Regretting that “I heart mom” tattoo? Before you cover it up on your wedding day, read these tips and reclaim your sanity. (Photo by: Glen EdelsonCC BY 2.0)
My mother has gotten the wedding planning bug. She wants a big production in a place where we would have DAYS to decorate. She expects me to wear a dress that she picked out. When I brought up having the ceremony at a particular National Park, she went off her rocker. She kept coming up with complaints and reasons why it wouldn't work. Having looked into it already, I suggested why it WOULD work. “I just don't like it, so we're not doing it” was the final response. And the final straw.

I would like my mother to be at my wedding, and I value her occasional opinion, but planning a day centered around HER isn't going to work for us. How do I break this hard news to her? Do you have any advice for dealing with an overbearing mother? -MW

Before the Bridethulhu, there was the Momthulhu: wrecker of peaceful wedding planning, stirrer of pots, and thwarter of offbeat ideas. Maybe you have one? Maybe your partner does?

If you have a wonderful-but-at-times-overbearing mother involved in your wedding planning, here are seven ways to keep your beloved Momthulhu appeased and contented:

1. Pay for the wedding yourself

Ariel made a good point on her post back in 2008, Momzilla and wedding budgeting:

If mom's payin', you need to listen to what she's sayin'.

Whoever pays for the wedding is acting as a producer, and therefore has a say in how their money is spent. Ideally, their say goes something like this: “Whatever you want, dear.” But with many families — especially more conservative ones — that's just not gonna happen. That's why many offbeat couples finance their own weddings.

Unfortunately “whatever you want, dear” isn't really the way a Momthulhu rolls. Especially if she's the one throwing the party. If she's footing the bill, she'll probably be thinking that the guests will see all of your choices as a reflection of her. I'm willing to guess that a “bloody heart cake topper” may not be the way your Momthulhu rolls either.

There's no better way to shut down potential fights than by saying, “You know I love you to death and appreciate your input, but we're paying for this wedding so we're making our own decisions about what feels right.”

2. Give her a project

Simply put, there'll be less mama drama if you keep your Momthulhu occupied and focused on something she loves doing. For example:

  • Does your mom have big opinions on flowers? Put her in charge of floral design — SHE gets to price and meet with florists over the next few months. In the days leading up to your wedding, she'll be the one arranging pick-ups, deliveries, and any last-minute needs. And the day of, she'll be busy while she's in charge of their display.
  • Is your mom into DIY? Have her make your card box, cupcake tower, boutonnieres, or anything else you feel fine relinquishing control over.
  • Have a tech-y mom? Put her in charge of making a wedding montage video — she'll get to interact with your partners' parents when she asks for childhood photos, and she'll get to publicly express her love for you. Let's face it my fellow brats: Momthulhu's love for you is the big reason why she wants to be so involved in your wedding.

3. Recruit mom wranglers

Does your mother have an awesome bff or a sibling with whom you are also close? They may totally understand your Momthulhu challenges because, you know, they may have had challenges with her, too. Meet for lunch with said friend or sibling and tell 'em that you need their advice on gently handling a Momthulhu. Maybe your friend could play devil's advocate with her. “You know, MW's idea doesn't sound so bad!” “Hey, the [bouncy house/lawn games/wacky venue] actually sounds like fun.” Or “I went to a wedding before where they did exactly what MW wants to do and it was BEEEYOOTIFUL!”

The moment someone other than her “little kid” sees merit in those offbeat ideas, your sweet Momthulhu may not feel like either of you will get laughed at or seen in a negative light on the actual wedding day. Fear of what people will think can often make even the sweetest mom Cthulhu-out.

4. Avoid talking about the wedding more than necessary

With certain wedding decisions, your best bet may be avoidance. I know you may have dreams about wedding dress shopping with your mother smiling approvingly in the mirror's reflection. But when the reality is eye rolls and remarks about your “colorful choice” in dresses… the best thing may be to go dress shopping with someone who can be more supportive.

Do remember that an excluded Momthulhu is a sad Momthulhu. Make sure that in not discussing wedding plans, you aren't totally ditching your mom. Take extra steps to let her know you care — sweet texts, treating her to a mani/pedi, or arranging movie dates.

5. Study our “copy ‘n' paste conflict resolution”

Read this post and memorize it: Copy ‘n' paste conflict resolution (aka How to say “fuck off” and “I love you” and “this conversation is over” all at the same time). Because once you break it to Momthulhu that you've already booked your venue/caterer/bellydancers this quote is going to come in real handy…

It means so much to me that you're so interested in my wedding planning. That said, I hope you'll be able to respect that my partner and I are putting a lot of thought into having our wedding reflect our unique relationship and values. I hope you can place your trust in our ability to find what we feel works best for us.

In fact, you should probably peruse our entire conflict resolution archive.

6. Show her the wedding porn

If your Momthulhu can't imagine a National Park wedding, pull up our state parks tag and show her all that gorgeous park wedding porn.

Or maybe start fowarding her some of the most beautifully-shot subcultural weddings. Weddings like this goth wedding with blood drinking, or a lesbian gamer geek wedding? Then give her the ol' “If a punk rock circus wedding on the beach could look this incredible, we could easily pull off our rustic National Park wedding.”

7. Keep in mind that “it gets better”

The best advice I can give you is to just hang in there. I have a wonderful yet uber-traditional mom who pushed back on a lot of my offbeat decisions. But come wedding day, when she saw what a good time everyone was having, and how no-one rioted after finding out I wasn't carrying a bouquet, she immediately relaxed and had a blast. Years later, she even loves to brag about how all those “crazy ideas” worked out so well.

Remember: the wedding industry is really targeting your parents, and your mom may be Momthulhu-ing because she's worried you might look back and regret a decision. It also might help to keep in mind that she's all up in your wedding planning grill because SHE CARES. This is an exciting time for the both of you — take these tips and go enjoy it together as much as possible.

Baby Bridethulhus, what methods have worked best to keep your Momthulhu happy?

