Is collaboration possible when planning dates for wedding stuff?
September 10, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

This is basically an "am I being reasonable or should I just stfu" question. My sister and I are both getting married within the next 24 months (she wanted a long engagement to plan an elaborate wedding; I'm having a long engagement because she doesn't want me to get married before her) and already we are running into problems re: expectations for travel, spending, and scheduling.

Some facts: We live four hours apart from each other. She has virtually unlimited funds. I do not. She wants celebrations in the style of Bridesmaids; my ideas are more similar to the low-key Rachel Getting Married wedding. There is a transactional nature to all of her ideas and plans so far ("putting together a bridesmaids' care package is the least I can do, because I'm asking you all to spend a lot of money" and "I'll do it for you too!")

She has planned an engagement party two weeks before Thanksgiving and is unwilling to consider moving it to the Thanksgiving weekend (when I'll have already driven the 4 hours). "Just come both weekends!" she says. When I say it's expensive for me to travel, she wrote a small screed about how can I afford hundreds of dollars' worth of tattoos, etc., and that she'll be travelling a lot for my wedding (I don't plan to have multiple parties, or whatever she has in mind) The engagement party is on the date she wants, and that's that, and if I don't go I'll be a villain.

And I would say "screw it" and just not go, but we're each others' only siblings and she is spiteful enough to get revenge when my wedding stuff begins. Also, our dad is a notorious fixer and he will be calling me pleading to just compromise, he'll pay for my gas to travel, she's just a little kid, etc. and I dread all of that.

So the concrete questions: Is it reasonable to expect some level of collaboration with immediate family/maid of honor in planning these things (e.g. "We're thinking Nov. 14. Does that work for you guys?")? Or am I living in a fantasy world and there are different rules governing weddings?

And: What should I do? Is there some middle ground I haven't thought of that would save my travel budget, and precious time, and not damage our relationship?
posted by witchen to Human Relations (37 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you guys having a shared engagement party, or is this you attending hers?

If shared, yes, of course you have input on the date. It's a party celebrating your engagement as much as hers, and if Thanksgiving weekend works better for you and she doesn't have a huge obvious conflict that would trump the inconvenience of traveling 8 hours on successive weekends, done and done.

If this is her engagement party, I'd probably just tell her you won't be able to make it if she has it that weekend, because you can't come two weekends in a row. This is really one of those situations where "I'm sorry, that won't be possible" is the perfect response. She can't force you to attend a party held on her behalf.
posted by Sara C. at 11:20 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is me attending hers--I haven't gotten to that stage in planning my stuff yet. And (not to threadsit) I would catch all kinds of hell from other family members for it; she would make me look like the bad one and if I used spending $ as an excuse, they will scrutinize every purchase or plan I make for the next several months.

And yes, we are all in therapy. We need it badly.
posted by witchen at 11:23 AM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

It would be thoughtful for your sister to do what you're suggesting. But in my experience, it would be presumptuous of you to ask to change the date. The flip side of that is that she should be gracious about your not going.

Keep in mind that a Thanksgiving weekend party is going to make it very difficult for many of her other guests who travel themselves that weekend to attend.

If it were my sister, I would say "Sis, I love you but it is not financially possible for me to travel home twice in Thanksfiving. Can we have a private family celebration over Thanksgiving instead?" If she (or your father) offers to buy you a flight, graciously accept. If not, plan a nice dinner out for the day after Thanksgiving and call it a day.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2015 [16 favorites]

It's reasonable, yes, to think there will be some sort of collaboration. However, your sister has plainly shown that she is not reasonable, at least when it comes to this wedding stuff (complaining about how you spend your money? Gauche. Spiteful enough to "get revenge?" Even more gauche, and just plain childish).

You're going to have to decide if not attending every single wedding-related thing she wants to do is worth the fallout. If it is, suck it up and travel and scrimp and save. If not (and personally, I am stubborn enough that I would not put up with this shit, no matter the fallout because I am a grown-ass adult and screw that), then you have to be okay with the possibility that she'll be a shit about other things. Can you ignore her shit-stirring? Can you smile and be cordial, no matter what she does? And how bad can her revenge be, literally? If you decide that not going is just truly what you want (AND THAT'S OKAY), can you basically lie and cover your ass so your family (on preview: jesus) will leave you the hell alone? "Sorry, can't make it, I have this stupid project at work! I hate my boss!" or something along those lines?

