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Five Tips For The Mother of The Groom: How To Live Through Your Son's Wedding With Grace & Style

Updated on May 5, 2012

You're Not Losing A Son...

Your son has popped the question and is getting married! If you're like most mothers, you probably have mixed feelings about this momentous announcement. Even if he and his fiancée have been seeing each other for a long time and you like the girl he's chosen, you could be feeling pretty emotional right now. You may be going from feeling like you need to lock yourself into your bedroom and bawl for days to jumping in and helping with all the preparations and generally making a nuisance of yourself! This is understandable. You were the first woman in his life and his first love. You held his hand through the first day of kindergarten, listened to him cry the first time a girl broke his heart, and watched proudly at his high school graduation. However, now he's a grown man and has made a choice. Regardless of how you feel about it, you need to get with the program, be supportive, and show your true love for your son. Here are five key pieces of advice to get you through this process with grace, class, and style while making your son proud and your new daughter-in-law 100% thrilled to call you her "other mother."

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How Involved Should The Mother Of The Groom Be?

Advice #1: THIS IS NOT YOUR WEDDING. Please commit this to memory. This should be your mantra for the next several months while the wedding preparations are in progress until the last piece of rice is shaken out of your shoes. Maybe your own wedding wasn't all you wanted it to be. Maybe you did the old "ladder up to the window" and never had a real wedding of your own. I have news: this isn't your chance to rectify that situation! You are just a bit player in this whole affair, so don't offer your opinion on anything unless asked, and even then do so with the utmost of tact and diplomacy.. Even if your son's intended has no mother in the picture, it's never a good idea to register your opinion on her color choices, even if you hate lime green and turquoise, or any other decision she makes. Your future daughter-in-law will not see this as friendly guidance, she will see this as a rejection of her tastes...and therefore, a rejection of her personally. You may be well-meaning to suggest she use lilies instead of hydrangeas in her centerpieces, because you know they last longer after they are cut, but that's not for you to decide. You must respect her wishes. Please take this piece of advice in the loving spirit it's offered, Mom, and BUTT OUT!

Who Pays For What?

Although etiquette used to dictate the bride's family paid for almost everything, the groom and his family traditionally still had some significant expenses. Here's what long-standing rules of etiquette say the groom and his family should pay for which many couples use only as a loose guideline:

The bride's engagement and wedding rings

The groom's, his mother's and father's attire

The rehearsal dinner

The bride's bouquet and mothers'/grandmothers' corsages

The groomsmen's and fathers' boutonnieres

Transportation after the reception

The honeymoon

However, times and economic circumstances have changed. Many couples are carrying most of the expense of the wedding themselves. This brings us to ADVICE #2: OFFER FINANCIAL HELP IF YOU ARE ABLE. Weddings are expensive propositions these days with an average wedding costing $25,000, yes, more than a nice down payment on a house! If you see your son and his bride-to-be are struggling with wedding expenses and you are financially able to assist, tactfully offer to take on what you can comfortably afford, whether it's with the centerpieces or the venue rental. If you're crafty or artistic, offer your services with the décor. However, if the offer is refused, refer back to ADVICE #1 and BUTT OUT!

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The Guest List

Receptions are pricey affairs. There is usually a per person cost which can go from semi-reasonable to astronomical. Hence, ADVICE #3: KEEP YOUR GUEST LIST TO THE NUMBER THE BRIDE'S FAMILY HAS TOLD YOU YOU'RE ALLOWED. If the bride and groom or the bride's family are paying for the reception, they are not going to be happy with your inability to shave your list down to the required number. So if Great Aunt Susie and her entourage are going to be that offended by not being invited, ease their hurt feelings by offering to throw an after-the-honeymoon party and inviting all of those on the "B-list." Better yet, offer to pay for additional guests if you are able to do so. However, if the bride and groom are keeping it small not just for financial, but for personal reasons, accept it and keep your list to a minimum. No one likes to look out at their own wedding and realize they don't recognize half the people there.

What NOT To Wear

Yay, you get to buy a gorgeous new dress for a very special occasion...your son's wedding! That's always fun, but before you go charging into the mall, credit card in hand, slow down and read ADVICE #4: CHECK WITH THE BRIDE AND HER MOTHER BEFORE PICKING OUT YOUR DRESS. This is more important than you realize and can avoid a lot of hurt feelings. Etiquette says that the bride's mother gets to choose her dress first and then inform the groom's mother of her color choice, so then the groom's mother can follow suit and pick a different, coordinating color. However, there are other things to keep in mind as well. Is the wedding very formal and a floor length gown is required or is it a little more casual and a tea length or cocktail length gown would do? Unless specifically asked to do so, don't pick out a dress in the wedding colors. You're not a bridesmaid! Start building those family ties early and suggest the three of you go to lunch and dress shopping together. That way, the bride can weigh in on your decision immediately and there are no surprises. If that's not feasible and the bride's mother is taking a long time to decide, choose a couple of dresses in two completely different colors to keep at the ready, so you don't feel like you're rushed waiting for her to make up her mind. Then once she decides, you can just return one. No black, please, you are NOT in mourning! And do I need to remind you, the bride is the one who is supposed to wear white? Thank you.

An addendum to ADVICE #4 is something that should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, judging from the attire seen on some groom's mothers at their son's weddings, it's not. It's an echo of ADVICE #1, but with a twist. THIS IS NOT YOUR DAY! So please, no extravagant numbers, no plunging necklines or high rise hemlines. You want to be remembered for your grace and style that day, not for being the mom in the hootchie mama outfit! All eyes at the wedding should be on the bride and groom. Please honor and respect your son and his new bride and choose your clothing wisely.

Choose Classic & Elegant Colors

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You've Gained A Daughter!

The last piece of advice is the most important and will have a profound effect on not just the wedding day, but your relationship with your son the rest of your life. Let's face it, even if your son's intended has the looks of Miss America, the intelligence of a nuclear physicist, and the income of a major movie star, in your mind, she will never be good enough for your son! However, that is not for you to decide. ADVICE #5: RESPECT YOUR SON'S CHOICE! Unless you have 100% reliable knowledge that your son's future bride is a known felon, a con artist, or is otherwise not completely on the up and up, leave it alone, Mom. Accept that this is the woman your son loves and try to be objective enough to see what he sees in her. For all you know, he sees you in her, or at least a younger version of you. Don't think she's attractive enough? Maybe she has a kind heart which makes her beautiful in your son's eyes. Think she's not of the same social class and the relationship is doomed as a result? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, but isn't that for them to find out on their own? For whatever reason, whether you see it or not, he chose her and if you want to ever have a loving relationship with your son again, you're going to have to accept that and try to welcome her into your family and maybe later your heart. Give her a chance and you may grow to love her as much as your son loves her.

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    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen Lewis 

      11 months ago from Florida

      Questions: I raised my son alone. He is marrying in March. 150 people attending. He asked for my list and I asked for 10 seats, 3 cousins the rest close friends - I have no family. I have also promised $5000 in financial help despite my low income. Today I was informed my friends were not priority and would not have a seat. To me, this seems incredibly unfair as they have had the list for 18 months, and had I not asked today, my friends would not have known and still had the date in their calendar. Does this seem right to you?

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