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Comments on 7 ways to keep “Momthulhu” from hijacking your wedding plans

  1. this is so Awesome! i was wondering if we could have permission to repost it on our own blog. we run into these problems so much with our clients! of course we would link it directly back to y’all, give credit and do a screen shot of it from your page for an image! if not- no worries- we shared it on our FB page.

    • You can totally run an excerpt, but we can’t allow entire posts to be syndicated. Glad you liked it so much! 🙂

  2. I really needed this today. I got engaged last Sunday (woot!). I made the mistake of telling my parents back in April that it was imminent. Mom proceeded to bug me for six weeks about why I wasn’t engaged yet and when could she tell the grandmothers. Unbeknownst to me she and my dad also started visiting reception venues.

    Literally every day since I have gotten a call from Mom or Dad with a wedding planning idea/question. She also has taken upon herself to call up my man’s mom and make a double date to start wedding planning… double meaning all four parents, forget about the bride and groom.

    I am very, very lucky that I did frame my ideas for my parents ahead of time so they had some inclination that this was going to be an offbeat (lite) wedding. Also, apparently my family and friends know me pretty well since they are all assuming I will do something a little different. I am lucky that they are supportive of my ideas and that they are excited to contribute the financial backing (I assume, although, we have still not had any conversation about who’s paying, they have just launched into planning).

    That said, the man and I are simply not ready to start wedding planning yet. I am DEEP into job searching (like 8 months and still no offers). I want to scream “Back the f* off and let me do it when I get around to it!” every time they want to talk about a wedding idea. I am also just concerned about their general assumption that they are in charge.

    So I guess my tips are to let your parents/family know how weird you are from as early as possible (birth in my case) and then keep you engagement a secret until you are ready to start planning. Also, I forced my reluctant fiance (reluctant to plan, not to wed) to sit down with me yesterday and articulate his wants/ideas so that we know what each other wants and can defend our vision when we crash their planning date.

    • Since you may not be able to put the brakes on the parents, this may be the time to thank them for helping you gather ideas, thank them for their feedback and suggestions about venues, etc, and then ask that they give you some time to go over the research they did and when you are ready, you will happily go through their suggestions and then get back to them after that.

      Consider it free research. If you have enough time/energy, maybe make up a little questionairre they can fill out about venues, etc that will give you the info you need/want. Helps narrow down ones you don’t want.

    • Congratulations! and also good luck with your job search! My fiance has been in it deep for over a year and it has just been rough. When we first got engaged I really wanted to wait until he had a good, full-time job but we have been making it work so far and he didn’t want to wait. So hang in there on that! I wish this article had been out when I started, it has some good ideas, although I ended up doing a couple of the tips with my mom. It’s great you have the excitment and support!

  3. I had to LOL and nearly cry at some points. This has been my life since we booked a reception venue. My mother and I had an issue over a flower girl (we aren’t having one… “but you need to walk on rose petals down the aisle”… wtf?)
    I had to a) reiterate why we didn’t want a flower girl (too many girls=too much family potential drama) and b) ask her to think whether or not my wedding will be ruined by a small detail. For some other brides, it may not be a small detail, but they generally are. After trying a million different ways to be nice and say no, I simply asked her “will my wedding be ruined without a flower girl?” She really didn’t have a response, and she finally calmed down.

    Projects are a fabulous way to keep them busy. Also, make sure you have a good solid idea of what YOU want before you start discussing it with your parents. I had been engaged over two years before we set a date, so I had done a lot of theoretical planning and thinking about what me and my FH wanted so we knew what was super important to us.

    Good luck to the other brides out there- I feel your pain!

    • Sorry I made you almost cry, but I’m glad I made you laugh. 😉

      My mom’s freakout over the lack of a bouquet was mind-boggling. I wish I had thought to respond with “will my wedding be ruined without a bouquet?” Nice one.

      • It was more the cry of frustration remembering the awful fights we got into 🙂 We still have about a year to plan, so I’m sure there will be more of these moments haha. I couldn’t think of anything else to say to her ridiculousness about the flower girl except for that. She acted like the world was ending. I’m glad I thought of it 🙂

      • I’ve been saying “Will my marriage not be valid if I do/don’t do X?” That often shuts her up.

    • I really like what you said about the flower girl too. Have to remind them of things sometimes. My mom is trying to stick to all of the “rules” and I don’t know who came up with them, but I’m not interested. Projects are definitely a great way to get them involved and off your back! Well, at least for a while!

    • I’m SO stealing that idea, but tweaking it slightly. Rather than “wedding” I’ll try to stress “marriage”. In our case, he was married before, and *his* family paid for all the BWWIC stuff that time. I know they’re going to expect it all again, and since it’s my only wedding, it seems prudent to stress that I’m not looking for only a wedding, I’m planning for forever. Hopefully shifting the topic toward permanence will make the point that it’s about our relationship, not the trappings for one (hopefully still awesome) party.

  4. I feel like I could have written this! We have been engaged for a year and I’m not a fan of a lot of traditions, but I’m not going out of my way to avoid them either. My mother really likes my finace but every idea I said, she would grumble and argue with me about. I got to the point that I wasn’t telling her anything and really just wanted to say here is the time and day if you want to show up. We are paying for everything, so we only went on advice if we asked for it. Cupcakes have been the BIGGEST drama!! Every time I said I wanted cupcakes for certain reasons other than they are popular now, she would snap at me! (Who doesn’t like cupcakes??) Finally, I said fine, we are having a sundae bar so if you want to deal with the cake then so be it, either way there will be ice cream so people will have a dessert. That didn’t end things, she kept asking me about cakes, I said no I put it all up to you. Something finally seems to have clicked with her that even though our tastes are on opposite ends, she needs to stop arguing because this is the only chance she is getting to help her daughter with her wedding. So HANG IN THERE!! (and I think we finally agreed that a couple half sheet cakes for variety would work! I get my variety and she gets no cupcakes.)

