Author Topic: Engagement party question  (Read 2516 times)

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higgins

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Engagement party question
« on: April 03, 2011, 10:31:15 AM »


  Just a quick question, as I'm entirely unfamiliar with the traditional etiquette surrounding these things...

  MIL enjoys fuss and details and stuff and I don't.  Like I've said in earlier posts, neither of us is wrong, but this personality difference contributes to disagreements and misunderstandings...

  DF and I got engaged this past Christmas, and MIL wants to throw an engagement party with gifts and games and all sorts of "fuss".  Let me preface this by saying that I do not want this party in the slightest...  I feel there will be plenty of events for people who love us to attend.

  1) I am not comfortable being the center of attention, and would have preferred eloping if hubby had been agreeable to it.
  2) Hubby and I have a house full of "stuff", and both have full time jobs (and have been living together for many years), so we definitely don't need any extras in our place at the moment...  In fact, we're trying to get rid of things.

  Both of these points have been discussed with her, but she appeared to have her ears blocked and wanted to go ahead with it anyway.  So, I suggested the following compromises.

  1) We make the whole thing a charity event.  My father passed away when I was a little girl, and since I've become a teenager/adult I've consistently raised money for "MADD Canada" in his name.  My proposal would be that instead of bringing gifts, people bring a favourite recipe, and donate any amount of money (if they wish) to that cause.  This would eliminate the whole "shower of gifts" thing that is so uncomfortable for me. 

  2) Instead of a whole plethora of games focussing on me, we go bowling together or something...

  She appeared to agree to this stuff to my face when we talked, but then she proceeded to phone my Mom and decided to complain bitterly to her about it and then tried to get my parents to be co-conspirators to "force" me to do it her way.  I was very angry at first, and then just frustrated.  Not only do I feel like we just don't get each other, but like I've said before, I can't seem to keep the resentful feelings at bay when she's around and that affects that way that I react to her.  I ended up confronting her about what was said to my Mom, and in an extreme fit of irritation told her that I refused to have this party.  Now I feel badly about that and have since suggested we move the location to my place to allow the party to still happen but for it to be something I'm more comfortable with.  As you can imagine, there have been a lot of bad feelings and bellyaching since about it. 

  Here comes the etiquette question...  Is it rude for the bride to assert her will with these events, or should I just shut up, let them happen, and then drink lots of booze so that I don't mind being the center of attention so much?? 

LaurieS

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 11:02:44 AM »

OMG... I'm suppose to be arranging an Engagement Party?  Now I know I'm the bad mother :)

No Higgins, you have every right to request no engagement party, and in the event that you have one you can ask that in lieu of gifts that donations be made to an organization, or even no gifts please.   Engagements are nice but as you said you two have been living together, kinda defeats the wow, we are getting together and have nothing type of event.  Your friends will have fun at the wedding, if you don't elope (my #1 choice)... I think after a while all the 'parties' become a little much.

holliberri

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2011, 11:09:50 AM »
I think it is great you confront her. I also think you should be adamant that there will be no engagement party if you don't want one. The wedding is just small stuff compared to what is coming down the pike in your marriage...best to start early.

Offline lancaster lady

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2011, 11:27:35 AM »
Your engagement , your rules .
Have a small family celebration , of a meal out , BBQ at home ....small stuff .
Or if you really don't want anything , you must say so .If you don't , can you imagine the wedding ???   :o

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2011, 11:39:21 AM »
Yup, steo up to the plate and decide what you do and don't want. Then stand firm...and be sure your guy is withyou 100%! Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

misunderstood

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2011, 01:20:28 PM »
Just to say I think your compromises were lovely.  Trying to allow MIL her party without compromising yourself.. I think because she failed to respect that you should do as the pair of you wish.  I try and see what my husband wants as he is the one who I would be compromising for, not MIL.

We wanted guests presence but not presents and requested this for our wedding, we suggested a gift plate for donations to a  charity, but his family didn't like the idea.  However, some people made donations to charities of their choice on our behalf  which was lovely.

