By Rebecca Black
Traditionally, the mother of the bride has been the second most important person in the bridal party. She and her daughter, the bride, would take control of nearly all of the wedding planning preparations. Thankfully, this isn’t exactly how weddings are planned and executed today, as the bride and groom have more say. Isn’t this how it should be? After all, the couple is marrying, not the mother to her daughter.
Still, the role of mother of the bride is sacred. She is the last person seated before the wedding procession begins. And, many times she is her daughter’s escort. However, there are at least two mothers involved here; what about the mother of the groom? Often, she may feel left out and confused about her role in the modern wedding.
Let’s address some of that confusion.
Question: My son is getting married for the second time. It is his bride’s first. As parents of the groom, what are our monetary obligations? Does it matter that we already contributed for his first wedding?
Answer: You are not obligated to contribute anything except your congratulations. Parents are no longer financially obligated for their children’s weddings. Of course, that also means that parents have no planning or inviting rights as well, even if they do contribute.
Q: My son is getting married at 2 p.m.; what length dress would be most appropriate?
A: It really depends on the formality of the event. Usually, daytime weddings are less formal than those held in the evening. However, there are exceptions. Most often, Catholic weddings are held in the afternoon and are formal. Therefore, it is best to consider all variables.
However, as mother of the groom you are expected to coordinate with the bride’s mother, while not dressing more formally than she does. So, it is best to contact her directly, or ask your son to find out what her attire will be.
For mothers, major wedding attire no-nos are strapless gowns, anything too revealing, and bright colors, especially red.
Q: I am the mother of a groom. The bride’s shower is out of town. Is it required that I attend? It’s just so expensive to fly, and I would also have to travel by myself since no other family members can attend with me. Plus, we will be flying our entire family out of town for the wedding in a matter of eight weeks.
I’m happy to be included, and of course I would send a proper gift if not attending. However, I don’t want to offend the bride by not going. She and her mother said they would love to have me attend, but they would understand if I could not.
Can you offer some proper etiquette for me to follow?
A: This is very common. When from out of town, it is not necessary for mothers to attend. In fact, a gift isn’t obligatory as well. However, for parents, there is a shower gift expectation these days. Gift expectation isn’t something I subscribe to, but many others do. Hence, it’s probably best to send one.
Q: We are paying one-third of our son’s wedding expenses per his insistence. The invitations just arrived and we were not listed as hosts. Shouldn’t we have been? The bride’s parents were.
A: Ouch! I’m sorry your son and his fiancée didn’t know any better. In the first place, they shouldn’t have requested that you pay for any part of their wedding. Your son could have asked if you might want to, but to insist … not polite.
Yes, your names should be listed on the invitation as hosts — directly under the parents of the bride. However, knowing this doesn’t help you or make the situation any better. It may be best to discuss this with your son privately. He can’t change what has transpired. However, he might be able to avoid any further missteps.
— Rebecca Black is an etiquette specialist and teacher in Davis. For more information, visit http://www.etiquettenow.com