Groom’s Family Left Out Of Planning…..Or Are They?

by admin on April 30, 2013

My mom and I have been arguing about the tackiness of my sister-in-law during her wedding planning, and I hope you can help us settle this!

My brother and I attended college in the South. While he was a senior, he met a freshman (whose family lived about thirty minutes away from the school). They fell in love, got engaged, and decided to marry in California, about 2,000 miles away.

My sister-in-law asked me to be a bridesmaid, and as I was already back home in California, I offered to do whatever I could to help ease their planning burden. She laughed, said no thanks, and then told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll get there some day.”

Now, this upset me quite a bit. What got me even more upset was that my family was not included in any wedding planning. I was e-mailed her bridesmaid dress of choice, and then also e-mailed the shoes I was to purchase. I was told that we were required to get our hair and makeup done on the day of the wedding. All of these things were to be at our expense.

My family was only told the location of the venue and what time to be there for pictures. I know that although my brother was the groom and traditionally the bride’s family is more involved, it broke my mother’s heart to not be allowed to help with any of the planning. It also hurt my father and me.

I think her behavior was quite rude and selfish, and my mother is willing to chalk it up to wedding stress (although her rude behavior continues a year later). What do you think? 0423-13

I believe that if the bride wants her attendants to wear a specific shoes, and particularly if she requires them to have professional hair and make-up done, then the bride is obligated to pay for those.

Why did your family not kick into high gear and plan the most delightful, extravagant rehearsal dinner?   That is entirely the groom’s family’s responsibility to plan and execute.  I’ve been to some great rehearsal dinners over the years, hosted by the parents of the groom who is their only child or there are no daughters to be married.   So the groom’s mom plans a lovely dinner with coordinated linens, favors, even dancing.   They look like wedding receptions frankly.

I look forward to when my son marries because I get to plan and host a great party the night before the wedding that doesn’t come with a lot of the stress baggage often associated with a wedding day reception.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

WildIrishRose April 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

I agree that the bride should pay for the bridesmaids’ attire, but other than that, I’m not really seeing a huge problem here. Yes, the groom should be in on the wedding planning too, but his family? Especially if the bride’s family is paying for the wedding. Most grooms don’t contribute much to the planning (at least, I’ve never known any who did), and brides like to plan to the last detail. Admin is right–your family should have planned a kick-a$$ rehearsal dinner, and your brother should have planned a memorable honeymoon. Other than that, I’m afraid I think you should just get over the fact that the bride planned her own wedding. There is nothing rude about that, although it would have been gracious for her to invite your mother’s input. You don’t specify in what manner she is still rude, but I’m wondering if you’re not imagining it based on your feelings regarding the wedding.


Powers April 30, 2013 at 10:48 am

So, because you don’t know any grooms who were involved in the planning, then clearly the wedding is the Bride and her family’s responsibility? Entirely? The Groom’s should be happy with the rehearsal dinner?

I am stunned by the anti-egalitarian stance taken here, both by you and by admin.


admin May 7, 2013 at 1:26 am

Historically and etiquettely the bride’s parents host the wedding and reception. What do you expect the groom’s parent to do in a situation where their planning assistance is not needed? Turn into drama queens and make a spectacle of themselves demanding their rights? No, far better to make the best of what you can do, i.e. the rehearsal dinner with no assistance from the bride’s side.


Desiree June 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

OP here, sorry for the late reply — I was looking at the Ehell website! Anyway, my parents did throw an AMAZING rehearsal dinner. They also invited several of the bride’s out-of-town guests in order to appease her. In addition, they paid for approximately 75 – 80% of the wedding. Therefore, the suggestion that my parents keep their mouths shut is not one that really works in this situation.

As far as I’m concerned, I have a wedding because I want to share this fabulous occasion with my family and friends. I would never dream of making snarky remarks to my future husband’s family or not including them when I have set a different standard for my family.


Kendra May 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Wow, WildIrishRose, I’m seeing a lot of interesting assumptions here. 😉 “Most grooms don’t contribute much to the planning (at least, I’ve never known any who did), and brides like to plan to the last detail. ” Personally, if my guy wants a fancy wedding, it’s on him. He just needs to let me know where and when and buy my outfit (whatever he chooses).

For the rest of it, I think you are right. This is the HC’s event and it is their choice if they want family (either side) help in planning it. We don’t know if the Bride’s family helped with the planning either, though the OP implies heavily that she assumes that they did.

