Regretting that “I heart mom” tattoo? Before you cover it up on your wedding day, read these tips and reclaim your sanity. (Photo by: Glen EdelsonCC BY 2.0)
My mother has gotten the wedding planning bug. She wants a big production in a place where we would have DAYS to decorate. She expects me to wear a dress that she picked out. When I brought up having the ceremony at a particular National Park, she went off her rocker. She kept coming up with complaints and reasons why it wouldn't work. Having looked into it already, I suggested why it WOULD work. “I just don't like it, so we're not doing it” was the final response. And the final straw.

I would like my mother to be at my wedding, and I value her occasional opinion, but planning a day centered around HER isn't going to work for us. How do I break this hard news to her? Do you have any advice for dealing with an overbearing mother? -MW

Before the Bridethulhu, there was the Momthulhu: wrecker of peaceful wedding planning, stirrer of pots, and thwarter of offbeat ideas. Maybe you have one? Maybe your partner does?

If you have a wonderful-but-at-times-overbearing mother involved in your wedding planning, here are seven ways to keep your beloved Momthulhu appeased and contented:

1. Pay for the wedding yourself

Ariel made a good point on her post back in 2008, Momzilla and wedding budgeting:

If mom's payin', you need to listen to what she's sayin'.

Whoever pays for the wedding is acting as a producer, and therefore has a say in how their money is spent. Ideally, their say goes something like this: “Whatever you want, dear.” But with many families — especially more conservative ones — that's just not gonna happen. That's why many offbeat couples finance their own weddings.

Unfortunately “whatever you want, dear” isn't really the way a Momthulhu rolls. Especially if she's the one throwing the party. If she's footing the bill, she'll probably be thinking that the guests will see all of your choices as a reflection of her. I'm willing to guess that a “bloody heart cake topper” may not be the way your Momthulhu rolls either.

There's no better way to shut down potential fights than by saying, “You know I love you to death and appreciate your input, but we're paying for this wedding so we're making our own decisions about what feels right.”

2. Give her a project

Simply put, there'll be less mama drama if you keep your Momthulhu occupied and focused on something she loves doing. For example:

  • Does your mom have big opinions on flowers? Put her in charge of floral design — SHE gets to price and meet with florists over the next few months. In the days leading up to your wedding, she'll be the one arranging pick-ups, deliveries, and any last-minute needs. And the day of, she'll be busy while she's in charge of their display.
  • Is your mom into DIY? Have her make your card box, cupcake tower, boutonnieres, or anything else you feel fine relinquishing control over.
  • Have a tech-y mom? Put her in charge of making a wedding montage video — she'll get to interact with your partners' parents when she asks for childhood photos, and she'll get to publicly express her love for you. Let's face it my fellow brats: Momthulhu's love for you is the big reason why she wants to be so involved in your wedding.

3. Recruit mom wranglers

Does your mother have an awesome bff or a sibling with whom you are also close? They may totally understand your Momthulhu challenges because, you know, they may have had challenges with her, too. Meet for lunch with said friend or sibling and tell 'em that you need their advice on gently handling a Momthulhu. Maybe your friend could play devil's advocate with her. “You know, MW's idea doesn't sound so bad!” “Hey, the [bouncy house/lawn games/wacky venue] actually sounds like fun.” Or “I went to a wedding before where they did exactly what MW wants to do and it was BEEEYOOTIFUL!”

The moment someone other than her “little kid” sees merit in those offbeat ideas, your sweet Momthulhu may not feel like either of you will get laughed at or seen in a negative light on the actual wedding day. Fear of what people will think can often make even the sweetest mom Cthulhu-out.

4. Avoid talking about the wedding more than necessary

With certain wedding decisions, your best bet may be avoidance. I know you may have dreams about wedding dress shopping with your mother smiling approvingly in the mirror's reflection. But when the reality is eye rolls and remarks about your “colorful choice” in dresses… the best thing may be to go dress shopping with someone who can be more supportive.

Do remember that an excluded Momthulhu is a sad Momthulhu. Make sure that in not discussing wedding plans, you aren't totally ditching your mom. Take extra steps to let her know you care — sweet texts, treating her to a mani/pedi, or arranging movie dates.

5. Study our “copy ‘n' paste conflict resolution”

Read this post and memorize it: Copy ‘n' paste conflict resolution (aka How to say “fuck off” and “I love you” and “this conversation is over” all at the same time). Because once you break it to Momthulhu that you've already booked your venue/caterer/bellydancers this quote is going to come in real handy…

It means so much to me that you're so interested in my wedding planning. That said, I hope you'll be able to respect that my partner and I are putting a lot of thought into having our wedding reflect our unique relationship and values. I hope you can place your trust in our ability to find what we feel works best for us.

In fact, you should probably peruse our entire conflict resolution archive.

6. Show her the wedding porn

If your Momthulhu can't imagine a National Park wedding, pull up our state parks tag and show her all that gorgeous park wedding porn.

Or maybe start fowarding her some of the most beautifully-shot subcultural weddings. Weddings like this goth wedding with blood drinking, or a lesbian gamer geek wedding? Then give her the ol' “If a punk rock circus wedding on the beach could look this incredible, we could easily pull off our rustic National Park wedding.”

