You Can’t Expect Things To Go Well If You Plunge Headlong Into Etiquette Hell

by admin on October 16, 2013

My son is getting married to a wonderful girl in a few weeks. Over the past weekend, I co-hosted a wedding shower with the mother of the bride. She (the bride’s mom) had just lost her own mother after a long illness three weeks before the shower so I took on most of the responsibility – renting the room, sending out the invitations, preparing food and punch, etc. A couple of days before the shower I receive a frantic phone call from the bride’s mom asking me if I had everything I needed and then she started listing off things like plates, napkins, table cloths, decorations, etc. I told her yes I did and that all she needed to bring was what we previously agreed on (a pasta dish, salad, and four table cloths). We had also agreed in a previous conversation that she would pay for half of the room rental fee.

A little back story on the bride’s mom – she’s not a very nice person. I’ve witnessed her saying horrible things to her daughter and then deny everything a few days later or make excuses for her behavior. She’s even had the audacity to tell me and my husband that we’re giving the bride and groom too much money for the wedding. When the kids told us they were getting married we told them how much we’d like to contribute and they were very appreciative. This is our only son and we want them to have a day they can look back on with fond memories.

Anyway, the day of the shower arrives and I’ve spent a lot of time shopping, cooking, and preparing. Me, my 10 year old daughter, and another friend arrive at the venue to set up. Bride’s mom is supposed to meet us there at a specific time to help but doesn’t arrive until a half-hour before the shower starts. She then proceeds to look around the room and asks me, “is this it for the decorations”? I tell her yes and continue to set up. The decorations I chose were very simple but nice – nothing fancy – table cloths for the tables, balloons for the gift table, plates, napkins, and cups that match the bride’s wedding colors. It looked very nice! The bride’s mom then walks up to me and says, “I’m going to get more decorations”. At this point I am just dumbfounded and don’t know what to say. So she leaves and I get a call from my son asking me why the bride needs to stall her arrival to the shower. Trying to keep the day positive, I tell him there’s just a little set back and not to worry.

Now our guests start to arrive. I’m greeting everyone and showing them where to put their gifts and in walks the bride’s mom with about five bags of “decorations”. She and her sister-in-law then proceed to start hanging up tacky white paper decorations all over the room, practically ordering my daughter to put tape on balloons they’ve just blown up in front of the guests and sticking them on the wall, and asking guests to get up from their seats so they can put table cloths on the tables, etc. I was mortified!!!

When all that’s finished and I’m trying to keep a smile on my face, I open the shower by asking everyone to introduce themselves and how they know the bride and then invite everyone to eat. After everyone eats, I lead everyone in a fun game, and then we open gifts. As the bride is opening her gifts, she’s telling everyone who the gift is from and saying thank you. Well apparently the mother doesn’t like how she’s doing it so she says very loudly, “You need to tell everyone thank you, not just the groom’s family”. Again, I’m speechless and so is the bride.

The shower ends and we’re cleaning up. Bride’s mom disappears and I don’t see her again. The bride approaches me, totally embarrassed, and hands me some money from her mom – half of the amount that we agreed to – and says that her mom didn’t feel that she should pay the entire amount because she had to supply the decorations. Are you kidding me?!??!?

I am just dumbfounded. The wedding is right around the corner. I can’t imagine how this woman is going to behave. Wish us luck!!! 1008-13

You and the bride’s mother co-host a wedding shower for your children thus violating one of EHell’s and etiquette’s major faux pas and you want me to condone that?   Much of this story would not have happened if a friend of the family,  a maid of honor or bridesmaids, your church ladies or someone unrelated to your family had hosted the shower.    Your story is merely another example of why etiquette severely frowns on family, particularly parents, hosting parties which the entire raison d’etre is to accumulate material assets for their kids.

I’ve reread this submission at least four times and each time there is something gnawing at me about it.   I feel I *really* need to hear the other side of this story.  For example, the OP mentions giving money to the young couple for their wedding and this results in an objection from the bride’s mother that the amount is too much.  The bride’s family typically hosts and pays for the wedding so the OP’s “gift” may have been viewed as unnecessary and usurping of the bride’s family’s position.   It could also be viewed as highly insulting, i.e. the bride’s family was not able to afford a wedding up to the OP’s standards so money was given to “have a day they can look back on with fond memories”, as if the money available from the bride’s parents would not have achieved that expectation.

