Ask the Wedding Maven: The Solution for Family Drama

by Marta
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Dear Wedding Maven,

I have two aunts on my mother's side of the family. Her younger sister and I have always been close (we are only 15 years apart), because she and my mother were close for most of my childhood. Since they have had a falling out, my mom gets annoyed that we still talk.

On the other hand, her older sister has not been around much until my grandmother died this December.

Since I got engaged in January, the older aunt has been in my face about my wedding plans. She wants me to use her friends for photography/videography. Every time I see or talk to her via Facebook or phone she brings them up. I recently visited her with my mom and she made me sit and watch a video of their work (it was not good). She is also pushing us to let her husband do our music for the reception. First she tried to get us to do karaoke, which neither of us would enjoy and now she wants him to DJ. We have never heard him perform, though he apparently does it on the weekends. My mom gets annoyed when I complain that I don't want to use their people or my uncle for the music. They want to make it their wedding gift, but he can be highly inappropriate and we have never heard him at work. How do I pass without offending anyone?

Though she sympathizes with her older sister, my mom gets annoyed when her younger sister makes suggestions. I appreciate this sister's help because I know her and have always been close with her. Plus, her suggestions are just that while the other sister's seem like demands. I don't want to make my mom upset, but until maybe a week ago, when she got annoyed at her younger sister's involvement in the planning, my mom didn't bother with my wedding or even act excited. What should I do?

I do have one more issue with my aunts. I would love for my one aunt to do a reading at my ceremony, but the other aunt seems to believe if the younger sister does one, she gets to do one. My mom's younger sister Facebooked me and asked what she was going to do in the wedding. My other aunt pointed it out and said she believed her sister thought she would be in the wedding party. I told her no, but maybe I would let her do a reading and she responded that she would be okay with doing a reading. It wasn't an invitation! I don't know what to do. It is not that I don't want to include the older sister, but there are only two readings and we have been trying to balance his family versus mine (all our siblings, my cousin flower girl, his cousin ring bearer, etc). So if my aunt does a reading, we would rather someone from his family do a reading.

Seriously Stressed Niece

Dear Niece
Let me point out the obvious. Your grandmother just died three months ago. Don’t you think it’s possible that your mother’s lack of interest in your wedding plans, and lack of desire to hear you complain about her sister, or get involved in your drama might be because she’s still dealing with her grief? She’s had a falling out with one sister and just lost her mother. She probably isn’t that interested in fighting with her other sister, or her daughter and she may not have the energy to help plan or even discuss a joyful event, especially one that may cause her to miss her mother even more.

Your grandmother’s death may also be what’s behind your oldest aunt’s newly found desire to have an input in your life, and the fight between your mom and her younger sister.

Now, none of this means that you’re under any obligation to hire your aunt’s friends or her husband, or to let her do a reading. This will all go much easier if you do one simple thing: quit talking about your wedding!

Don’t talk about it on Facebook. Seriously, unless you’re inviting all of your Facebook friends to your wedding, you are just asking for trouble and hurt feelings. That’s why there’s Wedding Pre Party. It’s a private social network so that you can limit discussions and input to the people you want involved.

Don’t publicly hand out honors and roles, and don’t solicit opinions unless you really want them. If you want to ask your younger aunt to do a reading, go right ahead. But do it privately. If your older aunt asks what her reading is, tell her that you’ve chosen to have “Aunt Ginny” represent your mother’s side of the family during the service.

If your older aunt brings up her photographer friend again simply tell her directly “Thanks very much for showing me their work, and for your advice, but we’ve chosen to go with someone else.” The same goes for her husband as DJ. Simply say, “It’s so generous of Uncle Bob to offer, but we’ve chosen to go in a different direction. We’ve hired someone else.” (Although, I would advise at least listening to a demo tape, or going to see her husband perform, for all you know he may actually be great at this).

If she keeps bringing it up, you should say nicely but firmly, “Aunt Beth, I understand that you wish we had done something else, but this is what we did. I’d like it if we didn’t discuss this anymore. OK?”

I know this may be difficult to hear, but your wedding isn’t actually the most important event in your family right now. Your grandmother’s death is. Try spending a little less time thinking about your wedding, and a little more thinking about your mother and how she and her sisters are coping, and you may find that some of these problems resolve themselves.

Good luck.

Do you need wedding advice? Do you have a question about wedding traditions, etiquette or relationships? Write The Wedding Maven at weddingmaven@onewed.com.

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