    • This…seriously. I had my wedding a year ago and this WAS an issue with my mother-in-law. She fought me tooth and nail over my husband and I not having a tiered traditional cake because ,quote, “EVERYONE saves the top tier for their first anniversary!”..and I was like, “Fine, if we have tiers of any kind YOU can serve the cake, while the rest of us eat the cupcakes!” She got huffy about it and then i found this,

      Exactly a compromise we could agree on. Imagine this in purple with none of the frilly cardboard deco. She got what she wanted, we got what we wanted. it looked awesome in pictures oh and BTW I have GREAT photo of her stuffing her face with a cupcake. I bring it up EVERY TIME she thinks I have a bad creative idea. BOOM. The daughter-in-law has the odds ever in her favor! lol

      • I never even knew about this tradition until my Aunt looked at us in disbelief at dinner the night before the wedding and said “but what will you save for your first anniversary!?” I told her we would have no problem ordering the same cupcake flavors from the baker in a year and then they’d be fresh and delicious instead of dried out and stale! She said “Fair enough!”

  5. I lucked out for the most part. My parents had had their wedding in a friend’s house and it wasn’t very WIC at all. Also, they know my dude would so not fit into a WIC wedding. That being said, we had multiple arrangements of flowers. Why? Because my mom could not imagine there not being flowers aside from my bouquet. It blew her mind and there was just no way she could wrap her brain around it. In that case, my statement was that I am willing to have them if she would like to pay for them (above and beyond the money she and my dad gave, which they said was supposed to be ours to do with as we chose).

    We later had a disagreement about how much food and alcohol was required. I let my mum win. This totally fit into the idea of the wedding being a reflection on my parents. My mum’s friends all contributed to their children’s weddings in similar ways so my mother was stuck judging our wedding by the weddings she had attended. There had to be sufficient alcohol available that no one felt they HAD to hold back (except most did because it was more dinner party than wedding bash).

    I found that channeling their energy into areas that interest them is really helpful. It at least helps keep them off other issues. My dad I had already told some of my ideas to and he liked it since I framed it in ways that would appeal to him. Mum I found ways to put it in a frame of reference she could understand too (“think of it as a dinner party”).

    I also found that being positive and excited about the things you DO want can sometimes help override the “how could you…?” I was stoked to have pizza and souvlaki at our wedding and, while my mum questioned it (probably worried about her friends’ reactions), it went really well and got compliments from one of her friends. I really, really wanted a red dress so in the face of my mum’s repeated offers that she would buy me a white dress if I wanted, I pointed out that I’ve always wanted a red dress, that I have a specific style I love and long for that will be most flattering on me. And then I let her participate in getting my dress designed. Worked out well for me since she decided to make that an extra gift. But I knew that clothing was something we could bond over since she knows I’ve drooled over her old dresses from the 1950s and she always wants me to look my best.

  6. Hm, I would suggest if mom is “running the show”, to focus on a few projects she had no say over. Fine, let her pick the venue and centerpieces and cake, whatever. You focus on your kickass vows, food that you want to eat, clothes you want to wear, ect. I feel like parents just want to feel their best, that they were a good host and they made their child’s dreams come true. Even if your family isn’t paying, this can come into play. I’ve noticed a strong urge from parents to get involved just because they WANT to be involved in making you happy. Sometimes they just…get stuck in the past, you know, before shit got real and you just wanted to wear a goddamned tiara.

  7. This really scares me (my Momthulhu, not the article!).
    I have always had a troubled relationship with my mom. She has no sense of shame whatsoever and is extremely meddlesome. She is always enthusiastic, undertakes many things without realizing she may offend or simply bother people.
    As a reaction, I am very wary with her and tend to dread everything she does that could have any effect on my life, I even dread seeing her, talking to her or even reading her e-mails. She has tried to emotionnally blackmail me in the past and we have had a big argument and now the mere thought of her makes me angry. I am convinced that she spoils everything she touches and she likes surprises. She likes DIY. I’m afraid she will attempt to organize something to please me and nobody will dare to say no because she’s the mother of the bride.

    I was happy that she lived on the other side of the planet (I’m in France, she was in Australia) and would only come for the wedding but it turns out her visa has expired and she will be back in France in a few months, and she will have plenty of time before the wedding to mess with my mind and try and devour my soul as a proper Momthulhu.

    Now I know that it’s no point worrying before there is anything to worry about, but she drives me completely irrational (I usually am very calm and reasonable) and my FH has had to reason with me several times when my mother was involved because I was getting crazy and mean. She has the power to turn me, and I know fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.

  8. My dude and I have coped with this with both mothers by having three separate events. One for us, and one for each mother.

    No, really.

    We love our mothers, to death, to pieces, to the ends of the earth, we would give them all our organs, but both of us knew that all we wanted is a registry office with 8 guests and something quiet and beautiful. That not at all being how DudeMama and BrideMama roll, and the drama of compromise being highly likely to lead to awful fighting, we’ve given them their own parties to take care of!

    Long story short: we’ll have our tiny longed-for wedding, then DudeMama will show us off to her side of the family at a castle a week later, and 6 months on we’ll jet off to my home country for BrideMama to have her own big fancy event, with speeches and ice sculptures and everything she likes.

    That way they get total creative control, and it really is THEIR day to celebrate the marriage and show us off to their mates – but they leave the wedding itself alone.

    And it’s worked! Neither Mama has thrown any sort of fit about the wedding day itself, and nobody is complaining about feeling left out. I think they’re both relishing the contrast between the quiet wedding and their epic, opulent demonstrations of love.

    This is a very weird situation, and I wouldn’t recommend this approach unless it’s absolutely clear from the start that you’ve got incompatible visions, you’re respectful of each others’ events, and you don’t mind giving up the mama-daughter collaborative part of wedding planning.

    Dude and I are cool, we just refer to it as ‘taking the wedding on tour’.

    • Now THAT is amazing. That takes “give her her own project” to a WHOLE ‘nother level. And also, you get three parties! Win/win/win.

