Here's Our Rundown of Mother-of-the-Groom Duties

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Photo: Bailey Pianalto Photography

The original article, by Kim Forrest, can be found on The Knot here.

In the past, the bride's mother has taken on most of the prewedding responsibilities, while the groom's family assumed more of a backseat. These days, both moms take on significant roles in the planning process, especially if the two families are splitting wedding finances. "The mother of the groom's role has evolved with modern weddings," says Mandy Connor of Hummingbird Events & Design in Boston, Massachusetts. "It's more common to see the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom team up to provide support for the wedding couple in a variety of ways. This is a wonderful opportunity to see your presence not as a 'silent bystander' but as an enthusiastic partner to the couple as they plan."

If you want to participate in your son's wedding and help make it an even more special day for him, here is a full list of mother-of-the-groom duties that you can perform. Feel free to use this as a mother-of-the-groom checklist when you sit down with the happy couple to discuss your role in the wedding.

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Printable Mother-of-the-Groom Duties Checklist

If you'd prefer to have a hard copy of the traditional mother-of-the-groom responsibilities, download and print this easy-to-follow checklist.

Printable Mother-of-the-Groom Duties Checklist
Design: Tiana Crispino for The Knot

Mother-of-the-Groom Responsibilities

If you're wondering "what does the mother of the groom do," the answer isn't totally clear cut—it all depends on your relationship with the to-be weds. "To set the right tone, offer help and support to the couple in the earliest stages of planning," says Connor, who has been featured in numerous top publications, such as Vanity Fair and People. "Ask what you can be of assistance with and be open to their honest feedback. Whatever you do, do not insert yourself into their plans forcibly."

Here's a list of mother of the groom responsibilities that you may be asked to take on.

Host an engagement party.

After calling your son's future spouse's parents to congratulate them and express your happiness, you can offer to host an engagement party. While the purpose of the party is to celebrate the couple's engagement, it's also a wonderful opportunity for you to meet your son's partner's family and their closest friends. Start to get to know the people who could become a big presence in your life. Just make sure you follow these engagement party planning basics.

Help with the vendor search.

Searching for venues and vendors can be stressful for a busy couple. If you have the time, you can help scout out ceremony and wedding reception venues and ask friends for recommendations for caterers, florists and other vendors.

Before you do this, however, meet with the couple to learn more about their vision for their wedding. You'll want to understand their budget, the type of venue they want, the wedding's theme and more so that you can make the best recommendations.

You can also volunteer to serve as a contact for the pros—especially if the wedding is taking place where you live. It's nice to offer to take some of the planning burden off the shoulders of the couple.

Manage your son's side of the family.

Ask how many guests you're able to invite, and then draw up a guest list for your side of the family. Be respectful of the guest limit. Keep track of your family's RSVPs and follow up with any late RSVPs. Make sure you also spread the word on the couple's wedding registry. Your future son- or daughter-in-law will almost certainly love your help here.

Offer financial assistance.

Weddings are expensive, and though the majority of the wedding costs are traditionally covered by the bride's family, there are some expenses that the father and mother of the groom are expected to pay for. This can include:

  • Engagement and wedding rings
  • Marriage license
  • Officiant fee
  • Bouquet
  • Your son's wedding suit
  • Boutonnieres and corsages
  • The rehearsal dinner
  • DJ, band or other reception music
  • Alcohol at the reception
  • The couple's honeymoon

Before you take your checkbook, however, talk to your son and his future spouse to discuss what they feel comfortable asking you to cover and what you can afford.

Steve: Ask the couple what their expectations were in terms of who is paying for what over the course of the wedding events. Traditionally, the groom's family covered certain costs, including but not limited to the rehearsal dinner and the officiant fee. Now, some couples are scaling back the rehearsal dinner, asking parents to chip in more for the reception.

Keep family tradition alive.

