Your Own Judge Judy Moment: Family Drama

Wedding forums abound with stories of family drama, and it’s always interesting to see the different family dynamics at play. Sometimes the poster (usually a bride) is to blame, but some people really seem to have completely oblivious or completely rude families. I was planning on avoiding this particular topic because I was holding out the naïve notion that I would not experience any, and therefore I’d have no basis for a post. My family was nice enough however to give me some material recently, so a family drama post it is!

Almost everyone seems to hit some kind of dramatic snag in the course of their planning. While the details vary wildly from story to story, it really all boils down to this: weddings are personal, and people take them personally. Throw the heightened emotions into the mix, and you have quite the recipe.

Most of the drama complaints floating around the internet seem to center around “who’s wedding is this?”, with the issues usually being guest list or style related.  Brides are full of stories of parents who want to plan things without regard for what the couple wants, and guest lists run amok.  How to handle it really depends on your relationships with the trouble makers as well as the situation, so I don’t have much advice.  The best I can tell you is to try to remain calm, and try to see whatever the problem is from their side.  If it’s not a large problem, compromising to keep the peace may be the best approach.  However if it’s a bigger issue (like mom wants to invite extra people) you need to stand your ground and explain why what is being asked of you is not doable or negotiable.

For the most part our families have been great about recognizing that this is our wedding, and that we’re paying for it.  We are making an active and honest effort to include everyone, and so we were under the impression that maybe, just maybe, we’d get out of the planning process without any kind of drama.  Alas, it was not to be.  I should say that as far as drama goes, this really could have been a lot worse, but the situation was totally unnecessary.  Here is my little adventure…

When we started our guest list, we each asked our parents for a list of people they would want to invite.  We are paying for the wedding ourselves, but we thought it would be a nice gesture.  Tim’s parents came back with a reasonable list (and it was mostly people we were going to invite anyway), but my parents were a different story.  After much arguing, I caved, and it was decided that I would invite all my cousins (despite originally not wanting kids there) and my grandparents siblings (I had wanted to invite one of them since we have an actual relationship, but my parents were insistent that “if you invite one you need to invite them all”; truth be told I didn’t even know 3 of them were still alive).

It is at this point that my mom asks if it is okay to ask my grandmother if there was anyone she wanted to invite.  I said no, because if the rest of the list had to be done in fairness (like the extended family issue above), extending that offer to one grandmother means we have to ask the same thing of my other grandmother, and she has a TON of friends.  My mom seemed to accept that as logical, and agreed that she would not say anything to her mom.

Except she did anyway.

My mom came to me and said that it had come up in a conversation, and that grandma had asked to invite Mrs. Horner.  Not only have I never heard this name before, but my mom had to spend a good deal of time trying to figure out who this person was.  She apologized, because she shouldn’t have said anything, but wanted to know what I would do.  I said she’d go on the list for now, but if it came to more cuts she’d be the first person to go.  Sure enough, we had to make cuts, and she was taken off.  I mentioned this to my mom, who assured me she understood.  Before we sent our Save the Dates, I had her approve the list of people, which was obviously missing this mysterious Horner lady.  I got her approval, and out the Save the Dates went.  I was under the impression the situation was over.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago.  Grandma calls, and talks to my mom for a while.  Whatever, it’s her daughter, this is not suspicious.  However at the end of said phone call, Mom approaches me and says “Grandma wants to know if Mrs. Horner can bring a friend.”  Um, no?  Mrs. Horner isn’t coming, so of course she can’t bring a friend.  Mom seems confused, and refuses to believe we agreed on not inviting Mrs. Horner.  I pulled out her copy of the guest list that she approved, and there, big and bolded, is a giant X next to Horner.  Now that she believes me, she is going to relay this information to Grandma.  That was fun, glad it’s done.

Except it’s not.

