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OT - Spoiled Sister-in-Law is getting married

strugglingSM's picture

DH has a younger sister who has always been the princess of the family. She is in her 40s and I always thought she was opposed to marriage, but apparently, her SO of 5 years proposed and she is getting married in June (not sure why so soon...that seems quick to plan a wedding, especially since she lives in a foreign country). 

All fine, not my problem, but her dream is apparently to get married at the family cabin. DH's family has had this property for nearly 50 years, so they had a really old John Deere vehicle of sorts to plow the snow, maintain the dirt road, and do general maintenance. Elderly uncle (almost 80) has nothing to do, so he tinkers on this thing. Just a couple of weeks ago, he took some piece apart that he now cannot put back together and because it's so old, mechanics who might be able to fix it can't find the parts, so they can't fix it either. This would all be fine, just don't go in the winter this year or pay someone to plow, but now that Spoiled SIL wants to get married there, MIL is insistent that we all pitch in to replace this tractor, so she can "clean up the place" for SIL's wedding. An "affordable" replacement would be $30K, split 3, maybe 4 ways. Not surprisingly, DH and I don't have any extra cash to contribute at this time. After all, he pays a significant portion of his income to CS each month and we have to pay for daycare for one, soon to be two, small children. 

I will also add that MIL was ready to shell out $50K for a wedding venue in the area, but no, Spoiled SIL is insistent that the wedding be at the family cabin, so MIL must have her replacement tractor (not sure if this is the exact term for the vehicle) and sees it as a "group purchase". Not only that, but her assumption is that DH will be willing and able to go out on weekends to fix things up in preparation for a June wedding. She will also likely be shelling out money for landscaping, upgrades to the cabin, etc, all to make it appear perfect (and not the old house in the woods that it clearly is), all of which we will eventually hear about...when MIL complains against how much she spends on the family cabin and then BIL tells DH that he should pitch in financially. 

I told DH that if he agreed to any of this, either paying thousands for a new tractor or going out on weekends to do maintenance and upgrades, he might as well move to the family cabin, because I will be done with him. He's already done thousands of dollars in maintenance (DH works in a trade and has completed repairs and upgrades that any other homeowner would have paid him $15K for in the last few years alone) on the place in the last year.

For further context, MIL gave DH and I a food processor for our wedding. She also complained that she had to pay to travel to our wedding, since I had it near my family. My mother planned our rehearsal dinner and I think my parents might have covered half the cost (they made the desposit, not sure if that was half the cost or less than that). My parents also paid for the hotel room that DH stayed in with SSs that MIL then stayed in after she arrived, because DH and I stayed at the wedding venue on the day of the wedding. Also, only five of DH's family members came to our wedding and some didn't even tell us they weren't coming, just didn't RSVP. One of the people who came to our wedding was Silent SIL who spent the entire time either pouting in the corner or acting as if SSs were being neglected, so this wedding is going to push all kinds of buttons for me! 


JRI's picture

Best wishes, SIL!  We look forward to seeing you.  Sorry, MIL, we cannot contribute.  

What's the worst that can happen if you guys say this?

Side note: if MIL can afford to part with $50K, I'm sure she will handle all the arrangements just fine 

strugglingSM's picture

DH assures me that he has already told MIL that we cannot afford to contribute. SIL cannot afford to contribute either (as MIL always reminds DH), so really, why should DH contribute....

And I agree, if MIL has that much for a wedding and has a need to replace the tractor due to the wedding, then she can come up with the money. My thinking is that they do not actually need to replace the tractor immediately and could spend time weighing options, including a more detailed cost-benefit analysis of replacing the tractor. For example, how much will it cost to pay someone to plow the snow 2-3 times per year or smooth out the dirt road once every 3-5 years...and based on those figures, how many years would it cost to recoup the investment of a large piece of equipment that will sit idol most of the time. 

strugglingSM's picture

Exactly! But I also think MIL should explore other options, since she's not going to operate the new tractor on her own. There are costs associated with DH going up there again and again to use the tractor to plow or do whatever MIL desires at the time...his time is not free, even if MIL doesn't pay him for it. Might be worth talking to someone to see how much it would cost to do whatever plowing, landscaping, earth clearing MIL has in mind, instead of rushing out to buy a new tractor. 

