Punjabi weddings, mostly known for their exuberance don’t leave much for imagination even in terms of their traditions (Cue: K3G music in the background)! So, when my Mother-in-law came to me with the idea of shopping together for my trousseau, I was nervous about what the dynamic between us would be like since I had witnessed some of the stresses that my engaged friends endured with their MILs.
My mom and I are more like friends, so it felt natural to go to her for advice. I would send her every Pinterest photo, ask her to help me review wedding vendors and always check her schedule prior to booking vendor appointments so that she could always accompany me. With preconceived notions in my head, I decided to take the plunge and invite my mom-in-law for a day of shopping at South-Ex, which to be honest, was not as instinctive, but was understandable, considering I haven't known her my whole life as I have my mom.
The day, however, turned out to be the most fun I had in a while and amidst all the rummaging and bargaining, the formalities melted and both of us got much closer than we had even anticipated! Let the naysayers exist but going shopping with your mother-in-law is the time to foster a good relationship with the woman who bore your soon-to-be husband. When you marry someone, you also marry their family, after all.
Here’s how I made trousseau shopping a fulfilling experience with my MIL and hope you can too!
1) Go with an absolutely open mind. You may want to be dressed like a regal Sabyasachi new bride while your mom-in-law might see you drenched in sequins from head to toe. Do not, at any point, shun the outfits she chooses from the rack. Take a middle route instead- buy a sequin saree and pair it with a different fabric blouse that you spot elsewhere. You may be surprised with how lovely you look despite it not being your original choice. Give everything one chance, until it’s something you won’t be caught dead in!
2) On seeing me moony-eyed at a few outfits, my mom-in-law suggested we buy them promptly even if they were waaaay out of her budget. It was an uphill battle to convince her to NOT spend her money on those. The tip is to be extra cautious as you do not want to be seen as a spendthrift and scare her about her son’s financial future! At the same time, do not see everything as ‘too expensive’ lest you be seen as a miser who would never spend on any of the new family members (ideal Ekta Kapoor bahu, wouldn’t you be?)
3) Be an active voice and involve yourself in the process. After all, the effort’s being made only for you! If you dilly-dally your way into checking out the outfits or even bargaining for them, it would end up making your mother-in-law really uncomfortable about her presence. Discuss. Show her a picture or ask the shopkeeper to show what matches your preference and take her opinion on it at times to make her feel involved.
4) While it’s definitely the time to earn some brownie points, remember, that it is YOUR wedding and nothing should ruin the excitement you hold inside you. If your mom-in-law seems forceful of a particular outfit that is just not you, just politely refuse and tell her about the look you had planned in your head. Try that lehenga that really caught your eye and request her, as you would request your own mother, to get that for you. (How it worked wonders for me!)
5) In the end, even if you haven’t shopped for the required number of clothes and as per the mother in law’s list, just take her hand and go treat her to something delicious for being such a sport with you. She would forget anything small that you might have mistakenly uttered and indulge on the feast with you, knowing your good intentions.
After all, nothing else but food could bring two Punjabis together! :)