Also, not part of your question, but I, too, come from a family that is pretty problematic. Once I decided I just did not give a shit what they scrutinized or said to me (or behind my back), my life got exponentially better.
posted by cooker girl at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2015 [11 favorites]

Is it reasonable to expect some level of collaboration with immediate family/maid of honor in planning these things (e.g. "We're thinking Nov. 14. Does that work for you guys?")?

Maybe a bit, but not really, ime, outside of the actual wedding date. There are often so many people to take into consideration (even if you're just thinking about close people), logistical constraints (availability of venues, depending on how fancy people are getting), etc. Your sister isn't out of the ordinary, imo.

Also, some people might find having two major events (Thanksgiving/engagement party) on the same weekend overwhelming in terms of organization. I can also imagine somebody feeling that it might diminish the specialness of the party.

Or am I living in a fantasy world and there are different rules governing weddings?

Yeah, pretty much :/

2nd having a conversation with your sis about your financial constraints, ideally unrelated to any particular event. Tell her how much you can do/afford over the year.

For affording things: look for deals/points schemes, try to cut down on expenses by driving with others if possible, stay with friends/family.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:27 AM on September 10, 2015

I'm having a long engagement because she doesn't want me to get married before her

Why does your sister get so much say in what you do? What would happen if she didn't get her way?
posted by terretu at 11:31 AM on September 10, 2015 [72 favorites]

she would make me look like the bad one and if I used spending $ as an excuse, they will scrutinize every purchase or plan I make for the next several months.

That's gross and awful. I'm sorry.

I think you should just not go. It's just an engagement party, it's not the wedding. If your family is going to be jerks to you for not arranging your budgeting priorities around your sister's tertiary wedding events, well, they're being jerks. Be the villain and let them be jerks and don't get sucked into a dynamic where they bully you into sacrificing your own wants and needs to appease them.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2015 [13 favorites]

Is it reasonable to expect some level of collaboration with immediate family/maid of honor in planning these things (e.g. "We're thinking Nov. 14. Does that work for you guys?")?

Yes, but it's a compromise, and your position as family and bridesmaid only gives you a double-vote or maybe 5x. You can still be outvoted by a consensus among 6 of her other friends/bridesmaids, or the bride herself. It would be great if she were going to work with you on planning this thing, but it sounds like that's not her style.
posted by aimedwander at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why does your sister get so much say in what you do? What would happen if she didn't get her way?

She would have a fit, never forget it, and carry a grudge about it forever. Also, our dad would side with her and withhold funding (we're both getting some support for wedding $$ from him). In most cases, I don't mind compromising if it will keep the peace. But when I don't, it's "inexcusable," etc.
posted by witchen at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seems like you're okay with a long engagement because she doesn't want you to get married before her, so in your mind, collaboration on this stuff is fine. And it certainly can be. But she seems to have a different mindset, at least with respect to her wedding. That approach certainly isn't uncommon, but yeah, it can be hard to deal with.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Here's the thing: under slightly different circumstances, I would say that yes, she's being unreasonable because reasonable people arrange their celebrations around the ones closest to them; the entire point of having a wedding and engagement party is to be surrounded by the people you love and care about, like, say, your sister. However, I have to say that I don't think it's unreasonable that she doesn't want an engagement party on Thanksgiving weekend. As a guest, I would be extremely (as in extremely) annoyed to have to go to an engagement party that weekend; traveling is very, very onerous that weekend and I have plans with my own family, and I would view shlepping to an engagement party as a serious imposition. So in this case, I think she's not too out of line to not want the party that weekend.

But it doesn't even matter, because this is not a fight you want to get into because it will make you miserable and is unwinnable anyway.

So yes, I think you have to go to the engagement party even though it's very inconvenient for you. (I strongly disagree that "I'm sorry, but that won't be possible" will cut it in this situation.) But would you be willing to actually accept your father's offer, assuming that he actually does offer, of payment for your travel expenses? It doesn't seem, from what you've said, that your sister will simply be cool with your skipping the event, no matter why you're doing it. If your father helped out, though, you at least wouldn't be stressing about the expense even though you'd still have to travel the four hours. That's a way better deal than traveling and also being out a large sum of money.
posted by holborne at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2015 [13 favorites]

How many parties is she having? Engagement party, Bachelorette, Bridal Shower, wedding? Tell her you can afford to go to two of these events -- and she can pick which two.
posted by np312 at 11:38 AM on September 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

You have my permission to skip on Thanksgiving, if you wish to. (I realize that sounds almost un-American.)
posted by puddledork at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

So, she's kind and considerate of you only when she gets exactly what she wants in every situation? That really doesn't sound like a great deal. How about you move Thanksgiving family celebrations to the same weekend as her party? That way, you only make one trip. My family has rescheduled holidays many times to suit our schedule needs. If your Dad wants to fix this, he can get on board with rescheduling Thanksgiving. If his idea of fixing things is just making you do whatever someone else wants at every turn, that's not fixing. That's something else.

