Broke-Ass Tag: family problems


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Break’s Over. Oy:

Photo by Up Imagery

Hi Liz,

I’m in need of some advice! I’m getting married next year and butting heads with my parents a bit on the guest list. One of my major concerns is my mom’s brother. Although he is an alcoholic and has sent time in rehab in the past, he still will drink at family parties from time to time and everyone looks the other way (which I’ve always disagreed with). I don’t have a relationship with him- due to him being in and out of rehab stints through most of my childhood and teen years- and would prefer he not be invited, but my mom was very offended when I suggested that he be left off of the guest list. Knowing that not inviting him is not an option, do you have any suggestions about how I could best handle this? My mom said that she would keep an eye on him throughout the night, but I don’t want her worrying about that and not enjoying the day. Do you have any suggestions on how to best handle this?


Hard to Say “Uncle”

Dear Hard,

If your mother is insisting that he comes, and you feel that there is no other alternative, then accept that she will be in charge of him. She’s not going to have a good time if he’s not there, and she’s fine with being responsible for him if he is. This is what she wants, so agree with her and keep moving. It’ll be okay. Or, at the very least, it will be an interesting story.

Uh-oh, looks like he’s about to blow…

Dear Liz:

My fiance and I are trying to figure out what to do about kids at the wedding.  At first, we agreed that the wedding and reception would be adults only but then we learned that my sister is expecting (!) and is due about 4 months before our wedding. We obviously want the baby at the wedding and, thought about making an exception to our “no kids” rule to allow for the baby but we’re concerned about the number of our guests with children feeling a bit slighted.  So, our new thought is to allow children to attend the wedding and then provide on site child care (with kids activities, movies, and kid friendly food) for the adult reception. We’re getting married at a very casual spot which gives us free reign of the entire property so we have areas that we can use as a “kids care” area and have spoken with a few nannies who would be available & up to the task (there will probably be about 8 kids).

My questions are more about logistics – first, is it OK if we let the kids come to cocktail hour and then go to the babysitters for the reception? My fiance likes this option (because our cocktail hour has lawn games and other fun things) but I’m concerned that the kids, once seeing the party, will be hard to get to leave the party and I’d like to avoid crying/tantrums. What do you see typically being done? Second, I’m having nightmares that a child will cry (or somehow be distracting) during our vows and that the parent won’t take them away from the ceremony.  Is this something I should not worry about – have you noticed that parents tend to take their crier outside or should I somehow politely remind people to take their child away if they begin to cry (if the latter – how to do that politely??).  Lastly, I’m concerned one couple won’t bring their child (who will be 8, so no where near “adult” in my mind) to the babysitter because they’ve flat out ignored “adult only” reception requests for other weddings.  How do we get everyone to use the service?

Ugh – I have to say, saying “no kids” was SO much easier!!


Rug Rat Regret

Dear Regret,

Don’t drive yourself nuts. I don’t think you have to invite everyone’s children if your sister can’t leave hers at home. She’s your sister, and the baby is family. You don’t have to spend all the extra time and money trying to accommodate everyone else, and have the kind of wedding you didn’t want in the first place.

BUT. If you do decide to provide childcare, make sure that the parents know that it’s available, and when. Usually, it’s either right after the ceremony or starting with the reception, and you should have the nannies round the kids up, so they know which child belongs to who, and they can talk to the parents personally. Make sure that the area that they are going to is accessible to the reception, because at some point, someone is going to need their Mommy, and vice versa!

P.S. Parents, if they are at all self-aware, will sit at the back or on the side, where they can exit quickly if their child starts crying. As with most matters of etiquette,however,  if they won’t do it automatically, they won’t do it if prompted. You can try, though – put it in the program.

Do you have a relative whose presence at your wedding is going to make you cringe? How are you managing the kids at your wedding? Let me know below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

  • 3/17

    To Momzilla, With Love

    Ohhh, boy. Weddings make families do the wacky. You might have noticed.

    Dana forwarded me an email last week from a reader, we’ll call her Rachel, who is having problems with her future mother-in-law, who we will call Mrs. Blue. Now, Rachel loves Mrs. Blue, and I want to get that clear. Mrs. Blue has always been kind and generous, loving and supportive … and then the wedding planning started. Rachel initially wanted to elope, but her fiance wants a family wedding, and so they agreed on a small backyard wedding for 50 guests. Which grew to 75 once Mrs. Blue was consulted. And has now ended up as a 150 guest event that’s not going to be in anyone’s backyard. Rachel and her fiance told her they were paying for the wedding themselves, but accepted Mrs. Blue’s offer to contribute a small percentage. Now, since Mrs. Blue has a financial stake in the wedding, she’s seen it as permission to have opinions on everything from the flowers to the invites to the catering, and she gets very upset when her suggestions aren’t taken. Rachel no longer recognizes her own wedding, and is afraid that it’s turning into more of a “production” than the fun, intimate gathering she wanted. Mrs. Blue has become the Bridezilla in this wedding, Rachel says. Well, Rachel, better her than you.

    No, it’s not funny, especially when you’re in the trenches dealing with it. But it is pretty universal. There are a ton of you nodding your heads while you’re reading this, muttering, “Oh, my God, that’s his/my mother/stepmother/future mother-in law/father”, what the hell do I do? Do I have to go ballistic on them in order to get this to stop?”

    God, no. Fighting a lack of perspective with a lack of perspective never works. Deep breath … and listen. Weddings? Make families do the wacky. Believe it or not, most, if not all, of your family want this to be a wonderful day for you. And they all have different ideas about what “wonderful” looks like. I see this every day with my couples. They’ll show up with a parent or two, who are used to guiding the way, and when they try to do that, the bride and groom feel overwhelmed by their input. And they either don’t say anything, and decisions are made that they’re not happy with, or a fight starts (“You ALWAYS do this! What about what I want?”) which causes hurt feelings on both sides, and creates a decidedly non-wonderful atmosphere. And I see some of you nodding your heads, again.

    What to do, what to do? Well, I’m not going to tell you to not take money from your parents, because a lot of times that’s unavoidable if you’re trying to have the wedding you actually want. And, I’m not so much of a Pollyanna that I’m going to suggest that you keep repeating, “ItcomesfromloveitcomesfromloveITCOMESFROMLOVE!!!” over over and over in your head, either, while your Grandmother is insisting on bedazzled tablecloth overlays. We all know that isn’t going to work, right? We need strategies, for them and for you.

    Okay. First thing: Zoning. Decide, right now, what you’re okay with them having input into. Is it the number of guests, for whatever reason? Is it the food, for whatever reason? What is least important to you? For instance, one of my brides doesn’t really care about the cake (I know), so her fiance and her Mom are taking care of it. Ask for Momzilla’s help with that stuff, and thank her for it, because it is a load off your mind.

    Second thing: Limit their involvement, so that they’re not in on the final decision, or even at the first meeting. They can’t drive you crazy if they’re not there. If they ask to see to whatever you picked, show it to them, tell them how happy you are with your choice, and move on.

    Third of all: Do not get into it with them, especially in public. If you start to feel increasingly frustrated, and you know that you’re going sound like a 5-year-old who needs her nap, bail. Whatever it is doesn’t need to be decided today. Everyone has seen what’s available, walk away and go back to Step #2. Because we both know that the parental units are not going to change. Walk away and live to not fight another day.

    Fourth thing: If you can’t do the third thing, do what I do when I see this stuff happening — remember that it’s not that they’re not listening, they just can’t hear you. “Andrea, what do you think?” I ask her, so she can be heard. What DO you think? Do you like/not like such and such? Say it. Say why. No petulance necessary. It’s your wedding. If they come back with a rebuttal, repeat that you really don’t like it, that you prefer this other thing over here with less stuff, that you really don’t want this big whosit at your wedding. Emphasize that’s it’s not personal. Seriously, Andrea, what do you think?

    But, say you’re already where Rachel is — sad about the demise of your wedding, at the end of your rope with the person who killed it, and not looking forward to this day that is the exact opposite of what you hoped and dreamed it would be. Sucks. Rachel feels like her intimate wedding, surrounded by the people that are important to the both of them, is gone. No, it’s still there — you just got to go after it. Right now, you can think of five people who are going to be at your wedding that you can’t wait to see. Everyone you love is still there, and they can’t wait to spend time with you and celebrate your love. Create a space for that. Visit their tables, hang out, drag them to the couch in the lobby to talk, drag them to the floor to dance. It’s still all there for you. Go get it.

    But do what you can to not get to this point. Figure out what you need to change to get closer to the dream, and change it. Tweak the cake, tweak the flowers, switch the gold-plated flatware. And then dance all night.

    So, what exactly was it that made you nod your head in recognition? Got any Momzilla stories of your own or combat strategies? Share the woe in the comments.

    See you at the end of the aisle,