It sounds like the Groom’s family’s feelings are hurt because they weren’t asked to help, but at the end of the day, even though I can see why they would want to be involved, it wasn’t their event and it wasn’t rude of the HC not to ask for help.


Library Diva April 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

I tried hard to include my groom and his family in the wedding planning. He and I made all of the decisions together. Some things he was more involved in than others: for example, I told him that paging through binders and binders of invitations and sorting out whether they should be cream or pearl or ivory sounded like my idea of the 7th ring of hell, so he took charge of all of that and got us great invitations at a good price.

He is the oldest child in his family, and when he was a baby, he had a lot of health issues due to a misdiagnosis that was almost fatal to him (he’s fine now). Because of that, he’s always had a special bond with his mother, so I tried to include them as much as I could. I know that some FMIL make this easier than others, and I was lucky to have one of the easy ones: not only did she really want it to be our special day and didn’t want to step on toes, but she lives several hundred miles away and was sort of limited as to how much she could do, anyway. She helped me come up with lovely centerpieces and made them all for me, and I really appreciate it.

I don’t know as etiquette has a specific role for the groom’s family. But I do think it’s nice to involve them as much as possible, and as much as you feel willing to do. (Like I said, I know that some FMILs make it easier than others).


Cat April 30, 2013 at 10:49 am

Ah, sisters-in-law, aren’t they interesting? Mine demanded that I sign over all, and I mean all, of my inheritance from Dad’s estate on the grounds of, ” We all know that he would have wanted his grandchildren to have his money” and I wasn’t married. Problem was, they had decided never to have children, did not, and eventually divorced. Ah, no, I think I’ll keep my inheritance.
So, she wanted full control over her wedding and to spend your money on what you were to wear/makeup/hair. Tacky, yes, as far as spending your money but, unless your family was helping pay for the wedding, I would count myself lucky that your folks were not billed for bro’s “half”.
If she’s not someone you would have as a friend, just be polite to her when you see her, “Hi, there, so nice to see you.” and “Bye, great seeing you.” Unless you and your brother are very close, just keep her as a distant relation and don’t let her bother you.


Wendy B. April 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

I involved my husband as much as possible, but for the most part, his family didn’t really care.

Seriously, they didn’t. I was surprised they even came (except for his mom, she was excited.)

Rehearsal dinner? Nope, not interested. Neither his dad nor his step-mom stepped forward and offered to do anything. And his mom could barely afford to pay for a small gift (and we certainly didn’t expect anything from her.) So…my family and friends did it all.

There’s more, but I’ll spare you. It’s nice to see a groom’s family that wants to get involved, but it really is the bride’s day and her event. It was up to the groom’s family to do the rehearsal dinner, which appears was also refused, and come and smile and be happy.


WildIrishRose April 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm

“. . . it really is the bride’s day and her event.” I respectfully disagree. It’s the GROOM’s day too, and HIS event too.


Ergala April 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

It is not just the bride’s day. It is the groom’s as well. I really hate the mentality that it’s all about the bride and her family when it comes to weddings. I have two sons and I’d be absolutely heartbroken if I was completely left out of everything simply because I am the mother to a son rather than a daughter.

When my husband and I got married we included both sets. We asked if they wanted to be involved and what they wanted to help with. We kind of got steamrolled in the end but the result was the same….we were married at the end of the day.


Library Diva May 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I don’t like this stereotype either. I even got a tuxedo mailer addressed to me. It said “Make sure he looks his best on your special day.”


Jay April 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

I can’t see I see anything to get insulted over, here. I doubt most MoGs are consulted much on wedding plans, unless they’re contributing a big chunk to the costs.. which it sounds like your parents didn’t.

Would’ve been nice for her to buy you the shoes, and arrange your hair/makeup as a gift, but otherwise.. huh? Sounds like a normal wedding.


ferretrick April 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

I can’t imagine what makes you think you should get to plan your brother’s wedding. It’s not your wedding.


Ashley April 30, 2013 at 11:35 am

I don’t actually see the problem here? Two of my brothers are married. All anyone in my family helped with for one was assembling invites (Because lets face it, stuffing envelopes is a pain) and mom made the cake for the other. That’s it. None of my family has helped with the planning of mine either, and why should they? They have their own lives to deal with and I’d rather they just turn up and have a good time.


gellchom April 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

It’s just plain smart to involve the groom’s immediate family at least to some extent (and bride’s, if the HC or the groom’s family are doing most of the planning). That doesn’t mean that it’s an equal democracy, or even that you need to let them make or even participate in any decision making — it can even just mean keeping them informed on what you’re planning once in a while.

