The rules of wedding etiquette are constantly changing, making it difficult for modern brides, grooms and guests to find up-to-date and correct information. That’s why we launched #MannersMondays, a series in which we ask our followers on Twitter and Facebook to submit their most burning etiquette-related questions. Then, with the help of our team of etiquette experts, we get you the right answers to your biggest Big Day dilemmas. Check out this week’s question below!
“What is the usual these days for what is required of the mother of the bride? As in engagement party, helping out and bridal gifts.” – Margo C. via email
Anna Post — great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette — is here to help us answer this week’s question. Find out what she had to say below:
After the excitement of learning about the engagement, the first step is meeting your daughter’s fiancé(e)s parents, if you haven’t already. Traditionally, the parents of the groom reach out to the parents of the bride, so if this is a heterosexual marriage, give them a few days to do so. If it’s a same-sex marriage, it’s okay for either set of parents to take the initiative. Let your daughter and her fiancé(e) help guide you as to who should call whom if you are unsure. The important thing is for the parents to meet (or at least speak on the phone) as soon as possible and share in the excitement of the engagement.
Next up is an engagement party, typically thrown by the bride’s parents within a month or two of the proposal. This party is completely optional (because of holidays and family events, I didn’t have one). The guest list is made up only of your nearest and dearest, as every engagement party guest must also be invited to the wedding. Because it’s so early in the wedding planning process, the guest list likely won’t be set yet. Limiting the engagement party guest list to those who will definitely be invited is a safe bet.
Then the real fun begins. Often, the mother of the bride helps her daughter with the wedding planning, such as scouting venues, deciding on the guest list and dress shopping. You also have the traditional honor of choosing your outfit before the groom’s mother. You attend any bridal showers. Note that mothers of the bride traditionally don’t host bridal showers for their daughters, though in the absence of any other possible host, today it’s okay. You provide her fiancé(e)’s family with the guest list so they can plan the rehearsal dinner, which you will also attend. At the wedding, you will be led to your seat as part of the processional, and you typically head up the receiving line at the reception. You may also host a brunch the next morning, though this is not required.
Phew! That’s quite a list. And the thing is, it isn’t the half of it. You’ll also be a confidante, sounding board and cheerleader for your daughter as she prepares for her new life. The part where I mentioned you’ll help with the guest list and general planning? This will most likely be the lion’s share of your time and efforts. There is no exact division of labor; it’s all one big discussion with the bride. Be available, and if you are footing all or part of the bill, be clear up front about limits. Above all, enjoy this special time in your daughter’s life.
You can submit your wedding etiquette questions via Facebook or tweet them to us @HuffPostWedding with the hashtag #MannersMondays.