Don't want to be bridesmaid...mother in law wedding

threemonkeys79March 10, 2010

My mother in law is getting married. I am responsible for making the cake and my husband & 3 children are in the wedding. Then she decided she wanted me in the wedding as well. "It is a simple wedding. Spring colors, any dress style or color you want." Ok....sounds good. Now!!! Sunday night she calls and has changed her mind. She wants everyone to wear the same color & style dress that she found in a shop. She wanted the money for the dress the next day. Well I told her I did not have the money and she is waiting for me to get the money together so she can order the dress. I really don't even want to be a bridesmaid. I have so much other responsibility that day. It was one thing when it was "simple" but now I am going to end up having to pay an extra couple hundred bucks out for a dress that is ugly and I will never wear again. Oh, did I mention the wedding is about a month away. month, and she wants to order dresses and have them altered!! Is there anyway I can get out of this without causing hard feeling? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Thank you so much.

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Wow, that really is very short notice. And it is kind of strange for a grandmother on a second (or more) marriage to have a string of identically dressed bridesmaids.

But your question isn't whether she is being considerate or whether it will look silly. It was:
"Is there anyway I can get out of this without causing hard feeling?"

I think you know the answer.

The closest thing you've got to a good excuse is your comment that you have a lot of other responsibilities that way; I thought maybe you could have said something like that you felt honored enough by all that (although it's kind of hard to imagine that you'd be busy with something else during the ceremony itself). BUT ... you also said that, back when she had said to wear whatever you want, your attitude was "Ok....sounds good."

So it seems that it is really about not wanting to pay for the dress. I sympathize with the cost for a dress chosen by someone else and that you will wear only once. But that's practically the rule for being a bridesmaid, isn't it? It's considerate (and, in my opinion, more sophisticated anyway, even for a first wedding) to let the attendants wear whatever appropriate dress they want. But many brides still choose the attendants' dresses; she isn't doing anything out of line by doing it that way.

And maybe it's not even really about paying for the dress. You wrote, "I really don't even want to be a bridesmaid." If you did, would you mind the expense and trouble as much? Ask yourself if you feel the same if it were your best girlfriend's or favorite cousin's wedding.

Turning down an invitation to stand up for someone's wedding is a serious insult, especially for a close relative. It's not as if you can't make it to the wedding at all; obviously, you'll be there anyway that day. So what would your backing out say? "You and your wedding are not important enough to me to pay for a bridesmaid dress as I would do for a friend. And by the way, I hate your taste." That may not be what you'd intend it to mean, but how else could she take it?

Listen, if my mother-in-law were to remarry now and ask me to be a bridesmaid and wear a bridesmaid dress, I'd think it was perfectly ridiculous. But I'd do it and try hard not to say one word to anyone that I thought it was silly or that I disliked the dress (well, maybe I'd secretly tell my own mom or my best friend! But no one who'd blab it). I'd try to focus on the fact that she was including me as she would a daughter by asking me to be in her wedding. And just be glad I would never have to wear that dress again!

Do you think you could try to look at it that way? Because it is hard to imagine that backing out wouldn't cause lots of hard feelings, possibly forever. I am sure your husband would be very grateful if you could just be gracious and go through with it with a smile and help to make his mother's wedding day happy for her.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 2:55PM
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Oh gee!! a couple of hundred bucks for a dress for your MIL's wedding. That is some expense to make her day special. What did she do for your wedding and what has she done for you since? If she is like most grandmas, I'll bet it is more than $200 dollars worth. If what I've said rings a bell then--stop being selfish and buy the dress and smile through the ceramony.

If she is not like that. If she has never done a thing for you and your family then tell her in plain words you are not going. Then you can be responsible for the hurt you cause your husband, by hurting his mother.

You cannot do anything that won't cause hurt feelings.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Thank you all for your input. Part of my not wanting to be a bridesmaid has to do with the money of the dress and part has to do with at first it was just stand up at the wedding and now there are dress fitting and bridal showers that I am supposed to be hosting and setting up. Not to mention, I am making her wedding cake free of charge. That is an honor for me that she asked me to do that. I am a cake decorator and when she wanted me to do her cake......I was completely excited. I am making a cake to feed 250 people for her....that is a lot of time & money on my part.

As far a the at first I was like ok. It was supposed to be simple....I was going to be there anyhow...why not. Now it is a complete "first marriage" type wedding. This change came about this past Sunday. The wedding is in April.

My husband and I got married on the beach....we paid for the entire ceremony including the bridesmaid dress where his sister stood up on my side and the outfit for my brother as he stood up for my hubby. We had told the guests there was no need to be dressy but did give the mothers (mine & his) money to buy a sundress to wear since they would be given a bit more attention. They picked out their own dresses or were supposed to. His mom wore a pair of blue jean shorts and a bathing suit top to our wedding.

