Wedding Etiquette for Parents of the Groom

Amy Hoover
groom and his parents

Finding information on the etiquette and duties for the parents of the groom is somewhat difficult, as they have traditionally had a smaller role in wedding planning than the bride's family. Today, however, many parents of the groom want to take on a larger responsibility in the wedding.

Role of Parents of the Groom

Due to the small role the groom's parents have traditionally held in the past, they might be confused about the proper etiquette concerning their role in the wedding and about what duties are actually expected of them. Because customs vary in different parts of the country, the first step is to ask your son what he and his fiancée expect of you for the wedding. Even if they are not sure themselves, the newly engaged couple will appreciate your willingness to participate in the wedding.

Traditional Etiquette

The parents of the groom have traditionally held these responsibilities before and at the wedding:

  • Contacting the bride's parents to arrange a meeting and offer congratulations
  • Following proper dress etiquette for the mother of the groom
  • Planning the rehearsal dinner
  • Providing the bride and groom with a list of guests and their addresses, if asked
  • Standing in a receiving line with the rest of the bridal party after the ceremony

In some areas, the parents of the groom host an engagement party for the couple. This typically follows an engagement party hosted by the bride's parents, should they choose to have one.

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Modern Wedding Planning Manners for Parents

At modern weddings, the parents of the groom often take on a more active role in both the wedding planning and wedding itself. With the changing customs, it is more difficult to know exactly what proper etiquette is for the wedding.

Offering Help

One aspect that is never an etiquette blunder is to remember your manners. Do not automatically assume that the bride and groom want your help; instead, offer it without strings. Even if they do not accept, the kind gesture will be remembered.

When Your Help Is Requested

Similarly, if the couple asks for help with items like dress shopping, making reception centerpieces or obtaining initial wedding vendor quotes, you should respond properly. While you are not obligated to help with any part of the wedding, it is important to realize that the couple asked for your help because they value your opinion and want to include you in the festivities. If you are not comfortable offering help in one area, graciously decline the offer while expressing appreciation at their decision to include you.

Advice for Couple

Remember that whatever role you are taking on in the wedding planning process, proper etiquette and manners dictates that the bride and groom are in charge of all major decisions unless they say otherwise. Offer opinions when asked, but do not be upset if they choose not to follow your advice, even if it is an area you are all ready helping in.

mother and son at garden wedding

Financial Wedding Etiquette for Parents of Groom

Financial etiquette is often sensitive for everyone involved in the wedding. Parents of the groom need to discuss between themselves what help they are able, or want, to offer, before talking with the bride and groom. While the couple should not expect anyone other than themselves to pay for the wedding, it is a kind gesture to offer financial help if you are able. Treat any financial help for the wedding like the gift that it is - not as a way to control wedding-related decisions.

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Traditional Who Pays for What

The parents of the groom follow rehearsal dinner etiquette by planning and paying for it, along with their own attire, transportation and lodging, and a wedding gift. Sometimes this list includes the bride's bouquet and the bar at the reception. In some circles, the groom's parents also help him pay for some of his expenses. Different cultures, geographic locations, and social circles may have different ideas for who pays for what traditionally, so it doesn't hurt to consult a wedding planner to know before any discussion is had.

When the Couple Asks for Monetary Help

Beyond the traditional financial expectations, parents of the groom who are able to offer additional financial help are often at a loss of how to do so. In some cases, the couple or your son will approach you regarding finances. Keep in mind they are doing this so they can budget properly, and that none of the parents are under any obligation to pay for their child's wedding. Be polite if you choose not to offer additional financial help for wedding expenses.

Offer Financial Support

Today, many couples expect to pay for their weddings themselves. They may not approach you regarding finances. It is up to the parents to offer financial help. Let the couple know you would like to offer them a particular amount of money, and have it available to them when you offer. If you want, you can ask they spend it in a particular area, such as on the wedding cake or on the wedding band, or that they simply put that particular bill in your name.

man holding wallet in wedding suit

Gift Etiquette for the Parents of the Groom

Gifts and weddings often go hand-in-hand. As a parent, you may be wondering what is expected of you.

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Gifts for the Bride and Groom

Parents of the groom who help the couple financially may not have additional funds available for a gift. When offering financial assistance, it is a good idea to let the couple know that is their wedding gift from you. However, if you have the means and desire, giving a gift to the couple is sure to be appreciated. Consider something in your budget that will be meaningful or practical in their new lives together. It should be something they will remember as a gift from the groom's parents, like:

  • Large appliance or electronics from the registry
  • Contribution to honeymoon or travel expenses
  • Personalized keepsake, such as a favorite photo on canvas

Gifts From the Couple

The couple may give both sets of parents a small gift, either at the rehearsal dinner or privately before the ceremony, as a token of their appreciate not only for wedding help, but also for their love and guidance through the years. These items may include:

  • Framed poems expressing love and gratitude
  • Tie clips, earrings, and other gifts of jewelry
  • Gift certificate to restaurant or spa to use after the wedding

If the couple gives you the gift privately, feel free to open it then. However, if you are given the gift in a group setting, wait until all the gifts have been presented before you open your gift.

Embrace a Helpful Role

Wedding etiquette for parents of the groom is a topic that has often been neglected. Changing attitudes in modern society have opened the doors up for parents of the groom to take on a larger role. Navigating the delicate gray areas of wedding etiquette is often difficult, but being polite, kind and helpful are never an etiquette faux pas.

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Wedding Etiquette for Parents of the Groom