Leaving a parent out of your wedding plans can lead to serious drama. But usually, the whole point of excluding them is to prevent even worse drama.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for leaving up a picture that angered her MIL. She wrote:
I (25F) married my husband Joe (27M) four months ago. We dated all through high school and college, so we have been in each other's lives and in each other's families for quite some time. Joe's father died when we were seniors in high school, and his sister Jill died 3 years ago. Since then, his mother, Jean, has been, in my opinion, unhinged.
I cannot imagine her sense of loss and I know everyone has their own grief process so I really try not to judge, but she makes everything about her grief. She didn't come to our college graduation because she would never get to see Jill graduate from college. We try to be especially kind to her on Mother's Day, but she spends HOURS at the cemetery and gets very irate if we leave before she's ready to.
She insists we give our first child her husband's name as a first or middle name and gets angry when we say we'll name our future children as we see fit. There have been other incidents, too. She's done so much to push Joe away while also relying on him for emotional and sometimes financial support. They have a very unhealthy relationship now. It came to a head when we were wedding planning.
I invited her to come wedding dress shopping with me, my mom, my grandma, and my maid of honor. I told her she did not need to come if it was going to be painful for her, but she said she would be happy to. To all our surprise, she came and brought a wedding gown that Jill had purchased to save for her own wedding someday.
She said it would help her if I tried it on and I did, which made her cry, but then she insisted that it was my dress and I didn't need to get another one. After multiple refusals, she pouted the rest of the time. It was so awkward for everyone.
This led to a lot of drama, to the point where Joe (and me, but mostly Joe) did not want her at the wedding because we couldn't trust her to not cause some kind of scene and because we thought it would be terrible for her mental health. We asked her not to come and she agreed not to. I got to have a dance with my dad, and my mom surprised Joe by stepping in for a mother's dance with him.
They smiled and laughed the whole time. It was the most special part of our wedding, to me. I recently changed my FB cover photo to a picture of Joe and my mom dancing and laughing. Jean saw this and has been coming at us for it, saying it's just a reminder that she was excluded from her son's wedding day.
I told her I'm not taking it down and that if she doesn't want to see it, she can simply not look at my FB. She says I am inconsiderate of her feelings and that I am an AH for this because "it drives another wedge" between her and her son. AITA?
At this point, I think you should use it as a bargaining chip. You guys need to keep her at arm's length until she gets into grief counseling with a therapist and meets with a therapist long-term. Until she is working with a grief therapist, every event will become like your wedding did. You want this dealt with before a child is in the picture. Truly. NTA.
And OP responded:
Every event already has, this was just our breaking point. She doesn't see Joe on his birthdays, she missed his college graduation, we've tried spending some holidays with her but it is awful every time.
YTA only because it’s weird to have THAT as your profile pic at all…seems like you don’t mind rubbing it in her face. I seriously doubt THAT was THE most special picture out of all of them, let alone you’re apparently not even in it. Super weird behavior all around. She’s clearly struggling and needs mental health help. Don’t make it worse.
YTA. She was excluded from her only living child's wedding and then was faced with a photo of your mom playing his mom for the mother/son dance. I can understand excluding her due to drama, but to then throw it in her face is pretty cruel. It opens up questions and suspicions about if there was actual drama caused by her (and not you and your family). You are 100% inconsiderate at the very least.
I'm sure I will be voted down. I have much sympathy for you. You were very kind to invite her dress shopping, and I am so sorry that backfired. I understand why you didn't feel she could come to the wedding, but I do think a public posting of a substitute mother is a little disrespectful, knowing the extent of her pain.
Can you not just enjoy the photo in the private space of your own home? I've been that person excluded. It hurts. You can't fix what's broken, but you can avoid heaping more on the pile.
One of the hardest things in life is to lose your child. It doesn't matter how old that child is. People never "get over it." They just learn to hide it and move on, but the pain is always there. You, thankfully, have never experienced this. Yes, she is a handful, but please give her grace, and maybe your husband can get her into counseling. YTA for having that picture up. Very passive-aggressive.
OP is clearly TA here, for rubbing that photo in her MIL's face.