7. Keep in mind that “it gets better”

The best advice I can give you is to just hang in there. I have a wonderful yet uber-traditional mom who pushed back on a lot of my offbeat decisions. But come wedding day, when she saw what a good time everyone was having, and how no-one rioted after finding out I wasn't carrying a bouquet, she immediately relaxed and had a blast. Years later, she even loves to brag about how all those “crazy ideas” worked out so well.

Remember: the wedding industry is really targeting your parents, and your mom may be Momthulhu-ing because she's worried you might look back and regret a decision. It also might help to keep in mind that she's all up in your wedding planning grill because SHE CARES. This is an exciting time for the both of you — take these tips and go enjoy it together as much as possible.

Baby Bridethulhus, what methods have worked best to keep your Momthulhu happy?

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Comments on 7 ways to keep “Momthulhu” from hijacking your wedding plans

  1. I had the exact opposite dealings with my mother. She’s more offbeat than I am and was making little snipes about “You’re not going to do the whole white dress thing, are you?” but the second I found a dress that proved to her I wasn’t going to look like a spoiled princess, she warmed up to the idea.

    I have to reign her back from going too far offbeat to the point where it doesn’t fit into my overall design. But she’s willing to do whatever I want and is really supportive.

    My dad has had a apathetic view on weddings in general ever since his first marriage where some of his family members stole the gifts. He and my mom eloped. So he’s just staying out of it.

  2. This definitely hits home for me. I love my mother to pieces and since my fiance and I couldn’t afford the whole wedding on our own, I am also very grateful her and my father are kicking in the rest. BUT I am now wearing a wedding dress I don’t even like, jewelry I don’t like, and my small intimate wedding is now over 100. And there’s tons more. I’m sad since my weddings 30 days away and will have to wear something that’s just not me. But will not change it because I love her so and would feel horrible since she paid for it. 🙁

    • Oh and unfortunately we don’t have the type of honesty is the best policy relationship. We butt heads a lot . probably because we’re a lot alike.

  3. I know my comment is really old in comparison to when this was posted, but this article was just what I needed. My fiancé & I are exactly 21 days away from our BIG day, & my mom is totally trying to take over.

    My parents are helping out with the payments, but my fiancé & I are still paying 60% of the wedding, which I feel entitles me to make the decisions I want to make.

    We have just had our final meeting, & my parents have hijacked the plans. They went completely against what i have profusely mentioned I detest, & now that I’ve told them I’m changing it to what we want (I’ll cover the added cost) her face is hanging.

    My mom doesn’t understand that we have completely different tastes, we always butt heads because of the difference in taste & she always takes offence to it. At the end of the day, regardless of the fact that they are helping us (which we are totally grateful for) it is our wedding, not hers.

  4. We announced our chosen wedding date (January of 2017) today. My MIL to-be immediately said, “Well, no one’s going to come. The weather will be bad. If it’s icy out, I won’t be there.” Now my fiancé and I are both mad at her, and I’m a little hurt that she reacted that way. No one can predict the weather, and we’ve had friends whose summer weddings didn’t go as planned because of hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

    Any ideas about how to handle this? We’re not going to change it, and it’s not likely we can change her…

  5. I have another tip! Show them something (in their opinion) “worse” than your ideas 😉
    I am getting married next year and we want it to be a bit geeky.
    We want to have some Star Wars moments in our wedding. Not so much, just a few details like “I love you – I know” rings, Han&Leia cake toppers, the Death Star hanging from the ceiling etc. Things that will not cause my grandparents a heart attack, probably they will not even notice, but we will about them 😉
    His parents are excited (they love Star Wars too!), but my family (esp. mum and dad) are much more conservative. When I told them about the Star Wars idea they were thrilled and said: “NO WAY! That is dumb/stupid/weird”.
    What did we do? We showed them some 200% geeky Offbeat Weddings (which were awesome by the way! 🙂 ) with lots of SW decorations, robots at the venue, Dart Vader cupcakes, DJ Wookie, cosplay guests, brides and grooms, and lots of light saber etc. and we told them “See? They are having fun! And despite those weddings are all awesome we DO NOT WANT something like THAT. We just want some Star Wars details, like these…” (showed them our ideas).
    When they contrast those with things we want they agreed that Death Star Cufflinks could be really elegant, that light saber bouqet holder seems ok and the cake toppers are actually cute 😉
    So prepare 2 folders for your Mum – the “extreme” one and “actual” one. Show her the “extreme”, when she’s terryfied show the “actual” and she will be so relieved that she will agree with you. It worked for me 😉

  6. How do I deal with the opposite?

    My mum has been so aloof and passive aggressive throughout our engagement and the wedding planning process.
    Maybe it’s because she is so far away, (4ookms).
    But pictures of the dress have been met with ‘that’s nice,’ and a change of subject. I’m getting a custom-made dress from my favourite designer, and it’s the dress of my evil-queen dreams.
    She’s told me that my shoes are wrong, and that she thought I was showing them to her as a joke, not that I was actually going to wear them. She told me this multiple times.
    It’s sad, and probably my own fault for having unreasonable expectations, because I thought, ‘finally, I’m doing something that my mother will be invested in…’

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