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Top 10 Tips

Keep these ten guiding principles in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a successful groom’s mom experience.

1. Support your son and welcome your future daughter-in-law into your family.

You love your son and she does too. This is a wonderful thing. Your future daughter-in-law is now the most important person in his life and very likely the future mother of your grandchildren. Ideally you love her already, but if not, you need to embrace her now. This is the most important guiding principle; use it as your guide in all situations and you can’t go wrong. If everything you say and do comes from a genuine desire to love and support your son and his fiancé, the details will sort themselves out.

2. Be the perfect guest - pleasant, charming, and positive.

Remember that this is not your party, however, you are the number one guest at this party! This is actually a great position to be in. As any good guest should do, take your lead from the hostess (probably your son’s fiancé and her mother). Offer to assist in any way possible, but if your assistance is declined, channel your energy into the traditional role of rehearsal dinner planner/hostess and just enjoy. If special tasks are assigned to you, complete them cheerfully as requested. If you see things being done or planned that you would choose do to differently, react the way any good guest would - keep it to yourself. When facing decisions such as how to behave, what to wear, etc., just ask yourself what the perfect guest would do.

3. Remain flexible.

If ever there were an occasion to “go with the flow,” this is it. Planning a wedding can be a complicated and frustrating process. There are bound to be issues that come up and changes that have to be made. Just understand that patience and flexibility go a long way at a time like this.

4. Start planning and tackling your responsibilities as soon as possible.

Assuming the bride and her mother are running the main show, once the nature of your particular responsibilities has been made clear to you, get started. For example, once the wedding date and rehearsal date and time are set, you can start to work on planning the rehearsal dinner. Weddings are a big business, and venues book up quickly at certain times of the year. Even if you feel like your part of the wedding is fairly minimal, you’d be surprised how many details there will be to attend to. The sooner you get started, the better.

5. Help your son understand his role and responsibilities.

This is not a license to dole out unwanted advice, but if your son is like a great many grooms, he is probably not up to speed on wedding protocol. Undoubtedly his fiancé and he are working out a his and hers “to-do” list. Offer to help him out and act as a source of advice if he seems to want you to be involved in this way. Again, the idea is to offer support; never push and never appear to be doing an end-run around the bride and her mother!

6. Understand early on and take action if there are going to be difficult situations or people involved.

Families are complicated, and a wedding seems to magnify those complications. If there are painful divorces on either side of the family, guests who don’t get along with other guests, people who are generally disagreeable to be around, etc., this all needs to be taken into consideration. As the groom’s mother it is your duty to be realistic and head off any unpleasantness that you are certain is likely to occur. This doesn’t mean to go looking for trouble or over-react, but it means to tactfully yet fully disclose likely problem areas to those planning the details of the wedding. It also means that there may a situation or two where you will need to have a tactful heart-to-heart conversation with the difficult parties involved to head off a possible problem. This is a potential mine field, but it is better for you to strategize and deal with this ahead of time, rather than subject your son and his fiancé to a wedding-ruining scene.

7. Be honest and realistic about what you can and can’t do.

Even though your main job is to take your lead from your son, his bride, and the other event planners, if there are requests made that you realistically cannot fulfill, be honest and work to come to a mutual agreement about what is possible for you to do. Perhaps your daughter-in-law has always dreamed of having her rehearsal dinner on the grounds of a gorgeous estate, but the cost of such a venue is many times more than what you can afford to spend; discuss your limitations and try to come up with another option that suits everyone. Or, be clear about how much you can afford to spend and let the couple choose to supplement your money with their own if that is their choice. You are obligated to accommodate the couple and their wishes to the extent that you can, but you are not obligated to do things that would drive you dangerously in debt and create a true hardship. If you are honest and realistic with your son and his fiancé, they will understand.

8. Get to know your son’s future in-laws.

The bride’s parents are going to be very important people in your son’s life and, to a lesser extent, in your life. You will be “sharing” your son and daughter-in-law with these people for the foreseeable future. Very likely, you will be co-grandparenting with them. It will be easy to befriend them if they are people with whom you would naturally be friends. It can be trickier if for some reason you just don’t seem to connect with them. No matter what, you do have one important thing in common - the couple getting married. Somehow you have to forge a friendly relationship with these people. It may be as simple as inviting them to dinner (if possible) or sending them a greeting card every now and then. Each situation will lend itself to a different approach, but you must be the best friends that you can be to your son’s in-laws.

9. Don’t forget about the groom’s dad (and other assorted friends, family members, and life as you know it).

It is easy to get caught up in wedding fever. The excitement and the unrelenting focus on the bride and groom can get out of control to the point that you neglect the rest of what is important to you. Go ahead and throw your energies into the wedding, but try to keep it in perspective. Do all that you can to participate, but remember that you still have a life. Keep your husband or significant other close to you, and tend to those relationships and activities that will be important to you long after the wedding is over. Let the wedding be a big part of your life, but don’t let it become your life.

10. Enjoy every single moment of this remarkable journey.

Watching your son take this big step in his life and being part of this process is a magical experience. Everything you’ve done as a parent comes down to this life-affirming moment where your son commits to building a loving life with the one special person he loves and who loves him. There are lots of details to attend to when you are the groom’s mom, but the most important detail of all is to stand in awe and savor the moment.