Grandma is insisting that the only reason she asked is because Mrs. Horner got a Save the Date.  I’d like to point out that the reason I keep calling her Mrs. Horner is not out of respect, but because I don’t have a first name for the woman, much less an address.  There’s no way we sent her one, even on accident.  So this means 1 of 4 things: 1) Grandma is lying, 2) Grandma gave her their Save the Date, 3) Mom is lying, or 4) Mom sent her a Save the Date.  None of these options make me very happy.  Of course, no one will admit to anything.  My mom is insisting it’s not a big deal, and she’ll just pay for the extra people.  This irritates me (to a probably irrational level), because I was already guilted into cutting my own friends to invite people she thought should be invited, but now that a cut would affect her she’s perfectly willing to cover the cost.  I may have had a bit of a bridezilla meltdown and told my mom that if she wanted her there, she could pay for her and all of the other people she made me invite that I didn’t want to.  Yeah, not exactly my best moment…

I have no choice but to accept the possibility of Mrs. Horner actually having a Save the Date, which means that regardless of who pulled something, OUR names are the ones on it, so we get to look like the bad guys.  I don’t know this lady, but I hate looking like the bad guy.  The agreement that was reached was that she would be invited with a plus 1 (although I still don’t understand that…she’s not married and not seeing anyone), the offer to invite 2 people was extended to my other grandmother (who thankfully declined; without knowing the reason for being asked to begin with, she made a point in saying it never would have occurred to her to ask such a thing of us as to invite someone we didn’t know…which made me do a little dance in my head), and my parents are in fact giving us some money to cover some of the extra extended family we had been made to invite (they were apparently under the impression that 2 weeks of fighting over it was just me dragging my feet and that it wasn’t actually a problem…).

Did I handle it the best?  No.  Is it still driving me nuts not knowing how this became such an issue?  Absolutely.  Am I okay with how it was resolved?  Mostly.  In the end, it probably won’t even matter.  My biggest problem with the situation was the apparent lack of respect for my request to begin with, and the lack of respect that had to go into whatever deceit was going on behind the scenes.

Now that I’ve had that little vent…

Have you had any drama?  How did you handle it?  Any general advice to share?


Posted on March 26, 2012, in Guest List, Misc. Topics (Wedding), Priorities, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m sorry, that really sucks. I understand your frustration, but at least it seems to have worked out since your parents have agreed to cover some of the cost. I kind of understand inviting relatives that you don’t know very well (though I equally understand not inviting them – you pay for catering by the person and a few extra people can really add up!), but I really don’t understand why your grandmother would want to invite someone who you don’t know and isn’t a relative. I also don’t understand why someone would want to go to the wedding of someone they don’t know (and presumably send a present too).

    Thankfully, we avoided guest list drama for the most part. We’re having our wedding at my aunt’s farm with a very small budget, but we just decided to invite pretty much everyone (as in all of the extended family) and just try to find a caterer who would fit in our budget afterward. If all else fails, we’ll just have a taco bar, which we can apparently do for $7.99 a person.

    We got into an interesting situation with the women my mom works with, though. A few of them assumed they were invited and made comments to that effect to my mom. I know some of them and like them, but then there was the issue of all of the other nurses in her department who I don’t know. I ended up sending a save the date to the entire school nurse department instead of individuals. It was easier and the people who don’t know me probably won’t come. Also, no one will feel obligated to give a wedding present to a stranger.

    • Yeah I don’t really understand wanting to invite someone I don’t know who isn’t related, or why she’d want to come, but at this point it’s all about peace keeping. Maybe if I’m lucky she’ll decline 🙂

      I’m glad you were mostly able to avoid drama! It sucks when people assume they’re invited, but as long as you have the space and budget for it, I think you found a great solution.

  2. Wow…. that is so frustrating. We had a little drama with our guest list too – mainly that we are getting married in my home town so my mom wanted to invite anyone who was ever involved in my life because they all live right there and I had to tell her no to some of them, which made me feel bad because unlike this mysterious Horner person, I do know them. My mom also told me that hers and my dad’s work colleague was apparently really offended that he wasn’t invited but that his son talked to him about it and he apologized.
    We haven’t had too much non guest list drama. Mostly just Cobalt’s mom not being totally okay with us living together before we’re married (but it’s waaaaay cheaper to live in one house…) and me not being insensitive to her worries (unlike Cobalt). But I think you are right… I think part of the drama does come from just soooo many people being involved and everyone’s personality and how personal weddings are. Soooo complicated.

    • That stinks having to tell not invite people you know and like. I’m sorry 😦

      I lived with Tim for most of our last year in college. My parents weren’t thrilled about it, but I was in a really bad roommate situation, and since moving in with him was really my only option, that made them more okay with it. After they realized that we were the real deal and only some cosmic force of nature would cause us to not get married, they relaxed entirely. It helps that they can’t be all “blah blah blah tradition” or anything else about it since my birthday is only 6 months after they got married 🙂

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