Momster-In-Law Chats It Up During Ceremony

by admin on November 12, 2013

I had a difficult relationship with my in-laws from the get-go, but the biggest thing that sticks with me is my MIL’s behavior during our Catholic (my religion) ceremony. My husband and I are from different religious backgrounds, so we planned a lovely interfaith ceremony, incorporating both of our religions. MIL refused to come to the wedding unless we had the religious ceremony she wanted. To appease her, we agreed to two ceremonies. One, because she insisted on a ceremony in their religion. The second, because if I was going to give MIL a ceremony, I was sure as heck going to give my mom one. While I regret my reasons for having two ceremonies, I am thrilled that we did them both. It really was meaningful to have ceremonies for both of our religious backgrounds.

Anyway, MIL arrived about 15 minutes before the Catholic ceremony, even though we asked family to arrive an hour early for photos. She didn’t take off her jacket, and she was carrying two plastic grocery bags full of snacks. She was walked down the aisle at the start of the ceremony carrying bags of potato chips, wearing her winter jacket.

I was too busy getting married to notice the rest of this, but here is what MANY guests recounted to me about her behavior during the ceremony: She sat down, and promptly opened bags of cookies and chips, and started feeding herself, her husband, and her grandchildren.
Apparently she was chatting away with the grandkids during the ceremony, not really bothering to check her volume. I’m not really sure how I didn’t notice it, because apparently it was loud, but I honestly did not notice during the ceremony.

During the first hymn, she answered a phone call, and proceeded to chat loudly on the phone during the entire hymn. People around her noticed, but not the whole church until the hymn ended and everybody sat down. At that point, everybody noticed her chatting away on the phone and started staring at her. The priest stopped the ceremony and looked right at her until she hung up.

A few minutes later, while the priest was talking, the phone rang again. Loudly. Everybody heard. She picked up the phone, but only got a few words out before she noticed that the priest had stopped and was glaring at her, along with almost everybody else in the church. She got the hint at that point, and, as far as I know, took no more phone calls during the wedding ceremony. 1111-13

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsten November 12, 2013 at 4:41 am

On the plus side, your MIL made herself look a total and utter arse in front of the entire congregation. I feel sorry for your husband in particular, having his mother be so trashy at his own wedding. And of course, I should probably say you should have told her where to stick it when she demanded you do your ceremony a certain way, but hindsight is everything! How passive-aggressive and disrespectful! Did anyone tell her off afterwards? Did her husband not tell her off?

It can be very difficult trying to combine two religions in one service (it’s happened a few times in my family – some services were done better than others). At my cousin’s wedding, all my family were deeply uncomfortable with aspects of the groom’s religion. However, we only admitted it long afterwards when nobody else was around! Otherwise it’s smile, be respectful, and if you’re my sister, take advantage of your crying baby to leave the service!

I hope your idiotic MIL didn’t spoil your day.

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NostalgicGal November 12, 2013 at 5:56 am

Sorry, OP, that your MIL chose to show she is a day visitor from the planet Boron. Condolences to your husband about his mother’s actions.

Cellphones do NOT equal they and whoever’s on either end of one is more important than the rest of the universe, and usually at enhanced decibels. I do try to take it OUT of public if I have to take that call; wish more would. And if I’m driving, it’s going to ring.

It’s too bad someone wasn’t doing the seating and could have parted her from her noisily packaged calories before she paraded down to where she held court. (eating, feeding others, and cellphone)

I do hope things improve for you, OP.

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Lisatoo November 12, 2013 at 6:24 am

Oh, goodness! All I can say is I wish you strenght in the coming years. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page, and stand your ground when she tries to pull more stunts like this -and she probably will.
Also: Congratulations!!! Did you have 2 different dresses? Two ceremonies would solve the problems for people who can’t make up their mind about which one to buy, hahaha. :-)

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Jennifer November 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

“Two ceremonies would solve the problems for people who can’t make up their mind about which one to buy, hahaha.”

My husband and my families are different faiths (my family is Catholic and his is Hindu) and we discussed separate ceremonies, but instead went with a single secular ceremony. I did, however, wear a traditional white dress for the ceremony (he wore a tux) and we both changed into Indian clothes for the reception.

Stories like this one are the reason we’re forever grateful that our families were supportive of our decisions about our wedding (and marriage), even when it didn’t completely match up with their beliefs. I truly hope the letter writer’s MIL has shaped up and been more respectful of other people and their beliefs since then!

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tess November 12, 2013 at 6:46 am

She was making her “statement”…..I’m sure she was smart enough to know better. I did go to a funeral once where the family came in carrying their cigarette packs and bottles of Mountain Dew.

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Wren November 12, 2013 at 8:25 am

Your husband’s mother is rude and nasty. I hope your husband said something to her about how her selfish behavior affected what was one of the most important hours of your lives together.