Having traipsed headlong right into EHell by hosting a shower for your son and future daughter-in-law, why is there any surprise that the faux pas just keep on happening?   OP, you write as though you made all the decisions for this shower and I get the sense you didn’t involve the bride’s mother in your choice of decor since she appears to be taken aback by what you’ve chosen.   It is her daughter’s shower and I wonder to what extent you overstepped yourself.  Having now given money to upgrade the wedding, would your behavior in regards to the shower also be construed by the bride’s mother that you were taking over yet another aspect of her daughter’s wedding?

And to be honest, I’m squicked out by your conspiratorial tone that puts your future daughter-in-law in your camp while pitting her against her own mother  at a time when the emotions are rollercoastering between joy and grief.

And do not underestimate the power of grief.   The bride’s grandmother died three weeks before the shower after a long illness?   If you think both the bride and especially her mother were not strongly affected by that, you would be wrong.  Grieving people are not in their right mind sometimes.  My own father died, after a lengthy illness, 3 weeks before my daughter’s wedding.   I thought I had it all together until I physically collapsed a week before the wedding necessitating a trip to the ER.  I am sure I was also not the nicest person to be around sometimes and I am positive I said stupid things.   I was in a mental fog of mourning and thanks to the fact that I coordinated much of the wedding months earlier, friends were able to step in to complete the final wedding check list items.   For the two days of wedding celebrating, I had to put on a happy face for guests and other family who did not know my dad.   I sat through the first half of the reception fretting and complaining about how this and that was not being done according to the plans (which is very much out of character) until a dear, old friend firmly but kindly admonished me to stop.  Grief does weird things to people in ways you cannot imagine and before you form a lasting negative impression of your son’s MIL, consider that probably for the majority of their engagement, MIL has been dealing with the stress of the impending death of her mother from a lingering, debilitating illness and will be mourning her mother from this point on.   Once the grief has abated sometime in the future, you may find that your “lovely” daughter-in-law is very much like her mother.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Allie October 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

Aside from the faux pas of the mothers hosting the shower, I feel that “co-hosted” parties frequently turn into battle grounds or at the very least result in one host doing a lot more than the other(s). This happened with a friend whose mother and MIL “c0-hosted” her baby shower. A close friend and I had gone hours early to spend the day with the bride’s family and offer any assistance they might need. The groom’s mother was supposed to be there helping too. She blew in and dropped off the ingredients for a deli tray she had planned to make, which she instructed my friend and I to do. No problem. We didn’t mind helping, but she didn’t know there would be extra hands there and I suspect she had no intention of doing the tray herself. We did not receive a thank you. She then said she’d be “right back”. Several hours later, and shortly before the time of the party, she blew in and then proceeded to get herself ready – shower, blow dry hair, etc. – rather than helping with the last minute preparations. She then proceeded to accept accolades from the guests for the lovely party after she hadn’t raised a finger. We just laughed it off and had a good time. I know the mothers shouldn’t have hosted the party, but it was a lovely event and at least they did not commit the faux pas of hosting another baby shower for the second baby, even though he was a boy and she had previously had a girl.

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JackieJormpJomp October 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm

THere is something nagging me about the letter that no one is adressing: by your admission, you had lengthy conversations with the mother, of which she remembers no details? To the point where she calls you a panic to get them?
This is really important. Either those details were not made as clear as OP thinks, or we are dealing with someone that has some serious problems (which could include everything from mental illness, to trauma, to substance abuse, to dementia). OP herself also tells a story of MOB claiming no understanding of statements she herself has made to her daughter.

I’m not saying anyone has to put up with being mistreated, but I think this is possibly a situation that is more complex than MOB being “not a very nice person,” and if viewed through that lense could potentially cause a lot less heartbreak–or at least less shock and less taking things personally.

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admin October 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Or it could be that bride’s mother is so overwhelmed with her mother’s death that she cannot what amounts to trivial (to her) details of a conversation.

