The mother of the groom is a unique role that is usually met with questions about proper level of involvement in the wedding and dress code for the big day. While etiquette is highly important, the guidelines also depend upon the nature of the groom's mother's relationship with his fiance.
Following the Engagement
Once the engagement has taken place, it is traditional for the groom's parents to get in touch with the fiancee's parents and invite them to dinner or drinks or to host them for a weekend trip. If the bride's parents live too far away to make an easy trip, conducting a get-to-know you phone call is sufficient.
As a general rule, the degree of involvement in wedding planning should be left to the bride's discretion. If the mother of the groom has special wedding-planning skills, she may wish to share these with the bride, as well as express her willingness to help.
The same is true of planning the rehearsal dinner. The groom's family typically pays for this dinner, but the mother of the groom should consult with the bride and groom. The bride and groom will typically make food, venue and theme suggestions and provide a guest list. However, it is permissible for the mother of the groom to take over further planning, should the bride and groom agree.
If money will be a consideration, it important for the mother of the groom to be up front about a budget for the event. This will help the bride and groom create reasonable expectations for the day.
Traditionally, the bride's mother first selects her outfit for the wedding. Once she has done so, she should notify the groom's mother of cut, color and any other pertinent details. Then the groom's mother may purchase her dress, which should complement the bride's mother's. For example, if the bride's mother is wearing a long dress, the groom's mother should also wear a long dress or pants. When choosing color, the groom's mother's outfit should complement, but not match, the bride's mother or the bridesmaids.
The exception to this is if the bride's mother does not inform the groom's mother in sufficient time to purchase an outfit. For example, if the wedding is two months away and the bride's mother has not yet made her outfit selection, it is considered acceptable for the groom's mother to begin the search process.
The groom's mother should work out a mutually agreeable number of invited guests with the bride and then provide a list complete with names, addresses and wording for inner envelope addressing (such as Aunt Jane and Uncle John). This list should be given in a timely fashion and should not exceed the allotted number of guests.
Additionally, the groom's mother should help secure travel arrangements for out-of-town guests associated with the groom's side of the family.
At the Wedding
If the couple opts for a traditional receiving line, the parents of both the bride and groom should be involved. Greeting guests you do not know with an expression of gratitude for attending is sufficient.
Another important portion of a wedding is the mother/son dance. These typically take place before the cake is cut, and the song can be selected by the mother, son or both.