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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Ask Mary: My fiancee's mother has taken over our wedding plans

Published 07/10/2012 | 06:00

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We are due to get married at Christmas, but my fiancee's mother has taken over the planning -- from the guests to the food. How can I make sure I have a say on my big day?

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My fiancee's mother is taking over our wedding planning and I am fuming about it. We're getting married over Christmas, but the stress of the situation is zapping any enjoyment from it. My fiancee has always been too under 'mammy's thumb'. She consults her mother on everything, even though she's 30 years old.

Thanks to her mum, the guest list has ballooned, and we've had to ditch some of our friends to make way for aunts and uncles that I couldn't pick out of a line-up.

We wanted to shake up the ceremony a bit, too, and add our own touches -- simple things such as music choices, readings, and compositions by friends -- but no, mammy doesn't think it's the right tone for her daughter's big day.

I got into a row with her and my fiancee over the menu options the other day.

I argued that the food should reflect our tastes, but again I was on the losing side.

Of course, my concerns aren't really entertained.

The attitude seems to be, 'Sure, isn't he only the groom?' The latest one is the best yet.

The mother seems to have convinced my fiancee that, rather than her take my name after marriage, we should instead adopt a double-barrel name comprising her and my surnames.

Apparently, this is a trend that mammy read about in a magazine.

I think it sounds ridiculous, and I'm mortified at the thought of having to explain that one to people.

Maybe I'm being irrational. I'm just worried about how this bodes for the future.

What can I do to get my voice heard without ruining the woman I love's wedding day? Paul

Mary's view:

'Remember, you are not just marrying the woman you love -- you are marrying her family as well'

Let's get our priorities right first in this question/answer. You and your fiancee's mother deeply love the same woman and that is a great start to solving any dilemma.

Your fiancee is 30, a sensible age and her mother is tending to lay down the law about your forthcoming wedding at Christmas.

You haven't stated it, but are the expenses for this wedding shared or is it all coming from your fiancee's side? I don't know but that should not cloud my advice to you.

Firstly, the bride and her family are entitled to have her aunts and uncles to the wedding.

You may not know them but they are part of her family and, in time, you would know them anyway so I think that disposes of that question.

If they want to invite these far-off relations, they are fully entitled to do so.

If it means that you have to take off some of your guests, how about supplementing the wedding budget?

Remember, you are not just marrying your fiancee, you are marrying her family as well -- in the same way as she is also marrying you and taking on your family.

Now to the wedding music, readings and compositions. I feel that you have planned terrific musical choices and readings which mean much to you and your fiancee and my advice to you is to push with that and to insist that that's what you want on your wedding day.

Now we come to the menu options and here I feel I must be firm with you. You want the food to reflect your tastes, but your fiancee's mother isn't keen on this idea.

I don't know what your food tastes are, but surely any wedding venue should be able to reflect both the traditional and the novel ideas in food and I'm sure if the two of you approach the manager/chef, they will be able to encompass that.

Remember, the food should suit the guests as well and there is no point in having way-out exotic dishes if they don't reflect the tastes of your guests either (that is even leaving out Mammy's tastes as well).

Now we come to your beef, which I think is legitimate. It appears your future mother-in-law is trying to influence her daughter to keep her name and add on your name.

I am at one with you on this. I think double-barrelled names are pretentious, silly and outdated. Perhaps if you were marrying into the peerage or something like that, it may be necessary, but not if you are an everyday couple just getting hooked up together.

Many women now keep their original name for work purposes or other purposes, but legally your fiancee will be taking your name and my advice is that she would either stay with the name she has, legally adopt your name but do not take on the double-barrelled bit.

It's just plain silly.

Paul, loosen up a bit, Christmas is coming, you are marrying the woman you love, you are going to set up your life together and gradually you will find your new bride will become absorbed in her new life.

Of course she will always love her 'Mammy', but she will love you first and, in time, that's how the balance of life works out. If you are lucky enough to have a family, well then Mammy will really come into her own and the two of you will be so glad to have her.

As a final piece of advice, tell your fiancee how you feel about the whole matter.

I bet she will understand and life will be calmer.

What the readers say

You must start putting your foot down. It’s you that’s getting married, not your future mother-in-law! If you let her have her way now, you may find she ends up interfering in every aspect of your lives — from your choice of sofa to your children’s names.

And from what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound like your fiancee will ever tell her to stop interfering, so you really do need to tackle this now.

I suggest you sit down with her — and your fiancee — and lay down some ground rules before it’s too late. You need to regain control and start your married life as you mean to go on. Jennifer, Co Clare

I may be old-fashioned but I think wedding planning is best left to the women.

They seem to enjoy the preparation almost as much as the day itself, so why not leave them to it? It’s a time of great tension and you don’t want to add to the pressure on your fiancee by falling out with her mammy.

And you’ll only be making your own life more difficult in the future if you argue with your fiancee’s mum — no man wants a mother-inlaw who doesn’t like them. After all, it’s just one day in what will hopefully be a long and happy marriage. Sit back and go with the flow. Michael, Co Cork

I think you really need to talk to your fiancee about this — it’s high time she grew up and stopped being under her mammy’s thumb.

If I were you, I would remind her that it’s you she’s marrying, not her mother, and that you have every right to be involved with the wedding planning.

We’re not living in the dark ages — these days men are just as interested in things like fashion, flowers and food as women are.

There are always compromises to be made when planning a wedding, but they should be between you and your fiancee. Tell your fiancee to speak to her mammy, or you will. Craig, Co Kerry

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