DEAR TKB: His parents are VERY wealthy 
and are expecting a grand wedding for their only child… but they want my family to foot the bill. | Also… Bambino Returns.

Hello to your faces on this formerly sunshiny (where I live) Tuesday afternoon/eveningish.  In today’s random news, my Dad sent me a picture text asking me to choose one of three puppy vests for Bambino WITH THE QUICKNESS.  So it’s official now, Bambino is going to experience winter as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.  If you were ever wondering if I make this stuff up…

^ My Dad is kind of a really supportive person.

I don’t think I put enough effort into keeping Bambino stylish.  He probably doesn’t want to spend winter impersonating Michelangelo.  (Let’s be honest, Bambino could be no other turtle than the dumb orange one.  You know you agree with me.  THIS IS NOT CHILD ABUSE IT’S TRUTH.)  Anyway, I probably should put more effort into choosing his outfits and keeping him *with the puppy times* but I just– I guess I don’t care, enough?  Also, I don’t really have time to search out the latest and greatest trends for puppies what am I even talking about.

Hmm.  He’s gonna have a rough go at school, isn’t he.  This is where it starts – with the clothing.  If I remember correctly this is where the class lines were drawn in middle school.  You see I remember that because my parents were smart enough not to let me put too much emphasis on what I wore; they felt it was about developing “the content of your character.”  But when it came to the ins and outs of high school social politics, it was as if MLK Jr. had never even existed.  If you had asked me back then how I felt about it I would have instant-cried and schooled you on how Abercrombie & Fitch tops are the gateway to happiness through my tears, and how my knock-off-nike black kicks from Sears – called “Winners” – were going to bring me unending ridicule the likes of which I had never before seen in all my years of being a sensitive child.  Ok I feel I should go back and address that brand name so you fully get its impact and, therefore, never decide to buy your child a pair of shoes that hand mean girls their material on a silver platter.  I. kid. you. not.  The shoes my folks bought me were called “Winners” and so, as one can only expect of Hitler youth, I was called “A Winner” for half of my 6th grade year in French class.  Beat that, girls who had trouble in high school.

Ok I know I know.  WTF where’s the recap, b!tch.  I know, I get it.  And it’s coming.  Gimme a break will ya.  It’s like writing a term paper on Chernobyl every week.  There’s just so much to cover.  I’ve had to schedule my life around these recaps.  Isn’t that insane?  THAT’S INSANE, ALISON.  Now that I’ve said it out loud, it’s more real to me– the fact that it IS, truly, insane.  Wow, why am I doing this to myself?!!  Ahhhhhh yes, right, I remember now.  For no reason.

Before your Bachelor recap hits the stage, I ask you to think back, to the last time we featured a Reader Question, and I was like: so many of these questions I get feel like there’s a real sense of urgency involved and so I want to answer them as quickly as motherf**king possible before something bad happens to-or-as-a-result-of-actions-taken-by the reader who asked.  Well.  Here’s another one of those types of questions from a reader.  But I would like to put it out there that my preference would have been to meet with this young woman in person over strong liquor drinks and give her the Hug Of The Century while we talked this thing out over as much bread and butter as she’d like, and maybe an appetizer if it’s not too expensive.  I’m not made of money.

Dear Knotty Bride,

I have been following you for some time now. I have been engaged for 6 
months now, and have started to make wedding decisions. Now, I know 
it’s tradition for the Bride’s family to pay for the wedding, but I 
have a gripe with my future in laws. I have ONE parent, who makes very 
little money. He pays for what he can, but on a teachers pay there
 isn’t a ton extra to go around, especially after paying the medical 
bills for my mother. My mother passed away from cancer about 14 months
 ago and there were a lot of bills that pilled up from the long 3 years
 of treatment.

My fiancé has 4 parents. His mother and step father are VERY wealthy 
and are expecting to have a grand wedding for their only child. They 
just bought a multi-million dollar house, never have money concerns
 and will NOT put forth any money to our wedding. Me and my fiancé
 purchased a house 3 years ago, and don’t have a lot of money to spare.

To get to the point, my father has offered us $3,000 dollars, and we
 have another $3,000 we can spend. We know it’s not a lot of money and
 have cut back on everything. We found a private home that will allow
 us to have the party on premises, have decided to have the wedding and
 reception in the same location and have home made food and decorations 
to accommodate our budget. My MIL will not have this. She complained 
and griped and is refusing to help set up or cook.