You're trying to accommodate a one-way relationship. Is that what you want to do forever more? Is it worth the money you're getting for your own wedding? Is Dad willing to help you pay for things to appease your sister? That should be part of sister's budget if she's going to be playing inflexible princess for the next 2 years.

Move family Thanksgiving or have Dad start paying out to appease sister if sister's needs are more important than anyone else's. What you spend the rest of your money on is of no concern to them. At this rate, you could easily spend 10K indulging sister's wedding fantasy. That's both absurd and not unrealistic.
posted by quince at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2015 [19 favorites]

If this was a one-time thing, I'd say it's understandable to not want to have the party on Thanksgiving weekend, but this seems less about the party and more about a history of her getting her way and your family siding with her and you acquiescing to keep the peace. I don't know if now is the right time, but you might want to think about whether this is a pattern you want to continue supporting. I don't see this kind of issues going away if you don't start drawing boundaries. Just because she's younger doesn't mean she needs to be treated like a child forever.
posted by monologish at 11:50 AM on September 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

In your shoes, I'd totally elope ASAP so that I could just quit giving any type of fuck whatsoever about whether or not my family is going to be supportive of me and my life choices or not.
posted by hush at 11:52 AM on September 10, 2015 [87 favorites]

If you value your relationship with your sister, and your overall family dynamic, I really encourage you to dig into your longer-standing issues any other year than this one. I know weddings often bring out the worst in people, and tend to press the hottest buttons, but conflicts that occur over milestone events (especially weddings) tend to stick, and not just for people who hold grudges. Cooperating with each other through the stress (unless she asks you to e.g. fly to Hawaii for bachelorette party #3) is likely to help heal the relationship, or at least, won't contribute to further degradation.

Go to this engagement party. Take your dad's money. The weekend after that, call up your sister and talk to her honestly about your budget for this year. (Don't let her comment on the tattoos you got ten years ago, or what kind of lunches you like to eat, that's out of line. "I love you, sis, but I'm sorry, if you expect me to make significant sacrifices in my day-to-day life in order to attend X, that is just not reasonable, I'm afraid, and it's not something I can do. This is what I'm able to do".) Hopefully, she'll see the light. Maybe get your dad into that conversation, and see what you can work out together.

Have the real-talk conversations after your honeymoons.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:00 PM on September 10, 2015 [15 favorites]

Completely agree with cotton dress sock. Addressing long-standing family problems: good. Trying to address them while both you and your sister are in the middle of wedding planning: bad. And bad for you, not just them.
posted by holborne at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would also recommend seeing how you can disengage yourself from the "transactional nature" of any favors you are doing now. I am a little unsure of whether you are the maid-of-honor and what those duties actually entail. I would recommend you have a hash-out with her and your parents of what duties you are and are not expected (and what you are capable of doing) for her wedding and wedding related activities.

Then, I recommend that you not accept--perhaps even explicitly disavow--her "future favors" for your wedding. If your sister is unfortunately capable of "getting revenge" using your wedding, you need to protect yourself from that. If she is capable of refusing to do things that you give her responsibility for, or wrecking your plans, or even just giving you endless grief about your choices, you must not give her a planning role or planning power in your wedding. You are the best judge of the trade-offs involved in having her as part of the wedding party, planning, etc. in terms of family peace and your sanity. You've already given in about when your wedding will take place. Do not give her further power in this situation.

Also, please remember to talk about this with your future spouse. I'm sure they can be a good source of support to you, and you'll also want to make sure that the tradeoffs, etc. that you are making aren't detrimental to them and what they want for their wedding.
posted by Hypatia at 12:09 PM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Completely agree with cotton dress sock.

The very fact that your YOUNGER sister needs to get married BEFORE you says so much (logically and historically, it's the opposite between sisters).

