Mother-in-law acting like another Bridezilla

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, May 31, 2014

Column: The Nice Advice, by Leah Albert

Question: I’ve been dating my fiancé for four years. The wedding is six months away and my mother-in-law insists on taking control of all the details. How do I get what I want without making her feel bad?

Leah Albert

Leah Albert

Engaged in a battle?

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Dear Engaged,

Ah, the classic tale of mother/mother-in-law taking over. It starts with a suggestion on flowers and ends with a replica of her 1970s wedding down to the unforgettable peach puffed sleeves on the bridesmaid’s dresses.

I understand your hesitancy on approaching this topic with her. Approach it too timidly and she might not get the hint. However, approach too sternly and you’ve now made an enemy of the woman who, after you, probably has the most sway on your soon-to-be husband. This is definitely a slippery slope and should be approached with caution.

My suggestion is to invite her to coffee or lunch on the premise of discussing the wedding. Once together, tell her that while you appreciate her ideas and suggestions, you would really like the wedding to be a reflection of the love you share with her son.

Keep in mind that this woman will be around for the rest of your life, so make sure to approach it delicately. Start off by complimenting her ideas. You could say something like “That’s a great idea and I will definitely consider it when making the final decision.”

Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time for her to get the hint. It’s obvious she really enjoys the process and she might be willing to take charge of a less-than-desirable detail, such as helping to send out the invitations. She may also have a knack for design and would be excited to be in charge of the centerpieces for the tables. You never know until you ask!

By the way, this will be something to keep in mind for your relationship with her in the future.

Half of the joy of a wedding is in the planning. Many girls dream about their wedding day from an early age. However, we don’t dream of doing it all alone. Including your friends and family makes the day that much more special. You could and should choose to include her as much as possible.

When going cake shopping, ask her what flavors she likes. Have an envelope stuffing party at your house for the invitations complete with cocktails and appetizers with your bridesmaids and your mother-in-law. Make a day trip out of going bridesmaid dress shopping with her by having a lunch date beforehand where you discuss what your ideas for the dress are and get her input.

Even though you and your fiancé have the final say, you can still listen to her opinion, showing her that you care about what she thinks.

If she doesn’t have a daughter or isn’t close with her daughter, she might want that kind of relationship with you. This is a good thing. It means she cares deeply for you and wants to be involved in the planning. Try to keep that in mind when you become frustrated at her seemingly controlling attitude.

She’s not trying to take over your wedding. After all, she isn’t the one getting married. But she is an important part of your life together.

She is the one who helped shape your husband in to the man he is today. This is something to be acknowledged and honored. I am sure you two will find a way to honor all of your loved ones on your wedding day.

The best weddings are those that recognize the role family and loved ones play in the success of the relationship. I’m sure it will be a lovely day. Best of luck to you all in this new adventure!

Leah Albert is a fictitious advice columnist. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at