Dear Come Correct:
The love of my life and I are getting married over the Christmas holidays. We grew up in the same city, so many of our nearest and dearest will be there. He and I are in perfect agreement about how much to spend, what we want to wear, what kind of wedding to have and who to invite. His family and my family have become friends, with one exception, and it's a big one.
His sister. She has been pretty vocal about how much she would rather him have married X (one of her friends) who "we're comfortable with, and who will fit in just great. She's already like my sister." Lena (which I swear is short for Evilena, but let me not go all the way there) has criticized every aspect of our choices—the when, the where, the who. She doesn't like my best friend's choice for the bridal shower venue ("I don't like their menu"). She says a small band is a waste of money (she doesn't know the DJs we consulted would charge us twice as much). She thinks we should have had twice as many guests as we're having "because some of my friends are hurt that they couldn't come"—but they're HER friends, not her brother's, and didn't offer to chip in for the extras when we explained we were staying within our financial guidelines. She refused to be in the wedding party if she had to wear the color I'd chosen (scarlet) for the bridesmaids "because I will look huge in that; it's not flattering to me." (She is 5' 8" and 210 lbs.)
So I gave in and changed the color: with her blessing, the bridesmaids are now wearing cream with deep garnet accents. (So much more slimming, right?). She's fine with that, thank god.
The final straw: Lena has pitched a flat-out hissy because she's in the wedding, but she's not the maid of honor. I think that honor should be reserved for someone who actually LIKES me, someone whom I actually WANT in my wedding. Do I have to give in to keep the peace? (My fiance, by the way, says I should choose the person closest to me; he and I have both asked out best friends to stand up with us.)
Hostage to that Witch
First, congratulations to you and your beloved: keeping such a sane outlook to starting your married life together has to be a very indication of a long and happy union.
Your almost sister-in-law may have issues totally unrelated to you specifically and more related to what she'd like and isn't getting: a wedding of her own. Her time will come, and she will have the opportunity to plan her menu, choose the band find a dress she truly loves.
In the meanwhile, this is your show, and you're the star. You've already shown admirable restraint, and since you and your honey are in agreement about your maid of honor and best man, just tell his sister "Courtney has been my best friend since pre-school. We've always pledged to stand up at each other's weddings and that's going to happen next month. I really hope you decide to remain in the wedding party—we're going to be sisters. But if you're not comfortable doing that, I understand. Just let me know and I may ask someone else to stand in for you."
You've done a good job of trying to ensure that your in-law doesn't become an out-law. Now it's time for Lena to grow up and honor (and support) her brother's choice.
Wishing you much happiness,
is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).