Because then they feel like insiders, not just like any other guests. And they aren’t just guests. No matter who is hosting, no matter that the wedding is about the bride and groom, this is a major event not just in their child’s life, but in their own. Just as the bride and groom become a wife and husband, the mothers and fathers become mothers- and fathers-in-law. Families who feel shut out may worry that this means they will be shut out of your lives, not just out of your wedding planning. It is very awkward and embarrassing, sometimes even painful, for parents of HCs to be asked by friends and relatives, “So, how is Cuthbert and Petunia’s wedding coming along?” and have to answer, “We have no idea about any of the plans.”

And sometimes when it’s convenient, it’s nice to go ahead and include others from the families on the research and even the decisions, if you like. For example, my son and his fiancee and her mom had all come to our city, where the wedding was to take place, for a holiday. So they had their tasting luncheon at the hotel where the reception was to be then. The bride and groom took her mom and his two uncles with them. They all had a blast, the couple appreciated the others’ input and opinions on the menu choices. My nice DIL even sent my mother, my daughter, and me photos of the wedding gowns she was considering (with strict do-not-share instructions!). We were really moved by that. I don’t think she even asked for our opinions (and I didn’t give mine, other than “Gorgeous!”), she just wanted us all to feel included. And we did.

Of course not all families get along smoothly, and there are practical issues, too, especially where the distances are great. But this OP seems to be sensing more than that — that the groom’s family is being kept at arm’s length more than feels natural, and they feel distanced and perhaps rejected. Maybe they are just hypersensitive, but in my experience, when several people get the same feeling, there is something there that they are picking up on.

So though it is not “rude” in the sense of being an etiquette violation not to include the groom’s family in the planning, I think that by the time you are making the groom’s mother feel so excluded that she is “heartbroken,” the nicer — and smarter — thing to do is to be a little more inclusive, even if it’s only an occasional email with something like “I thought you’d like to see the pictures the florist sent us of the centerpiece ideas. Aren’t they pretty? I like the colors in #2 and the ribbons in #4. Do you think it would look nice if we combined the two?” or “We’re thinking of having just the wedding cake as a dessert. Have you ever seen anyone do that? Did it work out okay?” Asking people for the benefit of their experience and for their opinions makes them feel important and included, and it certainly doesn’t obligate you to do what they suggest or even discuss it ever again.

Again, I know perfectly well that this won’t work in all families and all situations. I’m just saying that if it will work in yours, it’s a good idea to try to make everyone in both families feel important and included to the extent you conveniently can.


Kat June 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

As the mother of the groom, I totally agree with gellchom. Even if the grooms parents are not paying for anything, the bride and groom should at the minimum include the groom’s parents by communicating activity related to planning and wedding itself. We contributed financially in many ways. The bride’s family is very large but ours is small. Due to lack of communication to us and as well always staying with the bride’s family when in town (both sets of parents live in same town), we felt excluded in their lives and felt like guests at the wedding and reception rather than parents of the groom. Bottom line – bride and groom need to consider both families in their communications and BEFORE the wedding, find an equitable balance of time with all sets of parents. Their lack of inclusion of our family before the wedding gave us the picture of what is yet to come. You are right.


Mae April 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm

While it would have been nice for the bride & her family to include your mother, they did nothing wrong etiquette-wise, as far as I can tell, other than requesting specific shoes,professional hair & make-up and not paying for them.

You stated that you were home in California and were emailed the dress choice. Does your mom & dad live in California? You also stated that he bride’s family lived within 30 minutes of the school, in the South. Maybe the exclusion was mostly due to distance and would have been difficult to coordinate, although the “Don’t worry, you’ll get there someday” remark was kind of snarky.

In what way does your SIL continue to be rude?


Stacey Frith-Smith April 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

It sounds like your help was offered but wasn’t wanted. Perhaps the bride feared that you were trying to insert yourself into a process she wanted to retain ownership of. Regardless, you don’t have a reason to nurse this as a grudge. If you find her unpleasant otherwise, that is regrettable, but unrelated. It seems that Ehell stories divide into categories of excess on one side or the other- happy couples who are so self-preoccupied that their rudeness is stupefying and guests or family who have an inflated sense of the importance of their own role in the proceedings. Either would cause unhappiness on all sides.


