Carolyn Hax: Mom goes overboard on wedding. Couple decides to cancel.


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: When my fiance and I decided to get married, we wanted to keep things very laid-back and small. That’s our style, and we’re not interested in a big wedding. It seemed as if everyone supported that, but our moms talked us into having a small celebration and inviting about 30 people total.

The initial planning seemed fine, but as we’ve progressed, somehow things have snowballed to twice the size, including all sorts of things we originally didn’t want to do, such as having attendants in matching outfits and floral arrangements and a big cake and other la-di-da stuff. I said no to a minister friend of my mom’s performing the ceremony, and she got uncharacteristically upset and rude about it.

This whole issue has caused us to take a step back and think again about what we want. We decided what we want is an intimate, meaningful ceremony, just the two of us and our two best friends.

So we’re canceling the wedding. I’m dreading telling my mom, because I think she will take the decision as a strike back at her, after the big blowup about the minister. How can I tell her without making it seem as if she is the main reason for us canceling and going back to our original plans?

Snowballed: All you can do is tell the truth as kindly as you can and as fully as you need. It is not within your power to govern how people will receive it.

Be loving and patient with your mom, and let that stand as your proof that you’re not angry at her or blaming her for anything. Again, she might not receive the information that way, at least at first, and the timing won’t help, because she probably will associate the blowup with the cancellation — but be consistent in your affection, and let that consistency speak for you.

It does sound as if you’re planning to exclude your parents from the new/old version of the wedding. That is your prerogative, and it’s also understandable, given how hard it seems the moms have pushed to get what they want out of this for themselves without regard for your and your fiance’s preferences.

However, if you can be true to your vision of “an intimate, meaningful ceremony” and include parents, then do at least consider it as one obvious way to “tell her without making it seem as if she is the main reason for us canceling and going back to our original plans.”

If you feel you can’t do that because experience says you can’t trust the moms to respect your boundaries, then so be it; that’s on them, not you, for sowing such distrust with their past behavior. But you might not regret offering them some grace.

Tell us: What’s your favorite Carolyn Hax holiday column?

Re: Wedding: I don’t think it’s unreasonable to tell your mom that the several additions to the wedding are exactly what you didn’t want in the first place!

My husband and I pushed through with our wedding, and it turned into basically a big person-pleasing ceremony. The other day I asked him, “What do you think about how our wedding turned out?” and he said, “Ugh.” My feelings exactly. Do you!

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