Your son is all grown up and is getting married. So now you're not just mom; you're the mother of the groom.
That statement alone is jam-packed with emotions, but add in the stress of planning a wedding, and you have more than enough to push a newly engaged couple's parents over the edge.
Though the bride's family needs to brace themselves for impact, the groom's parents who want to play a part can feel the pressure, too.
There's a not-so-nice traditional saying about what the groom's mother is supposed to do: show up, shut up, and wear beige.
For most people, that saying is not valid, and there are some distinct responsibilities of most mothers of the groom.
We'll be honest, and as the mother of the groom, you're stuck in an odd spot. On the one hand, you don't have many traditional duties compared to the bride and her mother.
On the other hand, you want to feel a part of the process, and a lack of defined responsibilities can leave you wondering how much your help is needed.
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Though every mother of the groom's duties will vary based on the bride's planning process and how involved you want to be (if you get the feeling bridezilla's coming out of the closet, you may rethink your role), it's essential to set expectations and understand where you fit into the puzzle.
Table of Contents
- 1 Typical Expectations of the Mother of the Groom
- 2 Optional Responsibilities of the Mother of the Groom:
- 3 What the Groom's Parents Traditionally Pay For
- 4 What Happens If You Don't Like Some of the Details at Your Son's Wedding
- 5 Mother of the Groom Duties
- 5.1 Reach Out to the Mother of the Bride.
- 5.2 Understand Financial Responsibilities Early On.
- 5.3 Be Available.
- 5.4 Let the Bride and Her Mother Lead the Way.
- 5.5 Be on Top of Your Traditional Responsibilities.
- 5.6 Host an Engagement Party.
- 5.7 Help With the Vendor Search.
- 5.8 Manage Your Son's Side of the Family.
- 5.9 Offer Financial Assistance
- 5.10 Keep Family Tradition Alive
- 5.11 Attend the Shower.
- 5.12 Figure Out Day-Of Fashion With the Mother of the Bride.
- 5.13 Offer to Help With Wedding Day Preparations
- 5.14 Plan and Host the Rehearsal Dinner.
- 5.15 Be on Deck During the Wedding.
- 5.16 Plan the Mother-Son Dance.
- 6 Most Importantly, Take Care of Yourself.
Typical Expectations of the Mother of the Groom
While customs vary from region to region and even from family to family, these are generally the things expected of the groom's mother (and often the father of the groom as well).
Once you have a sense of the bride and groom's potential plans, have a realistic discussion with them, especially regarding budgets, hosting, and guestlists.
While wedding celebrations are happy affairs, the event's planning can be stressful and expensive, so open dialogue is best.
Before the Wedding
Cross a few to-dos off your long list by enlisting the mother of the groom. Look at their strengths, and resist pressure (internal or otherwise) to include them in anything you want to do yourself or with your mom.
If they have great taste, invite them to come to a meeting with your caterer or florist.
While you may decide to keep dress shopping a strictly mother-daughter event, inviting your future mother-in-law to your fitting is a fun moment to share, and it means you'll have one more person who knows how to work your bustle.
You can even have them over to help you coordinate and design your centrepieces or table settings.
If your relationship with the groom's mother is a bit rocky or you find that they're trying to take over all the wedding planning completely, it's critical to set boundaries from the start.
Choose two to three things they can take off your to-do list, and let them know that you'll be in touch if there are more things you'd like them to help you plan.
Put your foot down immediately if you notice they're ordering invitations, booking the caterer, or finding a DJ without asking you first.
A Family Discussion
Of course, these duties will vary for each family, so the most important thing is to have open communication with your son and his fiance.
It's helpful to have a family talk before wedding planning to understand what kind of wedding festivities they imagine.
Planning a destination wedding, a large affair, or an intimate gathering all require different details.
The setting and wedding details will impact the roles of all the family members. Additionally, now is a great time to meet the bride's family if you have not already.
You'll be sharing in many family celebrations, and getting to know each other sooner rather than later can help make the planning process more manageable.
There might be some back-and-forth with the groom's mother when it comes to how many people from their side of the family they want on your wedding guest list.
After you've sorted through who will make the final cut and you've gotten your guest list down to a reasonable number, the mother of the groom can assist you with collecting names and addresses for any family members and friends who will be invited to the wedding (and with collecting RSVPs).
As the wedding gets closer, the mother of the groom can also help with seating arrangements.
Planning the Ceremony
To take the groom's religion or family traditions into account, you might want to consult with their mother to see if there are any special ceremony readings, rituals, or customs that you should consider including in the ceremony.