Lola April 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Listen, I was a low-maintenance bride, but it’s an established American tradition that bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, shoes, hair & makeup. That, or they can decline the honor. You cannot fault a bride for that. You also cannot fault her for excluding your family from wedding planning. Weddings are a “pay to play” proposition, and bride has no obligation to ask for your input, unless it’s your money being spent.

Here’s what does strike me as rude: the underhanded, nasty little putdown to the LW from the bride. “Don’t worry, you’ll get there some day.” There’s just something so wicked (in a bad way) about it. Good luck to your brother, LW.


Shoegal April 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm

It would have been nice to ask your opinion on some of the choices that were being made for this event but I don’t feel your SIL was obligated to include you or your paents in the wedding planning. For myself, my husband & I paid for our wedding and my husband’s parents had passed. We made all of the decisions ourselves – much to my mother’s chagrin. My SILs did not offer to host a rehearsal dinner on their parent’s behalf so my mother asked to do it. I allowed her to take over that event completely – and had limited input. She put together a great party. To this day – I tell everyone that I had a better time at the rehearsal dinner than I did at my own wedding.


WillyNilly April 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Its pretty standard in the US for the bride to pick the bridesmaid dress. Sure its great when a bride asks for input from her bridesmaids, but its certainly totally normal for her not to. So I really don’t see where you have even a huff to puff complaining about that. Yes she should have been flexible on shoes and no she can’t demand you spend money on hair and make-up, but it doesn’t sound like you tried to have a chat with her about minimizing those costs, so whats the problem?

But as for planning… why would you or your mom plan her wedding? I planned my own wedding and neither my MIL nor my own mother had a say. Sure I would chat with them about my plans, but they didn’t get to plan it – any of it – for me. My DH had a say, of course, but that was it. If my dad, who contributed a great deal financially wanted a say he could have had one, but that’s about it. The rest of my family, like yours, was simply told where the venue was and when to be there for photos. My DH and I were very proud of the fact that we made it so easy and low-stress for our families!

It sounds like she actually planned a wedding near you and extremely far from her family and home-town and even school friends, so perhaps you should give her some credit for taking your family into account in that way.


ImJustSaying April 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

When the groom is an only child or only has brother’s is the only instance where I can see actively including the groom’s mom or family. My Aunt only has one son and when he proposed to his girlfriend she (the girlfriend) included my aunt over the course of the planning. She told her that she wanted her to get the “daughter experience” since this would be her only chance to see the “girly” side of the wedding. That’s a lovely way to include the IL’s and future family. My uncle didn’t really care either way but I’m sure if he wanted to join in the dress picking or food tasting the FDIL would have been fine with it. No one demanded to have a say in the planning, it was offered by the bride as a loving gesture of family togetherness.
OP’s mom will have a chance to help in HER wedding so she should make sure to include her mother and extend the invitation to HER future MIL.


Lo April 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I think that whether or not this person is rude has nothing to do with how involved you are in the wedding. However I do agree with you on these points:

“I was told that we were required to get our hair and makeup done on the day of the wedding. All of these things were to be at our expense.”

This is typically how it goes, though I don’t think a bride should ever say it. It’s expected that you will show up with formal hair and makeup– of course whether you do it yourself or pay to have it done is none of the bride’s concern as long as you look nice. And no, she shouldn’t have any say in the specific kind of shoes you’re wearing. So this is overstepping a boundary as far as I’m concerned. But because its your brother’s wedding I’d let it go.

“I offered to do whatever I could to help ease their planning burden. She laughed, said no thanks, and then told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll get there some day.””

This is flat out disrespectful. Marriage is not an achievement, a mark of success in adulthood, or even a given, especially in the times we live in. The assumption that you’re trying to steal some of that thunder for yourself instead of genuinely offering to help is patronizing in the extreme. I would have bristled at this too.

Other than that it’s the engaged couple’s call who gets to be involved. My own mother was unhappy with her subdued role in the planning of my own wedding. She got her say over what she generously offered to pay for because that’s just the right thing to do. But anything we paid for was under the jurisdiction of my husband. (Because I wasn’t interested in planning it either. That was my husband’s dream.)


