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The Bride's Guide Blog

The Etiquette of the Parents Meeting

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Posted by Talley Sue Hohlfeld, Etiquette Expert:

If you're recently engaged (over the holidays, perhaps?), here's a little-known etiquette rule that might interest you:

Once a couple becomes betrothed, the groom's parents
should initiate contact with the bride's parents within the first
several weeks. If possible, they should extend a social invitation.

This probably stems from the common etiquette idea that the people in
the position of strength should reach out to those in the
less-established position. And brides used to leave their parents' home
to become part of their new husband's family. The groom's parents would
want to reassure the bride's that they were pleased with the match, and
that they'd take good care of their little girl.

As I said, it's little-known, and there is nothing wrong with any
other scenario.

But it is a good time for them to meet--even if they
already know one another! Relationships have changed with the
engagement, and there are lots of delicate negotiations ahead. It's helpful for a bride and groom to know that their
parents have created or renewed a friendly relationship.

Have your parents met? Who initiated it, and how was it engineered?

Comments (11)

  • I thought it would be interesting to share this piece of information which I came upon recently. In some Asian countries, there are actually rituals where the two families of the couple meet after their betrothal. They don't just meet but certain details of the wedding are discussed as well. The meeting of the two families is usually hosted at the bride's family's home and the groom and his family come over and bring the food for the meal they will share. While that can get a bit awkward especially if they're meeting for the first time, I think the two families meeting early on is very important.

  • We had been dating for just over a year when our parents decided it would be a good idea for them to meet. They planned a trip to Savannah Georgia with each other, never having met each other, and not inviting us. Needless to say, that was when the seed of marriage was planted, and the parents have become great friends.

  • Henry, that's really neat info!
    I have heard that the Japanese language has a special word for "the mother-in-law of your son" (or similar). "My mother-in-law-in-law" is the closest I've been able to come in English, LOL!
    In my own case, my folks came from out of town for a visit, and my boyfriend's parents asked them to dinner.
    And a bit like Caroline, I discovered that my husband's mother and mine have a friendship that has nothing to do w/ us.

  • Yes, as Henry mentioned it is common in Asia to do so. It is also customary that the girl to serve her future-in-laws a drink as a sign of respect. Therefore tea ceremony with shaky hands are common hahahaha

  • My fiance and I have been dating since he was in high school and I had just graduated (nearly seven years ago), so while our parents have met before they don't know each other well. We got engaged in May, and our families just got together for the first time for Christmas dinner - we all had a wonderful time. Since we all have known each other for so long, there just wasn't any really pressure for a meeting prior to that time. Whatever works for you is best!

  • My fiance and I have been dating since he was in high school and I had just graduated (nearly seven years ago), so while our parents have met before they don't know each other well. We got engaged in May, and our families just got together for the first time for Christmas dinner - we all had a wonderful time. Since we all have known each other for so long, there just wasn't any really pressure for a meeting prior to that time. Whatever works for you is best!

  • My fiance and I have been dating since he was in high school and I had just graduated (nearly seven years ago), so while our parents have met before they don't know each other well. We got engaged in May, and our families just got together for the first time for Christmas dinner - we all had a wonderful time. Since we all have known each other for so long, there just wasn't any really pressure for a meeting prior to that time. Whatever works for you is best!

  • Our parents hadn't met, though our fathers had played in the same hockey league many years before (recreation league). Our parents think they may have met at a mutual friend's house many, many years ago, but weren't sure.
    That being said, my fiance & I initiated their meeting. We invited family over shortly after our engagement for an "engagement party", which was really a Sunday afternoon of socializing. My parents have since invited his parents over when they had a cocktail party.

  • Our parents live on opposite sides of the country. They've never met, and probably won't until the rehearsal due to the distance involved. His folks haven't initiated any contact with mine, nor did they contact me until about three months into the engagement after I sent them a card. My folks are pretty traditional, and I'm afraid they are hurt/puzzled by the lack of outreach, or concerned that I'm marrying into a family with no manners! Help...

  • I reciently had the opportunity to meet my daughter's long term boyfriend'd parents. I was, however, very unhappy that my mother in law took it upon herself to invite everyone to a visit at her house then out to dinner. She never asked my husband and I if that was how we wanted to meet my daughter's boyfriend's parents, but worse my husband thinks that I am overreacting and insists that I be grateful to his mom for her intrusion... I mean dinner.

  • We are the parents of the future bride and all three (including future groom, future bride) live in California, the grooms parents live in the state of Washington. What is proper etiquette for the future bride to meet the groom's parents?

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