Money Matters: Settling the awkwardness

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.


  1. Brockwest

    Wow, this is wrong on SO many levels! I can’t help but thinking, “the nerve!”
    First, nobody is obligated to pay anything for anything. The marrying couple, if they don’t have funds, go to a Justice of the Peace.
    When there is a division of payments, the Bride’s parents pay for the wedding, the Groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner.
    A groom’s Mom is not obligated to pay for anything. I don’t know if there was a death or divorce, but apparently the Groom’s Dad is not in the picture.
    The Mom is absolutely fulfilling her normal role by hosting the rehearsal dinner. She has zero obligation to pay for the wedding, and it is horrifying that she is being harrassed about this.
    I have to ask, where are the Bride and Groom in this situation? SOMEone needs to show them an etiquette book to explain the traditional roles and payers.
    Her son should discuss it with his bride-to-be to ask her to tell her family to back off.
    I get the gut feeling that she agrees with the harrassment, no evidence, just the feeling.
    The Mom needs to inform the son (not the bride-to-be) that she will won’t attend if she is harrassed, and then the wedding will be ruined no matter how much is spent on the wedding.
    I have so many questions….how many guests are each side inviting, does the Mom, who is being asked to pay, have any say in the venue, menu, plans?

    It’s a very very start to a marriage for the son to allow his in-laws-to-be to alienate his own mother. Marriage is work….and it takes all the help it can get, with both sides trying to get along.
    Your brother has an absolute obligation to TRY to fix this. Some in-laws are unfixable. I suggest he state they will elope if needed.

  2. Nancy Karp

    Help please. When sending a wedding invitation to two people who live at the same address, but are definitely not a couple, which is considered best. One invitation addressed to both names or separate invitations? We have an unusual situation with the bride’s mother renting a room in the home of another family member. I would appreciate any help.

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