Betty Edit April 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

That comment would get under my skin too, but I can also see how perhaps SIL meant to say, “Oh, you don’t need to worry about anything. You’ll someday be planning your own wedding, and then you’ll have the delightful experience of dealing with all these headaches yourself, but until then, don’t bother to stress over it. I’d rather have you just enjoy the event as a family member.”


Katana April 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I never got the matching shoes, hair and makeup as everyone is different. DH and I planned the wedding ourselves but we did tell friends and family what was happening. The BMs paid for half the dress and I paid for other half and I asked if they would wear nice black evening shoes, which most girls have or need.

The only thing out of the ordinary I asked for was at least one of them to use the hairdresser I got to come out and pay for it. But she was very reasonably priced.


sjhaughty April 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I’m confused about the interaction when she asked you to be a bridesmaid. She said no thanks to your offer, that’s no big deal. I understood that. But, “don’t worry, you’ll get there someday?” Not sure what this meant. Left a bad taste in my mouth though.

Other than that, and the demands about bridesmaids attire, declining help politely isn’t an etiquette faux pas.


Kimstu April 30, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Where’s the groom in all this? Presumably, if the bride and her family are doing all the wedding preparations without asking the groom’s family to participate, the groom is okay with that and doesn’t feel his family is being slighted by it.

There’s no reason a bridegroom’s mother or sister (or father, for that matter) can’t pleasantly say to him, “You know, we’d really love to be involved in the wedding planning if there’s any way we can help. Do tell dear Derpina not to be shy about asking us to chip in some time and effort if she’d like us to; we’d adore it!”

Then if the bride-to-be doesn’t follow up on the suggestion, you know that either (1) she doesn’t really want to involve you in the planning, (2) the groom doesn’t really want to involve you in the planning, or (3) both. In any case, it would be rude to push for more involvement, and I’m glad to see the OP and her family apparently didn’t do so.

I agree it would be more charming for the bridal couple and the bride’s family to offer to include her future in-laws in some of the wedding decision-making. But it is not actually rude for them to do the planning and hosting all by themselves, as long as they’re the ones organizing and paying for it.

I can’t decide whether I think the bride’s response to the OP’s offering wedding-planning help (“Don’t worry, you’ll get there someday”) was rude or not. If the bride thought the OP was only offering to help out of a sense of duty and was just trying to laughingly reassure her that she was off the hook (as in, “Hey, you’ll have enough to do with planning your own wedding one of these days, you shouldn’t feel obligated to load yourself up with work for somebody else’s!”), then that’s not rude. If, on the other hand, the bride was trying to convey something along the lines of “These are MY wedding plans, you pushy beeyotch, keep your nose out of them and wait till you have a wedding of your own to plan”, then that is rather rude, even if she phrased it less abrasively.


Kathryn April 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Where’s your brother in all this? Why is FSIL in charge of communication for your side of the family? I talk to my family, husband talks to his family, so there’s no miscommunication or bad feelings about using the wrong tone or expression because different families are different. Brother ought to know how you and family would be feeling and perceiving things. He should be the one communicating wedding plans to y’all, or bringing your wedding plans ideas/help to his fiance. Why is this all on the shoulders of FSIL?

I didn’t really talk to my in laws about our wedding plans because (1) I was already getting tension from my family and (2) now-husband gave me the impression they wouldn’t care very much. So where’s your brother in all this?


Kate April 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

If your brother and SIL were not made aware that your family would have liked to contribute to the planning then no, I don’t think this is rude. Aside from the rehearsal dinner, the groom’s family do not have a traditional ‘role’ in the planning. My fiance’s family haven’t shown any interest in being involved with the planning and that’s fine by us. My parents also haven’t done much – again, fine by me. They all have busy lives, although I’d include them more if they showed an interest.
Sometimes I feel as if brides are ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ – eg if you plan the wedding all by yourself, you’re a b-word for not involving family members. If you ask others for help, you’re a Bridezilla who assumes everyone’s world revolves around your wedding. It’s hard to know what is and is not appropriate sometimes.

However, asking you to wear specific shoes at your own expense *is* an etiquette violation IMO.


tatrose April 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm

The thing that would make me angry was the “don’t worry you’ll get there eventually LOL” comment. That just sounded condescending to me, at least.


No Wedding May 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

Isn’t a wedding an event the BRIDE and GROOM are hosting? If you’re not helping to pay, you’re not going to get a say in how things go. If the bride’s family or the groom’s family is helping to pay, they get some sort of input, finance-wise, but ultimately it is the bride and groom’s event to plan. If the OP or her parents want to know what the plans are, why not ask the groom, their brother/son?