I will also add that the original cabin on the property is in a state of disrepair, since the same elderly uncle that broke the previous tractor under the guise of "repairing it" (DH has used it many times in the last year and did not notice anything that was in need of immediate repair) is also in charge of maintaining that cabin. MIL's cabin (which is more like a house in the woods), does not have the right set up for a wedding (doesn't have a big flat area) and also just looks like a house in the woods, nothing to write home about. MIL loves to make a spectacle, so she will likely want to completely renovate the entire thing...either way, I hope to sit back and stay out of it...and I hope DH also remembers that he is not MIL or SIL's handyman, or contractor, or anything else to get this wedding off the ground. 

JRI's picture

When is SIL coming home?  Ideally, early enough to realize this plan is not feasible.  But, whatever, not your prob.


strugglingSM's picture

She was home two weeks ago (which was kept a secret from everyone, but for some reason MIL told my mother) when she apparently looked at venues. 

Strangely enough, we are not supposed to know she is getting married (MIL only told DH due to the need to replace the tractor) and are supposed to act suprised when she tells us. 

MIL moves heaven and earth to make sure that SIL's dreams are realized, so SIL will never realize how unrealistic her plan is. SIL is also always "too busy" to ever respond to DH (or even sometimes to MIL), so she wouldn't trouble herself with the planning, anyway. For DH's and my wedding, MIL bought SIL several dresses to choose from, enough to cover the gathering two days before the wedding (stand-in for a bridal shower), the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding. Then MIL arranged with my mother for SIL to have her hair and make-up done by my stylist (who is also my cousin). All SIL had to do was get on the flight MIL had booked for her. 

shamds's picture

My husband proposed early may and we married early November that year and i was from overseas and resigned from my job and moved overseas like 2 days before wedding to live with him. We had 7 months to plan ours and did a simple garden wedding.

strugglingSM's picture

I would agree with you if it was not MIL doing the planning. I actually planned my own wedding in eight months, but that was possible because I was not overly picky and didn't have grand visions of what I wanted. MIL is obsessed with appearances. For my wedding, my mother ended up planning the rehearsal dinner because MIL wanted me to basically plan a second wedding by renting a "historic home" and shipping in food from DH's home state...not sure if this was just her way of getting out of planning and paying for the whole thing (because my mother found and reserved the space, she also paid the deposit). MIL is also terrible at actually planning. To add to that, the family cabin does not currently have a suitable space for a wedding for a couple hundred people. This is why MIL is insistent upon buying a new tractor, so they can clear land. One of the areas she's currently thinking about is currently covered in thick weeds and overgrowth. The other is covered in random junk acquired over the years by elderly uncle. The cabin is almost three hours away from our home, so it's not as if DH could go by after work. It also gets heavy snowfall in the winter (the area has already had its first snow), so the earliest they'd be able to get in to do any land clearing would be late March / early April. That only gives them a couple of months to get everything set...and I will not be happy if DH is expected to spend every weekend out there prepping the space...or worse, take unpaid time off work to do so. BIL won't do it because his kid is now on a travel baseball team, so he'll be off at baseball games on weekends. 

Winterglow's picture

Given this information, they really DO need to get the work done by a professional. Also, supposing the land can't be flattened by a mere tractor? Could you maybe divert this catastrophe by finding a pro, getting a quote and having your DH give it to MIL? 

Harry's picture

To look ar it. Maybe he can get it back together. Or look at a used. Tractor 

strugglingSM's picture

DH contacted someone about the existing tractor. The problem is that the parts elderly uncle removed and either broke or can't put back in or not readily available because the current tractor is so old and also are parts that would more easily break down, meaning tractors of that type in the salvage yard don't currently have any in good enough condition to serve as replacements. 

JRI's picture

When something old is broken and cannot be repaired, that's when they cross the Rainbow Bridge and go to tractor heaven.

SeeYouNever's picture

Ok wait. Since when is the brother of the bride expected to contribute to his little (over the hill) sister's wedding? 

