Ultimate checklist for the mother of the groom


Be ready (and relaxed) for this sweet moment.

Here is my ultimate, Emily Post-approved, time-lined checklist for the mother-of-the-groom. Think of it as an “if I were (really) Super Woman, I’d do all of this before breakfast” kind of plan.

This is what I needed in the summer of 2012: a chronological checklist. We’d have been eternal bff’s if you’d told me what to do now, next week, the week after, next month, the week before and the week of the wedding. Instead, I asked friends and Google, tried to stay on top of whatever the bride and her mom needed, and survived, but the journey would have been a lot smoother if I had seen a big picture of what was ahead. It was a year before I realized this thing has “phases.”

Many of these tasks will not be an option for you. No mortal mother of the groom could do all of this. Some of these activities may be typically handled by the bride, her mother, or others, but none are off limits to the MOG, as far as I have been able to determine.

Go ahead and strike through the things that don’t apply, won’t be your territory or instantly terrorize you. Keep the rest and save, bookmark, download, print, add to Outlook, OmniFocus, Calendar, or make a spreadsheet. Whatever method you use to organize yourself, fold this into it. You won’t follow it exactly, but you will know what you’re not doing, when you’re not doing it, and what you’ve decided to skip. (Delete. It’s a great button, right?)

Be aware that this assumes the bride and her mother or other loved one are in the driver’s seat for this event. There are times when the mother of the groom stands in for the bride’s mother. If that is your situation, you’re going to need a much different list.

Also, watch for live links from many of these tasks to more information about the subject.

One more thing:

Let’s decide now that whatever anyone else is doing, you’re the sweet one. You’re the gracious, loving, optimistic, peace-making, can-do Super MOG. When the final curtain falls, the Academy is voting you Best Supporting Actress by a landslide. Effectively, no one else is even on the ballot.


Phase 1: Celebrating

Think of this as a time when you are planting heirloom seedlings which, carefully cultivated, will grow into a beautiful family tree.

  •  Call the bride’s parents and share the joy over the news that their daughter has accepted your son’s proposal. This is a traditional response to the beginning of an engagement but can happen in the opposite direction as well. Just know that however it happens, it is important to very quickly establish contact and a relationship, or stronger relationship if one already exists, with the bride’s parents.
  •  Host a family get-together. Invite the bride’s parents, and your son and future daughter-in-law for dinner, breakfast, cocktails, lunch, a cookout – whatever feels right for your family. Additional family members may also be included. This is the time to celebrate, get to know each other better, and to toast the future. The occasion can be as epic or intimate as you desire or can execute.
  • Continue to stay in touch. Call, email, get together with the bride’s family as often as reasonable, possible and appropriate.
  • Host an engagement party. This is definitely an event that is traditionally hosted by the bride’s family, or friends of the couple, but it is absolutely okay, if everyone agrees and desires, for the groom’s family to throw this soiree.


