How to…Deal with Uncooperative Relatives


Credit: Calla Evans Photography  (from A Halloween-esque Steam Train of Epicness)

I need some advice. I live in Virginia, but all of my family lives back on the west coast. (I’m from Arizona) We decided that we would get married in Vegas this year so my family would be able to come (mainly my grandparents since they refuse to fly) They agreed to come and everyone seemed really excited about it. Then, I sent my mom pictures of what we’ll be wearing. She hasn’t shown my grandma yet, but she told her basically what they look like. When I called my grandma to talk to her about when we’ll be flying into Tucson, she started lecturing me. She said it’s “not a clown thing” and went on to say that if that’s what I’m going to wear, she won’t be able to come. Apparently, my clothing (which fits my personality very well) is making a mockery of marriage and weddings. I’m very upset about this, since she’s as close to me as my own mom. I don’t know what to tell her to convince her to come. Even my mother in law (who is extremely conservative) loves the outfit and thinks she’s being ridiculous. Have you known anyone to have problems like this?
(There’s pictures of our outfits attached if you’d like to see what the big deal is)

Thank you for your time.


Eugh Alison I feel for you, what a horrible situation to be in! So from what I gather it’s just your grandmother who has a problem with your wedding style? I can only imagine that weddings were very different in her day and so she has (unlike us!) never been exposed to anything other than an uber traditional wedding. My advice to you would be to write her a letter (grandmother’s LOVE to get real life letters) and explain to her your reasons for wanting to dress in an non traditional way – ie that this is how you dress all the time (surely she knows this already) and that you and your fiancé want your wedding to be a perfect reflection of who you are as a couple. Tell her how upset you are at the thought of her not being there and that you hope she will reconsider. The fashion and style of the wedding is all aesthetics at the end of the day and without her there it wouldn’t be right. Your wedding is the most important day of your life and it means a hell of a lot to you and your fiancé that all your family attend.

I am wondering why she thinks that what you wear would make a mockery of marriage. Surely the wedding is just a day and how your go forward into your marriage is what counts. In actual fact – really the wedding day has nothing to do with the marriage does it!?

When we were planning our wedding some of our ideas raised a few eyebrows with certain people. When I told my Mum we wanted to have a black & white wedding with the bridesmaids in black dresses and all the men in black suits she said she thought it would look like a funeral! As if! However after showing her a bunch of other weddings I’d found online with a similar style to what we were after she soon came around and realisedthat her preconceptions of a ‘black wedding’ were totally wrong (it was exactly the same when I told my Mum I was doing a ‘vintage boudoir’ shoot by the way.) Maybe you could could try and do that for your Grandmother too? I would do this as a matter of urgency because as you said you Mum only ‘described to her basically what it will be like’ and there is nothing better than to see actual photographs of what you mean. You Mum may not have described it in the best light or manner, or your Grandmother might be imagining something a billion times more extreme than what it will be in reality! You really need to reassure her that you’re not doing anything dangerous, scary or ‘weird’. Think about it like this; when I say ‘gothic, rockabilly styled wedding’ what do you think of? awesome retro hair, fabulous shoes and amazing fitting dresses right? When your grandmother hears these words she might be thinking something completely different.

Here are some of my favourite ever gothic/rockabilly/Tim Burton-esque styled inspiration that should help to get you started.

Tim Burton meets Wedding
Tattoo Encore
Gothic Glam
A Halloween-esque Steam Train of Epicness
Most Haunted
With Extra Sparkle
Sleepy Halloween Wedding
Glam Vintage
Rock On
A Tattooed Rockstar Fest
Wai-Ching Fluevog Yum
Punk Rock, Diy
Pagan Christmas Wedding
Black, White ‘n Red
Uniquely Chic
Rock Stars
Rock n Rollin’


In all honestly she probably said those things without really thinking and I know she would be gutted to not be there on your big day, no matter what the day holds.  I hope I have been some help Allison. Good luck and keep us posted as to how it goes!

Now all you Rock n Roll Brides out there – do you have any advice or links for Allison too?


  1. I also think a letter is a good idea. And include the pictures.
    Grannies remain old school, and they don’t like change.

  2. Jenna

    The main problem is that this info is coming from your mother and not from you. There are a lot of photos here with a potentially confusing effect for someone trying to remember what all she’s seen to report it to your grandmother.

    Break it down for her. Send her pictures of the top and skirt you’ll be wearing in that above-mentioned letter. Try to get a REAL photo of the skirt in white: I guarantee that “in white” caption didn’t sink in properly with your mom. Pictures of what he is wearing will confuse things. So will pictures of the shoes or any other accessories. The shoes alone are probably causing a freakout but no one will notice them at the ceremony unless you call attention to them. If possible, take a photo in the ACTUAL dress you’ll be wearing.

    Then, sweetly make the following points:

    1- Starting off a lifelong commitment with repressing the personalities involved in said commitment will not lead to happiness

    2- She is extremely important to you, so much so that you accommodated her desire not to fly.

    3- Not attending over a dress is a really silly choice that you’ll both end up regretting. Especially since the dress is MOSTLY WHITE, with some stripes.

    4- Remind her that it’s too late to restructure the ENTIRE wedding over this choice, especially without massive financial outlay.

    5- Close with a statement of love and attach the photo of the little girl dress – if possible, correlate it to another wedding she’s been to where the bridesmaids wore red or black.

    Honestly, it’s her choice not to come, but make sure she makes that choice with full info, and that the info is coming from you. Leave out any info that confuses the issue, such as shoes or the groom’s outfit – they don’t apply to your dress.

    Last, remember that most people don’t have much imagination when faced with an emotional decision – sometimes, people have to have an exact photograph in order to be ok.

    ::hugs:: You’ll be fine! I wouldn’t do my last wedding over again, mainly for this kind of stuff. But the main thing is to enjoy your wedding day and to begin your new life together!!

  3. sara

    My father did not attend my wedding. He had never approved of my relationship and unfortunately that extended to my wedding day as well. So when I hear about other family members not attending weddings due to clothes//piercings/tats, etc it just drives me crazy! The truth of the matter is that you will be marrying your wonderful fiance regardless of whether your grandmother comes or not. What she is doing is not fun for you by any means, more like an extremely painful experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I agree that I think you need to write the letter and a couple days later CALL her (since you cant visit in person) and tell her truthfully how much her attendence means to you and that while you wont be in a full length white ballgown you WILL be looking beautiful and how great it would be if she was there to see it! You know that she loves you and respects you- so hopefully she is smart enough to really listen to you. Plus, once she sees how you intend to style the wedding she will most likely still voice her dissaproval even once she agrees to come! Unfortunately, people do not always understand our choices in life – and sometimes you have to live with that knowledge. But your wedding day will be glorious, even if grandma comes with a disaproving look on her face towards your pretty attire. And I promise you that nothing will change that.


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