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Shoegal November 12, 2013 at 8:41 am

The MIL didn’t have to attend the Catholic ceremony if she was going to show such complete and utter disrespect. I dare say it would have been better if she had just stayed away. Who on God’s green earth brings in bags of groceries to a wedding church service and thinks that is ok? I’ve seen bags of cereal for small children brought in discreet plastic baggies – but to tote in large grocery bags?!!?! I’m speechless. Yes, she made a spectacle of herself and everybody knew it – nothing more needed to be done – she did it to herself.

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Daquiri40 November 12, 2013 at 8:41 am

I know the MIL was being passive-aggressive and did make herself look like a total idiot. That being said, at the MIL’s place of worship does she eat snacks and answer the phone?

I am picturing a place of worship that has popcorn and peanut vendors like at a baseball game.

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Danielle November 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

No, I’m sure that at MIL’s place of worship people do not behave this way. She behaved the way she did in the catholic church to make a point: that in her mind, this doesn’t count as a place of worship, and the ceremony doesn’t count as a wedding. Not only was her intention to be rude to the bride, but to be rude to everyone who shares her faith.

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cdubz November 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

How tacky! I’m not religious in any way, but I know enough that if I find myself at any type of religious ceremony to keep my mouth shut, my cell phone off, and to be respectful. It seems Momster was trying to convey the message that she didn’t consider this the “real” wedding ceremony.

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Coralreef November 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

Not only did MIL make a fool of herself, she set the table for any future relationship with her DIL/DS. She showed complete disregard for the bride’s faith and family, and by extension the bride herself. If the groom has any backbone (I sincerly hope so) he will make his wife a priority and MIL (if that behaviour continues) will forever wonder why her DIL so chilly with her, why she is not invited to family events and eventually why she has been cut off.

When attending a religious event not of your faith for whatever reason (marriages and funerals come to mind), shut up, be discreet, follow the flow. It’s not the end of the world and I’m pretty sure your personnal version of the diety will not strike you dead with a thunderbolt.

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Charliesmum November 12, 2013 at 9:21 am

I presume she was perfectly respectful when it was time for the ceremony that focused on her religion, though. I wonder how many people fought the urge to imitate her during ‘her’ time, to teach her a lesson.

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JD November 12, 2013 at 9:45 am

Whew, that was a fine example of passive aggression she displayed. As already mentioned, she showed her true colors in public, and the blame could only fall on her, but your poor husband, to have his mother do that to him, and it sure didn’t bode well for your relationship with her either, did it? I can only hope that the passage of time helps this situation. Clearly, MIL came into this union of families with a chip on her shoulder.

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Victoria November 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

Well, OP, I guess your m-i-l has saved you the trouble of trying to please her in the future. Now you don’t even have to bother.

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Susan Purcell November 12, 2013 at 10:07 am

Wow, How sad, The mother in law made herself look bad. How selfish of her to disrespect any church. Why did not the usher or anyone take away the food bags as she was walking down the aisle.
Honestly, they could have put that aside. Anyone should have stopped her from passing out treats and talking. Was she sitting by someone? She wanted to tell you, Well this is not Important. Good for the priest. At this point, I hope you can let It go, but be careful of her in the future.

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MichelleP November 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Why was that anyone else’s responsibility? And I assure you, if she’s that passive aggressive, she would have just gotten defensive and even louder.

Good luck with that MIL, Op.

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Gee November 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

Methinks this was a passive-aggressive way to show she didn’t approve of her son’s choice in a wife, or that they chose to have a Catholic ceremony. The only person she made look bad was herself. OP, I’m sorry that you have to be related to this boor!

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Cora November 12, 2013 at 10:45 am

…. and everyone in the room looked at you and your groom and said to themselves, “How wonderful that such a sweet, kind man found an equally sweet, gracious woman to marry him in this beautiful ceremony that they won’t be distracted from, no matter how rude the behavior of some (which of course they can’t control). They must both be very strong, mature people; so their marriage will last.”

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girl_with_all_the_yarn November 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

The last time I saw anyone behave like that at a wedding, it was me and I had an excuse: I was about 4 or 5 years old!

OP, your MIL has shown everyone exactly what she is; an overgrown child with some serious entitlement issues. It’s acceptable for a small child to not fully understand what’s going on and act out a bit (my mother shushed me every time), but a full grown adult knows better. She knew what she was doing, and still thought she could get away with it. Too bad for her, she outed herself as a rude boor!

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Cammie November 12, 2013 at 11:27 am

Have to agree with Victoria. Your MIL has given you a priceless wedding gift. Make sure you take full advantage of it.