We asked her if she would like to also pitch in for the wedding and
she complained that it is something that the brides family does. Every
time I talk to her about the situation, I cry because seriously, this
 whole 4-1 ratio of parents just isn’t fair. I really want to have a 
nice wedding that everyone is happy with but have put off wedding 
planning so that everyone can be happy.

How would you go about talking to a wealthy MIL about the struggles
 with money and how it would be appropriate to have her also pitch in 
for the wedding if she wants it a certain way??

Please help!


Dear Miss S,

After reading your letter, the one thing that affects me most is that you lost your mother to cancer only fourteen months ago.  As a young daughter myself, I know how sad, no devastated, I would be if I lost my mother.  On top of that, you had to watch her losing the battle with that dreaded disease.  I am sure that as The Knotty Bride followers read this, they will be similarly struck by your experience and your loss.

Therefore, the question is: Why would your future MIL be acting in what appears to be an insensitive manner, especially when, by being generous at this time, she could easily create a lasting bond with you, her future DIL?  I’ll try to answer that and offer suggestions to remedy your problem after I present a few current truths about wedding ‘traditions.’

If you enter: “ Who pays for the wedding?” on your search engine, you will see that your future MIL is referring to a very outdated, and no longer a traditional, manner of paying for weddings. Below is just one of many:

Wedding Etiquette – New Rules – Peggy Post – Good Housekeeping

Old: The bride’s family pays for the wedding.
New: The bride’s family may pay; the couple themselves may pay; or the groom’s family, the bride’s family, and the couple may share the expenses.
Peggy says: Today, just 27 percent of weddings are paid for solely by the bride’s parents. With costs through the roof, it’s not unusual for families to pool resources. It’s important for the couple and their families to discuss the budget early, so the bride and groom don’t overspend.

The above, and the many others you will find to refute your future MIL’s claim, should be discussed with her, by her son alone, without you being there.  He should ask:

Is she for the marriage?

Does she think you’re good enough for him?

If the answer to either of those two questions is “no,” then the cost of the wedding is the least of your problems.  I hope this is not the case, but her attitude puzzles me.

If the answer to the two questions is hopefully yes, and he has shown, or conveyed to her, the results of your Internet search, he should ask the following:

Since she is able to afford helping you, and a wedding of the type she wants is only possible if she helps, why doesn’t she want to help?

She may want his biological father to offer first. Or maybe his family didn’t offer when she married him.
She may remember her family had to struggle with her wedding expenses, so why shouldn’t yours too.
She may feel that she is being taken advantage of because she is rich.
She may not know or believe the financial state of the both of you and your father.

After all of this is revealed, discussed and hopefully resolved by her and her son, I hope you will then be able to create a wedding that everyone enjoys.  If the problem persists, then plan the wedding that comfortably fits within your budget and will make you both as happy as a bride and groom should be.  Remember that your happiness should be the wish of everyone who you invite to your very special wedding day.  Don’t focus on anyone, even for an instant, who doesn’t share that very same wish.

You have our best wishes, dear.  ’Cause that s**t is effed the eff up.  I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, I really am.

Ok, I’m turning it over to you guys now… any thoughts/suggestions/reactions to Miss S’ mother-in-law plight?  I think she could really use all of our input.  As always, I’m just one person with one opinion.  So if you disagree, it’s all good; I think all opinions matter here.

xoxo!  - Alison

P.S. – Here’s one second in the life of Bambino McPuppyPants, since I owe you that much, at least…

ShodaLove is a member of Vendor Love.  Explore more of his work here, in our guide.

Credits – Image at top: ShodaLove / iPhone screengrab + Bambino: silly Alison

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

Love all of this...


  1. The Blind Bride on January 24, 2012

    Agree with you! There is some underlying issue here.

  2. karri on January 24, 2012

    Miss s, THIS IS YOUR WEDDING! unless the MOG is paying, you get to have the kind of wedding you want and can afford. This is not her day, IT’S YOURS! It seems like she definitely has some other issues. Maybe your fiance can talk to her without you around and explain the situation. If your mother in law refuses to help and pitch in, maybe its better because you won’t have to deal with her on your wedding day. Please, don’t let her complaints and crankiness get you down.
    Well wishes!

  3. Desiree on January 24, 2012

    PS- if you can get her to pay, I recommend asking for a check (or installments of checks) up front so that you can use the money as you and your fiance wish and not have to get the OK from her every time you need to pay a vendor.

