You've just hung up the phone and you can't believe it: your son has just told you he is getting married. Hopefully, you're thrilled (some mothers are, some not-so much) but now you are faced with an interesting question: as the Mother-of-the-Groom what are you supposed to do next?
When we wrote our book "Love for Grown-Ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You Already Have a Life", we interviewed many women who had been faced with this question and gave their insight on how best to handle it. There are lots of books and web sites about what to do if you are the Mother-of-the-Bride, but what do you do if you are the Mother-of-the-Groom? Here are a few tips from Garter Brides who successfully navigated their way through what can be a tricky situation.
First thing: Call the bride's mother. When you've had a minute to digest your son's news, take a deep breath and call the bride's mother. Maybe you know her well or maybe you are complete strangers, but it will help you to hear her voice and a call is much more personal than an email. You will also be able to tell from her tone whether she is happy about the marriage or if she has doubts. You don't have to get into details about the wedding, just call to offer your congratulations and tell her how happy you are about the news. (It's OK to lie a little to keep things smooth for your son.)
Talk to your son one-on-one. It's very possible that when your son called to tell you the news, his bride-to-be was on the phone too, or in the room. As soon as you can, find a time to talk to him alone, to see how he is feeling about getting married and to find out if they have plans for a big wedding, small wedding, destination wedding, etc.
Ask your future daughter-in-law about her family. You may have already met your son's girlfriend's family, but often that is not the case. Show her pictures of your family and tell her about your son's background and ask her to show you pictures of hers. It will show her you are interested in your new extended family.
Try to meet her family before the rehearsal dinner. As the Mother-of-the-Groom it will be your responsibility to host the rehearsal dinner, but we urge you to try and meet his family before this event if it's possible. One Garter Bride told us, "My son met a girl during his college junior year abroad and she was from Italy. We spoke to her parents a few times on the phone, but there was a bit of a language barrier. We didn't meet them until they walked in to the rehearsal dinner and it was very awkward."
Decide what you are willing to spend. Traditionally, the groom's parents pay for the rehearsal dinner and the bride's parents pay for the wedding, but these rules are changing. Weddings can be very expensive and it's important to know what your son is expecting you to pay for upfront. One Garter Bride told us, "When my son got married he was 32 and had a good job so he and his bride paid a third of the costs, her parents paid a third and they asked us to pay a third. We told them the limit we could pay and my son worked out a budget and a payment schedule that worked for everybody."
Keep an eye on the future. The Garter Brides will tell you that the odds are slim that something won't happen to ruffle the waters between your son's engagement news and the wedding, but we urge you to remember that your son's (and your) future happiness is at stake. His wife is in his life and now she -- and her family, and possibly future grandchildren -- are in yours. Don't ever put your son in the position of choosing between you and his wife-to-be. Remember, keeping him close to you is what's important.
Have you been the Mother of the Groom? What advice would you give women on how best to handle it? What would you tell someone who is about-to-be Mother of the Groom?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of "Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life," a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice on how to have the love and life you want.