DEAR TKB: S.O.S.!!! | (… Turns out there are approximately a lot of ladies out there with in-law issues.)

Happy late Friday evening, friendlies… :)

I found two Tic Tacs hiding in the upper hood part of my last remaining Tic Tac dispenser a little while ago.  So, I mean I don’t wanna call it yet, but I think I might have avoided that whole Friday the 13th/bad luck thing today.  So I’m feeling good.  I’m really feeling good about that.  So what better than to give advice to someone who’s feeling pretty shi**y right now?  Eh?  Right?  I think it’s the perfect time.

But first, here’s a short bit of YouTube heaven Honey showed me that just might have made my entire life with its incredibleness.  (You sort of have to understand me to understand why.  And I’m a pretty open book so I think that means all of you even if you’re visiting for the first time ever will understand why this is my s**t.)…….

Ok, SO!  This evening we’ve got a li’l somethin’ somethin’ I like to call a Reader Question to address today.  Why today?  Well because a considerable portion of the questions that get submitted to the blog have an alarming sense of urgency to them; like “would you answer this before I choose the only apparent remaining option of killing myself?”  So I like to– I like to answer those ones fast.  If you feel me.

Now, Miss C – who submitted today’s question – is a familiar reader, and I can attest a very sane, smart one, too.  So while I know she isn’t choosing between life and death, I still wanted to take this one on POSTHASTE.

Hey Alison,

I am doubly elated & chagrined at your newest addition to TKB: real life issues with your in-laws. Elated(!) because it’s a mucho necessary and quite amusing feature. Chagrined because, well, I’m still only engaged–not even yet married–and my in laws are already creating all sorts of pre-marital grief. In other words, I need your h-e-l-p.

The long & short (I’ll do my best…): my fiance and I have decided to not have any children at our reception. Not an uncommon occurrence. We’re having an evening wedding in Boston in December & our venue isn’t kid friendly per se (think glass walls and boutique hotel). This no kids decision includes his nieces and nephew who will range between the ages of 2-11 when we take our vows. They will be part of our wedding ceremony, and since we’re getting married at Christmas time we have plans to treat the older kids to the Rockette’s Christmas show in Boston during our reception, so they, too, get a fun night out. Kinda cute, right?

Except for the fact my fiance’s mother has metamorphosized into some sort of sniper and is attacking us from what feels like every angle. Now, we weren’t stupid. We knew there’d be resistance to our throwing a no-kids bash. But apparently we’re a bit more ignorant than previously imagined because his family’s reaction to our decision has us both very thrown. His mother is leading this bandwagon. She will not see eye-to-eye with us. We’ve explained–the venue isn’t appropriate, the kids will still be included in our ceremony, we will arrange & pay for a babysitter/accommodations/child-friendly activities to make sure the kids are entertained and well cared for. We’re also hosting a brunch the day after the wedding for immediate family which will include his nieces and nephews. NONE of this is good enough. I’m about ready to get off that illustrious “high road” and start tossing around some “tough f$%*@! cookies.”

To be honest, my fiance and I are equally hurt and befuddled by her reaction. She’s already used his older brothers as weapons, citing the fact neither of them chose to exclude children at their weddings, in fact “they didn’t even consider venues that weren’t kid-friendly.” My gut reaction? Big whoop, lady. Never mind the fact, only one grandchild existed when his last brother got married. There are now five grandchildren total. This is our wedding, and since each of her sons is an individual person, he will, in turn, make his own personal decisions. I don’t think we’re being selfish in our wishes. We’ve thought long and hard about how best to include the children in our very important day, but somehow this is lost on her. She keeps talking about when she closes her eyes, she pictures the children there, celebrating with us. Except she’s missing the major consideration–that it our day, and while we never thought everyone would agree with the decisions and considerations we’ll make about our wedding day, her attitude and accompanying guilt trips steal away from our own happiness and excitement about getting married.

How do we get across that we are: a.) firm in our decision b.) understand family reservations but c.) ultimately want everyone to respect our wishes? I’m desperate, Alison. I need a hail Mary pass. Like yesterday. How do I remain calm and empathetic when each day that passes I feel more targeted and challenged by his mother and accompanying family’s disapproval?



Miss C

Dear Miss C,

Welcome to the world of the engaged/married!  Where you get to interact with people who, if it weren’t for your falling in love with your fiancé, you probably would never have met at all.

The beautiful part of your dilemma is that you and your fiancé see eye to eye on the issue.  That is excellence, and a better start than most in your style of predicament.  I wish you both continued like-mindedness in your future.