    • Can I ask, are you guys actually repeating the marriage ceremony three times, or are these Mama-esque events more like giant reception-y parties? I only bring this up because I have seen many couples get screwed when guests show up to the big fancy “wedding,” only to find out that the couple is already married- for example, hushed courthouse wedding months prior, then a pretend fancy wedding later when someone regrets not having a big blowout celebration. They may not say anything to your face, or even to your close family members, but they WILL talk behind your back if they didn’t know ahead of time that the actual marriage had already taken place. It’s really really insulting to take time out of your weekend only to find out that you’ve essentially been lied to, and I would hate to hear that it caused you guys drama, especially when you wanted the small, beautiful wedding in the first place 🙁 Now if your guests will all know that you’re already married, then I would assume they’d have no problem with attending a kick-ass party in your honor! Just wanted to put that out there 🙂

      • We aren’t repeating the wedding ceremony, but everybody knows when the wedding is happening, and that the parties are just that – parties!

        We’re live-streaming the teeny wedding ceremony itself so that any or all of our friends and family all over the world can tune in, if they like. And the only part of the Dude/BrideMama parties I’m overseeing is the wording of the invitations, so I can be sure nobody shows up thinking it’s the wedding itself.

        Multiple parties: solver of lots of problems, creators of others! 🙂

        • In that case, that sounds like a truly lovely solution to an otherwise unpleasant situation! Live-streaming the ceremony is an awesome idea. Congratulations and good luck on your wedding!

    • when my late husband and i got married, we did exactly this. my family were all in NJ, his were mostly in lower MI and some elsewhere, and we lived in upper MI. we “eloped” to TN where our parents and siblings joined us to witness, then my family threw a party in NJ the following weekend, and his family threw one in MI the weekend after that. we gave our respective parents free reign on these events, except on the invitations (which i made). my mom wanted more input from me than my MIL, but that was ok, since it was their parties! it worked out nicely, even if it was a bit exhausting to be traveling for all that time.

  9. I, too, am wedding planning right now – for my zombie wedding next year. Both “bridemama” and “dudemama” are such great people and they really do just want to help, but I’m keeping details about the zombie aspect of the wedding somewhat secretive. Fiancé and I are both playing the “We’re really busy with non wedding stuff, so we can’t really talk about this right now” card and it’s surprisingly working … 70% of the time. I really just wanted to comment on this article to say that the word “Momthulhu” made me laugh so hard. I love that.

  10. I anticipated this pressure with my mother, big time!

    Our strategy:

    1) We planned everything about our wedding before we even announced we were engaged, and stuck to our plan.
    2) We paid for everything ourselves.
    3) We avoided talking about our wedding plan to anyone but the two of us.

    However, as a result of our choices, conversations initiated by my mother about our wedding planning have been FROSTY to say the least.

    I’m sticking to my guns about everything to do with our wedding. But, I’m being super nice and loving in other ways – spending my day off weeding her garden, taking her shopping for her wedding outfit, meeting up to walk our dogs.

    Our wedding is in less than 3wks. I believe that once it’s all done and dusted, I will have maintained my relationship with my mother, but will also have ensured we have the wedding we wanted.

    Success, right? 🙂

    • Awesome job sticking to your guns! Wish I did this. My mother thinks this is her third wedding to the point that my fiancé has said to her, “you do know I’m marrying your daughter and not you, right?” I can’t even mention a thought in passing without her completely taking it to another level. I mention I want photos of the girls smoking cigars, she creates a “cigar bar” in secret. She cried when I suggested getting ready at the hotel instead of her house since the hotel is right beside the venue and we wouldn’t have to get a limo. Our hall has an upper balcony that the hall rep mentioned a lot of brides throw their bouquet from. I kid you not, my mother wants to build a rope braid for me to throw off and have my fiancé yell, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”. No words. I swear if she builds that rope braid, I’m making her wear it for the day.

  11. My mom makes incredible fruit pies, and to keep her off of my back for the few days leading up to our wedding, I had her make all 25 pies for our wedding (we went cakeless). Kept her busy and the compliments flowed throughout the reception for all of the hard work she put in on our desserts 🙂

  12. This is great – Im having a similar issue with my in-laws in general. My future in-laws are Italian and many of them are chef’s and professional cooks. They are food snobs and only eat Italian considering all other cuisine inadequate. So when it comes to the catering they keep insisting on what needs to be done and how they are planning on doing it. I don’t want Italian food as the only food on the menu at the wedding, my family are from the Australian outback and many have never eaten an olive or seen a piece of boccini in their lives. I keep politely putting them off but I need to let them know they are not catering and to leave the subject alone. Any ideas???

  13. This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve just been writing a journal entry about how pushy my mum is getting with all this wedding hoo-har.

  14. My own mother has been super hands off and supportive about our wedding decisions, but not all the family members have been like that. I opted for avoidance. We just flat out stopped discussing our wedding choices with family 😛

  15. I am all in favor of confrontation on this one. Sit her down, and tell her (gently, but firmly), “This is our wedding. We can do whatever we want. I value your input, but I am not going to change everything we want to do just because you don’t like it. I would love you to enjoy yourself on our wedding day, but you are not getting your way.”

  16. I’ve had the same issue with my mum, my dude’s mum is not really interested in the slightest, but even tho we are paying for our wedding, my mum still wants me to explain the choices we are making. the lowest moment came when she used my recently deceased nan as a reason why she wanted lots of flowers, i didnt even bother to hide how furious i was and we havent really spoken much about it now, but with 13 weeks to go this is only going to get worse.. so glad to read this today to help reinforce that our decisions are right for us and ways to keep her out of our hair xx

  17. my horror story,
    when my partner and i got engaged last year his mum went straight in to planing mod. After weeks of being told what we could and could not do we decided to sit her down and have a frank talk. After tears and hugs from us all we thought we had overcome the mumzillia problem. To make her feel involved we askes her to use her mad graphic skills to help make up engagment invites. They come out great and my partner decided on a guest list and got to work sending them out.
    Two weeks befor the engagment party after i had confirmed numbers with the venue and ordered catering she informed me she had printed her own invites and invited 50 extra people!!!
    Il just let that sink in.. 50..
    Needless to say by the night of our engagment we were hardly speaking to each other and although she has said she is sorry since its left us feeling astho we cant trust her with even a simple task for our wedding..