  4. Lena on January 24, 2012

    Oh Miss S. I will spring for the appetizers during this cocktail hour, because you deserve nothing but big hugs. Alison couldn’t have said it better–this financial frustration is difficult, but I’m sure the recent loss of your mom can’t be easy to cope with. Try talking to future MIL about the issues Miss TKB raised, and try to find common ground. Invite her to participate in things she might enjoy, and try to have an open, honest dialogue with your fiancé and his family–maybe all 4 of them, maybe 2 at a time.

    Your goal is not a flashy wedding, it’s a celebration of your love. But understandably, it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime party, and you wouldn’t mind if it were lovely and had some financial help. Explain your father’s financial situation, your contribution to the wedding and try to see if the root of all this is just a misunderstanding.

    And print out that Peggy Post quote.

  5. Lena on January 24, 2012

    Also, PS, I love that photo of Bambino (I imagine this is the position he’d be in when I’d lovingly coo and call him Michelangelo). And I can’t wait for the recap, except I can because I have yet to watch it so Wednesdays work for me.


  6. Desiree on January 24, 2012

    I wrote something, but don’t think it went through.

    My first thought is- what kind of wedding do YOU want? A big one? Small one? Elopement? It’s really your wedding and you should do whatever will make you and your fiance happy!

    After dealing with divorced in laws while planning my wedding back in July, I found that there’s still a lot of underlying tension and often things are done or not done as a result of that relationship- not as a result of you and your fiance. Try to get your fiance to talk with his mom about this. It’s very unfair of her to demand a large wedding and not pony up. If she wants certain things and you are ok with them, she’s really the one who should pay for them.

    Wishing you all the best and hope this process goes smoother for you!

  7. Kelly on January 24, 2012

    Hi!!! First, let me say I am very sorry for your loss and I can sympathize with you. My father passed away just 3 weeks after we were engaged.

    Ok, now for the FMIL issue. I would highly suggest that you have your fiance speak with her, just the two of them. She may be more willing to explain herself if you are not around.

    I would maybe ask her just what about your plans doesn’t she like. Does she want better flowers? Invitations? A caterer? Then maybe ask if she wants to pay for that one piece.

    I can see her maybe thinking the bride’s family pays because that is what her family did. Maybe show her your total pot, that $3k is from your dad and $3k is from you as a couple. Maybe she would be willing to match that and kick in an additional $3k.

    If she doesn’t want to go for either of those, maybe offer to let her host a bridal shower or engagement party that she has complete control over. And remind her she still has the rehearsal dinner if she chooses.

    I hope this helps!

  8. Shannon on January 24, 2012

    Oh Miss S. my condolences for your loss… I can only imagine how hard this is for you! I especially want to chime in on your comment that the rising tensions are holding you back from wedding planning – please don’t let it! Do as has been suggested, have your fiance talk to her and try to get everyone understanding each other. Weddings are a happy event, and the process should be enjoyable as well! Unfortunately one thing I will never forget about my wedding was the few days and even hours up until the event, just stressed because of family issues that could have been resolved! This day is about what you and your fiance want foremost, everyone else just has to smile and enjoy it for what it is because it is not their day. If his mom wants fancy, she better offer something or its not happening.
    My wedding was small, at a historic rental home, a family friend did the cooking (yum!), and we cut a lot of corners in the budget. By no means was it a perfect dream wedding, but it was definitely “us”, some people weren’t expecting our more non-traditional inclusions but everyone had a good time in the end.
    Best of luck to you!

  9. chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day on January 24, 2012

    Oh you poor thing! So sorry about your mom’s passing, and that you have to deal with such a b*tch of a MIL. Sorry, but that’s what she sounds like, IMO. I echo what TKB and Lena said above though. You’re going to have to deal with this woman forever so try to approach her openly and honestly and give her the benefit of the doubt that this is all a misunderstanding or miscommunication. If once you give her all the deets she still acts like a raging bitch, then eff her and do what you can and ignore her. You gave her a chance to have the wedding she was hoping for and if she doesn’t want to contribute to it she has no say. period. If you’d like me to punch her in the teeth, I will :) Big hugs to you!

