Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My girlfriend and I got engaged last week, and her mom is already starting to tell us how we should handle our wedding: when we should get married, who we should invite, what colors and food and music we should use. We haven't even set a date yet!
She's a nice enough lady and we usually get along fine, but I'm gonna snap on her if it's going to be like this for the next year or more as we plan our OWN wedding! How do I stop this before it gets out of control? She keeps texting me ideas, and on her Facebook page (yes, we are "friends"), she is asking all her friends for advice on venues, menus and all kinds of other details. She's acting like it's her wedding.
-- Doomed Groom
Wayne: You aren't even married yet and your soon-to-be mother-in-law already knows what's best for you! Welcome to the next 30 years of your life, buddy!
Just kidding. (No, I'm not.)
I'm sure she's just very excited for her little princess and wants the wedding day to be special. That's the thing -- for most women, the mere mention of a wedding sends them into giggling-and-dancing matrimonial madness. And unfortunately for you, this is a mom we're talking about, and they're already crazy to begin with. (Happy belated Mother's Day, Mom!)
If big mama isn't put in check soon, she'll be booking Mariah Carey to sing the first dance, hiring Wolfgang Puck to cook and finding a pair of brilliant unicorns for you two to ride off on after the reception.
This is actually great training for your marriage -- negotiating meddling mother-in-laws and other outside influences. Huddle up with your wife-to-be, establish a game plan, form a unified front, then talk to mom about boundaries. Tell her you love her and that she'll be a big part of the wedding, but you two are driving this limousine.
Unless your future mother-in-law is paying for everything, that is. In that case, just shut up and let her do whatever she wants.
Wanda: Silver lining: Your mother-in-law-to-be's exorbitant enthusiasm is proof she is stoked about these nuptials and super excited to have you as a son-in-law! Pat yourself on the back for making a solid first impression. Now the tricky part: You have to tell her to back away from the logistics without losing the love you've so far gained.
What's your fiancée have to say about all this? Is she as frustrated as you? Or perhaps blissfully oblivious? Have she and Mommy been jointly musing on marital miscellaneous since her childhood years? Best make sure you're on the same page. And heck, even if you're not, no time like the present. Get grounded and gain some unity moving forward.
Why not make a date of it? Take your lady out to a lovely engagement dinner. Tell her how excited you are she wants to spend her life with you. And talk about how much you are looking forward to giving her the wedding of her dreams. If her mother's involvement is very important to her, agree on a way to include that input as you both work toward planning a day that best represents your love, your tastes and your shared vision.
Then -- the both of you, together -- get together with Mom. Tell her about your plan moving forward. Thank her for her generous enthusiasm and suggest a concrete, contained way she can support the wedding.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at email@example.com.