I would go to the engagement party (also agree with those who have said that merging your engagement party with Thanksgiving is a drag in many ways, and not just for her). If it were me, I'd forgo the eight-hour round-trip drive and get on a bus with some really good novels I've been wanting to read for a long time and just CHILL. If your father offers some money around this, take it. He obviously knows she's a piece o' work.

After the wedding, yeah, assert yourself. It won't be too late.
posted by DMelanogaster at 12:09 PM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Can your family have Thanksgiving at YOUR place/town?
posted by Seboshin at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2015

Go to the engagement party, skip Thanksgiving ---- and if anyone gives you a hard time about that, tell them it was either/or, definitely not both, and lie like a rug that "your sister's engagement means more than Thanksgiving." Do NOT accept airfare or gas from your dad: just keep repeating how sorry you are, but that's the situation and it can't change. (Another white lie is that you can't get off work both weekends.)

I totally fail to see why you have to wait two years to marry, just because your spoiled baby sister demands to be first.... from your description, it's not like you'll have dueling massive events, and marriage isn't supposed to be some sort of competition. Plan your own subdued wedding for this coming spring, it'll be all over and done with by the time she gets married a year and a half later.

(And I feel sorry for her fiancé, it sounds like she's more into !!!WEDDING!!! than marriage, and that's not a good sign for success.)
posted by easily confused at 12:45 PM on September 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Weddings bring out the worst in people who are already competitive and transactional. Add in some entitlement and you have, well, your sister.

You don't need to cower in fear about your sister getting revenge at your wedding. There's no real reason for a two year engagement if it's not what you and your fiancé want. She's being a brat because she gets away with it. Let your dad deal with her.

On the other hand, Thanksgiving is a terrible weekend for a party. Everyone is out of town or otherwise committed. I understand her desire to do that event at a different time.

What this comes down to is that you control you. You want to get married this year - you control that. You don't want to go to the engagement party - you control that. You are letting your sister manipulate you - you control that too.
posted by 26.2 at 12:48 PM on September 10, 2015

Just skip thanksgiving. Have it at your house, invite friends and family. Go to engagement party. If anyone gets weird about you skipping thanksgiving, "It was really important to [sister] that I go to her party, so I had to prioritize that over thanksgiving. We'll see you next year!" Make it clear why it's happening and that you're being the bigger person without being snide, rude our exasperated about it.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:00 PM on September 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think that most reasonable people are of the opinion of either, "Here's the day of my engagement party; hope you can make it!" OR "Let's talk about what weekends work for you since it's really important to me that you're at my party." I think that "Here's the day of the party; you WILL BE THERE" doesn't really set a very celebratory mood.

I'm not sure what advice you want here and what you're hoping to get out of this, given the way you've described your family and the things you are willing and not willing to do. It doesn't seem like your sister will allow any middle ground and, depending on how seriously your family takes Thanksgiving, saying something like, "FINE THEN! I'll skip Thanksgiving! BECAUSE of [SISTER]!" could come off has hyper passive aggressive.

That said, you need to expect a lot more of things like this if you are unwilling to stand up for yourself. She's not going to get less obsessed with these things as the wedding approaches. Anyone who is obsessed with getting married "FIRST! FIRST! ME! ME! ME!" is going to be challenging to work with as the wedding approaches.

Your family dynamics are your family dynamics, though. You should think carefully about what's important to you. You may decide that acquiescing to her demands are what need to be done to keep your family happy (and to keep their financial support for your wedding). If that's your choice, then make that choice; but I would encourage you to make it mindfully and realize what you're going to have to put up with in the coming year. Are those things better than what you would have to put up with if you put your foot down?
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:09 PM on September 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is basically an "am I being reasonable or should I just stfu" question.

Yes you are reasonable; your sister is not. Unfortunately as far as you've indicated, no one who matters and can make a difference will side with you. So, I'm sorry but this is a STFU situation.

But I sympathize deeply. Bridezillas suck.
posted by lizbunny at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh man, this is really good advice and good perspective. Thank you all. Right now it looks like we will roll our family's Thanksgiving into the engagement party weekend, so that will work well.

