Post # 1
Sorry for the long rant! As a quick caveat my Future Mother-In-Law is a lovely person and deeply cares about everyone, I feel really lucky to have her a Future Mother-In-Law. However she’s also quite an anxious person, especially about pleasing people (which I am too!) and this can sometimes result in her doing what she thinks is best/ what’s easiest / what she thinks other people want as opposed to what they actually want. It’s all well-intentioned which makes it harder – I’d almost rather she was just an unruly nightmare like my sister’s Mother-In-Law as that’s easier to respond back to in my experience!
So … my FH and I had planned to make our own wedding cake. We’re getting married in December and love the idea of having a small naked wedding cake with icing sugar and berries on top to give it a wintery look. Literally plain sponge with cream inbetween layers, nothing extravagent. However my Future Mother-In-Law made her daughter’s wedding cake when she was married 2 years ago, and then when we were at home this Chirstmas just gone she offered to make ours (saying that she’d make whatever we want). We were very grateful for this and accepted her offer. She asked me to show her some pictures of what we were after – I showed her some example naked cakes and she instantly gave a smirk and asked why we didn’t want a traditional cake. Namely because both of us hate fruit cake and royal icing, and it just doesn’t represent us as a couple or the general vibe of our wedding day at all. Over the next few weeks she kept messaging and calling me talking about how difficult it would be for her to make this cake as she can pre-bake but will have to arrange it on the day. She then went to my mother and asked her to help out with it, which my mum agreed to do. So I thought the difficulties were overcome, we checked with our venue and they were more than happy to let us have their fridge to store bits in.
However …. This weekend just gone my FH went away on his annual skiing holiday with friends and my future in-laws came to stay with me for a couple of days. On the first night I overheard a phone conversation between my Future Mother-In-Law and her mother about how ridiculous our cake idea is and how “it needs to be sorted now”. Sure enough the next morning Future Mother-In-Law explains that she doesn’t think she can do the cake we want due to having to arrange it on the day, and traditional cakes being better/easier. I offered to compromise and suggested that instead of cream the filling between layers is buttercream (i.e. sugar and butter) as this wouldn’t need to be kept chilled and enables the cake to be pre-assembled. Smirk then followed and she said actually doing a chocolate, carrot cake and fruitcake layer would be good – and that these need to be kept moist so of course royal icing will have to go on top. (Funily enough this is EXACTLY the same as the cake she made for her daughter’s wedding). I felt a little frustrated but know that it’s important for her to feel that she has a role in the wedding so just kept very quiet. However final straw was her asking about the cake stand – I’ve already arranged a cake stand with the venue (a silver birch log to go with our previously-planned naked forest berry cake!) Explained that on the positive this is sorted so she doesn’t have to worry about it – upon hearing what the stand looks like Future Mother-In-Law replied “oh no, tell you what, why don’t you have a stainless steel 3 pronged stand so that the layers are kept separate” ….. which is the same stand that she bought for her daughter’s cake. “Leave it with me and I’ll sort it” she said.
To put it in perspective, I think my emotional response is 30% the actual cake (as what we’re ending up with doesn’t represent us at all and is in fact the polar opposite of what we wanted. Add in that I tried to compromise several times but there was always an issue with everything that I suggested). 70% is the concept that she offered to make the cake that we wanted and then ignored everything that we asked for. This is the first joint-decision that we are making with her as a couple and will set up how future decisions are managed after we’re married. I know on the surface it’s just a cake, but what it represents goes beyond that. For example I already see my Future Mother-In-Law completely ignore her daughter’s mothering wishes when it comes to parenting her granddaughter ( i.e. being told not to give the 18 month granddaughter chocolate as my Future Sister-In-Law doesn’t want her having it yet and then my Future Mother-In-Law bringing bags of chocolate into the room, giving it to her granddaughter and saying “it’s only a bit, it doesn’t matter”). I just don’t want us to get into the same situation in a few years time if that makes sense.