Phase 2: Plans and More Plans

  • Be available. Clear your own schedule as much as practical so that you have what one of my friends calls “margin.” Look for activities that can be eliminated at least for a while. This is memory-making time. Being available means you get to make more memories.
  • Talk about expectations. Make an appointment to talk with the bride and groom, and her parents if appropriate, about expenses, responsibilities, and everyone’s expectations. Do this as early as possible in the planning process.
  • Prepare your guest list. Begin working on this even before you know how many invitations will be allocated to you. Once you do have a number, massage the list to fit the parameters. Give this to the bride in a timely manner.
  • Offer to help, in the gentlest, least bossy way possible. Let the bride and her mother know you are available to take care of any details they would like assistance with. Ask if either or both would like to go over their to-do list and see what tasks they may be comfortable handing off to you.
  • Offer to notify friends and family. The couple may also have a formal “Save the Date” plan in place as well, in which case defer to this. If not, ask the bride if she would like for you to notify your out-of-town guests to of the date so they can make plans. This one is tricky so be absolutely sure anyone you advise of the date will actually be invited to the wedding.
  • Decide what to wear. Do yourself a favor and get this decision and any purchases needed behind you well ahead of time. It isn’t something you want to be thinking about that last month. Begin by consulting with the bride on her preferences for your mother of the groom outfit. If she is interested, willing and has time, invite her along with you on a shopping trip. Also, consult with the bride’s mom on what she will be wearing. Follow her lead on the level of formality.
  • Offer to help address and mail invitations. This is a great way to get to know the bride and her mother better and can, in the best circumstances, turn a chore into a fun afternoon or evening.
  • Make travel arrangements and room reservations if the wedding is out of town. If the bride has a block of rooms reserved at a particular hotel, try to stay there so that you can be as helpful as possible to the wedding party. Your out-of-town family and friends may need suggestions with hotel and travel arrangements as well. Reach out and offer this as appropriate. Know where rooms are available, discounted, or most convenient, what the best options for transport to and from airport and other arrival points are, etc.
  • Attend any bridal showers to which you are invited.  Now is the time to put shower dates on your calendar. Ask the bride when bridal showers are planned and clear your schedule so that you can attend. Be sure to rsvp in a timely manner and attend any bridal showers to which you are invited. If you are able, offer to help the hosts in practical ways. Perhaps you can cook or bring food, set up, answer the phone. This isn’t necessary and may not be accepted, but it is a very nice gesture and another opportunity to get to know people who are close to the bride.Purchase modest gifts appropriate for the occasion and be ready to answer questions from family and freinds about what the couple needs or where they are registered.Although in the past it was taboo for either set of parents to host a shower, most wedding experts now give this a thumbs up. Emily Post says (on page 177 of “Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette,” that “the traditional hosts are friends of the bride, the couple, or their parents.”  So if f you’d like to host a party, offer to do this.
  • Plan the rehearsal dinner. Although this event is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents, don’t assume it will be. Cover this in the “expectations talk” referred to in Phase 2. If this is your job, then make plans for this six months in advance if possible. If you have less time, then do the best you can to have all of these decisions made within a month of the wedding. Depending on the size of the wedding party, whether you include out-of-town guests or family, the method of delivering invitations, etc., this task can be one of the biggest responsibilities associated with the wedding. Give yourself the time you need to do a good job. Block off hours on your calendar for it if this helps you.
  • Plan any other wedding week events. If you have the time, energy and funds for some nice “extras,” plan mini-gatherings of family and friends that can occur the week of the wedding. A breakfast or brunch prior to the ceremony or the day after are most common. Even better, if you have a family member who can help with this, recruit them in advance for less stress and more fun.
  • Know your cultural and religious traditions. The couple may turn to you for help with family or religious customs or traditions for the ceremony. Be ready to provide this.
  • Plan to be beautiful. At this stage of life, it rarely just happens, right? Talk with your hairdresser about a style for the occasion and schedule pre-wedding appointments. How far in advance will you apply color and or get a haircut? Will you be needing stylist services the day of the event or will you be fixing your own hair? If you’re out of town, what is the plan for this? Your hairdresser can be a big help with all of these decisions and details.
  • Make list of photos you’d like to have taken at the wedding. This is a happy time. You may be seeing many family members who are rarely able to get together. The official wedding photographer may not be able to accommodate your wish list of photos, but usually a friend or family member is happy to take these for you. Make plans to capture these memories in advance. You are not likely to remember this in detail on the day of the wedding.
  • Take care of yourself. Reducing your own stress will help (or at least not hinder) you when those tricky moments occur.


Phase 3: Almost there

There is still a lot to do, but you’re in the final month before the wedding. Don’t forget to have a good time!

  • Offer to help keep track of rsvp’s from your part of the guest list and to make calls to non-responses for a final head count.
  • Now is the time to deliver invitations to the rehearsal dinner. These may be mailed, emailed, phoned or even facebooked. However you plan to invite guests to this event, now is the time to do that.
  • Be prepared to offer recommendations for the mother / son dance if your son is receptive but don’t expect this to be a high priority for him. He will have his mind on many other things at this time. Try to find out who is handling the reception dance details and if your ideas are needed or welcome.
  •  Help guests. Continue to provide information about lodging and details for out-of-town family and friends, including airport shuttle services.
  •  Try your outfit on again. Complete any alterations, make sure the tailoring is complete and everything still fits.
  • Prepare maps to the location of the ceremony and wedding for out of town guests.


Phase 4: The Week Before

Details. It is all about details this week. Take care of as many of these as possible now. Doing so will make next week go much more smoothly for you and others.

  • Pay vendors. Your caterer, venue, florists, and others related any other part of the wedding you have committed to funding. Follow your contracts, and use your judgment on what to hold until delivery, but get as many of these things off your plate as possible. Set aside funds for tips in cash. Preferably, place these in designated envelopes that you can hand to someone else for final delivery.
  • Pack for your trip if the wedding is out of town.
  • Ask the groom what he may need help with now or next week.
  • Ask the bride what she may need help with now or next week.
  • Plan special toasts or prayers.
  • Prepare or procure as much food as possible for the following week, especially if you will have guests in your home. If your budget permits, this is a great time to find a personal chef to assist you.


