Friction with the Folks

My Mom and I, thankfully, have a wonderful relationship. She’s been nothing but a constant source of unconditional love, support, and optimism my entire life. Here’s a photo of us on my high-school graduation day.

She is a very liberal-minded woman, so I really didn’t have much to rebel against as a teenager, and never once did she ever put any pressure on me to get married and start a family- quite the opposite in fact.

So when I told her I was engaged, I wasn’t sure how she would react. I knew how she felt about re-marrying for herself (my Dad and her divorced when I was 18) and how she loves being common-law with my step-Dad, but I didn’t know how she would feel about me marrying, and marrying a woman at that. Luckily, she was ecstatic when she heard the news.

Soon after, however, I realized we had very different visions for the wedding. But not in the way you might think, after hearing horror stories of Mom-zillas “taking over” the wedding plans, inflating the guest list to include her bridge partners and second cousins, and diverting money in the budget for her own attire. Au contraire.

Being raised in a poor Irish Catholic family, she has a solid frugal streak (something she passed onto me) and feels uncomfortable at ultra-formal events and in surroundings that are too fancy. Since our original idea was a casual affair in a public park with a potluck picnic, she was totally behind it. When our plans evolved to include a unique, waterfront banquet space, with a catered dinner and a DJ and dance evening, she started to suggest we elope.

I thought it was funny at first, Mom joking about elopement, but over time and after several mentions it dawned on me that she was serious. When I brought it up with her, what came to light was that she had a romanticized idea of eloping in her mind, since she thought it was so daring, exciting, and fun. I, on the other hand, see eloping as sneaky; a last resort when your family doesn’t support your marriage.

Either way, we weren’t seeing eye to eye. This is my first (and last) wedding, and I want it to be something special. I want it to reflect the kind of people my fiance and I are, and we envision a beautiful, unique, semi-formal event. I kept explaining our vision until she realized that it was what we truly wanted.

“But how will you afford it?” she worried. Point by point I outlined our budget plans, saving, income sources, and how we are going to manage the debt afterwards.

The next area of disagreement was the number of guests. Despite being divorced since 1996, this was one area both my Mother and Father agreed on. They wanted us to keep it small- 30 people seemed the magic number to them.

“Do you really have to invite all the ‘rellies on your Mother’s side?” my Father asked. “There’s so many of them.”

I hoped when I explained that our wedding party and their dates plus our immediate family is 30 people, they would understand why our guestlist is currently at 75.

Fortunately, as many modern couples take comfort in, when you are footing most of the bills yourself, you get more say in having things your way. Ultimately over the last few months my parents have realized that my fiance and I are planning our wedding in the style we want, and they just have to show up and enjoy the party.

Sorry Dad, I am inviting all my Aunts and Uncles. Sorry to disappoint you Mom, but we’re not eloping.

How have you and your parents clashed over the wedding plans?


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