So I’m wondering an acceptable solution is to tell the Future Mother-In-Law that either she makes the compromise cake or we go with a caterer to get what we actually want. Or another alternative is that we get our original dream cake from a caterer/make it ourselves and then say that if she wants to make a small cake to go alongside it then that’s fine too. Or whether to just say we know it’s going to be too difficult for her to make the cake that we wanted but does she want to be involved in another (more structured) aspect of the wedding? I know that she’s likely to be upset if we don’t go with her very traditional cake and I don’t want to upset her, but equally we’ve already given up 12 spaces at our wedding to her friends (and she’s now adding cousins into the list that my FH hasn’t seen for years!) My FH’s side are giving us some money, which does make us feel like we have to incorporate some of their wishes, but equally my parents have given us the same amount of money but made it clear that this is a gift and we should do whatever we choose with it. Future Mother-In-Law and her mother have already made lots of comments about how non-traditional our wedding is and that they feel it should be more traditional, despite having lived in another part of the UK for the past 3 years, bought a house there and fully integrated our lives up there my Future Mother-In-Law was bitterly disappointed that we didn’t decide to have the wedding where she and my parents live, or that we are not having flower centrepieces, or that my dress is not a classic design. However we feel as a couple the day should be more about celebrating us and our relationship as opposed to mindlessly following traditions just because that’s what other people have done. Is that completely selfish or wrong?
Post # 2
No! That’s not selfish or wrong at all. It is your wedding and it should represent your Fiance and yourself. I would simply say as you have stated… “We have spoken about the cake issue together and have decided to go with out original cake design as we feel it suits the rest of the wedding vision, however we would love your help with …… Instead”. Don’t make it a debate, just let her know what you have decided. Best of luck!
Post # 3
I would just tell her you appreciate her trying but that was the cake you both wanted. I would tell her you’ve arranged a caterer to take care of it so she wouldn’t have to stress and could enjoy the day!
Post # 4
Thank you Jessc27. I was worried that I’ve just become a complete bridezilla and not noticed. I was really upset after the steamrolling conversation and told my FH about it yesterday over skype (he’s still on the holiday) and his initial response was “mum’s fragile, it will upset her if we don’t let her do this so maybe we should just let her do the cake that she wants”. I was really upset after that and after explaining my worries about future decision-making he agreed to back me on this and that he’ll talk to his mum … not sure if this will actually be what happens but I live in hope! It does feel selfish in some ways but part of me thinks that the whole point of any wedding should be that it reflects the couple and their relationship. Thanks for making me feel a bit better about it all 🙂
Post # 5
Hire a caterer for the cake and try to incorporate her help elsewhere. I like the idea of saying sorry that the cake you wanted (or…cake you ARE HAVING) was too difficult, but is there something else she would like to assist with. I would stay firm on the cake stand and say that unfortunately (depending on how polite you want to be) has already been paid for and you will be using it.
Fruitcake and royal icing sounds awful to me!
Post # 6
I don’t think you’re being selfish at all. She offered to make the cake and agreed to make what you wanted (even with smirks) she’s trashing your idea over the phone to her mother, making excuses as to why it can’t be done and shooting down every suggestion you make.
If I was you I would say something along the lines of – thanks for offering to make our cake, we really appreciate it but as you don’t think it’s going to be possible for you to do what we want, we’ve decided to to have someone else make it to take the stress off of you.
Post # 7
- Wedding: April 2017 - City, State
As you mentioned, this sets in place the tone of your relationship for the future and it’s important for you two to set boundaries and to have those boundaries respected. You came to a decision on a cake and it’s not for her to undo all of that.
I would go with the caterer (or yourselves if you wanted to make it on your own as before) and get the wedding cake that you two want. As a compromise, I would tell Future Mother-In-Law to go crazy making a groom’s cake. That way she still gets to be involved and still gets to make whatever kind of cake she wants, but the actual wedding cake will be exactly what you want it to be. If that doesn’t sit well with her, then I would just thank her for her offer but tell her the cake style you want is very important to you to so you’re going to go with that. Best of luck.
Post # 8
Honestly, I’d just let her make the cake. Does it matter that one element of the wedding “doesn’t represent us at all”? There’s a lot of angst over such a small element of the day. Give her this, and it’ll keep her occupied.
