I think we’re twins! Engaged at the same time, parents wanting to contribute which amounts to 1/3rd, guilt trips from here to Timbuktu, fights about the guest list, etc. This may get long but I’ve broken it into four parts.
Background: I’m 26 in the northeast and come from a tight knit family. I’m much closer with my dad but close to my mom as well; however my mom uses guilt and shame to manipulate and it’s only been in recent years I’ve established boundaries and mostly stuck to them. Despite that I have a fairly healthy relationship with her. I am the first to be engaged of my generation in our entire family and there is a LOT of opinions. Basically, my parents/family (who influence my parents behind the scenes) want the big church wedding with a Cinderella dress and literally everyone and their grandmother invited (I’m talking 250+) crammed into whatever hall will fit that many people – this will be $$$ no matter what. However, my fiance and I want a more intimate (75 max) wedding at a more unique wedding venue and are willing to pay the equivalent of the big blowout in a hall to have a memorable day with only the people we care about in front of us.
Issues: My parents are contributing approximately 1/3 of the wedding costs with fiance/me paying the other 2/3. My parents would look at venues with us and say they “loved” the venue and then rip it apart once we got home (down to “I hate those farm tables! That would be so awkward for your guests!”). They brought us to their ideal venue which had 2-3 weddings a day and took it very personally when we weren’t IMMEDIATELY floored by “how beautiful” it was. They actually got angry with us. They keep saying we “are using them as an ATM” when fiance/me have told them that we are happy to pay for the whole thing ourselves but want them to be involved as they have communicated it means a lot to them that they are. Then I get “I never thought my daughter would break my heart like this.” It’s been really tough – a lot of tears have been shed. The other issue was communication – they wouldn’t directly say the number of people they wanted to invite, what location they wanted (we live across the northeast), the list goes on. That being said, both parents but esp. mom expect fiance/me to know exactly what they want and oblige because that “is the right to do,” despite the fact that fiance/me are paying for 2/3 of the wedding. My mom also tells all of her friends I’m bring a bridezilla and most of them roll their eyes at her (she is a known drama queen lol).
Resolution: I let my parents know (kindly) that I wasn’t speaking wedding details for two weeks as it was stressing me out and I had a lot going on at work (all true!). They were initially irritated and my mom said I was “being controlling and difficult” but then they called me after the fact and said they understood. My fiance and I went HARD researching venues and costs. There was NOTHING in our price range. There was one venue we saw early on that we eliminated due to costs but it hit everything: smack in the middle of my parents, his parents and us, rural/unique, lodging on site, max 150 capacity (compromise), catering on site (idk why my parents are SUPER against bringing a caterer in) parking, etc. etc.) We all loved it immediately. We increased our budget and cut the budget for florals (the venue is stunning), cut videography (Boo :() and some other things to make it feasible. Ultimately everyone is happy.
Where we’re at now: There is still a little bit of resentment on our part as this process was significantly more emotional than it needed to be. I work in Special Events and tried EVERY single tactic I advise clients to use with difficult stakeholders. My parents (read: mother) are still pushing their agenda on every detail – invite wording, seating arrangements, event flow, favors, colors, etc. That being said, from this moment on we are deciding what we want and finalizing the details BEFORE we tell them with one exception – the band (my parents are wild about selecting the band). We expect push back, anger and guilt/shaming but finally have the resolve to stand our ground ESPECIALLY since there money is going to the reception, not the other details.
TL.DR: ultimately you need to decide what hill to die on, what you will compromise on and what you will just let go of. For me, if I am resolute in everything I had dreamed of I ran the risk of doing permanent damage to the relationship with my mom and I do not want to do that.