When it comes to planning a wedding, figuring out your loved ones' roles early on makes the entire process run much more smoothly. That way, you'll know who is responsible for what, when each person has the final say, and exactly when you do (and don’t) want someone’s input. While you might know exactly what you want your soon-to-be spouse to take care of and where your mom’s strengths lie, what is the role of the mother of the groom—aka your future mother-in-law—in all this?
Traditionally, the role of the groom’s mother is a little more limited than that of the mother of the bride. When it comes to involvement in wedding planning, it's usually at the discretion of the couple. There’s no expectation that the mother of the groom should be more involved, and they shouldn’t take on any additional responsibilities unless the couple asks them to.
So, if you’re wondering what typical mother of the groom etiquette is and how involved your future MIL should be in your wedding, here are a few common ways they can help take some stress off your shoulders.
Before the Wedding
Cross a few to-dos off your long list by enlisting the mother of the groom. Look to their strengths, and resist pressure (internal or otherwise) to include them in anything you want to do yourself or with your own mom.
If they have great taste, invite them to come to a meeting with your caterer or florist. While you may decide to keep dress shopping a strictly mother-daughter event, inviting your future mother-in-law to your fitting is a fun moment to share, and it means you’ll have one more person who knows how to work your bustle. You can even have them over to help you coordinate and design your centerpieces or table settings.
If your relationship with the mother of the groom is a bit rocky or you find that they're trying to completely take over all the wedding planning, it’s key to set boundaries from the start. Choose two to three things they can take off your to-do list and let them know that you’ll be in touch if there are more things you’d like them to help you plan. Put your foot down immediately if you notice they're ordering invitations, booking the caterer, or finding a DJ without asking you first.
There might be some back-and-forth with the mother of the groom when it comes to how many people from their side of the family they want on your wedding guest list. After you’ve sorted through who will make the final cut and you’ve gotten your guest list down to a reasonable number, the mother of the groom can assist you with collecting names and addresses for any family members and friends who will be invited to the wedding (and with collecting RSVPs). As the wedding gets closer, the mother of the groom can also help with seating arrangements.
Planning the Ceremony
In an effort to take the groom’s religion or family traditions into account, you might want to consult with their mother to see if there are any special ceremony readings, rituals, or customs that you should consider including in the ceremony. If there’s a poem that’s been read or a tradition that has been passed down and used at weddings in their family for many years, the mother of the groom can give you insight into those practices.
Depending on how you’ve delegated the wedding planning decisions and costs, the mother of the groom may offer to host the rehearsal dinner. But just because they've offered to plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner doesn’t mean you have to be hush-hush about the kind of party you want to have. Be upfront about your preferences when it comes to the scale of the event, location, and cuisine.
Be sure to make suggestions and help with planning and budgeting. The mother of the groom might be so excited to host this event that they go a little overboard.
During the Wedding
The mother of the groom can be invaluable on your wedding day, even if their main job is to enjoy the moment.
Rounding Up Guests
On your actual wedding day, one of the major responsibilities the mother of the groom can take on is making sure that the people at the wedding they know (family and friends) are taking their seats at the ceremony on time, are all set with transportation to and from the venue, and don’t get lost, especially if you're hosting events at multiple venues. After the ceremony, when it comes time for group photos, they can be a big help in confirming that the groom’s side of the family is waiting nearby to pop in and out of family photos.
After they take over the dance floor during the mother-son dance, be sure to remind them that the main thing they can do is spend the rest of the evening having fun. Turn to your bridal party for last-minute help with tasks and pop-up problems. Let your new mother-in-law dive into the celebration and enjoy the excitement of having you as a part of the family.