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My fiancée's mum has dementia - do we rush our wedding planning?

I could really do with some independent advice.

My fiancée lost his dad last year and his mum has been suffering from dementia for the last 3 years. She still knows who we are but suffers from paranoia and is deteriorating rapidly. My fiancée is terrified at the prospect of not having either of his parents at his wedding.

To complicate matters my younger brother is getting married in June next year! We could rush to plan our wedding in 4-5 months and getting married before him - but as much as he is being supportive my brother is pretty gutted that we would do this as we are both hoping to get married in the same small Devon town with lots of family and friends overlapping. If we wait - the next available date for where I've always wanted to get married is April 2017, at which point I have no idea as to whether my fiancée's mum will know who we are. And is 4-5 months even achievable to plan a wedding?

There really are no good options but I'd love any advice. I've suggested having a small family blessing early next year with his mum but I still don't think that will make up for not having her their on our wedding day. 

Sorry for the emotional download!


  • I would recommend against moving the wedding forward if I am honest. Whilst I completely understand where your fiancé is coming from, you need to think about your MIL and her care needs. If she suffers from paranoia as part of her dementia, putting her at a big social event with a lot of people may not be a good choice for her. At my first wedding my Grandad had dementia and my Nan had died six weeks previously. My Grandad is now in a challenging behaviour unit and I know dementia is different for every person, but on my wedding day my Grandad tried to make a run for it, my Dad stopped him and he head butted my Dad! Total drama for everyone and clearly my Grandad was aggravated and upset.

    I would recommend supporting your fiancé as he comes to term with the dementia, but ultimately I wouldn't put your MIL in a position she will find difficult. Who would care for her on the day? You won't relax if you are constantly worried about her. I would have the wedding you wanted on the timescale you planned and visit her after the church, give her a bouquet of flowers and have some family portraits and then carry on with your day. It is kinder to everyone.

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Hey Rebecca,

    I'm so sorry to read about your situation. My grandmother has suffered from dementia for nearly nine years. I understand how devastating it can be on a family and how the disease takes hold of someone. 

    You are right that there is no true ideal situation in this, but they manage to plan weddings in three weeks on DTTB - four to five months shouldn't be a problem if you do decide to take that route! 

    One thing springs to mind to help you resolve this - talk to your brother again.

    Of course, it isn't easy to have your wedding overshadowed by a sibling so I fully appreciate why your brother would be upset by this. I'm sure he is being as graceful as he can be about the situation, but this really is an exceptional and quite frankly, sad circumstance. You wouldn't be marrying just before him to spite or take the shine off his special day. I don't intend for this to sound horrible to your brother, but looking at the bigger picture, at least it isn't your or his fiancee's parents who are being gripped by what is a truly cruel disease. I only say this because I saw how my grandma deteriorated. I don't mean to upset you, but my grandma was in full time care five years into her battle - waiting until April 2017 is too much of a risk in terms of your MIL being well enough to be able to attend your celebrations in my opinion (though every sufferer is different, it isn't worth the risk...). I doubt your brother would want to carry the guilt of your MIL not being able to attend your wedding because of his own, especially given that your H2B has already suffered a significant loss. He sounds like a reasonable person!

    Another idea that's popped into my head is to just have a small family wedding early next year (as in immediate family) so your MIL can witness your marriage and then you can host your 'wedding' day as you originally planned. As MrsM said, she may not cope well in a big social situation that a 'normal' wedding would involve. Keep it small, calm and intimate. I do agree that you do need to consider your MIL's needs as much as your own - it will be more upsetting for you both to see her struggle on the day, than for her to not be there at all. Turn your ceremony in front of all your family and friends into a vow renewal or a blessing perhaps? That way, you won't overshadow your brother and you can be sure that H2B's mum was there for the most important part when you officially married, even though not everyone was there to witness it.

    Sending you all my very best wishes x

  • Karen62Karen62 Posts: 244

    Hi Rebecca

    What an awful situation, both Lubes & MrslofM have very valid points & it has to be what's right for you as a whole family & your FMIL, if she has paranoia how well will she cope with a large wedding party some of whom she probably won't know, it could potentially be very distressing for all of you. How does his mum feel about things? If she still recognises you it may be she still able to discuss the situation herself.

    If it was my family member I probably wouldn't bring it forward, dementia is a cruel disease that steals the individual & they wouldn't enjoy the event like one would wish them to. But it would have to be H2B choice as it's his mum.

    Perhaps just a very small wedding to do the formalities as soon as possible & then plan a later blessing with the full reception. Although I have to be honest & say that wouldn't be my ideal wedding, what's important is your getting married to each other.

    A wedding is fully plannable in 4 months😀 but as you say you would be unavoidably stepping into your brothers time. As Lubes says you'd need to talk to him to see a way forward.

    Sorry not to be more help!



  • RubyCatRubyCat Posts: 272 New bride

    If it was this coming December/January that would definitely not steal the thunder of your brother's June wedding (although I do think bro's being a little bit selfish). And perhaps keep it small if a crowd will distress her, immediate family and best friends

  • Thanks so much for all your advice - it's really helpful to hear from people that don't have a vested interest (even though our families are being incredibly supportive they do all have opinions!). It's also good to hear that people have gone through similar challenges - it's just such a terrible disease and so hard to know how quickly she is going to deteriorate so it's really nice to know we are not alone.

    I do agree that a big wedding could be distressing for her - and actually harder for my H2Bs family. I'm leaning towards a small blessing / family gathering next year and then a bigger party with our friends in 2017. I've sent my H2B to the pub with his brother tonight to get his advice - I think it might be that he needs a bit of reassurance from his family that he's not being selfish if we wait. 

    I'm pretty relaxed about the wedding itself as long as I get the chance to celebrate with family and friends!


  • You sound like you have a good perspective Rebecca and whatever happens, I wish you and your fiancé the best.

    And if you do decide to get married next year, you have a very capable bunch of ladies here to help...!

  • MrsMannionMrsMannion Posts: 1,345 New bride


    My nan has this and the past year she has gone down, I thinking 2017 would be too late, surely ur brother will understand you moving it forward,


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