In a perfect world, not only have both you and your fiancé met each other's parents before you got engaged, but you've also introduced your families. But sometimes, for any number of reasons, that hasn't happened.
That means the bride and groom have an obligation to try to get their parents together for an introduction as soon as possible after the big announcement. If they live in the same city and you've intentionally avoided the big moment, time is up! Bite the bullet, have a dinner party for everybody, and let the chips fall where they may.
If the parents live in different cities and not near the bride and groom, arranging the introduction could be a little tricky. But you really still have to make the effort. If it's a financial matter for one set of parents to make the trip, either plan to visit their hometown or gift them with the trip for a holiday.
The engagement party, or one of your other wedding events, is not the time to do the first meet-and-greet for people who are going to have to interact with each other as a part of your lives for the rest of their lives. They should have a quiet opportunity to chat and learn about each other. If one mom is a society fashion plate and the other wears jeans and turtlenecks, throwing them together with an audience of friends is the wrong way to make that introduction. No matter how different they are, given the opportunity to chat in a peaceful environment and find qualities they admire about one another will give their future relationship a major leg up going forward. And the people who will benefit most from that are you and your fiancé, and eventually your future children.
You respected your parents enough to make sure they knew your fiancé (hopefully) but you have to also understand that it's important for some parents to understand where your fiancé comes from and what kind of people raised him or her. Not to judge, but to have a better understanding. You're not asking either set of parents to give their blessing on the other set of parents, you're just properly introducing them to each other as the first step of your lifelong commitment to your new spouse.
In the worst case scenario, if the introduction couldn't take place before your wedding week, plan a private event with your parents a few days before the wedding — hopefully they can all get to town before the rest of your guests. Try to make it something casual so they don't worry so much about what they're wearing and where they're going. Make it fun and something to look forward to for everyone.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.