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Cat November 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

I had a problem with a fellow-teacher at my Catholic school. She was not a Christian and she felt it was acceptable to chat during the school mass-even when I was making my thanksgiving after receiving the Eurcharist. That’s our time for adoration and we don’t talk during it.
I finally had to explain to her that mass is not like her faith where women do not participate, but just stand apart and socialize. One would think she would have picked up on that after teaching in Catholic schools for years.

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Kate November 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

@Cat, how strange that she’d want to teach at a Catholic school and not respect your faith!

I’m an atheist and I did a teaching round at a Catholic school. I’m not baptised, so I didn’t participate at all, but I certainly didn’t use the opportunity to chat or text or whatever. I just sat down and shut up!

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Cat November 23, 2013 at 11:14 am

She married a Catholic, but she insisted on a Jewish wedding, but then did not have a bris for her son and raised him to be Jewish. He was seeing a psychiatrist before he was five years old and, at thirty, was still living with Mother.
She had more problems then just a lack of good manners.

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Athena November 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Daquiri40, my mother once attended a wedding at a church where there was a Starbucks in the actual building. Apparently anything over overhead went back to the church, but both she and I were both O.O when she told me the story.

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Dust Bunny November 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I’m not religious, so almost every wedding I’ve ever attended has been “not my faith”. I can’t believe people think they have a right to behave this way.

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Hanna November 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Wow!! My MIL stories during our wedding certainly do not trump yours, OP. But I have some. I have been blessed with two MILs (my husband has a step-mom). The step-MIL absolutely hates my MIL. Before the reception, I was getting texts from step-MIL saying things like “Can you believe that woman?! She’s not even willing to spend a dime on decorations! She’s crazy!” I have no idea what spurred that on because my MIL spent more money on decorations than anyone (and everything looked beautiful). On the other hand, my MIL showed up 1 hour LATE to the reception. We started without her, but it was pretty crazy. Of course I got texts from step-MIL about that too!!

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inNM November 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

While instigating actions that would make the situation deteriorate into a screaming match would not be the best, the situation did call for someone with usher-like capabilities to strong-arm your MIL and frogmarch her out of there. The first warning sign was when she INSISTED that at your wedding you needed to have a ceremony of her faith. If the groom did not insist himself, what gives her the right?
The husband and I are of different faiths; I’m Roman Catholic and he is Jehovah’s Witness. One of the problems we encountered early was that his family would not enter another denomination’s church. We found a minister who, in the spirit of offending no one, would work with us to make sure the wedding ceremony contained nothing that would be deemed offensive. We held the ceremony and reception in a winery, with his family in full attendance.
OP, this is clearly a power play scenario. You will always be that Catholic girl who stole her son away from his family. This situation will repeat itself when you have kids, when you decide to move for work, and any other decision you will make, involving her son and grandchildren. Fortunately she has shown herself to be unreasonable without your assistance. Engage your husband to take a stand from now, otherwise your married life will be stress.

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RC November 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Congratulations OP, and good luck with dealing with MIL in the future, she’s a monster alright.

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Barbarian November 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I am truly sorry the OP’s MIL behaved so badly during her wedding ceremony after OP accommodated her with 2 ceremonies.

Here is a possible Chapter 2 of this story after the kids come along. It happened to me.

MIL was Catholic for most of her life but began attending an Episcopal church. No problem for me. When it came time for my son to be confirmed, she wanted to be the sponsor even though the sponsor should be a practicing Catholic. Fortunately, my son had already chosen one so we did not have to bring up this issue.

She was invited to the ceremony with another relative. Due to the number of confirmands, it was a long one. After my son received the sacrament, she picked up my husband’s digital camera and began looking at all the photos it contained and discussing them loudly with the other relative to entertain one another in the pew while the others were confirmed. Other people gave them dirty looks. I gave both the Look of Death to no avail.

Since Op’s MIL has already behaved badly, she will need to be instructed on proper behavior for future ceremonies like baptism, communion, or confirmation.

Just saying.

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Skaramouche November 12, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I’m not excusing MIL’s behaviour AT ALL. She behaved like a complete boor. However, the description of her behaviour leading up to the taking of the call (that was ridiculous under any circumstances) makes me wonder whether she’s Hindu. Our ceremonies tend to be long and loud. They are very solemn but mostly for the bride, groom and their parents. Guests are not expected to sit through the whole 3+ hour affair; sometimes they come and go and they definitely do chat amongst themselves. We don’t normally bring our own snacks and eat them through the ceremony :P but at one interfaith wedding I went to, tasteful cups of ice cream were quietly brought out for the guests. Couples today often opt for a shorter, distilled version of the ceremony, especially in North America. Anyway, I’m sorry about your MIL’s trashy behaviour. Whatever her background, she should have informed herself of proper etiquette in a church beforehand.