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erikagillian February 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I really want to emphasize this even if I’m months late. The best thing someone said to me after my dad died was that your memory is not going to work for several weeks to months. You could put your car keys in the middle of an empty white table and not be able to find them 30 seconds later. So I knew it was going to happen when it did. It may have to do with how memory behaves differently in an emergency situation, but that’s just a guess.

A person only three weeks after a parent’s death, especially after the stress of being caretaker, well, of course she can’t remember details of something, frankly, as trivial as bridal shower.

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Filiagape October 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

“Squicked out”? That is one I have never heard. I am inferring a meaning, but I am not sure I am correct, clarification please.

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Kimstu October 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm

@Filiagape: “Squicked out” describes a sensation that’s sort of a blend of “revolted”, “unsettled”, and “surprised”. More or less halfway between “Yikes!” and “Eeeeewwww.” :)

Anyway, whatever the subtext or backstory of this incident, the OP’s appropriate course of action is clear:
1) Let go of the shower incidents, take the contribution from the bride’s mother and don’t make a fuss about the monetary amount or her behavior. As Admin noted, this whole relatives-giving-a-shower thing is on somewhat thin ice etiquette-wise already, and the last thing anyone needs is a family squabble on top of it.
2) Continue to be nice and warmly supportive to the bride, but don’t encourage or express any criticism of her mother. Maybe, as Admin says, the MOB is actually a nice person not appearing (or not being described) in the best light. But if she isn’t, then your DIL will be more grateful for kind tolerance and forbearance on your part than for overt commiseration at her mother’s expense.

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Gee October 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Squicked out = horrified, grossed out, etc.

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Lita October 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Being squicked usually implies horrified disgust – like if you saw a squirrel get run over, you would be squicked out by that. Some people also add implied nausea to the definition.

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Bayou October 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Usually “squicked” means to be icked out by someone or something but there is an element of the heebie jeebies thrown in. Kind of a portmanteau of scary + icked. I thought the use of it in this context was a little off. Just my two cents.

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happy to help October 16, 2013 at 7:27 pm

To be squicked out is to have a weird, icky, gross feeling. You’re taken aback by a situation, and not in a good way.

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violinp October 16, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Squicked out means grossed out or bothered.

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Jett Jaguar October 17, 2013 at 12:58 am

I hadn’t heard this one either, so I looked it up on an online slang dictionary, and there it was. It means to be repulsed, disgusted or otherwise made uncomfortable, usually by content found on the internet.

I like it! I’m going to try and use it in a sentence today.

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Jen October 17, 2013 at 9:37 am

@Filiagape, It often has elements of creepy, gross, disturbing, uncomfortable, and “that’s just wrong!”

According to Urban Dictionary:
“Squicked out:
To be repulsed, disgusted, or otherwise made uncomfortable. Usually describes a reaction to certain types of NWS content on the net, such as stickyfic, slash, porn, or just strange concepts that a person can’t get their head around”

Things can also be referred to as “squicky”. For example, I tend to find romantic relationships between 60 year olds and 18 year olds to be squicky.

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World October 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm

It’s a relatively new word that (as far as I am aware) was invented on the internet to describe a feeling between disgust and discomfort. Very appropriate to describe this situation!

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Yvaine October 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm

It means grossed out.

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La October 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm

You ever been reading fanfic, and yeah, some of it’s adult in nature but what the heck, you can ignore it if you don’t want to see it, and you read the descriptiosn and find something interesting, and you read it and find the actual content is something you object to on both a moral and a personal level, and your response is “WHY WOULD YOU WRITE THAT?!” and “WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO READ THIS?!” and you have to go and look at cute kitten pics for ten hours straight because oh dear why?

Yeah, that’s squicked. Bascially.

