My Sister-in-Law Is Holding My Wedding Hostage With Her Spoiled Kids

Dear Care and Feeding,

My compromise on my wedding was that we would have a small religious ceremony in my mother-in-law’s church (I am not religious at all), host a brief luncheon, and have the reception the next day at a winery. Essentially my family and theirs. The winery has a partnership with local AirBnBs and live music. Other than my sister and parents attending the ceremony, the idea was my side gets a nice getaway and gets to rock out while covering my in-law’s wishes.

Only my sister-in-law is obsessed with her girls being center stage. They have to be flower girls. They have to wear the pretty dresses she picks out (my two attendants are wearing black dresses they already own with color matching shrugs). They have to be at the reception, because how else does everyone know how important they are?!

The reception is child-free. Other than my best friend’s wife coming with their toddler and mom to trade off childcare duties. (They are sharing a cabin and so mom gets to travel the artsy town for free while my best friend and his wife get a night to dance and drink.) My sister-in-law keeps bringing up the subject and will not shut up about how weddings are for families and how unfair we are being to her girls. She gets her family all riled up and my fiancé spends more time soothing feathers than helping me plan. I am this close to saying we should cancel everything, lose our deposits, and just elope. We are the ones paying for it all. I fantasize about telling SIL that if she wants a wedding, to find a man and get engaged herself—otherwise cut it out. Help!

—Austin Blues

Dear Austin Blues,

Ah, yes. Here we are with the “Weddings are for families” fight once again! I need to first apologize to my cousin, to whose child-free wedding I accidentally brought our preschooler in May 2021, due to my poor reading comprehension. As soon as I realized my mistake, my husband and I figured out how to switch off childcare duties so that our daughter wouldn’t be at the reception, and I’m still somewhat mortified about the whole thing.

I think this is now, or I hope it is, the normal way to be: You must simply accept how the couple wants the wedding to unfold, and what they have the scope to offer, money-wise. If they don’t want, or can’t afford to have, children there, you may grumble about it slightly behind their backs, but never too poisonously, and then you must do as they want.

It sounds like you already gave ground to your sister-in-law and let the girls be flower girls and wear whatever floofy dresses she picked out. That’s enough! When it comes to the reception, stay strong!


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