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Lisa Marie November 12, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Wow and I thought my daughter’s MIL was bad when she wore sneakers with her
mother of the groom dress, invited all of her relatives to attend without us knowing
it until they showed up and had a regular hoe down party on our dime! It was
a buffet reception and we couldn’t stop it. I admit yours tops mine.

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Kimstu November 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm

@OP:

1. Your MIL is rude and unkind, does not like you or approve of you, and does not care about your happiness. (I suspect you knew that.)

2. Your MIL is also stupid enough to demonstrate this with spectacular clearness to all of her own friends and family as well as yours by behaving disrespectfully during a sacred ceremony.

All you have to do from this day forward is use your polite spine to cope with her behavior as best you can, and ignore her as much as possible. You will never need to spend one second worrying about whether other people might side with her or dislike you because of her antagonism. Just stay polite and gracious (while refusing with polite firmness to be a doormat), and she is guaranteed to make you look like an angel in the eyes of all others.

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LadyPhoenix November 14, 2013 at 2:13 am

Well, if there is one thing your MIL has made clear is that you do NOT invite her to anymore religious occasions. Another thing is that you do not invite her into any family occasions from your side of the family.

I wonder how the husband’s side of the family reacted. I’d be utterly resembled and steer clear from her as much as possible.

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SV November 14, 2013 at 8:10 am

Did she act this way during her faith’s ceremony? No? That’s because she knows better than to act like a jerk in church. She knew it for the Catholic ceremony, too, she just decided to make a point of being disrespectful. Sorry you have such a pill of a mother in law, but the good news is you know it now, so you are going into your marriage with your eyes wide open :)

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Hopeful4 November 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

Sounds like even before the wedding, there had been issues. If there hadn’t been, I would have wondered if you MIL behavior wasn’t a sign of dementia which doesn’t necessarily happen only in older people. But she has given you an excellent reason to limit contact with her and hopefully your husband will back you up as her behavior clearly shows a lack of respect for him as well as you.

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Kate November 15, 2013 at 5:36 am

How rude! However, OP, her behaviour will not reflect on you at all.
I was married in July, and my brother-in-law was on the phone as the bridesmaids were walking down the aisle. I didn’t find out until later, but apparently my husband had to go and tell him, very angrily, to put his phone away or he would be asked to leave.
Then during the reception, my mother in law had a bit to drink and started bad-mouthing me to my husband! Fortunately my own parents didn’t notice, I think my mum would have marched her out of the room.
Quite a few of our guests saw the phone bit and a few overheard my MIL’s comments, but they all commented on how rude the behaviour was, not ‘your wedding was so bad because x and y happened’. When dealing with your MIL in the future, take deep breaths and think peaceful thoughts! That’s what I do!

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Angel November 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I don’t know about anyone else’s parish, but my Catholic parish doesn’t allow food of any kind during mass. How your MIL got the potato chips down the aisle I don’t know. That being said, I wouldn’t worry so much about it because the only person the MIL made a jerk out of was herself. At least you know where you stand with her.

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Johelen November 23, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Good heavens. I guess her behavior would have made some sense if she had done it during the “other” ceremony, but to behave that way in her own religion’s ceremony is just plain weird!! Has she always acted like this? Has she ever told her that she hates you – because I’m fairly sure she must.

As others have said, however, know you now. I’m certain I would have nothing more to do with her (husband can visit his family all he wants) and never again in my life would I take into consideration anything she said when making plans.

I also wouldn’t worry that her behavior was a reflection on you. The only person who looked stupid that day was your mother in law.

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Johelen November 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I replied before fully reading everything (which of course, is always a mistake!). I thought from the OP that the MIL was Catholic which is why I was so shocked! I mean, her behavior was shocking anyway, but more shocking when I thought she was doing it to her own religion.

I also wondered if the “other” faith was Hindu. My husband and I went to a Hindu wedding of a colleague’s of his. It was fascinating. We and the one other work guest were wide eyes and gobsmacked the whole time! Women were going around serving drinks to everyone and everyone was talking so much that the officiant had to stop several times and tell everyone to be quiet! I don’t think I saw anyone take a phone call though:-)

If this is the case, her behavior does make a lot more sense. She did what she would have normally done or what she was used to. I would have wondered though if the ceremonies were to be very significantly different why the OP and hub didn’t give some instructions or a general description of the basics of each ceremony. Even without the MIL’s antics, it might have been helpful to all who attended.

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Mags January 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

Let her reap what she sowed — if you raise your children as Catholics, do not invite her to any ceremonies.

I’d also be inclined to ask the officiant of the other ceremony to address MIL about the way members of her faith are expected to behave when circumstances require that they attend a religious service in another faith. I doubt that her own religious leader would say that it was appropriate to eat chips and talk on a cell phone during a religious ceremony, let alone her own child’s wedding ceremony.

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