At her son’s wedding, what’s expected of a mother is to “show up, shut up and wear beige.” In reality, few grooms’ mothers are content to follow such a path. True, perhaps her role isn’t as obvious as that of the bride’s mother, the groom being a man and all. On the other hand, how many grooms would really feel happy all but excluding their mothers from the chaos of the wedding planning process?
Robert Kalumba, walked his bride, Irene Tagwana, down the aisle on September 11th, 2007, about a year and a half after his mother had passed on. His was a wedding ceremony, therefore, without a mother-of-the-groom. Far from envisioning that his mum would have kept her mouth shut through the proceedings, Kalumba, a journalist, says he wished for the presence of his mother from start to finish.
“I missed her so much when it came to the speeches, because I knew that there was no one that would have given a more appropriate speech about me,” he said. He added that he also wished she was there to work with his fiancée during the preparations so that his belle was assured of an ally on his side. “My father, though he talked to me about certain things, was more detached from the preparations than I know my mother would have been,” said Kalumba. “I also wished she had been there to give me a woman’s perspective on what my wife would now expect of me as her husband.”
Thirty-one-year-old Dennis Kawuma was luckier; his mother was around for his wedding to Diana, last year. And although he admits he wishes that she hadn’t organized his kasiki (bachelor party) to take place the night before his wedding day, he is grateful she was there. “My parents didn’t have to do much since our friends mostly organized our wedding, but just having her there, willing to help out whenever was gratifying,” he said. So dear mothers-of-the-groom, don’t assume you are off the hook. There are tasks on which your son and future daughter-in-law will be looking to you.
It should go without saying that since you have been, until now, the closest woman in your son’s life, it’s on you to give him some advice about his duties and future expectations as a husband. Kawuma says that although he is happily married, he wishes his mother had spoken to him more openly about his upcoming responsibilities instead of merely hinting around them. “She always mentioned things like how staying out late would have to stop but she never got to sit me down to talk about it,” he said. “I really wish she had.” One can imagine how many men, especially those who marry young, not to mention their wives could benefit from a frank talk about marital responsibility with their mums just before walking down the aisle.
It is also the mother-of-the-groom’s job to help and advise her son on family and cultural traditions throughout the preparations and ceremony. Your son will expect you to make an effort to work with his fiancée, get to know her and make her feel comfortable. According to local custom, she is, after all, joining your family. You could initiate the relationship with your son’s new in-laws by introducing yourself and other family members to them. If you don’t already know them by the time your son announces his engagement, call immediately and invite them to lunch or at least introduce yourself and discuss your children’s future plans.
Some other areas where the groom’s mother might also be of help are as follows:
- Oversee the compilation of the guest list for your son’s side of the family, ensuring that it is ready on time and within the confines of the budget. Take it upon yourself to call and follow up with those that don’t RSVP in time. Offer to help with such things as would be made easier with more pairs of hands, such as sealing and addressing the invitations and assisting with the seating arrangements (since presumably you know many of the invited guests.)
- Volunteer to help out with researching venues and service providers. Take on the task of reserving accommodation for out-of-town guests invited by your side of the family. You may want to house some such special guests yourself, or at least reserve rooms for such guests at a facility near where you stay to make your task more convenient.
According to an article entitled “The Responsibilities Of The Mother Of The Groom”, your first official duty during the wedding is at the reception, where you will stand in the receiving line greeting guests and introducing your friends and family to the bride and her family. Before you do anything, of course, talk with your son and daughter-in-law to find out what their expectations and needs where you are concerned may be. Sometimes sons—especially grown up sons—are shy about asking their mothers for help. You may never know if you don’t ask: As in Kalumba’s case, your words of wisdom could simply be what your son is looking out for on that special day. Of course, what you want to avoid is for the bride to feel squished between what her mother wants and what you want—or, God forbid, between what she wants and you want—during the wedding planning process, so at all times, especially at those moments when you would have preferred a different arrangement or colour, do remember that this is not your wedding. Ultimately, it is, of course, up to you and your son and your future daughter-in-law what your role is in their wedding. Whatever it is, however, don’t just show up and shut up.
What a mother In-law shouldn’t do
Don’t go to your son behind the back your future daughter-in-law
If you have a special interest request in regards to the wedding,say you desire your son wedded in a particular church, tell the couple together. Insisting that your sons pushes his bride-to-be to agree to your needs will just put him in a fix. It can also breed early glitches into your mother-daughter relationship once she is married.
Avoid making a big deal out of everything. In case the bride chooses to wear a colour you don’t want or leave out one of the kids from your side of the family as a maid, try to be open minded to her perspective. Remember not to keep a grudge. You can channel your efforts into bigger fights like the number of guests you need to attend.
It is not your wedding. Don’t act like it is
The problem with most parents and in-laws is that they have the tendency to act like their children’s wedding is theirs. You are just so invested and can even pull off this sentimental excuse; “but it’s my first child getting married!” Yes, it’s also someone’s dream wedding day. The wedding should be your son’s and his woman’s vision and dream, not yours.