Carolyn Hax: Mother of bride wants wedding to be her special day

Carolyn Hax stock photo

My mother provided funds for my wedding, and she told us the money came with no strings attached. Because of her money, we were able to afford a gorgeous mountain venue we’d been salivating over. 

My mother is now insisting that she stand out and be honored, and that I should give her a special flower as I walk down the aisle. 

This has not been her first suggestion on the “I need to stand out and be honored” train (including giving a speech about her!), and I’m tired of her selfish behavior. I don’t want to honor her in any way during our wedding, she was a poor mother who was verbally abusive to me as a child. 

I took the money thinking, “Hey, I earned this,” but she seems to think it’s made her mother of the year, and that everyone at the wedding needs to know it. I’d be more inclined to let the guests know what an awful mom she was (she was quite the actor in public). 

She’s blown up our adult relationship over this, and hung up on me when I gave a simple, “No, we’re not choosing to do that,” to her many suggestions. How do I communicate to her that it isn’t happening? Should I give the money back? Or make a “wedding sponsored by” sign? 

— Bride

You can do any number of things here. You can hand her her stinkin’ flower and see that as the (relatively minor, if you think about it) cost of doing business with an apparent narcissist.

Or, you can remind her patiently, flatly, on a loop, that this money was promised with no strings attached — her words, right?

Or, you can give back every penny of her money and bask in the beauty of not being tethered to her anymore, which can rival any mountain vista in beauty.

I can see why you feel like you deserve the better venue. But you don’t have to become an attention hound or verbal abuser yourself to perpetuate an unhealthy cycle with your mom. You just need to keep thinking there’s a way to engage with her and emerge victorious. There isn’t.

Your independence is your victory. So, whatever you choose, my advice is to choose it and be done with it and not look back. It’s the constant re-litigating of this mother issue that has driven and will keep driving you bonkers, including if you announce to everyone what an awful mother she was. That just invites her to respond, and the unhappy volleys continue. Pick whatever ends this in your mind. What goes on in her mind is her problem.

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