When I was getting married to the ex, his family wanted us to have a big reception, dinner and dancing, the whole works. They didn’t want to pay for it, just wanted us to have one and were angry that we weren’t. I tried to explain that the fact we were having the quick cake/punch reception at all was because I begged the ex to let me have a cake, he didn’t want to do any of that at all, just wanted to have the wedding ceremony and leave.


Elizabeth May 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

I was lucky to be able to experience a Pakistani wedding (in Pakistan!) first-hand recently, from the bride’s point of view. Indian and Pakistani weddings are often multi-day affairs, much more elaborate than we have in the west. Don’t get me started on the clothes – so beautiful, so many colors! But what I especially appreciated about their customs is that it is super clear and proscribed as to who’s family pays for what, on which day. Bride’s side pays for the first two events, groom’s side pays for the second. Groom’s side gifts the bride with jewels. Bride’s side pays for the groom’s clothing. Groom’s side provides the raw materials for the favors (expensive nuts, dried fruits), and the bride’s side assembles them. The list goes on. But the nice thing is that there’s not any question about it. The downside is that couples really don’t decide for themselves to marry. (They do have a say, but there really is this sense that one family is marrying another.) The kind of minimal justice of the peace weddings we have here would be incomprehensible to them.


Serenity S. May 1, 2013 at 11:06 am

It was nice of you to offer your help but it was not rude of the bride to decline. Her snarky comment was not polite though. I am sure you would rather plan your own wedding than have your future SIL do it as well. So perhaps try to put yourself in her shoes. Holding a grudge over something so trivial for a year or more does not seem very healthy.


June First May 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

The biggest role my in-laws had was helping to create a quilt for our guest book.
Not to get too Pinterest-y, but we decided a quilt would be something we’d use again and again. We’d rather have that instead of a photo mat with people’s names. Different generations of my husband’s family helped with the quilt. I pretty much just helped by picking out fabric and purchasing materials. No one on my side of the family sews quilts. Nearly everyone on his side does. The guests signed the backing of it at our reception.

Anyway, finding a way for the in-laws to help is a nice gesture, especially if you’re far apart. But I’m also the type of person who is glad I haven’t had to hand-tie bows on invites or other menial tasks for a wedding.


Kimstu May 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

Ooooh @JuneFirst, that sounds lovely. I’ve done a quilt where I had friends of the recipient sign the blocks and then I embroidered over the signatures in chainstitch, after the manner of an old-fashioned “friendship quilt”, and I bet something like that would be great for a “guest book quilt” too…

What? Oh yeah, right, we were talking about etiquette, weren’t we? 😉 Now that I come to think of it, a bridal couple planning a wedding might want to consider it part of the planning routine to come up with one or two non-crucial wedding-prep tasks to be made available to family members (on either side) who are eager to be involved.

Of course, you can’t assign people tasks unsolicited, and for the sake of your own sanity even the solicited tasks had better be something that can be easily salvaged or left undone if the volunteer ends up falling down on the job! But it is indeed a charming gesture to find a way for people close to you (or about to become close to you, as in the case of future in-laws) to contribute some help if they really want to participate.


Marozia May 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm

You offered, she said no. That should be an end to it.
Would’ve been nice if she had bought the shoes and hairdressing at least for bridesmaids’ gifts.


Ange May 1, 2013 at 11:48 pm

As my upcoming wedding is very small and basically already organised (we’re paying for it ourselves) I wouldn’t have a problem with my in-laws offering to help but I’d politely decline also. I just don’t see the need for a circus of family members swirling around one event all offering opinions and advice on something that should be about the preferences of the bride and groom. My inlaws are wonderful people and even they have tried to get us to do a few things we aren’t comfortable doing and it’s caused a little bit of friction; inviting more of that seems like a recipe for disaster.


Angel May 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

The only way the bride is rude is requiring the bridesmaids to pay for hair and makeup. She’s not rude for refusing help. She could use a course in diplomacy and tact, but she obviously wants to plan her own wedding without much other input. Don’t take it as an insult, just be glad all you have to do is show up properly coifed.

I would deduct hair and makeup from the cost of the wedding gift though.


AthenaC May 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I completely understand why the OP is a bit miffed. Here’s a clue: when one is offered help with wedding planning, the correct response is NOT to laugh it off and say, “Don’t worry – you’ll get there someday.”

