MILs vs DILs - a battlefield?
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If you have a son on the verge of getting married, you'll probably already have figured out that being mother of the groom isn't always easy. In fact, when you compare it to the mother of the bride role, it's a different kettle of fish altogether. From being left on the sidelines of the planning to not knowing what to wear, many of our gransnetters have been there and done that. Here's their advice for enjoying the day - and overcoming any tricky moments that might crop up.
"One concern, being the mother of the groom, is what to wear, as my day to day routine consists of jeans and T-shirts. I don't even own a dress."
You may be among those who don't even own a dress, but don't call in the cavalry just yet. The main criteria for finding an outfit are these: 1) Does it suit you? 2) Do you feel comfortable in it? 3) Is it a onesie, in which case, please return it to your wardrobe.
One concern that comes up often is which colour to go with. If you're unsure if you'll clash with the colour scheme - or the mother of the bride - just ask. One or two quick phone calls and you'll either have the go ahead to wear exactly what you like, or the knowledge of which colours to avoid. After all, you really don't want to turn up in exactly the same Hobbs ensemble as the bride's mother... Jacques Vert, Just Last Season and Fifty Plus are good places to find stylish but affordable outfits.
"As the husband's mother I think you often have to expect to be overlooked and just shrug your shoulders and get on with it."
It's a truth almost unanimously agreed upon among gransnetters who have been mothers of the groom that it's easy to get overlooked. Wedding planning is often largely dictated by the bride's tastes and preferences, and nine times out of ten it's going to be completely natural for her to turn to her mum or friends for help and advice, rather than to you. One thing that gransnetters all agree on is that making a fuss - or even mentioning anything at all, sometimes - is not a good idea. While the exclusion may sting a little, it's highly unlikely that the bride is engaging in any deliberate snubbing. While it's much easier said than done, take a deep breath, try not to take it too personally, and remain interested and available should you be needed.
"When my son got married I felt a bit left out and got a bit offended because I felt my daughter-in-law was not involving me. My daughter pointed out that perhaps I should offer my help - let my daughter-in-law know that if she needed me to do anything I was there...BUT not push myself on her! In the end my daughter-in-law asked me to do some small things. I realised I had been sat back just waiting to feel offended and I think some women do this quite often instead of just speaking up."
As mother of the bride, there are countless ways to be involved in the exciting planning process of a wedding. The hunting for the dress, the cake tasting, hen parties, helping with flowers... But as mother of the groom...well, many women report feeling a bit left out of the whole process.
Again, gransnetters acknowledge that while there's probably no real intention to cause offence, it can be a little disappointing. Rather than take umbrage at a slight that, almost certainly, was completely unintentional, why not offer your help to the bride and groom? It may be that they didn't realise you were ready and willing to pitch in, in which case you can lend a hand as needed. The important thing here, is to communicate - let them know you're available and get stuck in when they realise they have yards of bunting still to be made, or centre pieces still to be sourced!
Be proactive - and if nothing is forthcoming, rest easy in the knowledge that you tried to help, even if the bride and groom had it all under control. As one gransnetter says:
"When my son married, they did everything and paid for it - I sat back and enjoyed it."
Armchair? Check. Feet up? Check. Now, where did we put that sloe gin...
"the preparations, I know I will. Every time I think of my boy walking down the aisle with this girl, I get very tearful."
Mothers-in-law (on both sides, we must admit) have been dogged by a battleaxe reputation throughout the ages. Since many gransnetters either sing the praises of their sons' partners, or at the very least, appreciate them for the wonderful wives they make, we reckon the old trope of 'wicked mother in law' is undeserved and outdated.
And if you do find yourself feeling less than charitable towards your future daughter-in-law because the wedding preparations have left you feeling slighted, remember that this is the woman your son has chosen - and that that reason alone is compelling motivation for cultivating a good relationship with her.
"I am trying not to 'give advice'. Being a veteran of three previous children's wedding arrangements this is rather difficult, but the new bride has to do it wonderfully in her own style."
This is an important one, according to many gransnetters. You may have planned and attended countless weddings in the past, but before plumbing the depths of your well of knowledge, keep in mind that this is one of the most important things that the bride and groom will ever organise - and that it is theirs to organise. Often, the best course of action is to freely offer your help, give advice when asked, but bite your tongue otherwise. If there's something you really do feel you should offer an opinion on, have a quiet word with your son - and only once, gently.
Ah, the wedding speech: breeding ground for hurt, disappointment...and often boredom if the father-in-law clutches the mic for any longer than half an hour. There's no surefire way to make sure the proper thank yous are included, and indeed no one should have to ensure they are thanked properly for their help and input into such a monumental day for a couple.
If, when the final glass is raised, you find that your name didn't feature in any of the speeches, move on. It sounds harsh, but raising the subject with the bride or groom - at any point - will likely do no good. There is no going back after a speech is made. What's done is done, and the best thing you can do is shrug your shoulders and let it go. Preferably on the dance floor to a bit of Van Morrison.
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