As far as expense to make her day special......the cost of supplies for the wedding cake are about 175.....outfits for my husband & 3 children are about 1000. This I have already shelled out. I also bought myself a dress (per her original request)that was 50. Oh and also as part of the "new" bridesmaid duties...she has decided I need to be there for the "bridal party" & nails....that I will also have to fork out for for myself and my daughter. Actually, I am not sure when she is expecting me to set up the 6 tier wedding cake that I am making if I am running around at all these other various things. Then I am also supposed to be cutting and serving the wedding cake at the reception. Oh, and she has also just asked me to be sure to take as many pictures as I can because I "always take such wonderful photos".

As far a being in a friends wedding. Yes, I was in one wedding as a bridesmaid. My best friend who is 2 months older than me and lived across the street my entire life......and now currently lives 2 houses down. I helped her plan her entire wedding.........and I would probably do it again for her. All my other friends that have asked....I have politely bowed out. This wedding has been in the planning for an entire year.......she changes it less than a month before the ceremony. I more than likely would even tell my very best friend I could not do that.

Oh, My husband could care less if I am in the wedding or not. He and his mother have a very different relationship...they are not very close. He didn't even want me to make the cake or let the children be in the wedding. It was me saying...but its her special day as to why they are in it.

I do understand what you are way to get out of it. I thank you so much. I just posted the above info to clear up some stuff. Maybe I am just freaking out now because of the time factor. I have to be sure 3 kids (ages 3, 6 & 9) are dressed and ready & where they are supposed to be......a 6 tier cake to make, decorate, set up & serve. Now I have hair appointments, dress fittings, 2 showers (that I have to plan), a bridal breakfast, nail appointments and all that added to my previous responsibilites that I did not realize were going to be a part of it. I guess it will all work out.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 4:14PM
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I can't say I've ever been in a situation such as this but I've been in many situations where I felt that I did not want to do something for very legitimate reasons (as you have stated) but I did it anyway because it was the right thing to do. And I can honsetly say that I've never for a second regretted doing the right thing. Even when others involved didn't do the right thing or didn't appreciate my efforts or whatever.

At the end of the day, I'm the one who has to live with myself after I've acted on my choices. I have also not done the right thing and I've regretted that.

So I'd say, bite the bullet. Buy the dress, participate in the wedding and know you've done the right thing. I do think that you can politely decline the make up session. You certainly have a lot on your hands without that. Explain that it's the cake or the make up. Do it in a polite way and act like you wish you could do both but unfortunately you can't.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 6:01PM
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Ah, weddings!

Wondering, though, under what circumstances in your life you decline accepting the next "responsibility" imposed by others. The layers of your volunteering in this case seem incredible to me.

Your MIL sounds like bridezilla, but you sound like a pansy.

Inasmuch as you're this far down the road not much to be done but complete what you've agreed to, but....whoa!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 10:04PM
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lowspark, you put it absolutely beautifully. I agree with every word you said, and I also think your suggestion about the makeup session is excellent.

threemonkeys, it sounds like that is what you have decided to do: the right thing, irrespective of the unreasonableness of some of the requests, your husband's relationship with her, and anything else. You were certainly a much more considerate bride; she really is acting ridiculous. But it is what it is, and you are NOT a "pansy" for going through with it. This is her wedding, not an everyday request. Your humoring her now does NOT mean you don't know how to or can't politely refuse unreasonable requests.

Good luck with getting through all this nonsense and hard work. Your husband may not be close with her or care if you are a bridesmaid, but I am sure he would care if there is unhappiness and drama in his family. You are setting a wonderful example for your children. I know you will always be glad you did it this way.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 11:40PM
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I agree with Gelchom; you have a very difficult situation and too many demands on your time. I would go forward with being a bridesmaid, but I would forget about the makeup session and I wouldn't plan one shower, much less two. This is not your MIL's first marriage, I assume, yet she is treating it as if it were. Surely she has other family members or friends that can step up to the plate or tell her that her request is unreasonable.

I would guess she is asking you to do so many things because she sees you as someone she can depend on, who will be there for her. Perhaps that is a rarity in her life. I would do this, not so much for your MIL as for your children and the message you are sending to them about what it means to be a family.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 9:11AM
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I'm going to run against the tide here. This lady is your relative by marriage, you should be able to have an honest relationship with her. Tell her how you feel, but nicely. You have several great reasons why you don't need to do this. The expense is unreasonable for you in this edconomy and the cake doesn't magically appear. You need to transport it and set it up while the bridal party is posing for photos, etc.

When we act against our own strong feelings, it almost never turns out well. Go with your gut feeling. You have the right to say "no thanks".

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 2:00PM
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I'm with Scarlett. You might as well be playing the piano and walking her down the aisle with everything else you're doing.

