Your son is getting ready to march down the aisle. As his mother, you may be wondering how you fit into the wedding preparations. Being aware of the etiquette, traditions and expectations surrounding your role in the big event can help you shine as mother of the groom.
After the engagement
When the couple announces their engagement, it is your job to reach out to the parents of the bride. Drop a note of well wishes, make a call, invite the bride’s parents over for drinks or dinner or arrange to meet them at a restaurant with or without the couple. A friendly overture will go a long way in ensuring cordial relations. Provide your guest list promptly and stick to the number of invitees the bride has set aside for you. If you invite out-of-town guests, make arrangements for their lodging.
To show goodwill, attend any shower for your future daughter-in-law that you are invited to. It is traditionally considered poor form for the couple’s family members to throw a shower or engagement party, but according to Emily Post, it may be practical for you to host a get-together if the wedding will take place far from your hometown. If the couple visits before the wedding, this may be the only way for your friends to meet the bride. Alternatively, you may choose to host a second wedding reception at a later date.
The bride’s mother gets to pick out her dress first. She will let you know what style and color she has chosen so you can match your outfit for length and formality. Select a complementary but not matching color. If it is getting close to the wedding and the mother of the bride has not decided on a dress, feel free to start shopping. Keep the wedding color scheme in mind so your outfit doesn’t clash.
Wedding and reception
The head usher or the groom himself will seat you in the front pew on the groom's side. Your husband will follow behind. Couples often involve their mothers in the ceremony by having them light a candle. At the reception, take your place in the receiving line if the bride has opted for one. Be cordial but not too chatty as you introduce your guests to the bride. In a traditional receiving line, you would stand between the bride’s father and your husband or between the bride and her mother if the men do not join the line. Toward the end of the reception, the groom takes a traditional spin around the dance floor with his mother. This is a special moment for you and your son just before the father-daughter dance.
Tradition dictates that the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner. Depending on your budget, the dinner can range from a casual backyard barbecue to a four-course meal at a swanky restaurant. Invite everyone in the wedding party along with significant others. It is also customary for the groom’s parents to pay for the bride's bouquet, the mother's corsages and boutonnieres for the groom and his men. Finally, the groom’s parents often contribute toward the honeymoon.
These formalities have been passed down from a time when most couples lived with their parents until marriage and had to build their nest together from scratch, but modern wedding etiquette is flexible. With changing traditions come changing obligations, so letting the couple know early how you would like to contribute will allow them to plan accordingly.