It’s a special thing to find your dream partner. If you’ve decided to tie the knot, you’ve likely met his parents and he has probably met yours. But have your folks met one another? As you’re preparing for the big gathering, use this guide to help keep you calm and collected… and maybe even excited!
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Setting Up The Meeting
When it comes to setting up the meeting, there are two initial approaches you can take. Either have one set of parent(s) call the other on the phone, or if you prefer, you and your partner can arrange the meeting yourselves. If one or both of your parents are separated, it us up to you how to handle the situation, however you can check out this guideline for dealing with divorced parents during your wedding for tips. You may consider having your in-law(s) first meet with the parent that raised you most. If you and your partner have decided to set up the meeting, be sure to sound enthusiastic and excited, regardless of how excited or hesitant you might actually feel!
When & Where
The time and location of the gathering can be very simple to coordinate or it can be a little bit complicated depending on the distance between the in-laws. If your folks live in the same town, you can choose your favorite brunch, dinner or coffee place. Alternatively, one household can host the other for dinner. However if your folks live in different cities or even states, the meet up can be a bit more difficult to plan. Try to coordinate a time that fits everyone’s schedule for them to meet before the wedding. This is not only important for your relationship, but it will also give them the opportunity to discuss their ideas of what parents roles are in planning the wedding. If it is not a possibility for them to meet before the wedding, arrange a time for them to speak on the phone or even better, video chat. If nothing else, try to make it so that they can at least meet several days before the wedding day.
Before They Meet
If you are feeling a bit nervous about this gathering, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Your folks are who they are and his are the same. Their quirks may be different but at the end of the day, they know how much this relationship means to you. Beyond that, you won’t be able to control what will happen. Your parent(s) may be on their best behavior but they will almost definitely be themselves. The best you can do is gently brief your parent(s) or in-law(s) on what to expect and try to avoid any obvious hurdles.
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Give a Heads Up, But Gently
Most people have a topic or issue that is sensitive to them. As a third party, you are probably aware of the major subjects that are better to steer clear of. Whether it’s pet peeves or past experiences, share with your parent(s) the subjects that are better to avoid. Be careful, however, that your forewarning is gentle as to avoid creating a preemptive bias that will shape their impressions. When giving your parents or in-laws the heads-up, be sure to be brief and gentle. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to apologize for your parent(s)’ quirks… one of the challenges of married life can sometimes be dealing with your new in-laws, so it is important that from the beginning everyone tries to accept their new family for who they are.
Conversation Topic Do’s and Don’ts
Since every family is different, there is not one specific topic that should absolutely not be touched on. However, there are some very important conversation topics to have with your partner before the wedding that may be better for the two of you to discuss privately first. For example, during this initial meet up, there is no reason you need to discuss finances or children.
If you are concerned that there may not be much to talk about, consider what your folks and his have in common, mutual hobbies or places they have been. Keep these conversation topics in your mind as a back up in case you’re faced with awkward silences.
Take Care of the Bill
There’s a good chance that the two sets of parents are not on the same financial level. If the meeting is taking place at a restaurant, avoid any courteous gestures by covering the bill yourselves. Find the waiter separately before he or she brings the check to the table. Since money is just one of several problems many couples struggle with after the wedding, only pay the bill if you feel you can truly afford it. If paying for everyone’s dinner is too big of an expense, consider meeting up for coffee and pastries instead.
Be Polite, Be Yourself
Although it may not be your first time meeting the in-laws, you want to keep the atmosphere positive by being polite. Bring a gift or flowers for your in-laws. If the meeting is taking place at someone’s house, help set up and clean up after the meeting. Thank both sets of parents for taking time to meet. Still, while you want to be polite and courteous, it is also important to be yourself. Things will feel most comfortable if you and your partner act like your natural selves!
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If Appropriate, Learn Each Other’s Cultures
If your partner and his family are from a different religion, culture, country or race, check with your fiancé if there is anything your parent(s) should know before the meeting. You want there to be mutual respect for all parties involved which can mean having a basic understanding of the background from which each other came.
You may be excited or you may be nervous, but at the end of the day, your love for your partner is what matters most. Preparing for your parent(s) to meet your in-law(s) is a great way to try and mediate any foreseeable issues but you won’t be able to control what people say or how they act, so try to relax and enjoy this time together!