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Cherry91 October 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

Squick is, I think, a portmanteau of “squeamish” and “ick”

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Filiagape October 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I think the rule that family is not supposed to host showers is one of the most unknown rules of etiquette. For me and my friends the shower was not viewed as a gift grab, but a show of affection for the bride/mother-to-be. If I received nothing but dollar store gifts, I would have been fine with it, but if no one thought to give me a shower at all, I would have been hurt. My matron of honor was my sister-in-law, so she followed the “rule” that the maid of honor throws the shower. If she hadn’t, no one else would have stepped up for fear of offending her. When my friend married I was not the matron of honor, her sister was, and everyone hesitated to throw her a shower, afraid to offend the sister by usurping, in our minds, her role. The sister, not knowing the rule either, wasn’t able to throw the shower, so I stepped up,I offended her great aunt by giving the sister co-hosting credit on the invitations, thinking I was being kind. The great aunt didn’t attend any of the events, didn’t acknowledge the bride/the wedding, didn’t send a card wishing her well, but did send a card informing us of our etiquette faux pas.

Etiqiette is supposed to teach us how to care for each other, not to be used at a cudgel to put each other in our place or to criticize and show each other up for our mistakes. The etiquette stories we enjoy the most are the ones where the host drinks out of the finger bowl, imitating a guest’s faux pas, or the governor giving the potty training toddler a standing ovation, not the ones where the “offender” has the rules condescending explained to them. Admin kindly recognizes the MIL grieving status and the fact that there is more than one side to this story, but where is the same understanding for the LW? The news that family does not give showers will continue to be a little-known rule because. If you’re not a wedding planner or etiquette teacher, one can go one’s whole life without knowing or needing to know it. Let’s give people who don’t know consideration when we kindly explain the rules and the rationales.

By the way I am now of the age to attend, not give, my daughter’s shower and am attending showers thrown by parents, sisters, aunts, etc.

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Ange October 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

I kind of feel that if the LW is versed in this site enough to send in a submission they’d know that rule though wouldn’t they? It’s mentioned fairly frequently.

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Sarah Jane October 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

This is why there are etiquette books and sites like this. People SHOULD know.

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LawGeek October 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm

One can always approach the sister or maid-of-honor in question with an offer to host. I’ve done so, citing the etiquette rule as a reason she might want to hand off the duty (in as soft and polite a way as I could muster).

Since you are so very right of people not knowing or caring about this rule, I’ve ended up as co-host instead. No matter, it is not my job to police others’ etiquette once I know they are aware of it. Nor did I think taking some kind of stand against the faux pas was worth missing out on the opportunity to make the bride or mom’s party the best I knew how. However, I know others here would have opted out because of it, and I think either choice is understandable.

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Stacey Frith-Smith October 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Wow! Reading OP’s narrative and Admin’s reply just reinforces how intensely our own experiences shape our perception of other people’s motives and actions. That said- how about making a clean breast of it, OP, and just enjoying the wedding without allowing the drama to contaminate (read- poison) the memories for you? Your expectations, those of the MOB, those of the HC…may or may not all align. SO hard when it’s a special occasion that you have a particular vision of- but reality nonetheless. If you take my advice and keep a peaceful and slightly low-key demeanor, you’ll be able to weather these little storms without excessive damage to yourself or those in your sphere. I don’t really think you have a need to feel excessive guilt since your actions weren’t perfect (family hosting shower, judging the conduct of the MOB) but were probably ill-considered. Some regret might be in order, though, and a promise to yourself that you’ll take the long view of your relationships through the coming weeks. I think your son will thank you for it.

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Mary October 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I do agree with Admin regarding hosting the shower. However, I don’t believe that is the true tradition anymore for the parents of the bride. Quite often both sets of parents split the cost or all of the parents pay for part of it and the couple picks up the rest.

I only see the contribution to the wedding to be a problem if the parents of the bride stated that they would pay for the entire wedding and then it might be seen as an intrusion. In that case the grooms family could have offered to pick up the bar bill, the cost of the honeymoon, etc. in addition to the rehearsal dinner.

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just4kicks October 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm

@Filiagape: “squicked out” means grossed out, icky.
“I was squicked out by the booger hanging out of her nose.”

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Lakey October 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

There is something that I have been curious about since I started coming to this site. In my family my mother had 6 brothers and sisters and my dad had 5 brothers and sisters; most aunts and uncles had approximately 5 children. Whenever someone got married there would be a big relatives’ shower including aunts and adult cousins and adult cousins’ wives. These showers were hosted by a couple of the aunts. Is it a faux pas for aunts to host a shower? If it is the onus wouldn’t be on me because I never married LOL. Frankly no one would have been offended because ALL wedding showers were handled like this.