If there's a poem that's been read or a tradition passed down and used at weddings in their family for many years, the groom's mother can give you insight into those practices.
Depending on how you've delegated the wedding planning decisions and costs, the mother of the groom may offer to host the rehearsal dinner.
But just because they've offered to plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner doesn't mean you have to be hush-hush about the kind of party you want to have.
Be upfront about your preferences regarding the scale of the event, location, and cuisine.
During the Wedding
The mother of the groom can be invaluable on your wedding day, even if their main job is to enjoy the moment.
Rounding Up Guests
On your actual wedding day, one of the significant responsibilities the mother of the groom can take on is making sure that the people at the wedding they know (family and friends) are taking their seats at the ceremony on time, are all set with transportation to and from the venue, and don't get lost, especially if you're hosting events at multiple platforms.
After the ceremony, when it comes time for group photos, they can be a big help in confirming that the groom's side of the family is waiting nearby to pop in and out of family photos.
After they take over the dance floor during the mother-son dance, be sure to remind them that the main thing they can do is spend the rest of the evening having fun.
Turn to your bridal party for last-minute help with tasks and pop-up problems.
Let your new mother-in-law dive into the celebration and enjoy the excitement of having you as a part of the family.
Optional Responsibilities of the Mother of the Groom:
- Offer to help research wedding vendors, sites, and resources.
- Introduce yourself to the bride's family, and help introduce the rest of the families to each other.
- Help your son with any family traditions and provide family heirlooms that can be incorporated into the wedding ceremony.
- Offer to help with craft projects, making welcome bags for the guests, and arranging seating charts. These more time-intensive projects can often use an extra pair of hands, as long as they are supportive and nonjudgmental.
- Help spread the word about where the couple is registered.
What the Groom's Parents Traditionally Pay For
Depending on the couple, the wedding plans, and other details, the things the groom's parents pay for is variable, based on each family and may include:
- The rehearsal dinner.
- Their clothes and transportation.
- A wedding present.
They may also help the groom with details he is responsible for, such as:
- The honeymoon.
- The bride's engagement ring and wedding ring.
- The bride's bouquet and boutonnieres for the mothers and grandmothers.
- The marriage license and fee for the officiant.
What Happens If You Don't Like Some of the Details at Your Son's Wedding
While mothers of the groom don't need to wear beige anymore, they should keep most of their opinions to themselves.
This may be hard to hear, but it's true. You may have some helpful advice to share, but make sure you stop giving it before it becomes intrusive or nagging.
Like it or not, this isn't your wedding to plan, and your relationship with your son and your future daughter-in-law is far more important than what colour the napkins are.
The last thing you want is for the bride to feel torn between what she wants and what you want.
Mother of the Groom Duties
If the bride and her mother are in the driver's seat, there are a few non-overbearing ways to be along for the ride while following the appropriate wedding etiquette.
Here are some ways to play your mother of the groom role perfectly.
Reach Out to the Mother of the Bride.
Connecting with the mother of the bride right after the engagement to share your excitement is vital.
A phone call or handwritten note shows your willingness to participate and establishes open communication before wedding planning begins.
If you're interested in playing an active role, let her know you'll go ahead and get started on rehearsal dinner planning, but you're also here to help in any way you can.
Understand Financial Responsibilities Early On.
First, familiarize yourself with the usual financial roles both sides play. Then, have a conversation about how both parties will tackle the budget together.
If you're contributing to parts of the wedding day, be clear about what you expect in return.
Do you think it would be fun to help with the decision-making, or need to be consulted on exactly how the money is spent?
Establishing this, in the beginning, will help avoid arguments and hurt feelings.
Make yourself available to participate whenever possible.
If the bride invites you to go dress shopping or to join her for a paper appointment, try your very best to attend. If you want a role, this is your chance.
Let the Bride and Her Mother Lead the Way.
It's easier than you think to overstep and create unnecessary drama accidentally.
Letting the bride's side lead means deferring to them on all significant wedding decisions and guest questions.
It means consulting the bride on the final guest list before mentioning anything to potential attendees too soon.
It means letting the bride's mother pick her dress first, so you don't accidentally outdo her.
Most importantly, it means learning to practice discretion.
Unless you feel an embarrassingly tacky mistake is about to be made, aim to be supportive, not challenging. Pick your battles and let the little things go.
Be on Top of Your Traditional Responsibilities.
Take tender control of the rehearsal dinner and prepare the guestlist for the groom's side.
