Mother of the groom wants a more elaborate wedding

Dear Carolyn:

I’m trying not to be hurt by my future daughter-in-law’s attitude toward the wedding she’s planning with my son, “Paul,” but it’s proving difficult. “Mara” is a young widow and had a big wedding with her late husband. I can understand not wanting to do that all again, but this is Paul’s first and hopefully only wedding.

Paul is our only child so this is the only wedding our family will have.

The details sound so depressing. Mara’s wearing a green, tea-length dress, no veil, casual flowers, Paul will wear a suit, there will be no groomsmen or bridesmaids, the reception is at a restaurant with only recorded music and so on. Paul is a romantic and had always looked forward to a big wedding but now says he’s deferring to Mara’s wishes since she doesn’t want to look tacky.

Money is definitely not an issue. We’d happily foot the entire bill for a big wedding if she’d let us.

It seems to me Mara is more worried about outmoded rules than what will make her future husband and his family happy. Should I talk to her about this or continue to bite my tongue?

— Trying Not to Be Hurt

Keep biting! Egads.

Because this is none! of! your! business!


But I’ll elaborate anyway in hopes it helps you reorient your thinking into something less bitter.

This isn’t the wedding Paul wants, perhaps, but Mara is the partner he wants, so his priority is clear.

And yes, of course, each partner deserves equal say in wedding plans, but we’re not talking about skipping sushi tonight because Mara had it yesterday; her first groom died.

If you take your son’s explanation at face value, then you’re free to think it’s just about appearances, and of course I’m typically all in favor of taking people at their word. But tending to appearances is Mara’s prerogative, not yours, and Paul’s battle to choose (if he wants), not yours.

And face value just seems wrong here anyway. Don’t you think the mere fact of burying one’s husband at a young age would suffice to explain why Mara would want a distinctly different wedding this time? An event her ghosts won’t be able to find sounds like an excellent cause to support.

Plus, through the right lens, a green tea-length dress and casual flowers and two people who love each other look profoundly romantic.

And, the rosiest lens is a fine start to your new future with your new daughter-in-law.

Again, I offer all these merely as mind-reorientation tools. The fundamental fact here remains that it’s not your wedding. Not even if you were paying for it. That means your job is to show up on time and smile big, unless and until the couple asks you to do more.

Dear Carolyn:

As much as I dismissed my husband when he brought it up, I think I have to admit I’m addicted to my phone. I’ve tried leaving it in other rooms, having a set time to put it away at night, etc., but I still find myself reaching for it all the time. Any tips on how to put the phone down and not worry about not responding right away? For work/family purposes, putting it on silent isn’t really manageable.

— Phone Addict

Sure it is. Delete the apps you don’t need for work, put in controls so you can’t go back to them, and read this: The people who developed some of these addictive features are themselves setting limits.

Everyone with a smartphone or with a kid with a smartphone, read this. Please.

Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Syndicated Advice Columnist
Advice Columnist Carolyn Hax takes your questions and tackles your problems.

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