Speak up. Nicely. And best of luck!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 8:43PM
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Actually, I think most of us are saying pretty much the same thing: go along with it to the extent of being a bridesmaid, including the dress, but bow out of makeup sessions, nails, etc., etc. and anything on the morning of the wedding, when she has to deal with the cake. I am very surprised there are showers for this wedding; perhaps they will get nixed. But if they do happen, if she wants to avoid insult, she should just go along with those, too -- but just to the extent of attending and perhaps taking on a small task of planning; she can graciously decline to be the main planner, as she has a lot on her plate already.

In her place, I would just say that I am afraid I have too many tasks to do a good job planning showers, too, but I would be happy to attend and to give a little help to whoever does organize them.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:25PM
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I don't see how she can be a bridesmaid and get three kids ready, deliver the cake and set it up, guard it from those who just have to stick a finger in it and make sure the knife, server, napkins and plates are all ready, unless she clones herself. And if she's a bridesmaid, she pretty much has to do the hair and nail thing plus pose for a lot of photos with the rest of the bridal party. Why not let the bride choose, does she want the OP to do the cake or be a bridesmaid? Anybody in her right mind will say do the cake.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 12:36AM
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Key words:

" ... Anybody in her right mind ..."

We are talking about a woman who is a few weeks from her wedding, presumably at least her second, and anyway old enough to have several grandchildren, but wants dressed-up bridesmaids, showers, etc.

I certainly agree that the OP would be completely, completely reasonable to say that it is too much to be a bridesmaid with all the rest of the stuff she is doing, and her MIL should make a choice.

But being perfectly reasonable in our opinions (or even by some objective standard) is irrelevant.

If her MIL is going to feel dissed if the OP refuses, it won't be much comfort to sit and tell herself, "But I was reasonable!"

It's just one of those things where it doesn't matter who is right. An extreme example of "bride's day, bride's way," but like most things involved with a wedding, fair or not, reasonable or not, it is going to work better for all concerned if she just does the best she can to do it the way her MIL wants. Bowing out of salon appointments is fine, especially because she has to deal with the cake at the same time; that's not the insult that bowing out of being an attendant would be.

Too bad her husband's wrists are both broken, otherwise he could get his 3 boys ready. :-)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 4:43PM
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If her MIL is going to feel dissed if the OP refuses, it won't be much comfort to sit and tell herself, "But I was reasonable!"

Exactly. No matter how justified the OP is in saying no to all of this, in the end it's still the right thing to do. She CAN walk down the aisle and stand up during the wedding AND do the cake. After all, doing the cake does not preclude her from attending the ceremony whether she is an active participant or a seated guest.

Regardless of whether she is a bridesmaid or not, she has to:

- do the cake
- get the kids dressed and ready
- get herself dressed and ready, hair and make up
- attend the ceremony

So being a bridesmaid doesn't actually take up more time. Admittedly it's more stressful, and she does have to be occupied during the ceremony so there's little "down time". But again, that's a sacrifice that in this case IMO is the right thing to do.

Now, what she does NOT have to do is attend the make up session, throw a shower, etc. And I whole heartedly agree with gellchom regarding the husband helping out. It doesn't matter if he cares if she does all this stuff or not. She is doing it and he needs to help. Even if the wedding weren't his mother's, he would still need to help. I'm guessing he already recognizes that because someone has to be dealing with the kids while the cake is being set up, right?

And of course we all agree that the MIL/bride is being unreasonable. IMO, that's almost irrelevent. When the day is over, you want to feel good about what YOU did no matter how unreasonable the whole thing is.

I don't think it makes you a pansy and I don't think it sets up precedents. In fact, it's probably going to help you set limits in the future. Now that you know she has a possible propensity to escalate things, next time she asks you for a favor, when you accept, set the limits right then and there. And if she tries to push, hold your ground. After all, going above and beyond for a wedding is is something we do because it's special and unique. In the future, declining things or setting limits won't have the same impact they do for a wedding.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 10:48AM
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Explain that you cannot do the cake (baking and assembling and serving) and be an attendant to and so are bowing out of being the bridesmaid. That is more than she did for you and should be enough.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 3:02PM
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You've already obligated yourself. "Why?" doesn't matter, now. Do it with a smile. You won't die.