  10. Ashley on January 25, 2012

    OK, first I have to say to you Alison, thank you for taking the high ground and actually answering this question in a mature way, because I about flipped when I read the reader letter. I would tell my FMIL to kiss my @ss and enjoy NOT coming to see her son get married. Seriously?! what part of ‘my mother lost her battle with breast cancer and my dad is still paying the medical bills’ do you not comprehend?!?! And you can’t chip in since you’re the one that wants fancy shmancy?!?! Also exCUSE me if our homespun idea of a thrifty DIY wedding isn’t good enough for you (I love it, btw, and it’ll be so much more meaningful). Miss S, I am so sorry you’re stuck with such a dilemma. I was furious when I read your letter. I have to wholeheartedly stand behind Alison too when she suggests your fiance talk to his mother. I would go so far as to say he needs to decide whether or not your relationship is important enough to him to stick up for you and your dad who is obviously a saint. You know what, I wouldn’t even want her tainted money, I say have the wedding you’ve worked so hard to save for. I would rather have $10 that someone offered me gladly than $10 million from someone who begrudgingly handed it over. She’ll probably make you feel like you owe her for the rest of your life. OK, I have to stop, I could keep going, I was so angry! But I have to stop. I hope this gets resolved, Alison, please keep us updated if Miss S updates you! Good luck, Miss S!

  11. Ashley on January 25, 2012

    Sorry, I can’t help myself, The one objection I do have to Alison’s response is that FMIL has NO RIGHT to make Miss S suffer through her hang-ups. I hate the idea of a divorced person expecting the other parent to offer first because they’re bitter towards him/her. I’d slap her right in the face is she ever said “I had to struggle to pay for my wedding, why shouldn’t you?” (hello, I just lost my mother!) And she better not feel like she’s being taken advantage of, SHE’S the one who wants the expensive inclusions… you know, the inclusions ONLY SHE CAN AFFORD! Lastly, is it possible for her to be that out of the loop that she doesn’t know that her only son’s fiance just recently lost a parent?? Doubtful. Alison, not even Bambino’s censored winky could make me feel less angry about this situation. But nonetheless, I really hope all goes well. Best of luck Miss S, and big hugs and condolences on losing your mother.

  12. bridal girl on January 25, 2012

    Well, I guess your future MIL doesn’t like you that much because if she does she wouldn’t be complaining about who is going to pay. Actually, that rule of the bride’s family paying is so outdated. Most couples share the expenses together with their family or whom between the couple can give more. It is the start of a new family and by this the issue about money should not be one.
    You should also talk to your partner about this and how you truly feel. And if you are still planning to get through the wedding and they still do not want to help out, then so be it. They should be contented about what you and your groom can give them.
    You and no one else is more important in the event of your wedding. Good luck!

  13. Mindy on January 25, 2012

    First of all, I’m sorry about your mother, Miss S. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to plan a wedding without her, especially with an unsupportive (or 2!) MIL.

    Second, how generous of your father to contribute to your wedding. As the modern rules state, he certainly doesn’t have to, but it’s nice that he wants to, and he’s probably working extra hard to make it happen to you. My parents are in a similar position to your dad but they are giving us a couple thousand for our wedding, so I can really appreciate this.

    My overall thoughts on this is basically, if you have no monetary input for the wedding, then you get no verbal input as well. And even if you are paying, it’s still ultimately up to the B&G on how they want to spend the money. Your FMIL will figure it out eventually, and if not, then, she sounds like a miserable person anyway and perhaps it’s best to not have her around too often!

    I’m not sure there is any underlying issue here, other than your FMIL is being snobby.

    My advice would be to talk it over with your FH and plan the wedding you want, within in your budget. As long as YOU TWO are happy, that’s all that matters, really. And a wedding in a private house sounds pretty awesome, BTW. That’s where most wedding receptions took place in the days before the WIC took over, in someone’s home.

