Mother of the groom

The traditional advice for the mother of the groom is – forgive the language – to “show up, shut up, and wear beige.” While there’s some good food for thought in that little adage, the truth is that you are embarking on a whole new relationship with your soon to be daughter-in-law. Here’s how to make the most of the wedding to create a long-lasting relationship.

Be aware of the etiquette
Although many weddings depart from the traditional, it helps to know which rules you are breaking before you choose to break them. The standard areas of responsibility for the mother of the groom are:
• Plan, host, and pay for the rehearsal dinner
• Draw up the guest list for the groom’s side, but only after you find out how many guests are allocated for your list; this also means calling any who are late in providing a RSVP.
• Attend the bridal shower, gift in hand; give a wedding gift
• Coordinate dress with the mother of the bride (she chooses first)
• Help the father of the groom make a toast at the rehearsal dinner
• If there’s a groom/mother dance, help choose a song for it, and dance

You may also help the groom pay for:
• The rings, bride’s bouquet, boutonnieres, and mothers’ corsages, and license fees
• The honeymoon

Let go of the image
Tape the following over your bathroom mirror, if you need to: this is not about me. And it’s true – although the wedding will be a milestone event for your son and for your family, the truth is that you have had your wedding already (or given it up, if that’s the case). If you are mourning the event you didn’t have – or the daughter you didn’t have – it’s a good idea to honour those feelings and perhaps take a day or two to plan out what you would like to have done – and then put it aside.

The other ghost to set aside is your concern about how the wedding will reflect on your family. As the mother of the groom you have little control – at least traditionally – and your friends and family who attend will be aware of it. So even if you fear that your radical feminist friend will be seated with the president of a men’s only club, try to let it go. It will all make for a good story some day.

Generosity makes a good foundation
It’s possible – and maybe even likely – that there will be a lot of details around the wedding that you don’t agree with. Often families about to be “in-laws” find that their priorities are different – or their budgets, or traditions.

If you want to become the most popular parent around and the one most likely to get her way about family events in the future – practice the art of giving in gracefully. So many people involved in the wedding will be vying for their traditions or desires that your willingness to bend will stand out. If you had a formal rehearsal dinner in mind, but the wedding is going to be informal – go with the flow.

That doesn’t mean you can’t – or shouldn’t – articulate things you would like to see. Just do it mildly and be prepared to be told no. One common compromise is to offer to cover the reception costs for any guests you would like to invite beyond the number you are allocated.

Of course there may be some areas you can’t be as flexible about – like a budget for the rehearsal dinner. You may have had a simple event in mind, to reflect your wallet, and the bride’s family may be expecting a more lavish event – and to include out-of-town guests. The key to a dilemma like this one is to communicate often – and early. Be sure the bride knows what your budget is well in advance, and discuss expectations around who will be invited.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the bride herself has never planned a wedding before, at least in most cases. She may be unusually stressed – and most especially, overly concerned about things going wrong in front of all her family and friends, and – of course – you. Don’t assume that if she is bossy about wedding details that she will be bossy for the next 30 years – or disorganized – or inconsiderate. Some selective amnesia may go a long way in setting up your future relationship for success.

Things to help with
Most of the tips above involve how to keep out of arguments. But you can go a step further and offer to help. Some areas to help in may include:
• Scouting venues and vendors
• Looking over contracts
• Getting the word out about registries
• Help in introducing family and guests to each other
• Being hands-on and helping with “do-it-yourself” projects

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate
And of course the final tip – don’t forget to have some fun. Take your daughter-in-law to be out for a fun day away from the madness (well ahead of the final rush) – and don’t talk about the wedding. Take time to enjoy the prevailing romantic spirit and book a getaway for yourself and your partner. Or dig out old family photos and spend some time reminiscing – whatever will serve to make the event one that you too will remember with fondness.

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