However, IMHO you've made an error. Brides, especially, can get nuts. They sometimes lose perspective about what they're asking. You made a mistake be agreeing to everything. Recommend not allowing yourself to be imposed upon to this degree ever again. In particular, beware of this woman.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 8:49PM
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Weddings are stressful, but you should look at it this way: Your in-laws must love you. I have a very little relationship with my in-laws and would be happy to be invited to a family dinner once in a while. This day is very special to her, no matter how many times she's been married. I say do what she asks, but do set limits with her in the future. Weddings are different. They only happen once (or twice...) in a lifetime. And yes, get your husband to get the kids ready. You are a need to tend to the bride. Have someone else serve the can delegate too. You have that right as a bridesmaid...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 11:16PM
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Thank you all for all the advice and opinions. I have ordered the dress and I am going through with it. I did try to talk to the bride. I declined the nail, hair, makeup appointments on the reason that I will just not have time that day to attend them. She is now very angry with me because I am not "cooperating" with what she wants for her "special" day. My hair & makeup will not match the other bridesmaids or hers. Oh well, life moves on. I got the matching dress and I have a hairdresser friend who is coming to my house to do my hair & makeup(this helps me with time because I don't have to go anyplace). I am not the cake server, just the cake maker & set up. Yes, I will be attending the wedding anyhow....the reason I originally agreed....I would be there anyhow..why not stand up for her. It got way more complicated after that point. My husband will be helping me. He has to get ready for the wedding as well and has his own list of "chores" he is supposed to be getting done the day of the wedding. He will be getting the boys ready....we have 2. I will be responsible for our daughter. Not sure where the communication in the thread came from that said i had 3 boys....i may have typed something incorrectly. Bride is also upset that I am not allowing my daughter to attend the nail, hair, makeup sessions too. She is 8 years old and is supposed to be a jr. bridesmaid but IMO she does not need nails & makeup done. My friend is doing her hair when she does mine. I really am trying to make this all work. I have a very tight schedule that day. It keeps getting worse....yesterday the bride tells me she wants everyone at the wedding site at 2 is at 5. I just came right out and said....that is pretty much impossible for me with everything else but I will have your cake done and ready for the reception and myself & the children will be there and ready to walk down the aisle when its our turn. I know how hectic weddings can be.....I deal with brides all the time. I am a cake decorator. In the months of May & June, I make as many as 5 wedding cake per week to be set up and delivered. I can deal with busy & stress. NEVER, have i ever had a bride behave as this one has. Lesson learned i suppose. Someone posted something about my in laws loving me or trusting me. I'm not all that sure that its that but more that there is no one else for her to turn to, to get things done. She has burned a lot of bridges over time. & I am apparently glutton for punishment. haha Also, I did decline to host the wedding showers and bride is very upset because no one else did them so they had not a single wedding shower. I offered to help if anyone else wanted to plan them but no one did. Again, thank you all so much for your help!! Ill post back later and let everyone know how everything ended up going. Date is April 17th. We shall see....I will put my very best effort forth...that is all I can do. :-)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:31AM
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threemonkeys, I'm exhausted just reading all you have to do!

You drew all the lines in exactly the right places, IMHO. You did your best to accommodate her desires, but they would have gone on forever, so there's no use second-guessing yourself about the few trivial things you declined to do.

I think you are doing an INCREDIBLE job. She sounds very childish and selfish, even making allowances for "bride brain," if you know what I mean. I'm not surprised that she has burned many bridges. I am sure that the whole family is very grateful to you for humoring her and helping as much as you do.

Soon it will all be behind you, and when it is, I hope you will get yourself a BIG TREAT -- something just for you, maybe not even big, but something that you want but felt might be an indulgence.

My mom taught me that trick: if you promise yourself a specific reward afterward, it makes it a lot easier to face a challenging situation. I also find that when I am going to have to deal with someone irritating like that, I (secretly!) play a game with myself: I estimate the number of times he/she/they will do/say the wince-inducing thing, and then when the time comes, I keep track (secretly!) so that at least on one, trivial level, I am actually pleased when it happens. I know, it's silly, but it helps get me through without wincing. You can give yourself a prize, too, if you guess exactly.

Good luck to you! We'll be thinking of you.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 12:03PM
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I recommend you conscientiously construct your own new personal boundaries for this monster. Apparently she's showing you her worst self right now....but all that stuff is in there and always will be. What a self-centered ding-bat you've described!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 8:04PM
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Well, it's tough. I don't want anybody force me to do something. I'm sorry late for this answer.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 4:51AM
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It sounds like she's asking the impossible of you and just doesn't realize it.

Have you ever tried asking HER to plan your day?
You block out the time you need for other assignments, tell her how many hours you need when to do her cake stuff on the day of -- then hand your day to her to plan, kids and all. See if she can find a way to get it done...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 1:35PM
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"I did decline to host the wedding showers and bride is very upset because no one else did them so they had not a single wedding shower"

Showers are not mandatory, your mother-in-law seems to have reverted to her 20's and wants all the bells and whistles of a first time new bride.

I think you did the right thing in asserting what you would do and not do.
Hopefully the bride will simmer down and enjoy her special day !!!

Do let us know the outcome later this month, all the best of luck to you and your family, including the bride !!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:31AM
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So how was the wedding?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:04PM
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