Also, if someone is in your wedding party (as the OP is), how is it NOT rude to decide on what the wedding party will wear without at least pretending to care about their opinion? If I had agreed to be a bridesmaid and was summarily ordered to purchase a specific dress and shoes without so much as a “Hey, any strong preferences on what style / cut you want to wear?” I would be a bit irritated. Especially if I find out the bride expects me to let my 34DDD’s sag in one of those trendy strapless dresses with minimal / no support (for example).

Without knowing anyone involved, it’s hard to say anything further. For all we know, the groom’s mother has a way of being overbearing and demanding with everything she is involved in, in which case excluding the MOG is probably the only way the bride could keep her sanity. As a matter of fact, I exclude my own mother from nearly everything for that very reason.


Sarah Jane May 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I once heard a FOG jokingly say of his wife: “She knows her place. The MOG’s job is to wear beige and keep her mouth shut.”

I don’t know about that, but when my son gets married, I’ll be all too happy to simply show up and enjoy the day. Of course, I will offer my help, and will cheerfully help if asked, but I won’t be offended in the least if not asked.

I will, however, see to it that the rehearsal dinner is all that the HC dreams of 🙂


Enna May 4, 2013 at 6:36 am

I think what the SIL said was a bit mean. If she had said something like “thank you, I’ll be sure to ask when I need help”. It isn’t the OP’s wedding but to be butted out compeltely is not fair.


kingsrings May 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Whether bridesmaids should pay for their own dresses, shoes, make-up, hair is an interesting one. What is the correct answer? For instance, I have several friends getting married or have gotten married recently. As far as I know, all their bridesmaids paid for at least their dresses. One of my friends is having an issue right now with a couple of her bridesmaids not being able to afford the cost of their dresses. It’s important to my friend that all their dresses be the same. They’re not dreadfully expensive, but when you’re broke, you’re broke. It’s an issue because my friend doesn’t just want to kick her out of the wedding because of that, even though she’s being advised to by other friends. Their feeling is, tell the bridemaids upfront what their costs will be, and if they can’t afford it, then tough, you’re out. I wonder what my other upcoming bride-friends will do regarding their bridesmaids and costs.


delislice May 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Except for the unkind comment, which might have been a simple case of foot-in-mouth disease, I don’t see any etiquette problems here.

The sister of the groom, who lived on the opposite coast, was included as a bridesmaid, which is a nice gesture.

It’s usual in the States to expect the bridesmaid to pay for the dress and shoes. It’s a little less usual to expect the bridesmaid to pay for anything else, e.g., matching hairdos, clutches, or jewelry.

My family helped pay for the bridesmaid’s ensembles for one of my bridesmaids, who wanted very much to be in the wedding party but was strapped for money.

As far as how much input the bridesmaid gets into what the dress looks like, it depends entirely on the bride. I had one sister who had four bridesmaids of varying shapes and sizes, so she chose a flattering long skirt and off-the-shoulder shawl-collar jacket top that looked good on everyone.

My other sister also had four bridesmaids of varying shapes and sizes, and she chose a bias-cut dress with close-fitting off-the-shoulder broad straps and an equally form-fitting bodice. Sausage arms for wedding snacks — ooh, yummy.


Lisa Marie May 12, 2013 at 5:46 am

Speaking as the mother of the bride regarding her wedding. Her mother in law was too demanding in the planning of the wedding and sometimes with anxiety to please my daughter listened to her and guess who had to pay for that? I wish my daughter had stuck to her guns and did the wedding her own way. My husband still won’t speak to her inlaws.


Ergala May 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Seriously? He won’t speak to them over that? That makes me sad. I’ve had disagreements with my in laws a lot….and I do mean a LOT. My sister in law and I did not get along at all for the last 10 years. We finally sat down and chatted on the phone and cleared the air. The tension we were causing at get togethers wasn’t fair to the other family members or our children and spouses. We got over it and let the past be the past. I suggest your husband do the same. Did your husband speak up and mention that if they want the crystal glasses and silver utensils then they would need to pay for it? There is nothing wrong with putting your foot down and I don’t believe either side should be expected to foot the whole bill for any part of a wedding.


Livvy17 May 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

It’s nice to offer to help, but I don’t think it’s proper to expect to be included in the planning. If this were a regular party, and a guest called to help, was refused, and then was upset, we’d be mystified.

