The problem: I’m getting married, and my mom is excited for me to wear her wedding dress. It is very beautiful, but not at all my style, or what I envisioned for my wedding. How do I admit this to her without hurting her feelings?
Low road: Elope!
High road: This is, indeed, sensitive. She’s probably had that beauty boxed up with your name on it since the day you were born. But this is your wedding, and the dress is perhaps the most personal statement a bride has the pleasure to make on her special day. You deserve to feel beautiful, and free from the need to compromise. (That’ll come later, and last for the rest of your married life)
There is a way to take the high road. Remember that weddings are about many things: families coming together, traditions merging, futures envisioned and the honoring of those who brought you to this day through their love and effort.
You need to tell your mom how you feel, but you do not have to reject her kind offer entirely.
Tell her how excited you are for her to be a part of this day. Tell her how much it means to you that she offered you her very own wedding dress. If true and appropriate, tell her you hope that you and your fiancé will have the same strong marriage that she and your father have had, beginning on the day she wore this dress.
But also tell her that you have long envisioned the style of dress you would feel most beautiful wearing. Ask her if she would possibly allow you to take a piece of lace, or beading, from her dress and incorporate it into yours. Or maybe you could alter her veil and wear that.
Something old, something new, something borrowed will make you both less blue.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad