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Mother of the groom etiquette and advice

Mother of the groom

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 feeling left out 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 little mother of the groom issues that might crop up. 


Mother of the groom outfits

"One concern as 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. What is the mother of the groom etiquette when it comes to choosing your colour palette? The short answer is, if you're unsure whether 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 know exactly which colours to avoid. After all, you really don't want to turn up in the same Hobbs ensemble as the bride's mother... Jacques Vert, Just Last Season and JD Williams are good places to find stylish but affordable outfits. 


Feeling left out on the day

wedding day

"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 - 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 personally, and remain interested and available should you be needed.


Feeling excluded from the planning

wedding planning

"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, the checklist is often a bit shorter. The parents of the groom responsibilities may vary from family to family, but generally speaking they will be fewer in number than those of the bride's family.

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...


Losing the 'mother-in-law' stereotype

"Enjoy the preparations, I know I will. Every time I think of my boy walking down the aisle with this girl, I get very tearful."

Mother of the groom

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 fact alone is compelling motivation for cultivating a good relationship with her. 


Bite your tongue

"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. 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 - gently, and only once.


Being left out of the speeches 

"My daughter-in-law thanked everyone else in her speech...but didn't mention me"

Wedding speeches

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. It's simply bad manners to exclude anyone as important as a parent, especially if they did contribute to the day.

However, 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.


The mother/son dance

Tradition dictates that, once the first dance is over and done with, the bride and her father, and the groom and his mother take to the dancefloor. We've been to plenty of weddings where all the dancing is done by the bride and her father, however. So with that in mind, you could simply ask ahead to check whether a mother and son dance will be happening, but try not to take it personally if the couple aren't planning to include it.