As for a couple other points, I'm trying to figure out what it would look like for me to "stand up for myself" beyond what I currently do. A lot of my interactions are reactionary, but ultimately I don't have the stomach for the kind of arguing that would result in me getting my way. I doubt there would be any long-term freeze-outs, but if I were absent from a gathering I am 100% sure I would be bad-mouthed and they would all unite against me as a common enemy, at least temporarily. I saw this happen with an aunt. And it's hard for me to say "oh well, fuck 'em," because they're my family and most of the time they're okay. I also adore my fiance's family, which is one of the main reasons we're not eloping.

And we don't mind the long engagement, for several reasons. That was a compromise I was glad to make. But everything else along the way...guhhhhhhh.
posted by witchen at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2015

This is about the code your family installed. It sounds as though you received some strong messages: Open conflict is badbadbad. Hidden conflict is good. Being the subject of gossip is punishment.

Just to get started, think about what is true versus what's just buggy code. Being gossiped about is ... nothing really. It's a thing that doesn't do anything to you.

It's easy to assume that whatever we were raised with is The Truth. It's not. You don't have to stand up in any way today or tomorrow or until after the wedding. But it might be healthy to start seeing assumptions about family interactions as things that you can reject.
posted by 26.2 at 2:25 PM on September 10, 2015 [11 favorites]

it looks like we will roll our family's Thanksgiving into the engagement party weekend, so that will work well.

Oh hey, that's good - it sounds like there's some discussion and compromise happening. (Is your dad or someone else maybe pulling for you behind the scenes?)

In most cases, I don't mind compromising if it will keep the peace. But when I don't, it's "inexcusable," etc.

Does that reflect the place tradition holds in your family's value system ("Nobody should miss an engagement party!" - maybe this is what your aunt dealt with?) or does it speak to deeper stuff? If you feel it's more the latter, try find a bit of time to spend with your parents on your own - or just call them, if that's hard to arrange - so that you don't feel quite so lost in your sister's whirlwind.

I think, though, that it would help to sort of brace yourself, and do some alternate framing. This year is mostly going to be about this year's Bride. Not because of your place in the family, but because brides and parents, in general, just get worked up about weddings, and because your family in particular gets like this about weddings. You'll be the bride next year. (And if your sister acts more nutty than usual, tell yourself it's Bridezillification, not anything else. Just for now.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2015

Sounds like this is a good compromise -- I agree with your sister to the extent that a party scheduled on Thanksgiving weekend would likely have YOU as a guest, but no other guests outside of your family, since people would be celebrating with their own families. (I know I would be super annoyed at being invited to any sort of wedding festivity over Thanksgiving weekend -- it's family time, not wedding time!)

But, it sounds like this is an issue likely to come up again in the future. Some things to think about:

1. Do you really need to accept family money? There can be something really freeing about financing your wedding yourself and not having to give a shit about whatever input other people want to give. My mother HATED the photographer we chose, and you know what -- it was amazing to be able to say WE are paying for the photographer we want, you don't need to worry about it/deal with it. (p.s. the photos turned out awesome in the end, exactly what we wanted and know we would NOT have gotten from her preferred person).
2. Regardless of what you decide on money, how much do you really want to involve family in planning? It seems bizarre to me that your sister is already giving you opinions about bridesmaids gifts two YEARS before the wedding! She doesn't really need to be involved in this level of detail, and you can tell her to butt out. I actually do think it's appropriate to give some sort of gift to bridesmaids, even if they're NOT spending a ton of money (my maids bought their own dresses, but were able to choose anything they wanted and I think spent ~$50-$75 each on simple ModCloth numbers, and I still got them gifts because they are amazing people and deserve it!). Even so, if this is something you really don't see as part of your wedding vision, that's your call. And hey, maybe you don't want to have a wedding party at all, or want to choose just one best friend to stand up with you, and that would be okay too. I would do my best to come up with what YOU and your fiance want, and then make that the baseline of what will be happening -- you might compromise on a few things, but the priority will be what the two of you decide together.
3. Let your sister control her wedding, and take back control of yours. You don't get to control the date of your sister's engagement party, and in return she doesn't get to control things about your wedding. I think the more you step back in terms of judging/trying to control her choices about her wedding, the more moral ground you have to stand on in terms of making it clear that she doesn't get to control your choices.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:05 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll be blunt: your sister sounds like a prize jerkass who makes everyone's life hell if she doesn't get her way, so she gets her way. And you sound like me (I'm also heavily dominated by pretty much all the relatives who can throw worse and bigger fits than me and don't listen to any boundaries I've ever set), you know you're not going to want to get into a full-fledged war. And it makes it even worse because it's a wedding and you will never hear the fucking end of it if she doesn't get her way 100%. I don't think you want to, or are up to, starting/continuing/finishing (Hah, like these things end) a giant battle that will come from saying no to her.