Phase 5: It’s Here!

 You’re probably reading this well in advance of your son’s wedding day. While it may seem a dim and distant event at the moment, it will arrive and fade away as fast as every other big event in your life as a parent has already done. As they say in the cliche, it will be over before you know it.

No matter how careful you are about planning in advance or checking off your to-do list, unexpected tasks, calls, and situations will arise. Do your best to handle these with grace and keep your eye on the prize: a beautiful ceremony and your family’s life after the wedding.


The Day Before The Wedding

  • Host the rehearsal dinner. If this is your job, hopefully the details are in place and the most you are doing is decorating, getting dressed, showing up at the right time in the right place, and enjoying yourself.
  • Make a logistical plan. Discuss the wedding day schedule with everyone who will be sharing your living space the day of the wedding. When and where will meals be served or if there is no plan, who is willing to help with this? What is the shower schedule? How is everyone getting to the ceremony? Any other logistic details that can be coordinated as a group: now’s the time to do it.
  • Deliver maps and directions to guests as needed.


Your Son’s Wedding Day

On the wedding day, your responsibilities are fairly simple.

  • Participate in the ceremony as your son and his bride have asked. This may mean merely sitting in your assigned place. It may involve lighting a unity candle or offering a prayer or reading or responding as directed at other moments. Enjoy. Remember. Take mental pictures.
  •  Be well-supplied with tissues. If you don’t need them, someone near you probably will.
  •  Stand in the receiving line after the bride and groom so that you may introduce the bride and her family to your friends and family.
  •  Sit at the parent’s table or other assigned seating at the reception.
  •  Dance with the groom.


The Day After

Make more memories. Realistically, the day after the wedding is when you have the most time to enjoy visiting with family and friends. You may want to host an intimate breakfast or brunch where you can laugh, cry, and reminisce. Don’t forget to take more pictures.

  • Help your guests prepare to return home. Arrange for transportation to airports or other designations.
  • Relax. Congratulate yourself for the role you played in launching a new family into the world. Focus on the happiest moments and know that your son and his wife will reap the benefits of years of parenting and hard work.
  • Take some time off. If at all possible, give yourself a few days before resuming your routine. You did a good job, mom. Take a well-deserved break.


  • Dancer

    Your thoughts on wedding showers don’t seem to take into consideration the fact that many parents live far from their children today. We live in California and are in the major move to Florida, after 35 years. My son and his fiancee are in NYC. I cannot afford to fly in for a shower. It makes me sad, but that’s the situation. They are also both so busy, that I don’t want to bother them much. They are planning and paying for the wedding themselves as they make more money than either set of parents. What can a parent do in these situations?

    • http://TheOtherMother.com/ Joyce Beverly

      Dancer, I apologize for missing this comment until now. There are more resources on this site that address this better, I hope. One thing that happens more often now is that the groom’s parents may choose to host a shower in the town where they live. Although the “rules” require anyone invited to the shower also be invited to the wedding, many people are disregarding this tradition because travel makes it difficult for so many people to attend. Since you’re relocating, this may not be an option for you. Perhaps a relative who lives closer to you would be willing to fete the bride in the South. Send a gift to the showers you can’t attend if possible. Also, stay in touch with the bride and let her know you are thinking of her and interested in the planning. I know it’s sad to miss the shower, but remember it’s a brief moment. Life after the wedding, having a good relationship with your son and his wife then, is what matters most. Here are a couple of other posts about showers:

  • MOG

    and to think all I needed to do was wear beige and show up…lol; I still have six months, better get going. the list will come in handy

    • http://TheOtherMother.com/ Joyce Beverly

      Thank you for stopping by! I hope the wedding planning is going well!

  • http://www.TheBarefootHeart.com/ whollyjeanne

    I’m just barely into this MOG role, and I’ve done some things right and some things I hadn’t even thought of. I can’t do some of the things because there are so many states, so many miles separating us (with “us” being The Bride And Her Family (along with my son) and us, the groom’s family. Which is making a difficult situation even more difficult for me. Regardless of the miles of separation (not all geographical miles, mind you), this checklist will prove invaluable.