The Mother-In-Law Email – A Wedding Gift That Just Keeps On GivingJuly 7, 2011
Meeting the future in-laws can be stressful. You want to make a good impression. Heidi Withers didn’t make a good enough impression for Carolyn Bourne, the stepmother of her fiancé, Freddie. Mrs Bourne, a renowned horticulturist, found Heidi’s manners wanting and proceeded to spell it out in a blistering email. A horrified Heidi sent it to some friends, who, in their horror sent it to their friends and before you could say Jackrabbit, the Bourne Ultimatum went viral. Mrs Bourne was compared to Hyacinth Bouquet (real name ‘Bucket’) from the British TV comedy Keeping Up Appearances, a character who had delusions of grandeur. She was also called ‘Momzilla’ by the American press. God bless America.
Just in case you have spent the last week on the moon, here are some extracts from that email:
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so. Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace. Unfortunately, this was not the first example of bad manners I have experienced from you. If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something.
You do not remark that you do not have enough food.
You do not start before everyone else.
You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
[Your future sister-in-law] has quite the most exquisite manners of anyone I have ever come across. You would do well to follow her example.
You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.
Well, that’s embarrassing, you may think, but that wasn’t the end of it. The father of the bride then pitched in, calling Mrs Bourne ‘Miss Fancy Pants.’ He said: “I think she has her head stuck so far up her own arse she doesn’t know whether to speak or fart.” Then the groom’s biological mother put in her two pennies worth, declaring that her future daughter-in-law was charming and would always be welcome in her home. Meanwhile, as the proverbial hit the fan from all directions, the groom and his father were deafening in their silence. Ignore it and it will eventually die they thought. But no, it was very much alive and growing. By the weekend, rumours were circulating that the email was a PR stunt as Freddie was part of a new venture dealing in weddings. I strongly suggest it would be the least effective publicity for a wedding business, if the rumours were to be true. But then, what do I know? I’m not in business.
Freddie finally came out on Monday and angrily denied the row was a PR stunt. He also declared that the wedding would take place on October 13th as planned. I’ve already checked the date: It’s not on a Friday. Never mind the Olympics, this is the ticket I’d fight for. It would be one hell of an event.
I’ve dusted off my suit. I’m going for a front seat.