When it comes time to plan your wedding every friend and family member will feel compelled to share their ideas. Some you’ll like, some you won’t, and that’s fine. But it’s a completely different story once your mother-in-law gets involved.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a mother-in-law that you know well and love. Or you might just be getting to know her for the first time. No matter where your relationship is already at by the time you start planning, she’ll probably have a lot of advice on how to best plan your special day. No doubt she means well, but as many have experienced while planning their own wedding with their mother-in-law, your spouse’s well-intentioned mother could quickly turn into a monster-in-law.
Here are a few tips on how to best manage a difficult mother-in-law and keep the peace.
If things are already bad, or before it gets there, remind yourself to stay patient. A lot of people don’t share the same vision as their mother-in-law. She might have some pretty crazy ideas as far as the details go, from the reception hall to the guest list or even your dress. No matter what opinion she shares with you, remain patient, stay calm, do not freak out! While most people are quite forgiving of a stressed out bride, she might not be so forgetful. The last thing you will want to do is upset her over something little and have to face a grudge down the line. So just remember to breathe.
Keep an Open Mind
Your mother-in-law might have a lot of her own ideas on how to best plan your wedding. She might offer her opinion on the flowers, the bridesmaids dresses, the dinner, or even the table cloths. Chances are, she’s not trying to be a pain or argue for the sake of creating problems; she most likely just wants to be helpful. If your mother-in-law has a lot of ideas, you should take some of them into consideration, at least for the aspects of your wedding you aren’t already decided on.
When she does share her opinions, remain positive and tell her you’ll take it into consideration. If you end up going with a different option and she wants to know why, keep it simple. Let her know that you and your fiance have decided together and you appreciate her support. In the end, it’s okay to disagree. Just remember to do so peacefully.
Let Her In
Chances are your mother-in-law really just wants to help, so let her. Let her in to help you in whatever way you’re comfortable with. In doing so, you will be able to have the upper hand. You can invite her to help with the things you are more open to rather than having her try to take over anything she can. For example, you can let her come to the cake tasting or help out with any little DIY projects that need to get done. By taking the first step, you can more easily pick and choose which parts of the wedding planning you accept her input on, and keep her out of the more touchy subjects.
Of course, many mother-in-laws will want to get more involved. She might want the bride wear her wedding dress, or have her entire social circle invited to the wedding. When these issues arise, you have to create clear boundaries. If you already have a dress picked out, or are firm on the guest list, let her know upfront. Don’t try to sugarcoat things or keep her in the dark. That’s just a recipe for disaster. For the things you are 100 percent decided on, tell her so.
Even if you’re completely open with her, your mother-in-law might still end up crossing a line. She might end up calling too often or stopping by unexpectedly. If this happens, again, you need to set clear boundaries. The best way to handle a situation like this is to be politely honest with her. If you’re not that close, or are just getting to know her, it’s okay to recruit help from your fiance, but so do delicately. You don’t want to drag him or her into the middle of something bad.
Stand Your Ground
Every now and then there will be something that comes up that your mother-in-law is totally against. Or, she might insist on something that you are totally against. This is a day for your and your future spouse. It’s your wedding, not hers. But it’s also her day, too, in a different way. It’s the start of her child’s future and as his mother, it’s important to her, too.
However, it’s still your wedding and your decisions come first. And if you don’t want to do something she insists on, you have the right to stand your ground. Just remember to pick your battles.
Communication is Key
Planning a wedding can be a stressful time for all involved. When tension runs high, people say things they don’t mean and feelings can get hurt. The best way to handle this sensitive time is to keep open and constant communication. You’ll want to ensure that all voices are heard, understood, and appreciated.
Just as a reminder, people can easily misinterpret text messages and emails. So anything serious that you want to communicate should be done either in person or over the phone.
It Takes Time
All relationships take time. Your relationship with your mother-in-law might already be strong and happy, or you might just be getting to know her. Either way, planning a wedding is a big affair and can really test your relationship, whether it’s new or old. It takes time to build a lasting relationship, and it takes time to repair one. But hopefully, by the time you’re ready to walk down the aisle, you’ll be on good ground and it will all be worth it.