Also, were multiple offers made? Sometimes, people offer to help as a polite response, or because they feel obligated to do so. Granted, the Bride responded badly (whether intentionally or accidentally), but if you never offered help again, she probably didn’t think twice about it.

I also agree that the proper means of expressing your hopes would have been through your brother. He is theoretically 1/2 of this couple, his wishes have weight.

I love my MIL; and I was SUPER happy that she never made any moves to be involved, other than to occasionally ask if she could do anything to help (which was greatly appreciated, though generally refused, mostly for logistical reasons). Planning our wedding was stressful, and required what seemed like thousands of hours of research and hundreds of little decisions. The last thing I would have wanted when I was planning would have been another unsolicited opinion, or someone else to consult before making one of those many decisions.

She may be rude in general, but nothing the OP said in her posting (other than the bad comment) seems unusual or rude to me.


Caitie February 3, 2014 at 1:46 am

Personally, I am getting married this year and I have recently been told my future sister-in-law is upset at me for being left out of the wedding planning. It really hurt me to have to hear this from someone else too instead of her telling me directly. I feel that it is totally unfair for her to do this to me. My Fiance and I are planning the wedding ourselves, paying for it ourselves and no one has been involved in any planning so far besides us. Not even my own Mother has had much to do with it. I had bridemaids and I will admit she is not one of them, but I still wanted her to be involved in the ceremony. The thing was I had not planned any of the ceremony yet, she just assumed she was left out of it. So apparently I am ‘leaving her out’. This upset me so much I have now dropped all my bridesmaids and have completely rearranged my wedding so that NO ONE is involved. Meaning no one is walking me down the aisle (my fiance and I will arrive together with no one else), no bridesmaids or groomsmen or flower girl, no one saying anything in the ceremony except me, my fiance and the celebrant. I am not having a bouquet to toss, no cake to cut, and the photographer will be at the reception to take photos of everyone. I feel this is the only way to do it now beacuse my grooms family has made such a big deal about being left out. This way no one is left out because there is nothing to be left out of. I am even going to the lengths of having a ‘family’ photo shoot the morning of to please the grooms family.

Now I’m not saying your situation is the same. Perhaps the bride is actually just being a bridezilla. But just think of the implications any negativity can have on a wedding. Look at it from all angles. I am so hurt by what my future sister-in-law has done that I would really just like to elope (my groom wanted to elope in the first place but I told him we have to have a wedding here so our families can be INVOLVED).

All in all, wedding are stressful for everyone. Just be conscious that at the end of the day, it’s about the bride and groom getting married. Nothing else matters.


Lynne July 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm

I am the mother of the groom. I have not been involved in one thing. From the start I’ve asked, but things were not ever done with an invite to my nor was my opinion asked. Furthermore I was told that the wedding would be outdoors and everyone coming should stay the night before for the rehearsal, it is to be a very large wedding party, and the night of the wedding. With everyone paying their fair share, the actual place for the wedding will be free. They are planning on sandwiches and roll-ups for the wedding dinner. They are not having an expensive cake, rather other types of various desserts. It is to be very casual. We have been through a horrific time the last few years with ill parents, a death of a parent, and my husband has been in and out of hospitals with horrific bills. This caused our home to be taken from us. So when we offered to do a very nice cookout and that the two kids could approve of the meal, we were told, “No way!” The plan is to have us, the grooms parents, a little more than 40 people out to eat at a restaurant where, without drinks, the price range is $10 – $20 a plate. When asked if we could ask them to cap the amount that the guests would be allowed to spend, the bride to be was horrified. I feel that we have nothing to do with the wedding and are supposed to sit back and do as we are told. We can’t believe our son would allow the bride to do this when we struggle monthly to pay the bills. We did hear back from them and they said we could get involved if we want to help find a different restaurant, but when we told them we had to put a cap on what we spend, because we can not get a loan with our credit and can not come up with $1000 to cover the rehearsal dinner that they are planning. We were told that when we went to eat, we could tell people that were the dates of the guests that they could pay for their own, and if we still couldn’t pay, we could go over and talk to the bride’s mom and see if she would be willing to help us out. Since placing a cap on the restaurant food, and still not allowed to have the cookout that goes with the theme of their all natural outdoor, barefoot wedding without stress, we are no longer invited to look at places to eat.

Any suggestions. The wedding is coming up Mid-September.


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