ask for some input from your FMIL, especially since her family and friends will also attend and she will be excited for everyone to enjoy themselves. Do make sure to be specific about what you ask her to do, such as helping find a venue or take care of the florals.

The Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the groom’s family host the rehearsal dinner, so your FMIL may already expecting to take this on. If you feel comfortable with her taking the reins completely, this would be an excellent handover, especially since the rest of your family and friends will know it is all her doing and you needn’t feel any stress over her choices. If you don’t, find a gentle but savvy way to make a few suggestions.

Ceremony and Reception

This may be the trickiest area to maneuver since it packs possibly the most personal punch after the dress. You absolutely should plan every detail according to your wishes and those of your fiancee (styles, colors, vows, florals, etc.) but be sure to keep your FMIL in the loop. Pinterest boards are an easy way to share all your ideas, colors and styles. This may also be another good time to take her for a nice lunch and share your excitement; hopefully, it’s contagious!

Crafting Projects

If you are thinking of any DIY projects, this is a perfect area to ask for a helping hand; you will be grateful for any help at a point. For example, ask your FMIL for welcome bag ideas, which should be tailored to your destination wedding climate. In Cabo, items such as sunscreen, hand fans, and your sunglasses in your colors are popular. It will also help to have someone else to carry the supplies, assemble at your hotel or villa and ensure they are placed in guest’s rooms.

The Parent Dances

This could be a golden opportunity to involve your FMIL, especially if you will be doing a father-daughter dance. Your groom’s mom should then have a dance with her son. If your fiancee has no preferences, you could brainstorm special music with your FMIL. There is a good chance there is a song that was special to them over the years, and she will love listening to classics and choosing a song that will create a special memory for her. 

On that note, your FMIL would also be a great help choosing some reception music for others of her generation as she will have many up her sleeve and feel very included on the dance floor!

Many wedding planners will tell you the FMIL can be a bigger bridezilla than any bride, so be sure to treat this area with a great deal of care, at the very least to save yourself from the added stress you certainly won’t need. At the end of the day, if you are questioned about any of your choices, explain they have been made by both you and her son.




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