L

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2011, 01:47:39 PM »
Oh gosh, that is not a good sign if you and MIL are already not getting along and you aren't even married yet?!  uh-oh.  I think that there was nothing wrong with you having suggested making it a charity event and she should have just gone along with it.  Having said that, maybe just maybe you overeacted just a teenie bit when she called your mom?  Maybe she just wanted to vent.  She probably has good intentions.  But it also sounds like you made up for that as you decided to go along with the party after all so sounds like you did try to set things right.  Don't really know what else you can do to clear the air.  Hope it works out!

Offline Pen

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2011, 04:46:03 PM »
Higgins, sorry to hear you've got a future MIL who is "like a ship under full sail" to quote my grandpa. Your compromises are great. I agree with the other posters - nip it in the bud now or it'll be out of control in no time. Best wishes. BTW, I'm a MIL who rows a very small, leaky dinghy.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

higgins

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 05:17:14 PM »

  Hi ladies,

  Thanks for the balanced perspectives.

  When I was getting upset about her having called my Mom, in the back of my mind I knew I was handling it badly, and I feel crappy about that.  I think what irritated me was the fact that she had seemed okay with everything when I talked to her about it personally...  Then suddenly my Mom had a different story (that turned out to be the true one).  I need to grow my thick skin and do things the way I want calmly and firmly, because getting upset just feeds the drama, and believe me, I'm tired of tears and drama.  She's not really a bad person, but boy can she ever act like a lunatic when she wants to...       

  To answer another question, I am one of the lucky ones who has a hubby who is willing to stand up for what we want.  He loves his mother, and is respectful, but he has no problem asking her to back off or telling her something was disrespectful (which I have appreciated in the years I've had to deal with her).  With regards to the engagement party, he will support me with what I want, but his Mom regards this as her "parental right" (in her words, because I'M THE MOM) so we have had a silly, waste of time, battle on our hands.

  I agree that this is small potatos compared to when kids come into the picture, so I'm working on perfecting my "kind yet FIRM" act now (luckily with hubby's support)  I don't want to cut her out of my life for the sake of my fiance, but at times I just find her so draining to deal with and I just don't have the patience for it... 

  This wedding etiquette stuff I am figuring out as I go along, but maybe the answer is to make my best judgement call in the moment. 

  Regardless - patience - AND lots of wine to get me through this next year... 

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 05:46:22 PM »
Cancel everyhting and elope to Hawaii. I'm serious!!!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Scoop

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2011, 06:25:16 AM »
Higgins - Begin as you mean to go on.

Please don't let her bully you into this.  It won't end well.  Negotiate your relationship with her NOW, and set the tone for your entire marriage.  I can see where some DIL's don't do it until later, and then get accused of changing after they got the ring on their finger.

Also, please read the book "The Dance of ANger" by Harriet Lerner.  It's a very good book about anger, and how anger is a red flag, it means that something is Wrong.  And when we under-react to our feelings of anger, it just makes us resentful and we re-hash the whole thing over and over until we get so angry that we over-react to the next small-ish thing.  AND THEN you have to eat crow, because you over-reacted to something small.  But if you react appropriately to your feelings of anger, you feel good afterwards.  You have no resentment and no guilt (it's SUCH a good feeling).

So, in your case, you under-reacted to the party planning, you did not make your feelings on anger understood.  ("MIL, I absolutely do not want an engagement party.  If you throw one, it will ruin our relationship.")   You over-reacted by refusing the party.  However, I think you STILL under-reacted to the real issue, she went behind your back and bad-mouthed you to your Mom.  That is a big issue and it should be dealt with.

I want to remind you though that your MIL is learning to be a MIL at the same time.  She may be having a hard time 'letting go', even if your FDH has been away from home for a while, she may have a hard time letting go of her expectations with respect to her relationship with her DS as a married man, with the DIL of her imagination, with the wedding she's envisioned for her DS.