  18. This has thrown me completely,
    My chaps mum and I had a massive argument last October, full on mental breakdown on my part- having tried all of the conflict resolution and having no luck I simply lost it with her, this was bad and we haven’t really recovered. It affected my relationship with his entire side of the family.
    I am an only child and not my family are incredibly laid back about my choices and even though they donated a considerable amount towards our wedding they have asked for nothing in return.
    He is the a twin, who’s sisters wedding 7 years ago was the epitome of WIC and his younger brother is yet to wed. So his mum gets 3 shots at this and mine only the 1.
    I seems petty but my relationship with mother has always been fraught, she has a psychological disorder which means I’m now the one who’s the parent as it were.
    I’ve give the mother-in-law projects – yay flags on fact but she is unenthusiastic, I’ve put in charge of flower girl dresses, something I relented on as there are our nieces and therefore “must match the bride” ergh!
    I feel like I’m loosing my wedding to his family and mine are just getting pushed out! We’ve got just 10 weeks to go :'(
    Apologises for epic brain dump.

    • i hear you!
      My parnter and i have decided to plan the intire wedding( like down to the frosting on the cupcakes) befor we even tell his family we have set a date.
      I know that sounds harsh but its the only way to deal with her.
      It makes me sad that our engagment and wedding that are ment to be a happy thing has caused a riff in our family.
      All i can say is stick to guns. And remind them that they had there wedding and this is your time

      • I’ve got her doing a reading, co-signing the legal register, doing a joint speech with father in law. And she’s still lot happy!

        Could someone PLEASE do a post on how ‘urban’ or self selected family is no less important than ‘blood’ relatives, and how to explain this to a large brood.

        I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s steamrollered here?

    • I had a similar issue. My fiancé’s sister had eloped a year previously, and his mum was determined that we have a big showy wedding. She even tried to insist that we have the reception in her garden rather than the restaurant we originally considered. As time went on, she understood the nicer side of our small wedding and how it was more important for family than for reputation etc. Try to explain how you feel and that you want the day to represent both families. If she can’t understand that, then it’s just tough. It’s your day and you only have one shot. She’s had hers and she’s got another child’s wedding to go. Good luck!

  19. My mom was supportive and excited and wonderful about every aspect of my wedding. Until she found out my dad was walking me down the aisle. From that point on she decided this shit was very not cool and she wanted nothing to do with any of it. Now, my dad never mistreated me, we just haven’t been that close for a while and I’ve been trying to repair that. It was important to me. But she was cold, distant, and made my wedding day miserable. She was late, holding up the wedding by 45 minutes. She would just leave and I wouldn’t see her for an hour or more in a wedding of less than 20 people. She left while we were taking pictures and I only got one picture of me with her on my wedding day. My dad and his family didn’t even stick around for the reception because of how awkward and irritable she was being. It’s been almost a year and it still hurts thinking about it.
    What do you do with those kinds of people?

    • While I can’t imagine having my wedding without my mother, I know she would never pull something that petty. If I were you, I probably would have started on time (I don’t blame you for waiting though), she wasn’t just rude to you and your partner but all the rest of the guests who probably showed up early. You can’t let people like that steamroll you- there have to be real consequences for their actions, otherwise they will never change. It’s something I’m just now learning to do with my own dad, and it’s hard. But in the end, they need to learn to respect others’ decisions.

    • This sounds exactly like something my mom’d do. She’s done similar crap many times. I haven’t been in your situation, but I’ve definitely been in similar ones.

      A tactic I’ve adopted is to be overly apologetic. “I’m sorry my decision made you uncomfortable. I’m sorry you felt you couldn’t support me on my special day. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get more pictures with you. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see more of [one of the attendants]. I’m sorry you missed [these elements of the wedding]. I’m sorry you missed out on all the fun we could have had. I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to devote to you on my special day. I’m sorry I couldn’t find you when you left.

      It gives them guilt, but also often satiates them that the fight is over, since you did technically apologize. It’s also therapeutic, because you’re telling her everything she ruined for you. I’m not saying it’s the most mature response, but I’ve found it’s the most mature I personally can get with my narcissistic mother.

  20. I got engaged in December and my mom was the exact same way. She wanted me to wear a long sleeve dress to cover my tattoos and wanted my fiancé and I to take out all of our facial piercings. We were not having it. Ultimately I wrote her a very long heart felt letter about why it was so hurtful to me on wanting her way and not wanting us to be who we truly are. She came to the conclusion that our relationship was more important than a party and that she didn’t want to be left out if her only daughters wedding. Being honest and talking it out cured my momthulu…along with a lot of compromise. Honesty…it’s always the best policy.

  21. “Or maybe start fowarding her some of the most beautifully-shot subcultural weddings. Weddings like this goth wedding with blood drinking,” LOVE the mention to our nuptials. And excellent post. We’re lucky our moms were great about letting us create something very “us.”

  22. Neither of our moms are quite this impossible, BUT… two brides means two moms with mother-of-the-bride syndrome. They both talk a big game about how it is our special day and they just want to throw a little money at us and help out in any other ways that they can and let us have the day WE want to have (partly because they both feel like THEIR mothers controlled their weddings way too much) but when it comes down to it… they both expect a certain amount of control and say in what is going on.

    We let my partner’s mother plan us a shower, and have free reign to do whatever she wants with said shower, and so far that has helped IMMENSELY. My mother is a little less intense overall (she doesn’t care about the flowers, for instance) but has started to really zoom in on certain details, and lately her constant refrain is that trying to purchase according to our values is “too expensive” and we should just let her get everything at a big horrible chain store. That might make sense, if she were footing the bill, but she’s not. She’s giving us a fixed amount of money (about 1/4 of our wedding budget) that we’ve worked into our wedding budget so that we CAN purchase according to our values.

    If anyone has any advice on how to deal with a mom who REALLY DEEPLY BELIEVES she is letting you do whatever you want, but in actuality is trying to exercise weird control over many details, I’m all ears.

