The bride and her mother often seem to get top billing when it comes to weddings. The bride usually picks big-ticket items such as the colors and the dress, and the bride and groom together make selections such as the venue, the food, the band. While the mother of the bride is usually in on dress shopping and shower throwing, flower shopping and hairdresser sampling, the mother of the groom is frequently a little more removed from the scene.

So today, let’s talk about your roles and responsibilities for the big day. Believe it or not, they’re quite significant, and begin before the day itself. Wondering where you can make your mark on your boy’s wedding? Here’s how.

Meet the Parents

Wait, you’re thinking, I am the parents! True, but we’re talking about the other parents. Traditionally the parents of the bride and groom are supposed to get together after the engagement to meet and discuss news of the day, especially if you’ll be collaborating on anything. While the mother of the bride usually handles the shower, along with any attendants, you should ask how you can help with that or any other events leading up to the day.

Weigh in on the Guest List

Chances are you have at least one relative of whom your son isn’t really aware, but who would be deeply offended not to receive an invite. Help your son with the list, making sure to restrict your additions to those he really needs to invite. (Your bridge club can congratulate him another way.)

Host the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is a really big deal. It’s when the VIPs of the wedding – attendants, parents, grandparents, important friends and family members – gather to spend a little close time together and plan for the next day. Guess what? Traditionally it’s hosted by the groom’s parents, which means it’s your time to shine! Talk to your son and daughter-in-law-to-be about the venue and what they’d like for the eve of the big day.

Supervise Setup

Supervising setup is a great way to provide useful oversight on the day-of. While this isn’t an expected role of the mother of the groom, the mother of the bride is often busy with hair, makeup and other lady tasks required by her daughter. The mother of the groom can be a force for good in other ways, such as:

  • Overseeing table settings
  • Being available to servers or other staff who have questions
  • Ferrying gifts to the gift table
  • Ensuring the signup book gets put out and noticed
  • Helping flowers get where they need to go
  • Directing bar setup

… et cetera. Naturally you will want to clear everything with the bride and groom before you step in. You want to be sure you’re helping, not meddling.

Stand in the Receiving Line

It’s expected that you will be there to receive guests after the ceremony. The receiving line often takes place during cocktail hour, and consists of the bride and groom, her parents and you all standing in a line, greeting guests as they go by. Whether or not you like this kind of thing, it’s your job.

Sit at the Parents’ Table

While it’s natural to want to spend time with friends and family, it’s the groom’s parents’ duty (as well as the bride’s) to provide a bridge between the two sides of the family. Again, you may or may not like duties such as these, but they are your lot. Bear them graciously!

Dance with the Groom

Now, no one could possibly complain about getting to dance with their boy, could they? At the end of the father-daughter dance, it’s traditional for the groom to lead his mother out onto the floor for a few turns around the ballroom/stage/whatever. You might want to discuss this ahead of time so that you’re prepared with shoes and a dress that can handle it.

Last but not least, the mother of the groom can always step in and make suggestions about anything wedding-related. Be careful not to overstep your bounds, of course, but especially if you are offering to pay for part of the wedding, your opinions are probably welcome. You might weigh in on many factors, among those the location of the ceremony, reception or even the rehearsal dinner for which you are responsible – and our Mississippi River and Lake Minnetonka cruises might be just the ticket. We’re just saying!

Whatever you and your son choose for the big day, know this: Even if another woman has stolen his heart and might seem to be stealing him away, it’s not true. He will always have a special place in his heart for you, and there you will stay.