One of the most important things you’ll need to do before you walk down the aisle involves meeting your future in-laws. Since you’re marrying their child (and joining their family!), you’ll want to make sure that first meeting goes flawlessly…no pressure! To ease your stress, we’ve got six tips for making a fabulous impression, from the first meeting, and on into life. You may be nervous, but remember that your partner loves you for who you are, and hopefully their family will, too. Here’s where to start.
Look the Part
As soon as you’ve made plans to meet your in-laws, make sure you’re ready to be dressed and groomed appropriately. Heading to their house for a backyard barbecue is very different than dinner at their favorite downtown steakhouse, so know what you’re getting into. This doesn’t mean running out to buy a new outfit or undergoing an entire makeover. It simply means presenting yourself in a way that’s appropriate for the situation. You should still be true to who you are (so wear those bright colors if that’s what makes you happy!).
Be on Time
Your impression on your in-laws begins the second you arrive, so don’t be late! If you’re meeting them at a bar or restaurant, arrive a few minutes early to make sure the table is set or to grab a few chairs so everyone can sit. If you are going to be late, make every effort to get in touch with them to let them know. Make sure to apologize and give them an ETA so they aren't just waiting around, getting more p.o.'d by the minute.
Be at Ease
Pay attention to your body language. You may be nervous, but try not to slouch or keep your arms crossed. Instead, sit or stand up straight and try to evoke confidence. You’ll look comfortable and approachable. And don’t forget to smile! That being said, you don't want to be so much at ease that you run the risk of crossing a line—limit your alcohol intake, no sex-life stories (duh), and try to steer clear of politics (unless you know you share the same views). Probably best to leave religion untouched as well.
Have a Few Questions in Mind
Meeting people for the first time can be nerve-wracking, so take a moment to prepare yourself if the conversation stalls. Remember details your partner has shared about his or her family, such as a recent trip they took or a project they’re working on, then ask about it. It will show your partner that you paid attention, as well as impress your in-laws as you take interest in their lives. Remember: People love to talk about themselves. And if they ask you a question, offer more than a one-word answer to help keep the conversation moving! If all else fails, turn the conversation toward your partner—a parent is always ready and willing to chat about their kid.
Mind Your Manners
You know to say please and thank you, but don’t forget to be courteous throughout the interaction. Offer to help with things like the dishes or getting a drink for someone, listen when you’re being spoken to, and follow all those table manner rules your parents drilled into you as a child. A modern piece of advice: Turn off your phone (or at least silence it and put it away). There’s no better way to show you’re fully invested in the person you’re meeting than to rid yourself of distraction.
At the end of the day, your partner loves you for you, and that’s who they want their parents to meet. Should you ease up on some of the jokes or stay away from a long-winded or serious story the first time you meet your in-laws? Probably. But don’t hide who you are. Embrace what makes you you!