  23. I was definitely concerned about the Momthulhu aspect of things, not so much from my mom who’s several thousand miles away, but for the fella’s mom who’s a 90-minute train ride away. However, we have worked things out (at least for the most part) by having separate parties. Since we’re looking to have a small-ish wedding and fella has a rather huge-ish family, fella’s mom is throwing our engagement party (which I had originally not planned to have; they’re not common in my culture, but very common in his) and is organizing every single aspect of it. Completely paid for by them, at their fancy country club, nearly all their huge-ish family and close family friends. She’s handled everything, and it’s allowed her to exert her complete control over something without it affecting us and what we want our wedding to look like (and how much we want to spend on a wedding). So yeah, at this point, Momthulhu avoided! I hope it sticks post-engagement party!

  24. My only advice, and what has worked for me albeit with some bumps in the road, is be honest with your mom or dad or whoever from the second the ball starts rolling! Don’t wait until you are half-way through planning to drop your offbeat choices/choices on your family, be up front about everything. And definitely channel your inner-Vulcan and be logical about it with your family not solely emotional; yes you should be passionate etc about the choices you’re making but by putting the emotions away just a bit and looking at why the choices are also just a logical fit for you. When you have that in your head, sit down and TALK about with them. This is what I attempted to do with my mother and sister/main lady and it has worked pretty well. I told them up-front it was going to be a seriously small wedding, that there would be no traditional reception, etc etc and my sister took in stride having expected a lot of this. My mother has had a lot of problems with some of things we’re doing BUT because I told her these things from the start by the time the STDs go out next month I know she’ll be okay with our small guestlist, even if it’s now she would like to see things done she’s okay with it because she knows it is what works for us.

  25. These are great points. I have been lucky mostly with my mother letting me take the reins… the only thing she has really scoffed at is when I mentioned one of my dear friends, who is a hooper, has offered to do a performance for our guests while they wait for us to finish the pictures and arrive at the reception. And when I say scoffed, I mean eyebrow raised, and the “We’ll see.” comment being made… I didn’t even bother to tell her that the hoop would be on fire. heh… We’ll see all right!

  26. i didn’t think my mum was too bad, but it turns out she’s the silent brooder & complaining about stuff behind mu back, rather than full on confronting me. I tried to have her involved with the dress – the first shop we went to, she spent the whole time telling the store lady about her own dress and didn’t seem to pay one scrap of attention to what we were doing. Then complained when we got outside why hadn’t I chosen any of them, especially the one she picked out. So I’ve just gone off on my own and ordered it, and she’s moaning because she’s left out. Well the first reaction when I told her it is red, was “we’ll you always do have to be different don’t you, have to be the centre of attention” – but in a very bitchy tone of voice. meow!
    So I thought, she can have cake as a project. I showed pictures of what I liked and what I didn’t, I gave her a budget. Bad idea. When I saw the pictures of the hideous WIC monstrosities she liked and the shoddy bakeries she had approached, I had to reign it back in again. And again I’ve gone off on my own and just done it without telling her.
    But she sings in a ladies barbershop, so I thought if I invite her troupe to sing that can be her project. She can decide what they sing, what they wear and coordinate them instead of me! It’s working we’ll so far except she constantly pesters me about what time they will start (i don’t know yet its 4 months away!) and will they get fed (no, it’s only half an hour!) I’ve also got a sneaky feeling she’s basically invited them all (20) but my dad is doing the same thing with his family (suddenly brothers he “doesn’t speak to” are VIPs and why haven’t they been invited!)
    Jeez, if its not one parent it’s the other!

  27. Great tips! Weddings are stressful enough, without the inter-family warfare that goes on more often than not. Love the suggestions you have for restoring peace. 🙂

  28. Ugh I’m not even engaged yet and just tossing around ideas for a wedding around my mother is enough to make me scream. I had this great idea for renting an old ship and having a pirate-themed wedding to which my father said, “Grow up!” My mother started on about how she would rather I just have a gothic wedding and that I have to have a minister (neither my partner or I are religious). A friend of mine recently got married and had this great idea to have the bride and grooms’ parents walk down the aisle with their respective son/daughter, one parent on either side instead of just the father and instead of the ordained person asking “Who gives this person away?” the ordained person says “Who stands for this person?” and the parents stand up and say I do. I mentioned that idea to my mother and she flipped her shit and said “That’s not how you do it! IT’S TRADITION!!!” I have never been a person to stick to tradition(al gender roles) so this struck me as bizarre! If I have a wedding I plan on paying for it myself and hopefully my mother will be a little more understanding, especially since I told her that if I have a wedding it will be my way or I won’t have one at all! We can just elope in secret!

    • This. Completely. I just commented down at the bottom of the page about my momthulhu issues and I’m not engaged yet, either. Last time my mom and I had a discussion about my ideas for a future wedding we were at a bar and she actually ordered another glass of wine and told me (and the bartender) that I was making her so anxious that she needed another drink to calm down. I really think my dad will be cool with everything as long as it’s what my bf and I actually want (which it will be). The only thing my dad will give me a hard time about is my nose piercing and tattoos, but he’s just going to have to deal with it.

  29. The comments about the wedding industry targeting parents really hit home. My Mom gets comments from random store clerks (she makes friends with everyone) about how it should be this way or that way. Things she wouldn’t worry about before become important because ‘she keeps hearing’ they are important. So I try to forgive her, knowing she still knows me and its just the pressure of weddings that she gets (on top of the pressure that I get) from the outside world (commercial or otherwise). I’m still really struggling with the ‘project’ for mom. My partner and I are too efficient. Most of the ‘big’ stuff was done months in advance. I took her dress idea, but not her venue idea. So I’m “leaving her out.” MOG is similar. But every time I read one of these with comments like “will not having real flowers ruin the day?” makes it easier. I want to try “what do you want to remember about my wedding, the smile on my face or whats in my hand?”. We’ll see if that works. Good luck to everyone who understands the Momthulu of all persuasions.

  30. The problem is Momthulhu always wants to decorate with live tentacles. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I love a good octopod as much as the next person. But there’s a limit and I don’t think placing them in the toilet tank sends the right message to the in-laws.

