Things Every Mother of the Groom Should Know

5 Bits of Advice for Being an Amazing Mother-in-Law

mother of groom giving him a kiss
(Caiaimage/Chris Ryan/Getty Images)

It isn’t easy being the mother of the groom. On the one hand, there isn’t much within your official capacity that you are required to do; on the other hand, the lack of specific duties can make being involved feel awkward. 

In today’s day and age, weddings are becoming less and less traditional and more couples see their wedding day as a family affair rather than a day “all about the bride.” However, in most cases, the mother of the groom is generally still playing third fiddle to the bride and the mother of the bride.

Although you want to be respectful of the bride's family, it's a special day for you as well! Watching your son get married is an exciting occasion and you deserve an active role if you want one. So how can you navigate the odd waters of being a mother of the groom with ease and success? Here are five tips to make the journey from here to the aisle easier.

1.  Take (Gentle) Control of the Rehearsal Dinner 

In the jurisdiction of weddings, there are few domains relegated exclusively to the groom and his family. The rehearsal dinner is one area where the groom's family can take the reins and you should embrace this fully. Chat with your son and his fiancée to get a sense of how large or small they want their rehearsal dinner to be, as well as how formal or casual they are thinking the wedding might be. It’s sometimes nice to play opposite of the wedding day for the rehearsal dinner. For many couples, the rehearsal dinner presents an awkward topic if the mother of the groom doesn’t step in and assume responsibility, so taking charge (with their input) can actually go a long way.

2.  Defer to the Bride and Mother of the Bride Regarding Attire 

Of course, you want to look beautiful and feel your best, but you also want to be sure that you coordinate and don’t step on the toes of the other hostesses for the evening. It’s traditional etiquette for the mother of the groom to contact the mother of the bride to find out what color she is planning to wear so that you don’t duplicate, but you can also coordinate if she is open to it.

In these modern times, it’s less and less common that you are intimately involved with your son’s future in-laws, so it might feel unnatural. Extending this small courtesy is a simple gesture that can go a long way if you're willing to make the effort. 

3. Participate Whenever Possible 

If your future daughter-in-law invites you to go dress shopping with her or to join her for a cake tasting, make your best efforts to attend. These are her attempts to build a relationship with you, using the wedding as a backdrop. Remember that for her, this is likely the most important thing happening in her life at the moment. As such, refusals to participate in these activities can seem more like statements about your feelings towards your future daughter-in-law rather than simple scheduling issues. Be sure to take her feelings into account if you have to decline any invitations, and let her know if you have to decline due to something such as a schedule conflict to avoid any misunderstandings. 

4.  If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Don't Say Anything at All

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress, you likely know that there is no character as annoying as the mother of the groom with too many opinions on what the bride wears to marry her son.

Don’t be that person! Aim to be supportive but not challenging in your role during the process. If you are asked directly for your opinion about something, you aren’t required to lie to spare feelings, but being agreeable and positive can work wonders for your current and future relationship with your daughter-in-law.

5.  Establish Terms for Financial Contributions 

In more and more cases, paying for weddings is less the sole responsibility of the parents of the bride. If you are in a position to pay for portions or all of the wedding ceremony and reception, clearly establish what you expect in return for this generous present.  Do you expect to be included in decision making? Do you expect to be deferred to or consulted in how this money is spent? This might feel like an awkward conversation to have with your future daughter-in-law, but it should be an easy one to have with your son, and it's an important one to have.

Getting this conversation out of the way ensures that your son and his fiancée can decide if and how they want to accept the terms of your gift. No financial exchange ever comes without “terms”, not even weddings. It’s truly better for all involved parties to be upfront about your expectations to avoid hurt feelings or disagreement down the road. 

With these tips in mind, hopefully you can find the perfect balance of the spotlight and support in your son's big day!