Wedding Woes ... for Grandma anyway.
September 24, 2008 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married in Seattle next summer. My 98 year-old Grandma lives back in St. Louis and cannot possibly get to Seattle due to her ailments. She's on a warpath about it. How would you approach this?

The question isn't whether we should get married here or there, that is settled. While I obviously would love if my Grandma could be there, our friends are all out here and his family too. The only ones coming from St. Louis are my immediate family (four people) and hopefully a few old buddies if they can spring for it.

Thus far (since April) I have managed to dodge the question whenever Grams brings it up; I just say that we haven't decided yet. This is something that I lament, because I hate lying, so much more so to my family. The few times we did touch on the subject, she got really upset and lectured me (the way only a crotchety 98 year-old can do) about her incontinence and her inability to fly here and how it's my duty to have it at home because family is more important than friends.

So, the crux of my inquiry: How would you deal with this? I don't want to continue to lie to her, but the wedding is less than a year away now and I can't possibly keep it a secret, nor do I wish to. Yet, if I tell her the truth, she will become angry and sad (she's already prone to depression). She has lived a wonderfully long and healthy life, but I would hate for my relationship with her, my last living grandparent, to become strained because of this.

Any advice is much appreciated.
posted by diablo37 to Human Relations (26 answers total)
An old coworker of mine got married to his wife in three different states-- he'd intended to go for all 50, but it wasn't really cost-effective.

Could you hold another, smaller ceremony in St. Louis later this year? Even just down-the-courthouse-nice-suit-pretty-dress, and then take her and the family to dinner?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:41 PM on September 24, 2008

a) It's your wedding, not hers,
b) She's being unreasonable,
c) She'll deal with it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:41 PM on September 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

If it were me, I'd pay less for the wedding and figure out a way to get Grammy out to Seattle. If it means train, private limo, renting an ambulance, whatever...I'd make it happen.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:42 PM on September 24, 2008

tell her you've decided to have the wedding in seattle, that it was a very difficult decision, but that you guys have a year to figure out how to get her there. people fly with far more challenges than incontinence.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:42 PM on September 24, 2008

In this day and age, I suggest that you arrange for video-conferencing so that Granny can participate in the festivities. She'll be stable, so you can set up a (temporary?) computer for her no problem. Simply get someone to set it up and run it, so she can just sit and watch and talk. At your end, you set up a big screen laptop with high speed wireless and a camera, and you hire someone to carry the laptop around (with some sort of stabilizers).
posted by birdsquared at 5:48 PM on September 24, 2008

If it were me, I'd pay less for the wedding and figure out a way to get Grammy out to Seattle. If it means train, private limo, renting an ambulance, whatever...I'd make it happen.

Indeed, however it's not money that's the issue. I aint that kinda girl and this is a low-budget affair from the start. It's that she is so ailing (I only mentioned incontinence but there are other, much more debilitating factors) that even if we could get her here, it would be extremely difficult for her to get around or have safe accommodations.
posted by diablo37 at 5:49 PM on September 24, 2008

Also, in case you were worried about the D-word and legal complications from being married in multiple states, you could probably just rock the vow renewal somewhere and no one will be the wiser.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:52 PM on September 24, 2008

This is the first of many issues that will arise with your wedding. Trust me -- everyone has an image in their head of how your wedding will go down, and everyone believes they're right and should have the final say. Your grandmother's just the first family member to voice that opinion. When it gets to venue, flowers, invitations, seating arrangements, etc., others will voice theirs.

How do you deal with it? Some things you compromise on, some things you don't. The hardest part of getting married is putting you and your spouse before your family, but that's how it goes.

My suggestion is this: videotape the ceremony and reception and everything, and then visit grandma soon thereafter with your spouse and watch the video with her. It doesn't have to be an expensive professional thing -- just put a younger cousin or something on the hook.

Best wishes!
posted by lockestockbarrel at 6:01 PM on September 24, 2008

If you're tech-savvy and Grandma lives near someone who is tech-savvy: I've heard of people doing live podcasts of their weddings.
posted by bananafish at 6:11 PM on September 24, 2008

Have a second wedding reception in St Louis. Renew your vows, wear your wedding dress, invite all the family she'll want to see there (and the friends who couldn't make it to seattle.) It'll feel wedding-y, and really what you'll get, is a grandmother who feels like you care about her.
posted by Kololo at 6:17 PM on September 24, 2008

Stream the wedding online in real time. There were a few guests who couldn't travel to my wedding due to health reasons. Instead, they watched online as it was happening, which worked well for everyone. They got to see the main event, and it didn't add much to the total wedding-day bill.
posted by serialcomma at 6:25 PM on September 24, 2008

continuing the have two ceremonies idea, it might be extra nice for grams if you made the mini-st. louis ceremony the official one aka do it BEFORE the big ceremony and party, then grams feels like she gets the "real" thing and not the reenactment. although you should only put it this way to her so as not to rile up the other side of the family!
posted by dahliachewswell at 6:27 PM on September 24, 2008