      • We’ve compromised on animatronic tentacles. I know, I know — where will we hide the servos? Sigh…Momthulhu isn’t very tech-savvy.

  31. Our momthulu (my mother in law to be) went nuts about something most traditional folks would love…. The idea of us getting married in a church. She was so upset that we actually had to change our plans! My fiancé is atheist, but he still loved the idea of getting married in my family’s church. Luckily our new idea, of having a much smaller wedding in gretna green, is so much better and in the end I thank god for momthulu. The way she spoke to me was still hurtful, but it really made me realise that you can’t make everyone happy with your wedding so you might as well do what you really want rather than what you kind of want. Better to defend a day you’re passionate about, than a day you thought other people would like!

  32. Thank you for posting this… I just ran back to read this post because Dadthulu changed the date on the final venue and catering contracts without telling me… we had decided one thing and he signed on another… and I was angry, very angry, so reading something constructive was needed.

    • And I just popped back here to see if anyone else was facing down a Dadthulu, because it seems like we’re in a real minority. My mom and future-in-laws have been nothing but supportive and non-demanding (the only thing my mom cares about it me getting a nice dress, but she’s okay if it’s green and/or doubles as a renaissance fair costume). But dad… oh man, dad. He’s very much a give him an inch and he’ll move in and remodel your house kind of person. I’m going to need to have a first-principles conversation with him before things get too out of hand.

  33. I had (and, to a much lesser degree, still have) this same problem since I got engaged last year. Not only did she react, ahem, poorly when we first told her about the engagement, when we brought her to a drop-dead-gorgeous redwood filled camp site owned by my fiance’s family where we wanted to have the ceremony and hoped to warm her up to the idea, she cut her visit early, said she wouldn’t pay for us “to get married in the dirt,” and we didn’t speak for weeks after.

    Needless to say, my fiance and I spent a lot of time talking about what was really important to us with this wedding. In the end, we had a short list of non-negotiables and decided that we simply didn’t care enough to argue about anything else; we both accepted that anything not on that list could be vetoed by my mom as long as she was paying and we would be fine with it. Now, we’re just a few months from our wedding in Monterey (which is our favorite vacation spot), I’m making my own wedding dress (a replica of a gown from 1907), there will be balloons instead of flowers, and mom’s lightened up considerably.

    As for that gorgeous spot we originally wanted to have our wedding? We’re hoping to go up there the week before the big shindig and tie the knot in a low-key, stress-free camp-out.

  34. Hello gang. There is a lot of momma/daddy drama going on in this char! My wedding coordinator told me that any drama I or my partner had in our families would be magnified by the wedding stuff. I feel like this is the most appropriate place to put my piece in and ask for advice. So we’re having a mother of the groom issues. We gave her a job to appease her. She’s a wonderful cook so we asked her to bake pies for our fall-themed wedding. So now every time she sees us she jokes about not being able to come to our wedding, and then holds it over our heads that if she didn’t come then there would be no pies. Yea. So now the drama is that her name is not on the invitation. My parents are paying for the entire wedding. So their names are on the invitation. My partner’s mom called him crying this morning because her friggin name is not on the invitation. What do we do? We can’t fix them all now. And she’s not contributing nearly as much as my parents. Not that we don’t love her and appreciate what she is doing. But sheesh. Help!

    • Maybe offering to have a nice sign by the pies that says “pies by ….” possibly with a sub header with “mother of the groom” would be a good step. Also if they’re both local, or if they’ll be in town early, maybe plan a day for just you and the moms. Do something like high tea, or pedicures, or one of those places where you paint the same picture. Or whatever fits the group. It’s possible that getting the mothers friendly with each other would make the groom’s mom feel more included, and also more trusting in your mother’s input. Even if your mother doesn’t have input, there might be perceived input that the MoG is nervous about because it’s not coming from her.

  35. People ask me [photographer] have I ever had any bridezillas, my reply is, “No, but I’ve had some Momzillas!” Mothers can be coo coo for cocoa puffs. I totally agree with Ariel, if she’s paying, let her plan all day long, if she isn’t, she needs to sit down.

    There have been mothers at weddings like Mommy Dearest, some that I can’t look in the eye, because it pains me to look at them. Over bearing, Narcissistic and flat out mean. For the most part mothers have been awesome, I’ve only had a few weird ones, but they stand out in my mind. Never had any issues with any of my brides!!

  36. I am so glad I found this post. Now, admittedly, I’m not getting married anytime soon; my boyfriend and I have been dating for 5 1/2 years, though and we’re basically pre-engaged. Everyone knows we’re going to get married eventually and that it’s just a matter of time. His grandmother introduces me to everyone as her granddaughter and I was included as part of the family line-up at his grandfather’s wake and funeral a few months ago. And though there is no ring on my finger, my mom has already started to dictate to me what my wedding should be like. Surprisingly, she was fine last week when the subject came up and I told her we wouldn’t have a church wedding. She told me that she never expected that from us because that’s not who we are. So, that was great. And I told her that we’d probably hire a pro officiant who could write us our own ceremony complete with some Buddhist undertones and a ring-warming ceremony (which she loved).

    And then I said that I’d love to have a geeky/comic/movie themed wedding and she actually ordered another glass of wine! She said that I was making her so anxious, that she needed to have another drink! I tried to explain to her that my BF and I had discussed on several occasions that we want to have a wedding that people will remember. And probably one that most people we know would find a bit odd. And most of our close friends that we’ve talked to (including a couple who are engaged and having a SUPER traditional, Catholic, Fourth of July wedding in two years) have said they wouldn’t expect anything less than something kooky and fun from us. So, to have my mom be that freaked out by an offbeat wedding that isn’t even on the radar yet is a little nerve-wracking. She definitely won’t be paying for anything except maybe my dress since my father and step-mother and paternal grandparents (who are loaded) will most likely take care of everything. My dad just had a SUPER lavish wedding complete with oyster bar last summer so… Yeah.

