Weddings are joyous occasions celebrating two people and the commitment they are making to each other. Many modern couples want to involve both sides of their families on their wedding day, and as the mother of the groom, you could easily find yourself playing an active role in their big day. But there are potential pitfalls that even the most savvy mother of the groom has to watch out for.
Not sharing engagement news directly
Right after your son pops the question, you might be tempted to shout the news from a mountaintop or blast it across social media. With your son and his fiance's permission, instead pick up the phone and call other close family members and friends. They'll want to hear it directly from you - not from Facebook or Instagram.
Giving out verbal invitations
In your excitement, it's tempting to start telling friends and family and even distant acquaintances to save the date. But don't start promising people they'll be invited until you confirm the guest list with the couple. They might want to keep things small, and nothing is more awkward than having to take back an invite.
Going overboard on the guest list
Similarly, it's important to be respectful of the budget and guest list size, especially if your son's partner's parents are paying for the wedding - or if the couple plan to pay for it themselves. If they decide that your side can only invite 50 people, don't send your son a list of 75 people he absolutely has to invite. Talk with your son to learn who he really wants to be there. His priorities might be different than yours.
Not setting financial expectations
Money can be a touchy subject, but you need to be clear early on regarding what you are willing and able to pay for. There are certain things - like the honeymoon, groom's cake, rehearsal dinner and more - that are traditionally paid for by the groom's family. If you are willing and able to help pay for those things, you also need to be clear about whether or not you expect anything in return. If you expect to have a say in the planning and final decision, speak up, but also don't demand unreasonable control. After all, it's not your special day.
Not sticking to the budget
It's very tempting to overspend on this special day and give your son and his betrothed the very best. If your son sends you photos of a gorgeous venue, floral arrangements or dress that are out of their budget, it may be tempting to offer to help them pay for it. But don't put yourself into a rough financial situation. Instead help them brainstorm ideas about where they could make other adjustments to their budget in order to splurge on something special.
Being meek about the rehearsal dinner
The rehearsal dinner is traditionally the responsibility of the parents of the groom. If this is a responsibility you're willing and able to take on, reach out to the couple and your son's future in-laws early on to let them know you've started the planning process. Give them options within your budget rather than asking open-ended questions.
Being too honest
It's easy to blast your sassy opinion at the TV while watching wedding reality shows, but when you're actually wedding dress shopping with the bride-to-be or touring the venue with the future couple, you need to watch what you say. Pick your battles. Unless your son or his spouse-to-be are about to commit an awful faux pas or a costly mistake, keep your blunt opinions about their decisions on outfits, color palettes, desserts and more to yourself. Take a second to think of a kinder way to share any criticism.
Picking a clashing outfit
Your son's wedding day is a special occasion, so it's tempting to turn the affair into your own personal Oscars red carpet. Rather than dashing out and buying an extravagant, scene-stealing dress right away, coordinate with your son's future spouse (and his future mother-in-law) before selecting your outfit. Try to pick something that both suits you and complements their ensembles
Saying 'I don't care'
If your son and his future spouse ask your opinion on something, the phrase "I don't care" could really hurt their feelings. Even if you find yourself indifferent about a certain detail, make an effort to look at the choice and offer an opinion either way. Otherwise, you could remind them that it's ultimately their day and you'll support their decision rather than being dismissive.
Being hesitant to participate in certain activities
If your future daughter- or son-in-law invites you to activities such as the dress fitting, suit shopping or even the bachelorette party, it's important to try to be there. You wouldn't be invited if your presence wasn't desired. It's easy to feel like a background player in wedding planning as the mother of the groom, so it's important to take any opportunity you can to be involved.
Giving unsolicited advice
In a similar vein, unless the bride and groom ask your opinion, don't offer it. Even if you're an expert baker or professional florist, this day is about your son and his betrothed expressing their personality and taste as a couple. So even if it's not what you would choose, resist the urge to chime in with your opinions.
Giving big surprises
Big gifts like cars, honeymoon funds, house down payments and more can be fun to give as surprises, but your son and his future spouse might already be planning their life together down to the last nickel and dime. Giving them a heads-up that you intend to gift them something extra special could completely change their wedding budget and plans, so it's better to let them know ahead of time.
Forgetting to focus on yourself
While the wedding should be about your son and his future spouse, don't get so caught up in helping the happy couple that you neglect to take care of yourself. Don't forget to schedule your hair appointments or get dress alterations for the wedding day. Also, make sure you give yourself time and space to step away from the stress of wedding planning.
Comparing things to your own wedding
The wedding landscape has drastically changed over the decades and even over the past few years. Some couples choose to spend tens of thousands of dollars on over-the-top black tie affairs, while others have whimsical themed parties or even simple backyard barbecues. No matter what your son wants to do, don't compare it to your own wedding or recent weddings of your other children or family members. Breaking from tradition - or just not trying to go bigger and better than the wedding before - might be the right choice for your son and his beloved.
Winging it for the mother-son dance
First, don't assume there will be a mother-son dance at the wedding reception without first talking to the couple. If you do decide to dance together, choose a song that's short and sweet. Coordinate in advance whether you want to throw in some dips and choreography or simply enjoy this tender moment.
Being surprised in your role as family liaison
Whether you volunteer for this role or not, you are officially the head representative for the groom's side of the family when it comes to all logistical and administrative questions regarding the wedding. The couple will be asking you questions about accommodating friends and family on the guest list, while those same guests will be coming to you with their questions about hotel reservations, registries and the big day itself. Prepare yourself by memorizing or having basic details accessible to you so you can easily dole out information.
Taking out your stress on those around you
You might be familiar with the terms "bridezilla" and even "groomzilla," but you can also become a monstrous mother of the groom if your patience wears thin and you start barking orders at others. Even though you might feel a burden to help your son's big day go smoothly, it's important to take a step back, know your limits and ask for help rather than becoming a big ball of stress.
Getting too tipsy the night before
The day of the ceremony and reception can turn into a marathon. Between getting up early to get ready and being on your feet all day, it can be a test of endurance, meaning you don't want to be slowed down by a hangover. You want to look and feel your best on the big day, so don't get too crazy at the rehearsal dinner. Know your limits and get to bed as early as you can.
Forgetting to eat
Don't be so distracted by dancing, photoshoots and chatting with family and friends that you don't eat. While many people warn brides and grooms about this, the mother of the groom must be cautious too. Staying hydrated is also important, especially if the wedding and reception are taking place somewhere hot.
Expecting a big thank you
Especially on the day of the wedding, the newlyweds will be overwhelmed with both happiness and responsibilities. If they don't make a grand toast to you singing your praises or even say the words "thank you" amid the flurry of activities, don't take it personally. It might not be until after the honeymoon that they recover and are able to articulate their gratitude for your help and support. Hopefully, they'll even write a thank you letter - but if they choose a less formal way to express their gratitude, it might just be because wedding etiquette today is different than it used to be.
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