If your son wants to honor any family or cultural traditions at his wedding, one mother of the groom duty is to help him figure out how to incorporate these traditions. "When asked, lend your guidance and support to help the couple incorporate—or reimagine—their desired cultural, religious or family traditions for the ceremony," says Steven Greitzer, CEO of Provenance, a site that helps couples write their wedding ceremony scripts, vows and toasts. "Connect with your son and his partner, attentively listen to their ideas, and offer suggestions that align with their wishes. If they plan to have wedding programs and want the special significance of the customs included, offer to write the first draft so they have one less thing to think about (especially if you have a deeper understanding of the custom). Similarly, if any props are needed for that moment, offer to handle curating the materials and setting it all up."

At the same time, be careful not to step on toes. Make sure you are sensitive to what your son and his future spouse want, not what you wish for them.

Attend the shower.

If possible, attend the shower and buy a gift. Offer to come early to help the family members prepare for the party. This is a great opportunity to spend more time with the family before the wedding.

Figure out day-of fashion with your son's future mother-in-law.

Contact your son's future mother-in-law and consult with her on her wedding day outfit to make sure there's no clashing. The old joke is that the mother of the groom is supposed to fade into the background at the wedding, but that doesn't have to be true for you. Just make sure you honor the theme of the wedding and any clothing styles/colors the couple requests. You'll want to start shopping for your mother of the groom dress about four to six months before the wedding.

Offer to help with wedding-day preparations.

Most weddings include at least some DIY chores. If you live near your son, offer up your time and your hands to help stuff welcome bags, make crafty table decorations or put together wedding programs. Just make sure to be supportive. This isn't the time to announce your opinion on the couple's wedding choices.

Connect with your son's future in-laws.

"As planning moves forward, stay in contact with your son's future in-laws," says Connor, who has over a decade of experience in the wedding industry. Together you can share insight into what can be most helpful to the couple." If you live close by, you might plan a meal or other outing to get to know each other better, or if you're separated by distance, give each other a call or text every so often to check in.

"If you can be a joyful and gracious partner to the couple and to your son's future in-laws, you will forge a lifelong relationship with them and you'll be an invaluable asset to the couple as they navigate wedding planning," says Connor.

Plan and host the rehearsal dinner.

Traditionally speaking, the mother of the groom is responsible for planning and hosting the rehearsal dinner with the grooms' father (typically) the night before the wedding. This is one of the biggest mother of the groom responsibilities, so make sure you start planning the dinner about six months in advance. Ask the mother of your son's future spouse if you need help contacting and coordinating roles with their side of the family.

Participate in the processional.

"Remember to ask where you walk during the processional," says Greitzer. "Depending on the couple's preference, you could be walking on your own, with another person of significance to your son, with your own partner or even with your son. You could be first, last or somewhere in between. No matter how they prefer to do it, as you walk down the aisle, you become a bridge between your son's past and future, a symbol of the nurturing and guidance that have shaped him."

Give a speech—maybe.

Depending on the couple's preference, the groom's family may be tasked with giving a speech during the rehearsal dinner or the reception. If you're asked to prepare a mother-of-the-groom speech (or give a joint speech with the father of the groom), plan ahead—and be sure to give your credit to their new spouse, as well.

"While it's natural to share anecdotes and express your love for your child, remember to honor their partner as well," says Greitzer. "Celebrate their qualities, acknowledge their positive impact on your son's life, and highlight the unique union between them. Additionally, take a moment to appreciate and welcome their respective families into your own."

Be on deck during the wedding.

On the big day, being a social butterfly is a big part of the mother of the groom's job description. If the couple is planning to have a receiving line, the mother of the groom (along with the father of the groom) should stand in it after the couple. If there's no receiving line, you'll want to go table to table to greet guests and thank them for attending—even ones you don't know. You may also be tasked with collecting gits, handing out tips and other small responsibilities throughout the event.

Plan the mother-son dance.

Probably the most popular mother-of-the-groom duty is to perform the mother-son dance at your son's wedding reception. There's nothing quite like dancing with your son and seeing the wonderful man he's become. Before you can have that magic moment, however, help get the dance right by working with your son to pick a song you both love. You may even want to practice a few moves beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable on the dance floor.

In the past, the bride's mother has taken on most of the prewedding responsibilities, while the groom's family assumed more of a backseat. These days, both moms take on significant roles in the planning process, especially if the two families are splitting wedding finances.
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