It sounds like MIL just wants some money freed up to renovate this cabin as she sees fit. That sounds like a big ol' not your problem. Considering how you were treated for your wedding the right thing to do would be to opt out of all preparation and just give a modest gift. My DH was pissy with his family for a while after we got married for the same reason.

I'm assuming FIL has passed away?

strugglingSM's picture

Yes, FIL passed away over 20 years ago, but did leave significant money to MIL. 

DH's family always has this weird tendency to assume certain property is "co-owned" when it is time to repair or replace, but not co-owned when it is time to use or benefit from it. One of the problems with the old tractor was that elderly uncle assumed it was his outright (in part, because FIL is no longer around and DH's grandparents are also no longer around). He was super possessive about who could use the tractor and was constantly tinkering on it (which is why it is broken), but as soon as it needs to be repaired or replaced, it belongs to "everyone". We've already paid a couple of times to have someone repair pieces that elderly uncle has removed and couldn't figure out how to put back in or that have legitimately needed repair. 

DH sees it as his familiial duty to "maintain" the family cabin, including the stupid tractor...and to further complicate matters, they buried their father's ashes on the property, so he has an extreme emotional attachment. He is very driven by what his father would have wanted, to the point of it being something other family members take advantage of, IMO. Also, in many ways, MIL expects DH to be the stand-in for FIL in his absence (even though DH has another brother, the golden child, who everyone says is just liked sainted FIL, but is never really expected to take any responsibility). 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Send a food processor to MIL and say "this was SO useful to us that we hope it helps out with SIL's wedding prep!"

Ispofacto's picture

You'd think for 30k, she could afford to pay a neighbor handsomely to plow three times a year.

Seems like this is more about DH paying homage to her ego.


strugglingSM's picture

And also about everyone "chipping in"...when really, they could pay a couple of thousand dollars to have the place plowed a few times a year, decide that a wedding on the property is too much work, so SIL will have to be sad, but will survive, and that buying a replacement tractor is not a good investment. DH's family is terrible about planning and seems to make decisions based hopes and dreams, rather than reality. I'm a planner and also a realist, so it drives me nuts!


Rags's picture


Of course the pile of $$$ spent by my MIL was embezzled from her employer. Though that did not come to light for nearly 20 years.  $35K for a marriage that lasted 2.5 years and produced a cheat baby between my then wife and her geriatric Fortune 500 sugar/baby daddy.

When DW and I married... $500, Love's Lake Tahoe Wedding Chaple, and announcements to friends and family 2wks prior. Come if you want.  My brother, SIL, 5mo old niece, my mom, college BFF and his GF, and my DW's aunt and uncle came.  No one from my actual IL clan.  My dad was overseas and could not get back in time.  $500 and 28+ years of marriage. There is no comparision in the ROI for the first marriage and this one.

We renewed our vows at 20yrs.  Most do it at 25yrs but I had no confidence that my FIL would make it to our 25th so I recommended that we do it at 20.  DW planned it for a year.  $15K, a beautiful vinyard/winery venue, SS "officiated", we had about 30 guests, the food was incredible, the wine and signature cocktails were spectacular, my bride was stunning.  My FIL got to walk his daugter down the isle.  FIL did not in fact survive to our 25th.  He passed a year before that anniversary.  My bride has those amazing memories with her dad and family.  I am glad that we could make that happen for her and them.

My key learnings on weddings... the cost of the wedding has nothing to do with the quality of the commitment.  The farther shit people can be kept from the ceremony, the better.

Unfortunately my XIL clan and their ~400 guests infested that curse of a wedding/marriage.

The two weddings my incredible bride and I have had, are a blessing.  So much so that wewill do another on our 30th and probably one every 10-ish years going forward.  I would marry her an infinate number of times.

strugglingSM's picture

Apparently, Spoiled SIL is no longer getting married. Her BF was okay having the ceremony, but doesn't want to get legally married and Spoiled SIL wants to get legally married, so they are at an impasse...but still together.

In true dysfunctional fashion we are all supposed to pretend that we never knew about any of it.