This website is aimed at men, but we make an exception for the mother of the groom! The groom’s mother may feel overshadowed by the mother of the bride, but the two roles are equally important.
Support your son
The first duty, obviously, is to be a source of support to your son. He will no doubt have a team of supportive friends to assist him, but you should be there to support and advise him when necessary.
Contact the in-laws
A wedding is a union of two families. If you have not yet met the bride’s parents, then as mother of the groom you can take the lead, before the big day, in establishing contact between the two families.
Of course, you may know your son’s future in-laws already, but you should take every opportunity to bring the two families closer together. Some people like to organise a pre-wedding get-together, but this is obviously not compulsory.
Don’t be seen to interfere
Before the big day, one of the most difficult aspects of being the mother of the groom is offering help to the happy couple without being seen to “interfere”.
Although it is traditional for the parents of the bride to pay for their daughter’s wedding, this is not always the case these days and it may be that you are funding some of the event. In this case, you can expect to have a bit more input, but you should still be careful not to be too demanding. In particular, try to focus on maintaining your relationship with your future daughter-in-law, which is far more important than any small details about the wedding.
Organize your side of the family
In terms of practical assistance, you can help to organise your side of the family. Once you know the invitees and a date has been set, you can make sure everyone on your side of the family knows the date they need to keep free.
Once the invitations are sent out, you can help by following up any late responders. Unfortunately, there will always be some, although this can be difficult to believe for those who haven’t planned a wedding before.
Plan your outfit
It’s a good idea to speak to the mother of the bride in advance to discuss your outfits. Sometimes the two mothers are advised to wear the same length and style of dress but there is really no need to do this – the key is to make sure you aren’t wearing exactly the same outfit, exactly the same hat, etc.
It’s also sometimes advised for the two mothers to dress in conformity with the overall colour scheme for the wedding. Unless the couple specifically request this, it’s safe to ignore this rather daft advice. Provided you don’t turn up in white, ivory or flourescent orange, there’s nothing to worry about.
Hats and fascinators. Some sort of hat or “fascinator” is usually appropriate for a wedding. If you’re wearing a hat, remember that on the day there will be other female guests who will be waiting for you (and the mother of the bride) to remove your hats before they remove their own. The traditional time for this is at the end of the meal, but there is no harm in taking it off as soon as you reach the reception if you prefer.
Also on the day, you are likely to be involved in a number of formal photographs, so make sure you know when these are due to take place.
The receiving line
There may also be a receiving line at the reception – less common than they were, but a good way to say at least a few words to all of the guests. If there is a receiving line the conventional order is mother of the bride, father of the bride, mother of the groom, father of the groom, bride, groom.
If the guests are to avoid a very long and tedious wait then you will need to be quite ruthless in how long you spend speaking to people (e.g. thirty seconds is far too long). So it’s a quick hello and a couple of pleasantries and then pass them along the line. During the reception itself you will of course have more time to circulate and speak to people properly.
In a traditional top table layout, the mother of the groom sits between the best man and the bride’s father (the bride is on the other side of her father, followed by the groom, the mother of the bride, the father of the groom and the chief bridesmaid on the end).
The first dance
Some couples like their parents to join them on the dancefloor, a couple of minutes into the first dance. If the couple are not big dancers then this spares them the full attention of the awkward slow shuffle!
The low key hostess
Unless you are footing the bill for the wedding then you are not hosting it, but it’s a good idea to do as you would for hosting a party – aim to speak to as many people as you can and generally make sure people are having a good time.