I don't think this is a deal-breaker, but you will be setting a precedent here.  Sit down with you FDH and talk about what you want, AS A COUPLE.  Not what anyone else wants, what do you and he want.  If you determine that you want a celebration of your engagement then have one.  If you think the wedding will be 'enough', then it will be.

I still think your FDH needs to talk to his Mom - one on one, to let her know that going behind his back is WRONG and will put nails in the coffin of their relationship.

Don't hold a grudge on this, deal with it and move forward.  You still have the possibility of a decent relationship with this MIL.  This is what I wish I had done, in hindsight.

holliberri

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 06:54:06 AM »
Why do you think you overreacted when she called your mom?

That's a big no-no on her part. She's trying to use your FOO to undermine the decisions you and your DH are comfortable with. You don't think you were warranted to say something about that?

You certainly should have spoken up and I'm glad you did. Because this is probably not the last issue she'd call your mother about if you let it go on.

I can see her calling about the actual wedding, holiday plans and then in more extreme cases, calling your mother when she thought you and her DH were having problems in your marriage, calling your mother when she didn't like something you said to her, etc, etc.

Scoop is right: begin as you mean to go on.

I'd rather look like a bad guy initially (looking back) than be accused of being a chameleon and changing my behavior towards her right after the wedding. You might as well be up front now. Save yourself and her the trouble later on.

misunderstood

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 07:09:30 AM »

I want to remind you though that your MIL is learning to be a MIL at the same time.  She may be having a hard time 'letting go', even if your FDH has been away from home for a while, she may have a hard time letting go of her expectations with respect to her relationship with her DS as a married man, with the DIL of her imagination, with the wedding she's envisioned for her DS.

Absolutely, this is great.  I think you've hit the nail on the head, Scoop.  This is where a lot of the problems begin.  If both MIL and DILs can recognise that its new territory for most of us, then some of the issues could remain minor irritants rather than blow up into huge long running upsets.




I don't think this is a deal-breaker, but you will be setting a precedent here.  Sit down with you FDH and talk about what you want, AS A COUPLE.  Not what anyone else wants, what do you and he want.  If you determine that you want a celebration of your engagement then have one.  If you think the wedding will be 'enough', then it will be.

I still think your FDH needs to talk to his Mom - one on one, to let her know that going behind his back is WRONG and will put nails in the coffin of their relationship.

Yes, again, this is great if you FDH isn't a yes man where his mother is concerned, its great for him to tackle her in private at least this first time.  Mum we decided ..., please support and respect us, we'd love you to ...., but under no circumstances should you go behind our backs again. etc

Don't hold a grudge on this, deal with it and move forward.  You still have the possibility of a decent relationship with this MIL.  This is what I wish I had done, in hindsight.

Yes, deal with it well now and then forgive and move on, hopefully this will be a blip and a learning experience for all and you can move past it.

overwhelmed123

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2011, 07:16:25 AM »
Higgins,

I totally agree with the others- if you aren't comfortable with it, don't do it.  It's supposed to be about you and your DH.  There's no point otherwise.  It is nice of her to ask, but after you say, "no thank you," it should be over and done with.

And Laurie, no I don't think you're supposed to throw an engagement party for your DD and FSIL!  Actually I was under the impression that parents of the bride shouldn't host anything except the wedding, if that.  The showers and parties are normally hosted by bridemaids or other relatives, not MOTB.  We had a "cocktail party" that my aunts asked me if they could throw for us.  And I normally would have been uncomfortable because I already had a bridal shower, but all 3 of them couldn't make my bridal shower.  So they threw a cocktail party for us and it was co-ed, which was nice.  But the point was that they approached me and asked about my interest.  Had I said no, I'm sure they would have been respectful of that, so it's not wrong for you to expect that.

Set her expectations early on so you hopefully won't be fighting off this problem years into the marriage.

SunnyDays09

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Re: Engagement party question
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2011, 07:49:35 AM »
Cancel everyhting and elope to Hawaii. I'm serious!!!

Word.  (i agree with this so much - Hawaii.)