How to be a great Mother of the Groom

Your son has popped the question! She said “YES”… and they’re engaged!

Maybe you knew in advance, I did. My son consulted me on an engagement ring… which I loved. Still, you get the announcement from the newly engaged – your son and future daughter-in-law.
Be excited for them, congratulate him and tell her best wishes – after all she’ll soon be the keeper of your son – and you pass the torch 😉

My wish for you is that you like your future daughter-in-law and that you are pleased about this new family member. Its important you remain respectful, and remain connected with your son during this rite of passage, and the couple’s new chapter…

So on to the wedding, wedding planning, and your role as the MOG…Mother of the Groom

Mother of the Groom Dos, Don’ts and Duties:
1st, Reach out to the future in laws. Welcome them to your newly extended family and tell them how excited you are to meet them (if you have not yet) and that your son is blessed to have earned the love of their daughter … or whatever your wording choice .. be gracious and welcoming. If you live nearby, try to schedule a get-together with the Bride and Groom and the Bride’s parents.

2nd, After the champagne and confetti settle, discuss with your son that you wish to be supportive and helpful, but that you do not want to not overstep. Traditionally it is the Bride and her parents that plan the wedding, and the Groom’s parents host the Rehearsal dinner. But times have altered or modernized traditions and etiquette.  These are all topics to discuss about with your son, tactfully. If you are able and wish to be more generous, you can offer to contribute more. If not, don’t volunteer and set expectations you aren’t prepared to “cash in”.

3rd, As the Mother of the Groom, your role is typically secondary to the Bride and her parents. You will find out in due time about the size of the wedding, the guest list, etc. Budget and the guest list often go hand in hand. The new in-laws might have envisioned “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” or it might be a small destination wedding or an intimate casual backyard gathering – it’s the couple’s choice – not yours.

4th, Don’t insist upon inviting “your” friends plus cousins and aunts and uncles who don’t have an active role in your son’s current life.  A new rule of thumb for wedding guests lists is: “if we haven’t seen or talked to these people in a year, or we literally don’t recognize them, we do not need them at our wedding.” This is helpful anytime anyone asks to add to the guest list or inquires “is so-and-so coming” (which is overstepping). If you feel strongly about having certain guests, you may offer to pay for the cost of those additional guests, but give the couple the right to say No. Ultimately it is the couple’s decision who they wish to have at their wedding.  Respect these parameters, be optimistic, supportive, and not selfish about attendees.

5th, Wait to be asked to participate in the Bridal dress shopping, and in the hair and makeup morning of the wedding. Perhaps your future daughter-in-law plans and wishes to include you. I was delighted to be included in that magical moment when she “said yes to the dress” via facetime! Similarly, for The MOG dress, wait for the Bride and her mom to select the Mother of the Bride dress, and bridesmaids too. Then you will be able to choose a complementary style from the remaining colors in her preferred palate (she’ll likely have a mood board and color palette). As MOG, you don’t want to upstage or clash with the bride or her mom, or bridesmaids – elegant and demure is the name of the game. Similarly, if you are invited to hair & makeup, discuss the Bride’s wishes and her vision for you – then bring photos as inspiration for the makeup artists and stylists… helpful so you can have direction, and you are comfortable and happy with the look. (Read: avoid the drag queen or Tammy Faye look for the wedding). A natural aesthetic, just a little glammed up for the big day, helps make features pop in photos.

6th, Plan the rehearsal according to the couple’s wishes. This is your send-off for your son, and a kick off to the wedding. While you have input, and you get the check, you will want the couple to be pleased with the format, location, and food. Our son’s wedding was in Montana, so we selected a steakhouse – and encouraged western attire… but not costumey cowboy shirts and boots, just a nice nod to Big Sky country. We also invited all the wedding guests for drinks following our rehearsal dinner. It’s a nice opportunity for everyone to gather – some meeting for the first time. You can cap the bar tab to just one cocktail, or have signature drinks or just beer & and wine to keep the tab under control. You don’t want to encourage a big boozy late-night party the day before the wedding. Make sure your groom and family get a good night’s sleep. Prepare a nice speech, or help your husband write and deliver his, about your son and your new daughter-in-law – maybe a funny story about your boy growing up, and how happy you are he found THE ONE! Short and sweet, make them smile, cry happy tears and laugh!

7th, let go of traditions that our gen was raised to think are so essential. The bride and groom may wish to see each other prior to the wedding, it’s called “the first look”. While it’s far from our walking down the aisle for the very first glimpse of each other as bride and groom in dress and tux, this newer protocol actually allows for the couple to have a special romantic moment together prior to the ceremony. Also, they take bride and groom photos, freeing them up to enjoy their reception immediately following the ceremony (versus an hour + of professional photos while their wedding guests are eating, drinking, socializing without the stars of the show). In fact, the couple may even have private vows… where they pledge their love and commitment to each other before the ceremony! I know, you want to know what they say and promise to each other … but that’s why these are expressly called “private vows” 😉

8th, be a liaison and communicator to your guests when they have questions about dress code, timeline, lodging, gift registry, travel plans, etc. This helps alleviate stress and a barrage of questions to the bride & groom, so they can focus on their own logistics and plans…and mostly ENJOY! Study the guest list to know names and introduce yourself to the new people, say hello to everyone. Know which groomsmen and bridesmaids have responsibilities – your go-to people if needed with last-minute details. Also, if you foresee or can predict family drama and histrionics, do your best to diffuse that by reminding the parties involved that this day is not about them or old clashes, it’s about the bride and groom. Encourage attendees to be grown up, be gracious and behave!

9th, be sure your son – the Groom, is well hydrated, well rested, not stressed, or over-served! I’ve seen a few intoxicated grooms (my brother) – not cool! Keep an eye on family and friends too. Trust me, this sounds simple … but it’s so important! Take care of you too, don’t over consume, don’t grind with the groomsmen on the dance floor (I’ve seen it). Weddings are a lot! Folks flying in from all over, worry about the weather, catering, tents or the band showing, and the list goes on…

10th, for the ceremony, let the bride decide how she would like everyone to proceed down the aisle, and so on. Ceremony traditions have changed too. Often there is no religion, no church – instead modern couples are opting for natural outdoor backdrops – by the water, in the mountains, a field, a rustic barn – with a simple floral altar or arch. Perhaps their officiant is a friend recently ordained online just for this occasion. One highlight and privilege is the Mother Son Dance. My son and I had fun selecting the best song. I followed his lead – pun intended – and while we didn’t practice or choreograph our dance, it was amazing according to Me! All our kitchen dance parties with my kids may have contributed to the fun and freestyle.

Treasure every minute! After a year of planning, the wedding day can go by so quickly … be present, in the moment and joyful. Tissues ready, smile, be positive and appreciative. Your son has found his soul mate…

I have written this in perspective, hindsight is always 20/20, right?! Was everything perfect? No, a Covid exposure popped up the day prior, and we all had to pivot. My son informed all the guests, and let them make their healthiest choice. He handled it honestly and tactfully – and the couple was rewarded with a magnificently lovely Montana day of sun, and a perfect sunset as we danced the night away in an elegant rustic barn strewn with white lights. It was precious and priceless! Humor: you can’t always use the terms “wedding” and “priceless” in the same sentence 😉

Cheers, The MoG

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