Dear Miriam

Our only son recently got engaged to his girlfriend. There was great excitement as you can imagine, and we are all looking forward to a wedding after the last few years of COVID.

Last week, however, he informed us that they are planning to get married abroad. Apparently his girlfriend used to go to this particular place in Spain with her family when she was a child, and it has always been her dream to get married there.

Now Miriam, we have a big family between aunts and uncles and cousins and to expect them to all go to Spain is a bit much. Going to a wedding in Ireland is expensive enough, for God’s sake!

That said I think we do weddings really well in Ireland. I don’t know what the food will be like, or if they will be able to get a band that guests will be able to dance to; and then there’s the heat to deal with!

I want to ask them to re-consider their decision, but my husband says I should let it be or I will be labelled as the “interfering mother-in-law” before they even get married. But I don’t think that my concerns are unreasonable.

I feel there will be a backlash from the family against my son and his fiancée and if that can all be avoided, am I not right to speak up? They could still have a wonderful wedding here in Ireland and everybody will be happy.

What do you think? Mother of the groom

Dear Mother of the groom

Thank you for your letter. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to agree with your husband on this matter. This is your son and his fiancée’s big day, and if they want to tie the knot in Spain, that decision should be respected.

Look, I can see where you are coming from in making the point that a wedding at home would be a lot more convenient for family members and I acknowledge that people might grumble about the expense of going to Spain.

But to be honest, I think that COVID has changed a lot about weddings, and I simply don’t think that there is the same expectation anymore for people to put themselves under pressure to attend social occasions if it does not suit them to go.

So if you do have concerns that family members might feel under pressure to attend, maybe you could ask your son to make it clear when issuing invitations that while they would love to see all the invited guests at the wedding in Spain, he and his wife-to-be will completely understand if people can’t make it.

Your only job is to enjoy the day, and to wish the couple well as they embark on the next chapter of their lives together

Perhaps they might also consider holding a more informal party at home after the wedding, so that those who could not make the journey can still celebrate with them if they wish.

These are tactical suggestions that you could make to your son quietly, without ever criticising the decision to host the wedding abroad.

As for your worries about the wedding in Spain being very different; yes, I doubt there will be beef or salmon for dinner, but I think the key to enjoying the event is to accept that it will be something unique and to try to enjoy the novelty factor of that.

We can all get very caught up in how we think things should be done, based on tradition and expectation. It can be very refreshing to experience something new, on its own terms.

At the end of the day, this is your son and his fiancée’s wedding and if anybody does have complaints, they can direct them towards the couple.

You cannot take responsibility for their decision.Your only job is to enjoy the day, and to wish the couple well as they embark on the next chapter of their lives together.

I wish you all the very best.

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