Ariel Skelley via Getty Images
Ariel Skelley via Getty Images
Ariel Skelley via Getty Images
Weddings are joyous occasions to celebrate two people and the commitment they are making to each other. Many modern couples want to involve both sides of their families on their wedding day, and as the mother of the groom, you could easily find yourself playing an active role in their big day. But there are potential pitfalls and bad behaviors that even the most savvy mother of the groom has to watch out for.
Right after your son pops the question or accepts a proposal, you might be tempted to shout the news from a mountaintop or blast it across social media. First, get your son and his fiance's permission so you don’t accidentally cross a relationship boundary. Then, you should pick up the phone and call close family members and friends. They'll want to hear the news directly from you — not from Facebook or Instagram.
In your excitement, it's tempting to start telling friends and family and even distant acquaintances to save the date. But don't start promising people they'll be invited to the wedding until you confirm the guest list with the couple. They might want to keep things small, and it’s awkward having to take back an invite.
Similarly, it's important to be respectful of the budget and guest list size, especially if your son's partner's parents are paying for the wedding — or if the couple plan to pay for it themselves. If they decide that your side can only invite 50 people, don't send your son a list of 75 people. Talk with your son to learn who he really wants to be there. His priorities might be different than yours.
Money can be a touchy subject, but you need to be clear early on regarding what you are willing and able to pay for. There are certain things — like the honeymoon, groom's cake, rehearsal dinner and more — that are traditionally paid for by the groom's family. If you are willing and/or able to help pay for those things, you also need to be clear about whether or not you expect anything in return. If you expect to have a say in the planning or other decisions, speak up, but also don't demand unreasonable control. After all, it's not your special day.
If your son sends you photos of a gorgeous venue, floral arrangements or dress that are out of their budget, you may want to offer to help them pay for it. But don't put yourself into a rough financial situation. Instead, help them brainstorm ideas about where they could make other adjustments to their budget in order to splurge on something special.
The rehearsal dinner is traditionally the responsibility of the parents of the groom. If this is a responsibility you're willing and able to take on, reach out to the couple and your son's future in-laws early on to let them know you've started the planning process. Give them options within your budget rather than asking open-ended questions.
It's easy to share your honest and potentially harsh critiques while watching wedding reality shows on TV, but when you're actually wedding dress shopping with the bride-to-be or touring the venue with the future couple, you need to watch what you say. Pick your battles. Unless your son or his spouse-to-be are about to commit an awful faux pas or make a costly mistake, keep your blunt opinions about their decisions on outfits, color palettes, desserts and more to yourself. Take a second to think of a kinder way to share any criticism instead of being unintentionally rude.
Your son's wedding day is a special occasion, so it's tempting to turn the affair into your own personal Oscars red carpet. Rather than dashing out and buying an extravagant, scene-stealing dress right away, coordinate with your son's future spouse (and his future mother-in-law) before selecting your outfit. Try to pick something that both suits you and complements their ensembles.
If your son and his future spouse ask your opinion on something, the phrase "I don't care" could really hurt their feelings. Even if you find yourself indifferent about a certain detail, make an effort to look at the choice and offer an opinion either way. If you are absolutely uncomfortable weighing in, you could remind them that it's ultimately their day and that you'll support their decision rather than being dismissive.
If your future daughter- or son-in-law invites you to activities such as the dress fitting, suit shopping or even the bachelorette party, it's important to try to be there. You wouldn't be invited if your presence wasn't desired. It's easy to feel like a background player in wedding planning as the mother of the groom, so it's important to take any opportunity you can to be involved.
Unless the bride and groom ask your opinion, don't offer it. Even if you're an expert baker, event planner or professional florist, this day is about your son and his betrothed expressing their personality and taste as a couple. So even if it's not what you would choose, resist the urge to chime in with your opinions unless you’re asked for them.
Big gifts like cars, honeymoon funds, house down payments and more can be fun to give as surprises, but your son and his future spouse might already be planning their life together down to the last nickel and dime. Giving them a heads-up that you intend to gift them something extra-special could completely change their wedding budget and plans, so it's better to let them know ahead of time.
While the wedding should be about your son and his future spouse, don't get so caught up in helping the happy couple that you neglect to take care of yourself. Don't forget to schedule your hair appointments or get dress alterations for the wedding day. Also, make sure you give yourself time and space to step away from the stress of wedding planning.
The wedding landscape has drastically changed over the decades and even over the past few years. Some couples choose to spend tens of thousands of dollars on over-the-top black-tie affairs, while others have whimsical themed parties or even simple backyard barbecues. No matter what your son wants to do, don't compare it to your own wedding or recent weddings of your other children or family members. Breaking from tradition — or just not trying to go bigger and better than the wedding before — might be the right choice for your son and his beloved.
First, don't assume there will be a mother-son dance at the wedding reception without first talking to the couple. If you and your son do decide to dance together, choose a song that's short and sweet. Coordinate in advance whether you want to throw in some dips and choreography or simply enjoy this tender moment.
Whether you volunteer for this role or not, you are officially the head representative for the groom’s side of the family when it comes to all logistical and administrative questions regarding the wedding. The couple will be asking you questions about accommodating friends and family on the guest list, while those same guests will be coming to you with their questions about hotel reservations, registries and the big day itself. Prepare yourself by memorizing or having basic details accessible to you so you can easily dole out information.
You might be familiar with the terms "bridezilla" and even "groomzilla," but you can also become a monstrous mother of the groom if your patience wears thin and you start barking orders at others. Even though you might feel a burden to help your son's big day go smoothly, it's important to take a step back, know your limits and ask for help rather than becoming a big ball of stress.
The day of the ceremony and reception can turn into a marathon. Between getting up early to get ready and being on your feet all day, it can be a test of endurance, meaning you don't want to be slowed down by a hangover. You want to look and feel your best on the big day, so don't get too crazy at the rehearsal dinner. Know your limits and get to bed as early as you can.
Don't be so distracted by dancing, photoshoots and chatting with family and friends that you don't eat. While many people warn brides and grooms about this, the mother of the groom must be cautious too. Staying hydrated is also important, especially if the wedding and reception are taking place somewhere hot.
Especially on the day of the wedding, the newlyweds will be overwhelmed with both happiness and responsibilities. If they don't make a grand toast singing your praises or even say the words "thank you" amid the flurry of activities, don't take it personally. It might not be until after the honeymoon that they recover and are able to articulate their gratitude for your help and support. Hopefully, they'll even write a thank-you letter — but if they choose a less formal way to express their gratitude, it might just be because wedding etiquette today is different than it used to be.
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