Honestly, mothers are weird about cake. We weren’t even going to have one, but they were both outraged.
Post # 9
Just to add, it sounds like the OP is in the UK….. no such thing as a groom cake here.
Post # 10
This really is all about control. Despite the fact that your Future Mother-In-Law may have other positive traits, trying to control things that are not under her perview to control is not one of them.
You and your Fiance have a right to choose the cake that you want, and, if you want, you can still choose to accept FMIL’s cake as a second choice of dessert to offer your guests, similar to how parts of the US choose to have a wedding cake and a groom’s cake.
Simply thank Future Mother-In-Law for all of her planning and efforts on her choice of cake and cakestand, but let her know that you and your Fiance will have a caterer prepare the more complex naked cake, which will be placed on the cake stand that you’ve already arranged with your venue. Then tell her you and Fiance will be sure to have a bit of both cakes and that you know other guests likely will do the same.
It’s possible that your cake will be more popular than hers. If it is, and she has hurt feelings, that is not your responsibility to fix. On the other hand, if more guests end up choosing hers, you may have to hear her say, “I told you so” for a very long time. Either way, she still gets to make a cake for your wedding, and you and your Fiance still can end up with the cake that you desire for your primary wedding cake.
The other alternative would be to tell her that you’ve decided this whole cake idea is just too much work for your Future Mother-In-Law and mother to be bothered with right before the wedding, so you and your Fiance have now made a final decision (emphasizing the word final), and you’ve contracted with a cake vendor (i.e. already ordered from and provided payment to) for a naked cake. Just make sure that you truly have already done so by the time you tell your Future Mother-In-Law this news.
Post # 11
There is no way I’d let her make the cake after all this… to me it’s not just a cake, it’s YOUR WEDDING CAKE. My aunt made my wedding cake but she made the exact cake that we wanted… because she knew that it mattered to us.
Your Future Mother-In-Law sounds like my Mother-In-Law… and it will get worse after kids..
Post # 12
- Wedding: April 2017 - City, State
Ah, okay. I didn’t know that.
In that case, OP, I would hire someone to do the cake you want and tell your Future Mother-In-Law that while you appreciate her offer, you guys have already gone ahead and paid someone to make the cake. Or maybe have a small naked cake for display and for the cake cutting for you two to eat, and then use her cake to serve to the guests (the same way someone might use sheet cake). Either way, you want to look back on your wedding and be as happy as possible about your decisions (and compromises) and it doesn’t sound like you’ll feel that way with this issue.
Post # 13
No–you are not being selfish. She is.
Graciously let her off the hook for the cake and find another role for her. Or have two cakes–the cake you want and her cake. But don’t give up on what you want.
Post # 14
- Wedding: July 2017 - Vineyard on Long Island
Is there some other aspect of FH’s sister’s wedding that you liked? Clearly your Future Mother-In-Law only feels comfortable with certain projects that she’s already familiar with. Maybe you didn’t mind the centerpieces or floral arrangements in FH’s sister’s wedding, and you could offer Future Mother-In-Law to help you pick/arrange those items instead? That way if they end up exactly like FH’s sister’s decorations, your not too surprised or disappointed?
You started off planning to make this cake yourselves. I think it would be reasonable to mention that you and FH were planning on creating a vision with this cake. If she doesn’t think she can accomplish that vision, you two can gladly take back the effort and reapportion her help elsewhere.
Post # 15
You are correct Daffodils, I am UK based, although given that we’re not sticklers for conventional tradition maybe we can bring the US groom cake idea over the pond! And as MiniMeow and amanda3334455 point out my real underlying concern is how we will negotiate future choices with her based on the outcome of this initial one, especially after we have children (which we hope to start trying for straight after we’re married). The greatest irony is that it now turns out her daughter didn’t want the cake that she ended up being made either and apparently they had big arguments over it before my Future Sister-In-Law gave in. Think we will do as others ahave advised and offer for her to still make a cake but make it clear that we will be getting the one that we wanted as well. Thank you so much everyone for your support and advice! xx