lizbunny has it right: "Yes you are reasonable; your sister is not. Unfortunately as far as you've indicated, no one who matters and can make a difference will side with you. So, I'm sorry but this is a STFU situation." Nothing but hell will come upon you if you try to stand up for yourself in this nuttery and everyone else will join in the hell, apparently. If she can't be negotiated with and is totally unreasonable and your dad backs her to the hilt and the entire family will declare you The Enemy...honestly, I would give in to everything she wants unless you can come up with some justifiable reason she won't complain about. You don't want to carry on a huge goddamned war for the next 24 months, especially if she's the charmer who will get "payback" at your wedding. I just don't see how trying to fight back or say no or stand up for yourself isn't going to make it even more hellish in the end. Maybe wait until all the weddings are over as someone suggested, but right now: hoo boy, not worth trying to fight the tide of crazy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:45 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

The very fact that your YOUNGER sister needs to get married BEFORE you says so much (logically and historically, it's the opposite between sisters).

I may be influenced by re-reading Pride & Predjudice on the train this morning but this really struck me too. If you're the older sister all of history supports you marrying first! If you don't want a big wedding, just go ahead and do it before her. You shouldn't control her but she certainly shouldn't control you either. Your wedding date is a decision between you and your future spouse. What do they think?

My sister is 12 years younger than me and getting married soon (I'm single) and we joked that it was very considerate of her to wait until I was thoroughly on the shelf before stepping ahead of me like that.
posted by kitten magic at 5:46 PM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sorry just read your update that you're fine on the longer engagement. I think unfortunately sucking it up is going to be the best course given that it sounds terribly upsetting how they may react. But please feel reassured that this internet stranger (and probably many else in the thread) is feeling very grrrrrrrrr! Wave pitchforks! about how you're being treated.
posted by kitten magic at 5:49 PM on September 10, 2015

Classic golden child and scapegoat dynamic?
What does your family ever do for you that doesn't involve threats, ultimatums and guilt?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:45 PM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

And: What should I do? Is there some middle ground I haven't thought of that would save my travel budget, and precious time, and not damage our relationship?

No. Here’s the thing: your sister is going to treat you like shit for this entire period up to the wedding and after. That’s two years of her secretly resenting the fact that you’re taking any attention at all away from her glorious day. Two years of you having to put up with her narcissistic behaviour up close. Two years of her subtly belittling you & putting you down at every opportunity. Two years of you having to grind your teeth & bear it “for the good of the family”.

For your own sanity, start making your own wedding plans. If your sister chooses not to come, that’s on her. If she throws a fit about it, that’s on her. Learn to love the phrase “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible”.
posted by pharm at 12:21 AM on September 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Part of arguing and standing up for yourself is knowing ahead of time
-what outcome you want to happen
-how important that is to you
-a general understanding of the other parties' perspectives and objectives
-whether compromise is possible

Engagement party & Thanksgiving weekend rolled into one? Compromise achieved! Winner is YOU! What else do you want? You haven't really been specific otherwise.

Criticizing, asking for things, letting other people know how you feel... three strategies:
1. Nip stuff in the bud and don't let things get so bad you blow up. Silent and then blowing up is not ok.
2. The "I feel X when you X" statements to get people to consider your feelings, instead of "You are X" which is confrontational.
3. Shit sandwiches, especially for criticism - Positive statement - Negative statement - Positive statement, i.e. "I'm really excited for your engagement party! I'm concerned though, about it being so close to thanksgiving and traveling both weekends - trying to rein in spending! I might have to pick. But I'm still excited for you, so don't worry we will figure it out!"
posted by lizbunny at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Final update!

Thanksgiving compromise is a win. Both parents are on my side after an email went out with the costs for the party (hint: it's exorbitant) and we all had a good laugh over how grossly out of line her expectations are. Parents also confirmed this will not affect my own wedding planning or funding, and that we all love each other very much, etc. Obviously my angst was coloring a little of my perception, but I think it's all going to be okay. And your advice has all been very, very helpful and a good reality check. Thank you!! <3 <3 <3 <3
posted by witchen at 7:22 AM on September 12, 2015 [9 favorites]

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