  14. Steph on January 29, 2012

    Wow. I think there’s some eerie-situational-mental channeling going on here…either that or Breast Cancer is entirely too prevalent and heartbreaking.
    I share so much of your story that I couldn’t possibly be just another viewer-of-the-blog (loyal viewer! silent, but loyal!) I too, lost my mother 13 months ago to breast cancer. She was 53 years young, and it tore us all to pieces- a long 4 year fight with a stage 4 cancer. I am eternally thankful though, that she was able to meet, and loved the man that I intend to spend the rest of my life with.
    So now it’s just my dad, with a pile of bills and narry a college education. He has a good job, and they were careful to save (even enough that they were able to help with my 5 year professional degree that doesn’t even get me license- no wait, this particular business has no place here :)
    My Hun’s mother is great most of the time, but the only time that we have ever had any bumps in the road were money-associated bumps. Such as the time that she took us out to dinner, then proceeded to complain on the phone with the Honey that we had ordered too expensively, you should never order anything more expensive than your host- and we were rude to do that to her… They have two houses, paid for both of there sons entire college experience, and often take great vacations.
    I can only imagine what you are going through emotionally. I had a heart to heart with my guy and we decided that for now- we would postpone our engagement because I’m just not ready to think about it, plan anything, or “be engaged” without my mother here.
    A piece of you wants your future MIL to step in and be some sort of a mother, but how many of us actually get that (his mom told me the fist week I met her that she had never wanted daughters, and was soooooo happy she only had boys…)
    So here’s my hopefully situationally-accurate advice:
    They (your intended’s mother) want to be involved… they are really stuck on tradition/don’t want to pay/want to give your fiancee the best experience possible based on what THEY would want. So here’s my solution (really this time):
    Let them throw the biggest, most insanely extravagant engagement dinner. Then, she can plan away, spend money- do it her way, all while you have the most meaningful, beautiful ceremony/reception known to man. I think the best way for it not to be a competition between events is for you to send her ideas, pictures, & thoughts, and talk about what she’s planning (if she even agrees to this) It should be right up her alley, as it’s a really traditional-semi-outdated practice for the groom’s family to pay for this part, and host everyone (traditionally “everyone” would be composed of the bridal party, immediate family, & out of town guests)
    But that up there is my suggestion, along with my story… I hope it goes well, as I imagine a very similar situation in my future.
    You don’t need anything to make this harder for you. Focus on the lovely amazing time that is the engagement, and the fun you’ll have in your life together.
    Good luck!


  15. emma on February 16, 2012

    Don’t ask you mother in law for anything if she is being snippy, surely if you do squeeze some money out of her she will start being controlling and even more annoying.

    Do what you want and enjoy your day!

  16. natalie on March 4, 2012

    I am so sorry about this :( Losing a parent is something I can’t personally relate to, but my FI lost his father and it has been emotionally difficult for us planning our wedding without his father.

    I suggest reading “A Practical Wedding” which was just published this year. Lots of good stuff in there about family conflict over the wedding and how to create a meaningful celebration without spending heaps of money.

    I hate to be blunt. But your FMIL is really overstepping her bounds in terms of etiquette, common courtesy and respect. The bride’s family is NOT OBLIGATED to pay for the wedding. This is a traditional understanding of the way weddings have HISTORICALLY been managed. The bride paying for the wedding is NOT A MATTER OF ETIQUETTE; it is a random rule that someone made up one day. However, nowadays it is very common for both sides to pool money or to come to an agreement about how money is allocated to wedding expenses.

    My in-laws are graciously paying for the rehearsal dinner and are giving us some money for the honeymoon, as well as giving us a little stipend to help us with our rent to start out on our own. My parents and me are paying for the wedding; however I am still working within a budget and I’m not allowed to go Kim Kardashian style.

    I don’t want to sound like a jerk. But I feel like your fiancé should be more vocal with his own family about boundaries and expectations. I read and re-read your post, and I feel like you deserve a lot of support and love and compassion from your in-laws about the passing of your mom, which is LIFE ALTERING EVENT, financially, emotionally, psychologically…and you should not have these unreasonable expectations forced upon you at such a tender and difficult time.

    Your FMIL has two options: pitch in for the wedding in the ways she sees fit, in a gracious, loving, and compassionate manner; OR she has the option of allowing you to pay and celebrate in the way you want and can afford, without complaining EITHER WAY.

    Your fiancé should be encouraged, in my opinion, to speak to his mother and put her in her place. No offense. I just think he needs to set boundaries with his own family and help YOU during this process.

  17. Passerby on September 10, 2012

    I realize this is wildly belated for the original poster, but in case someone in a similar situation finds this later:

    It sounds to me like she is disappointed (and maybe straight up in denial) with her son marrying into a poorer family. That’s not particularly an excuse; she needs to either shut her trap and enjoy the wedding you can afford to throw or step up and offer to fund a much larger one. Frankly, them’s the breaks if you have only sons: you will probably never get to help plan a wedding if you don’t offer a financial incentive.

    Personally, I would advise that the next time she goes on about how the bride’s family is responsible for paying for the wedding you should straight up tell her that the bride’s family is also solely responsible for planning the wedding, but you’ll be sure to send her an invite. There really is no other way to deal with people who want to have their cake and eat it too.

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