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Kimstu October 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

@Lakey, I think if your family has a tradition of “relatives’ showers” where all the guests are family members, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

What’s contrary to etiquette is a bride’s family hosting a shower for her general social circle. The reasoning is that a shower is supposed to be a community event to help a bride-to-be acquire practical stuff she needs for her new life, but ultimately it’s the bride herself and her own family who have the duty to provide for her needs. So it comes across as somewhat greedy or “beggy” for her family to be soliciting that help from the community.

“Come to a party where we’ll all chip in some useful little gifts for our dear friend Bride to help start her married life!” is a charming sentiment. When close relatives try the same thing, though, it tends to sound more like “Come to a party with gifts for our dear daughter Bride, because the more you pony up for her, the less we have to!” Not quite so charming.

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Wolf Chick October 16, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Most of the time I agree with the admin. She does make some valid points that I agree with, especially about who hosts the shower, but I think she was a bit harsh in other aspects. I think @Allie (1st comment) hit the nail on the head- “co-hosted” parties usually end up with one host doing more than the other and sometimes the hosts battle over specific ideas. For this shower, the major battle seemed to be decorations and how much money was contributed by each.

I do not think OP and husband should not be made to feel bad/guilty about contributing money to the wedding. I think it was a lovely gesture. We have all read stories on E-Hell regarding money, or the lack thereof, around weddings. Maybe OP and her husband contributed out the kindness of their hearts, hoping that the bride & groom could put it to good use and not stress so much about finances, not trying to “insult” the MOB by “upgrading” the wedding to OP’s standards, therefore insinuating that bride’s family could not afford to put on “a day they could look back on with fond memories”.

As far as the OP “taking over the wedding”, maybe she was trying to help out more than usual *because* MOB had lost her mother, hoping that it would take some stress of planning & executing the shower & wedding *off* the MOB. If she really feels as though the MOG is trying to “take over her daughter’s wedding”, why not just say so and ask MOG to dial it back? Simply stating your grievance and asking someone to stop is not rude. It may help clear the air around this situation.

When the MOB said “You need to tell everyone thank you, not just the groom’s family”, what was she trying to accomplish? Embarrassing her daughter? Was the bride really only thanking the groom’s family and thumbing her nose at her family’s gifts? Probably not.

In regards to the conspiratorial tone, maybe the bride *is* embarrassed by her mother’s behavior. Having the bride give the MOG the money she owed on the rental, half of what she agreed on to boot, and having the bride explain to her FMIL that MOB she didn’t feel like she should pay the entire amount because she supplied the decorations? That says the decorations wasn’t up to *MOB’s* standards.

Grief is a complex emotion that people experience and work through differently. I totally get that. But does that give you an automatic pass to be rude and nasty at your daughter’s shower? Maybe MOB was/is still in the grips of grief and that’s why her actions came across as brusque and maybe she was using a “tone” when she spoke. Or she could really just be a nasty person who is jealous that the mother & father of the groom donated some money so bride & groom can have a nicer than expected wedding and upset that the bride & FMIL seem to be getting close.

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Wolf Chick October 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm

2nd paragraph, 1st line should read “I do not think OP and husband should be made to feel bad/guilty about contributing money to the wedding.”

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Surianne October 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I agree on all points, Wolf Chick.

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RC October 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Bravo admin, I agree with everything you said!

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Maggie October 17, 2013 at 1:14 am

I would like the OP to return with an account of the wedding, to see whether what she perceives is reality.

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Lex October 17, 2013 at 5:58 am

As the sister of the bride, when my sister got married, her MIL and FIL were more financially well off and kept trying to hijack the plans in the guise of paying for extra things they wanted (they ruined the evening reception buffet by secretly phoning the hotel and ordering plates of additional sandwiches that they paid for themselves which were not eaten and took the place of the items my sister and her groom had chosen).

I’m sorry but interfering MotG has probably caused MotB a lot of stress at a time when she could clearly do without it!