    And then I’ve also had my mom tell me – not ask, mind you – who I should have as my photographer. Now, I’m a photo/videographer myself so I already know that I’m going to be extremely picky about my photographer. And my mom has a friend who is a pro and she shoots weddings and my mom has told me that I’m going to hire her. And I don’t really know how to tell my mom this, but I really don’t like her friend’s photos. At all. That and she was the wedding planner for my aunt’s wedding back in the early 90s and kind of the coordinator (on the day of, anyway) for my uncle’s wedding a few years ago. So, she wants to be my wedding planner. And to be perfectly honest, I really don’t think my mom can handle that and I don’t know how to tell her that. She’s kind of ditzy and forgetful and those are not qualities I want in my wedding planner. I’d rather do the job myself or hire a pro. But how do I tell my mom that when it comes time to do so? My mom used to do floral arrangements and she did the flowers for my uncle’s wedding a few years ago. She wants to do my flowers too and, honestly, I’m fine with that part. She does a great job with flowers and we’ll be able to save a lot of money that way. And that’s great because it gives her something that is all hers, but how would I tell her that I don’t trust her to be my wedding planner?

    And yeah, I realize that all this drama is so nuts considering I’m not even engaged yet but it’s really stressing me out because I know that in the next year or two I’ll probably be engaged and I’ll have to face my mother…

  37. I think the giving her a project could help. Let her know it is your day and your wedding. But also let her know you value her opinion. Ask her to take on this task. Something you really could let her decide everything on. Let her take it over and run with it. She will feel important and trusted!

  38. Reading all these stories has made me appreciate my mother’s relative easy-goingness. Her one big requirement is that she gets to be there for it; other than that, she just doesn’t want me to go outside of my budget. She’s pragmatic like me & really listens to what I want to do. Doubtful she’ll see this, but if she does: Thank you, mom, for just being supportive, & not overbearing!

  39. I had the exact opposite dealings with my mother. She’s more offbeat than I am and was making little snipes about “You’re not going to do the whole white dress thing, are you?” but the second I found a dress that proved to her I wasn’t going to look like a spoiled princess, she warmed up to the idea.

    I have to reign her back from going too far offbeat to the point where it doesn’t fit into my overall design. But she’s willing to do whatever I want and is really supportive.

    My dad has had a apathetic view on weddings in general ever since his first marriage where some of his family members stole the gifts. He and my mom eloped. So he’s just staying out of it.

  40. This definitely hits home for me. I love my mother to pieces and since my fiance and I couldn’t afford the whole wedding on our own, I am also very grateful her and my father are kicking in the rest. BUT I am now wearing a wedding dress I don’t even like, jewelry I don’t like, and my small intimate wedding is now over 100. And there’s tons more. I’m sad since my weddings 30 days away and will have to wear something that’s just not me. But will not change it because I love her so and would feel horrible since she paid for it. 🙁

    • Oh and unfortunately we don’t have the type of honesty is the best policy relationship. We butt heads a lot . probably because we’re a lot alike.

  41. I know my comment is really old in comparison to when this was posted, but this article was just what I needed. My fiancé & I are exactly 21 days away from our BIG day, & my mom is totally trying to take over.

    My parents are helping out with the payments, but my fiancé & I are still paying 60% of the wedding, which I feel entitles me to make the decisions I want to make.

    We have just had our final meeting, & my parents have hijacked the plans. They went completely against what i have profusely mentioned I detest, & now that I’ve told them I’m changing it to what we want (I’ll cover the added cost) her face is hanging.

    My mom doesn’t understand that we have completely different tastes, we always butt heads because of the difference in taste & she always takes offence to it. At the end of the day, regardless of the fact that they are helping us (which we are totally grateful for) it is our wedding, not hers.

  42. We announced our chosen wedding date (January of 2017) today. My MIL to-be immediately said, “Well, no one’s going to come. The weather will be bad. If it’s icy out, I won’t be there.” Now my fiancé and I are both mad at her, and I’m a little hurt that she reacted that way. No one can predict the weather, and we’ve had friends whose summer weddings didn’t go as planned because of hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

    Any ideas about how to handle this? We’re not going to change it, and it’s not likely we can change her…

  43. I have another tip! Show them something (in their opinion) “worse” than your ideas 😉
    I am getting married next year and we want it to be a bit geeky.
    We want to have some Star Wars moments in our wedding. Not so much, just a few details like “I love you – I know” rings, Han&Leia cake toppers, the Death Star hanging from the ceiling etc. Things that will not cause my grandparents a heart attack, probably they will not even notice, but we will about them 😉
    His parents are excited (they love Star Wars too!), but my family (esp. mum and dad) are much more conservative. When I told them about the Star Wars idea they were thrilled and said: “NO WAY! That is dumb/stupid/weird”.
    What did we do? We showed them some 200% geeky Offbeat Weddings (which were awesome by the way! 🙂 ) with lots of SW decorations, robots at the venue, Dart Vader cupcakes, DJ Wookie, cosplay guests, brides and grooms, and lots of light saber etc. and we told them “See? They are having fun! And despite those weddings are all awesome we DO NOT WANT something like THAT. We just want some Star Wars details, like these…” (showed them our ideas).
    When they contrast those with things we want they agreed that Death Star Cufflinks could be really elegant, that light saber bouqet holder seems ok and the cake toppers are actually cute 😉
    So prepare 2 folders for your Mum – the “extreme” one and “actual” one. Show her the “extreme”, when she’s terryfied show the “actual” and she will be so relieved that she will agree with you. It worked for me 😉

  44. How do I deal with the opposite?

    My mum has been so aloof and passive aggressive throughout our engagement and the wedding planning process.
    Maybe it’s because she is so far away, (4ookms).
    But pictures of the dress have been met with ‘that’s nice,’ and a change of subject. I’m getting a custom-made dress from my favourite designer, and it’s the dress of my evil-queen dreams.
    She’s told me that my shoes are wrong, and that she thought I was showing them to her as a joke, not that I was actually going to wear them. She told me this multiple times.
    It’s sad, and probably my own fault for having unreasonable expectations, because I thought, ‘finally, I’m doing something that my mother will be invested in…’

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