Sage Advice: A Year Out, the Wedding Nightmare Has Begun

By Amy Dickinson | October 17th, 2018

Dealing with a meddling mother during a daughter's wedding season


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Dear Amy: My daughter is getting married in a year. The wedding is a long way off, but the nightmares are already beginning.

My daughter isn’t the problem, but my mother is! When I got married my mother informed me it was NOT my wedding, but a celebration she was putting together and therefore she would call all the shots, which she did.

I barely remember any of it because I really wasn’t involved in the planning.

Now she is starting this with my daughter.

We live about 2,000 miles away from my mom, at my husband’s insistence. My daughter flew there to check out a grad program and stayed with my mom. While there, mom took her dress shopping and BOUGHT her dress. It is not even something my daughter likes, so I called the shop later, and the dress was canceled.

Right now, my daughter and her fiancé want to elope. I’m fine with that but I know my daughter wants a nice wedding with family. I told her that if they want to elope I will support that and we’ll have a HUGE reception when they return.

I feel they are being short-changed, but no one can stand Mom’s interference. Trust me, if you knew her, you would know there is no talking to her. What can we do?

– Desperate

Dear Desperate: If there is simply no talking to your mother, then I vote for not talking to her.

Your daughter and her guy should have the wedding they want to have, without interference from her grandmother, or you. So far, you seem to be a prime mover regarding your daughter’s plans — calling to cancel her dress and communicating your own interpretation of what your daughter wants.

So yes, elopement might be the best idea for them, but if they do decide to host a wedding, the couple should not share any details with your mother (nor should you discuss this wedding with her).

They should limit their communication with her to an invitation. They should not accept any money from her (this puts her in a power position), and should only say that they hope she can make the journey to attend the ceremony. If your mother can’t handle this, she might choose to stay home, which I assume might be a relief for everyone.

You seem to have developed survival skills, but not necessarily boundary-keeping skills. I suggest you work on your own boundary setting, and continue to explore the (negative) lessons your mother has taught you.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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