Personally, I think the whole idea of showers for any events are tacky gimme-gimme occasions. After all, if it is impolite to invite someone to a shower that isn’t invited to the event, isn’t this just a way of soliciting twice as many gifts? They seem to be a more prevalent custom in the US than in the UK although I always hate it when people host ‘baby showers’ – I certainly won’t be having one as I have very few female friends and not a single one would bother to expend that much energy on me. When we have a baby we’ll send out birth announcements after the fact – a simple card with name, DoB, weight and probably a little picture and if people want to send us cards or gifts that is their decision and each gift will be acknowledged and they will be sent a thank you card.

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RC October 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I agree Lex – this site was the first I’ve heard of wedding showers, they do not happen in my country. All I keep thinking is, “A party for the sake of giving me presents? Over my dead body!” It squicks me out!

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Kendra November 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Actually, RC, “Showers” weren’t really a ‘party for the sake of giving me presents’. The original intent seemed to be more along the lines of the females in the community welcoming a young woman to the next phase of her life (marriage / baby) They would dring tea, talk about what the bride could expect after she was married / after the baby was born, give advice about what they learned and give small gifts that the women had found to be particularly helpful. The big stuff was supposed to be supplied by the couple / family. That’s one of the reasons that you are only supposed to have one wedding / baby shower. You can only become a 1st time bride / mother once. Unfortunately, gimmee pigs being what they are, showers seem to have morphed into parties for the sake of giving presents. So sad.

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Lo October 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

I agree that the cohosted shower was a really bad idea.

Though I disagree with admin about the money issue. Honestly I don’t think the couple had any business telling either set of parents how much money the other had given. There is no need for that kind of transparency when this much money is involved it can only create hard feelings. When we got married my husband allowed his parents to contribute a much larger sum than mine did. Reason being I am not comfortable accepting money from my parents and he is. This was our compromise. It had nothing to do with tradition. Neither party was made aware of the other’s contribution except in vague details.

As for the rest, I think there is a lot that you can chalk up to grief. Maybe your son’s MIL is a not so nice person and maybe she’s just overwhelmed and can’t deal right now.

And maybe don’t get involved with any more joint financial endeavors with her. I do think it was really bad form on her part to pay you only half.

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Devil's Advocate October 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

On the topic of the grief issue, the MOB’s mom only passed away three weeks ago. Thus the “grief” issue is a three-week old issue by the time of the shower. It seems from OP’s post that the horribleness of the MOB was recognized long before the passing of the grandmother. I would assume that her son and daughter have been together for at least sometime prior to getting married. We are also assuming a close relationship between the MOB and her mother and that they would be strongly affected. Maybe and maybe not.

I understand grief due to a loved one’s passing. OP’s post speaks of more then just that.

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Anonymous October 17, 2013 at 11:14 am

I agree with Allie. This is why I don’t co-host.

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Wild Irish Rose October 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

This is pretty much why I rarely host ANYTHING. Especially with a co-host/ess. It’s just not worth WWIII. That said, I think Admin. is right about the MOB’s grief affecting her behavior, but it’s still no excuse for rude behavior. As for the money toward the wedding, how would MOB even know how much OP contributed if she weren’t told by someone–either the bride herself, or the groom, or MOG?

The decoration issue kind of confuses me. MOB was rude to criticize the decorations (and I’m sorry, but grief is no excuse for outright rudeness) and then to run out, get more, and expect guests to help decorate. There is plenty of blame to go around to OP and MOB.

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Angel October 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I’m a little confused. Was the MOB not a nice person even before her mother passed away? Or is it just the stress of losing the mother? If she was not a nice person before then the OP probably should have expected it would be worse after she lost her mom. Did the OP really expect the MOB to be magically transformed into a decent person?

The groom’s mom took over the hosting of the shower so she should have expected that the MOB might be a little miffed that she took over the décor and all the food too. They are both in the wrong here.

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kingsrings October 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I feel that co-hosting showers takes on more difficulty when the hosts are family, especially the mothers. That is when family dynamics come into play too much, as evidenced by this story. One-upping, comparisons, competitions, other personal stuff tends to run stronger in families and thus would come more into play with events like this.

