Q: My brother just got engaged. My mother doesn’t have any money to give
towards the wedding, she has offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner.
However, my brothers future in-laws have been really harassing her for
money, which has turned this wonderful occasion into something horrible.
Now my mom and I feel really uncomfortable joining his new family at any
family gatherings. Should we feel this way? Should her parents apologize?
Does my brother have an obligation to fix this?
A: Either your brother or your mom has to be really clear with your brother’s fiancee and her parents that as much as she would like to contribute, she cannot. No wedding should be planned based on assumptions. In fact, no wedding should be planned without a clear understanding of who is able to contribute what so that realistic plans can be made. If there simply is not enough money for the wedding they want, they need to readjust and plan a wedding that can be afforded. It is fine for your mom to say to your brother’s fiancee’s parents that she appreciates invitations that are issued, but that they have made her feel so uncomfortable about her inability to help pay for the wedding that she would feel awkward being there. This is their opportunity to apologize for the pressure they have been applying. If they don’t, and your mom still feels uncomfortable, then by all means neither you nor she should feel obliged to attend. It is important that your brother and his fiancee feel comfortable with you and your mom in the future, so you can share family times, but it is not essential that you and she become close friends with the fiancee’s family.