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.