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SFL October 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

OP…I wish you luck. Although I feel the Admin is being unnecessarily harsh in tone in her admonishments, yours is a good example of why for mothers and mothers of should not host showers. I also fail to see how the FDIL is “in” the camp of the OP. I thought the FDIL showed good grace by being embarrassed by her mother.

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kellyrnh October 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

I agree – co-hosting just causes issues. I co-hosted a baby shower a few years ago for my best friend, the other host was her sister. That actually went very well in the end… Fast forward 3 years, my friend is pregnant again (this time with a girl) so I recently received an invitation to another shower for her. I know this is a etiquette blunder in itself, but I know it was with good intentions. The invitation was from her sister, so I emailed her and asked if I could help in any way. She wrote back and said no thanks, she had it under control. No big deal, until I went to the shower, and found out she included 4 other friends to help, which really hurt my feelings as it almost felt like I was purposely excluded. It made me look back and wonder if she didn’t like hosting with me, etc. Just all around doesn’t work if you ask me.

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RAS October 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

As the OP of this story, let me clarify – I took over planning the shower because 1) the bridesmaids were not planning one nor are there any aunts or sisters; and 2) I knew the MOB was frazzled and overwhelmed.

As for giving the kids money, MOB/FOB complained from day one about the cost and haven’t helped with anything other than purchasing the bride’s dress of which they’ve held for ransom on more than one occasion when she’s done something they didn’t approve of. Etiquette or not – if my husband and I want to give our son money for his wedding then we will regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I’ve been a reader of this site for many years and wanted to post an experience that I feel could have gone much better but can laugh at now. MOB didn’t just start behaving badly when her mother became ill and then passed – her bad behavior started a long time ago. As far as pitting mother against daughter I disagree. Future DIL comes to me with issues with mother – I listen and give advice when it’s asked for.

Admin’s comments were harsh but I posted my story and she replied which is her right as owner of the site. However, I wouldn’t go back and do anything any differently. I have a son. He’s getting married too, not just the bride.

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Wolf Chick October 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I agree with what you did. It is the GROOM’S day, too and if his parents want to contribute, they totally should. With MOB/FOB griping about cost, what you & your husand did was very sweet and generous.

I think the “rules” on who pays for what need to be revised. Times have changed and weddings are not necessarily just about “pawning” off a daughter. Before I get blasted, I am not saying that is what all families did but some families did think this way and that was what dowries were about. You gave the groom’s family a finanical compensation or material goods for taking a daughter off your hands.

OP- please let us know how it goes!

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Mary October 22, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I am sorry you had to deal with that woman. Judging by her behavior she sounds dreadful. Best wishes! You handled everything with grace.

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pbird October 31, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I agree totally.

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crella October 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm

On the money issue, the groom’s parents usually don’t give money ‘for the wedding’. That could come across as pushy, or a ‘comment’ about the wedding arrangements. The groom’s family usually just throws the rehearsal dinner. If the money had been called a ‘wedding gift’ I would feel differently about it.

Grief, after caring for someone for a long time, can be debilitating. I’ve been there (and we’re on that road again with DH’s mother). 3 weeks is nothing, it is not nearly enough time to grieve and bounce back from the exhaustion of long-term care giving/illness in the family. I hope the LW can see it in her heart to cut her some slack.

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Ashley October 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

RAS
I’m sorry you had to explain yourself. I knew from reading your story you were dealing with a “toxic mother”.

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Kate L October 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

I honestly don’t understand how it would be rude for family to host the bridal/wedding shower? Then wouldn’t it be rude to have a shower or a registry at all? I have never been to a shower that *wasn’t* hosted by the family in my large family network of two ethnicities. In my experience, it’s always the bride’s mother and/or MIL, or a close female relative. It seems strange to me for anyone *but* family to take on that effort/expense (it’s the two families merging, after all). We don’t have “church ladies” here.

Then again, in my ethnic background, it’s customary (nay, expected) to bring a gift to the bridal shower *and* cash to the actual wedding.

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crebj November 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

OP, the MOB’s not being nice, in your estimation, doesn’t lessen your obligation to treat her politely.

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