@fairytale - The D word? complications? Seems to me that if Dick and Jane get married in Washington, any later ceremony in another state is just, er, ceremonial. It has no legal effect.
posted by yclipse at 6:28 PM on September 24, 2008

My wife's parents had two weddings, a civil ceremony in New York [his home] and a religious ceremony in Germany [her home]. Perhaps something similar could work? Have a symbolic ceremony of some kind first, in St. Louis, then the legally-binding ceremony in Seattle.

If Grandma is religious, maybe this is more valuable to her.
posted by chazlarson at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2008

Nthing the live web-cast idea. We had our wedding last month in Vegas. While a good amount of people showed, a lot of people on my husbands side of the family couldn't for one reason or another (money, health, etc). The chapel we used offered the web-cast with the added option of leaving it up for an extra 30 days for those who couldn't be in front of a computer right as it happened.

It worked out quite well. The people who couldn't make it were still included without them having to strain themselves to be there and there were no hurt feelings. It's probably also the most economically sound and sane way to go, as the logistics of planning multiple weddings can be outrageous.
posted by arishaun at 6:36 PM on September 24, 2008

posted by tiamat at 6:47 PM on September 24, 2008

If you're old enough to get married, then you're old enough to tell the truth.

You decided to have the wedding where she is unlikely to be able to attend. Tell her where the wedding is and explain the reasons for that choice. Generally, I don't think you need to explain these decisions since it's your wedding and not hers. Considering she's your only living grandparent, an explanation is probably the way to go here.

She'll be far, far more disappointed if she finds out later that you fibbed to her and everyone else knew.
posted by 26.2 at 6:51 PM on September 24, 2008

I agree with tiamat. She is 98. Whatever her rantings to be will not last long. I hate to sya it, but to make plans around her for 10 months from now is a mistake. That is a long time away for a 98 year old. Also, have a small re-enactment or ceremony for her.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:59 PM on September 24, 2008

have a tiny, second ceremony there, and a nice party. it's important for her. picture yourself at 98, a widow, incontinent, in bad health, prone to depression. your grandchild gets married. wouldn't you just fucking love to see her smile that day?

I know I would. have a small second ceremony at her place. give her a big hug. she deserves it.
posted by matteo at 7:02 PM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hey love? I think we should have a little ceremony out there next time we go.
posted by vito90 at 7:30 PM on September 24, 2008

Hey love? I think we should have a little ceremony out there next time we go.

It would seem that is the consensus, Dear. Thank you all for your time and energy -- I don't want to mark all your answers best, but they all were very helpful.
posted by diablo37 at 7:38 PM on September 24, 2008

n-th vote for a second ceremony/celebration with Grandma either before or afterwards.

We got civilly married in the UK with a small group of friends and family, then the following summer did the big Chinese tea ceremony and banquet in Canada. Everyone's happy, and we have great memories.

Plus we get to say that we loved each other so much, we married twice - but without the Burton/Taylor booze and break-up in between :o)

Congratulations on getting married!
posted by arcticseal at 6:09 AM on September 25, 2008

One more for the pile-on: our wedding was out East but two months later we went back to the Midwest for a blow out in my parents' back yard. I got to wear comfy clothes and drink good beer and actaully eat the food; my parents got to throw a shindig for their pals and our extended family; and my wife's siblings & parents got a chance to see where I grew up. Everybody wins!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on September 25, 2008

So many absurd answers above, yet you didnt mark the obvious one. Its not your fault she lives where she lives.

Listen to Fiasco da Gama and understand that its your life...
posted by TeachTheDead at 7:10 AM on September 25, 2008

We had two weddings - one city hall legal one, and one big one that people were actually invited to. My husband refers to them as our marriage and our wedding and I'm good with that.

Its actually not all that unusual. I have a dear friend from college who was married while her mother was in the end stages of breast cancer. My friend and her husband had their actual, legal marriage upstairs at her mother's bedside that morning, with just family present, then their wedding celebration (yes, vows and everything) in the afternoon.

Her mother passed two weeks later. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
posted by anastasiav at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2008

We did many of the above... we got married in CA, visited Grandma in OR as part of the honeymoon (the last day before flying home) and about a month later did a reception in NC for the hubbies family and our friends that couldn't make it out to CA. I really liked incorporating a visit with my Gram into our honeymoon. I don't get to see her very often, and it was nice for the hubby to have a chance to really get to know her. I guess if you live near her now, it's not really the same issue.
posted by purpletangerine at 11:39 AM on September 25, 2008

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