By tackling your responsibilities with ease and asking for the bride's input where appropriate, you'll make it clear you're not overwhelmed and set the stage for the bride to feel comfortable asking for your input and help in other areas as well.
Host an Engagement Party.
After calling your son's fiance's parents to congratulate them and express your happiness, you can offer to host an engagement party.
While the party's purpose is to celebrate the couple's engagement, it's also an excellent opportunity for you to meet your son's fiance's family and their closest friends.
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Help With the Vendor Search.
Searching for venues and vendors can be stressful for a busy couple. However, you can help scout out ceremony and wedding reception venues and ask friends for recommendations for caterers, florists, and other vendors if you have the time.
Before you do this, however, meet with the couple to learn more about their vision for their wedding.
You'll want to understand their budget, the type of venue they want, the wedding's theme and more so that you can make the best recommendations.
You can also volunteer to serve as a contact for the pros—especially if the wedding takes place where you live.
It's nice to offer to take some of the planning burdens off the shoulders of the couple.
Manage Your Son's Side of the Family.
Ask how many guests you're able to invite, and then draw up a guest list for your side of the family.
Be respectful of the guest limit. Keep track of your family's RSVPs and follow up with any late RSVPs.
Make sure you also spread the word on the couple's wedding registry. Your future son- or daughter-in-law will almost certainly love your help here.
Offer Financial Assistance
Weddings are expensive, and though the bride's family traditionally covers most of the wedding costs, there are some expenses that the father and mother of the groom are expected to pay for. This can include:
- Engagement and wedding rings
- Marriage license
- Officiant fee
- Your son's wedding suit
- Boutonnieres and corsages
- The rehearsal dinner
- DJ, band or other reception music
- Alcohol at the reception
- The couple's honeymoon
However, before you take your chequebook, talk to your son and his fiance to discuss what they feel comfortable asking you to cover and what you can afford.
Keep Family Tradition Alive
If your son wants to honour any family or ethnic traditions at his wedding, one mother of the groom's duty is to help him figure out how to incorporate these traditions.
Sit down with your son and future son- or daughter-in-law and discuss your ideas and suggestions.
Be careful not to step on toes. Make sure you are sensitive to what your son and his fiancée want, not what you wish for them.
Attend the Shower.
If possible, attend the shower and buy a gift. Also, offer to come early to help the family members prepare for the party.
This is an excellent opportunity to spend more time with the family before the wedding.
Figure Out Day-Of Fashion With the Mother of the Bride.
Contact the bride's mother and consult with her on her wedding day outfit to make sure there's no clashing.
The old joke is that the groom's mother is supposed to fade into the background at the wedding, but that doesn't have to be true for you.
Just make sure you honour the theme of the wedding and any clothing styles/colours the bride requests.
You'll want to start shopping for your mother of the groom's dress about four to six months before the wedding.
Offer to Help With Wedding Day Preparations
Most weddings include at least some DIY chores.
If you live near your son, offer your time and your hands to help stuff welcome bags, make crafty table decorations or put together wedding programs.
Just make sure to be supportive. This isn't the time to announce your opinion on the couple's wedding choices.
Plan and Host the Rehearsal Dinner.
Traditionally speaking, the groom's mother is responsible for planning and hosting the rehearsal dinner with the grooms' father (typically) the night before the wedding.
This is one of the biggest mothers of the groom responsibilities, so make sure you start planning the dinner about six months in advance.
Ask the bride's mother if you need help contacting and coordinating roles with the bride's side of the family.
Be on Deck During the Wedding.
If the couple is planning to have a receiving line, the groom's mother (along with the father of the groom) should stand in it after the couple.
Plan the Mother-Son Dance.
The most popular mother of the groom's duty is to perform the mother-son dance at your son's wedding reception.
There's nothing quite like dancing with your son and seeing the wonderful man he's become.
However, before you can have that magic moment, help get the dance right by working with your son to pick a song, you both love.
You may even want to practice a few moves beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable on the dance floor.
Most Importantly, Take Care of Yourself.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in wanting to play a role in the planning process that you forget about how much time may need to go into your own pre-wedding beauty routine and stress relief.
After the mother of the bride picks her dress, decide what you'll wear and work on any alterations.
Talk with your hairdresser about a style for the occasion and schedule pre-wedding cuts and colours.
Hit the gym if you're worried about losing a few pounds or looking for a stress reliever.
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Plan to press pause on your everyday routine before and after the wedding to give yourself time for last-minute planning and post-wedding reminiscing and detoxing.