Ok.  My first thought is for you to write one mass letter, addressed to his mother and the parents of all of the children who are effected by your very appropriate, sensible and considerate decision regarding the ceremony, reception and brunch.  You really are going above and beyond with your solution, and I am impressed and moved by the arrangements you’re making for everyone!

You do not – I repeat, you do not – need to apologize in any way.  There is nothing that you’re doing that requires one.  Actually, they should be asking your forgiveness for putting you through all this stress.  Be straight forward and confidently know that what you’re doing is proper, because it is.

Include in the body of the letter how thrilled you both are to have found one another and how happy you will be to have them all celebrate your special day together.  Tell them how much you want the children to be at the ceremony and the next day’s brunch.  Then tell them how you and your fiance envisioned your reception being an adult only event and because of that, and also desiring to entertain the children who will be attending two of the three scheduled events, you have arranged enjoyable, alternate and age specific attractions for them during the reception.

(Be assured C, that most kids are bored at receptions or just run around and eventually either fall asleep on the floor or seek the attention of their parents, which usually prevents these same parents from having a great time.)

Close with stating a hope that they will honor your personal wishes and make your and your fiance’s wedding day the most wonderful day in your lives, and one which they contributed to making possible.

This, if they are empathetic future relatives, should do it.  If not, eff them.  <– optional.

Good luck!


P.S., you guys – Honey took Bambino to the office today.  Where two other dogs were already broughtenified by coworkers.  Bambino doesn’t understand the concept of “taking breaks” or “not playing eight hours straight without aforementioned breaks not taken” so, as you can imagine, he was a puddle of this at the end of the day:

Can I be honest, for a second, with you guys?  I didn’t miss him while he was gone.  I got SO MUCH WORK DONE.  Is that terrible?  I’m a terrible, terrible parent, aren’t I.

So, back to the meat (or vegan patty – I don’t want to offend) of this post — what are your thoughts for today’s reader, you guys?  I’d love for Miss C to have a lot of perspectives on this, since, as you know, I’m only one girl, with one perspective, who happens to have her own soapbox.

xoxo!  - Alison

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Label(s): "DEAR TKB..." Advice Column

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  1. Nic on January 13, 2012

    Miss C,

    You my dear are very altruistic. I think that the radio city idea is brilliant and fun. We went through a simi-similar situation when we got married and some members of our family didn’t accept it either.

    Initially mainly my MIL, then my cousin, regarding her children, and H’s cousin regarding her children. We limited it to nieces and nephews only, making a total of 8 children. 8 was plenty. I don’t get why ppl insist of having kids there. It’s not just 8 orders of chicken nuggets! It’s another table, another centerpiece, another server etc. My nephew fell asleep during the entrances and was carried in by my father. GL to you and your FI. Stick to your guns. Ppl will get over it.

  2. chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day on January 13, 2012

    Miss C-
    Stick to your guns. This is just the first of many pissing contests you’ll have with your MIL and if you back down now, just wait till you have kids. Also, I had 0 kids in or at my wedding and when people gave me shit I said “sorry, but I’m happy to provide a babysitter.” no one took me up on it. And the people who were giving us crap were people whose kids we aren’t even close to. People are so annoying and selfish. It’s your wedding. Hang tough!

    you are not a bad parent. you are actually a quite normal parent. And is Bams wearing a leather vest? B/c he’s looking a little S&M in that pic. But I like it.

  3. Rachel Nickel on January 14, 2012

    Miss C,

    As a former bride with a *still* sometimes totally bratty and selfish MIL, I totally understand the pressure. What’s even worse is *sometimes* (was in my case) it was this weird ‘my boy is becoming a man and I just need to feel like the lead woman in his life’ creepiness… even though he had been living on the other side of the country for TEN years… but anyway, my advice is exactly what Alison suggested. Talk to the parents, if the parents don’t mind, then she’s just out of line. As a now parent, I’d be THRILLED if my kids were being fed and watched away from me. THRILLED. And yes, do not back down. This is YOUR wedding and YOU get to call the shots. If you stand your ground now, you’ll be more likely to be respected later with your MIL. You don’t want her thinking if she fusses enough you’ll cave. Good Luck!!!

  4. First off, that Buffalo video is nuts, thanks for images and a song I can’t get out of my head, lol!

    As for you Miss C, I agree with Alison in that you have nothing to apologize for. The wedding is for YOU, not the family and you should be able to do it on the moon if you so desired and its not like you haven’t tried to compromise by offering to pay for a baby sitter! Best of luck in your wedding!

  5. Margaret on January 14, 2012

    Buffalo video made my morning. I was mid bite of my eggs and had to put the fork down and share the video on the FB immediately.

    I wish I could give more advice about the situation, or “meat” of the topic. Honestly I’d probably just ask my fiance to call his mom and say “Look, you may have imagined it this way, but it’s my effing wedding.” Which, obviously, is not what you actually want to say because then things get worse. It’s probably good that Alison responded first with the letter idea. It may be more of a hindrance than a help to talk about money, and I don’t know anything about the details of your reception, but you could also explain to everyone who is offended (ie: 1 mother-in-law-to-be) that you’re actually spending more money on each child (ticket to show+childcare+transportation+ice cream sundaes…which I added) than you are on each guest at your wedding.

    So, maybe that’s not such great advice, but maybe it’s worth at least two cents. Good Luck!

  6. Margaret on January 14, 2012

    PS: Do the parents care? Because they’ll honestly probably be THRILLED at the idea of having a night where their kids are taken care of and happy. If the childcare is being provided by someone whom you know really well, like a friend or a friend’s sister, maybe they could all have a slumber party at a kid-friendly hotel nearby? Think about it: You could stock the room with all kinds of dress up clothes, costumes, and (silent! Not noisy!) toys, and some movies and candy, and they’d go to town. I’m a kindergarten teacher, and this is basically what the kids in my classroom want to do all day if we would let them.

  7. Allie on January 14, 2012

    Guy on a Buffalo = new favorite video OF ALL TIME. How have I not seen this before? “episode 2″ is even better. “Hey you want this baby?”

  8. I’m suddenly reminded of a weddingbee post I saw the other day where this child was in every single picture (even a garter toss one). I’d hate for that to be miss c. Furthermore, I think it’s awesome she’s providing babysitting/entertainment. Had it been me, I would have maybe told them the name of a babysitter and be done with it. I think miss c is being MOST accommodating and hope the email idea works for her. I also think they need to sit down one on one with her FMIL and tell her to drop the topic.

  9. Lena on January 15, 2012

    Miss C, you might actually be the most generous human being on Earth. Babysitting, the Rockettes, brunch, plenty of consideration for those little ones, not to mention giving all those stressed out parents a night off. I mean, even Alison needed a little time away from Bambs. These brothers should be glad they’re getting a grown up night out FOR FREE, not bitch about how you chose this fabulous location and provided oodles of awesome childcare, again, FOR FREE.

    But you know you and honey have made this excellent call and agree, which is way better than some stranger telling you you’re actually the best no-child bride ever. And I think the letter is genius. Plus, you don’t have to stare down honey’s crazy mother/brothers, because this whole thing just seems like they’ve taken a position and refuse to give it up out of pride.

  10. Jennifer on January 15, 2012

    As a mother of two (really well behaved) boys, I have to say I would not bring my kids to a wedding even if they were invited! Are you kidding me? I can think of about 5 million things that they would rather be doing. Miss C, you have gone above and beyond! In my opinion, the people who don’t understand that are being kinda selfish.

  11. Miss C on January 15, 2012

    Gals, thank you all for the advice. I’m glad that I’m not crazy (I’d started to doubt myself) & our child-friendly plans seem satisfactory.

    Alison, thanks for the letter idea. As it turns out, I am muuuuch better with written words than I am in conversation (and/or combat). I think it’ll help us articulate our priorities without repeating ourselves over and over…

    I’m saving all your comments so when I get nervy about the situation, I’ll revisit everyone’s kind words & remember it’s our (effin!) wedding, right? ;) Cheers!

  12. Tahleen on January 21, 2012

    Miss C, I WISH I were on the same page as my fiance when it comes to this. He wants all his first cousins’ children to be at the reception. All 15 of them. Yes. And so now I have to invite children of the same age from my family so as not to hurt any feelings. We got another room nearby and are going to have a babysitter for those who conk out early, but I’m worried things will get crazy. We’re going to have a lot of people there though, so maybe it won’t be so bad?

  13. Eva on January 31, 2012

    I would have to say that the most stressful thing about my wedding was organising babysitters for out of town guests. What’s a bride to do? I left the kids names off the invitations on purpose and when people called to check I said politely ‘we’d love to have jr at the ceremony, but the reception is a formal dinner so we’re having adults only’ and people STILL insisted on turning up with little ones. Finding reputable sitters for 6 children when you are single and have no kids, and are hosting your wedding in a city you just moved to is …welll… just about impossible.

    My advice is this. You have too much going on as a bride as it is. Don’t make it your problem. Prepare for the contingency that people will disrespect your wishes and be silly enough to turn up with kids when you’ve asked them not to. Put a bridesmaid in charge of handling situations with unruly kids if they arise (arm her with toys, coloring books and the like). Just enjoy your day and don’t try to solve all possible problems beforehand. You’ll drive yourself nuts!


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