Mother of the Groom
Mother of the Groom -- for Better or Worse
by Mary Hartford, Grandcountyweddings.com
I recently became
a Mother of the Groom (MOG), a position of less apparent rank than
MOB. I was as inexperienced at this as my son was in his upcoming role
the "day of". I had plenty of time to contemplate and prepare for this
new experience but it still managed to ambush me. Experience is not
always the kindest of teachers, but it is surely the best (old Spanish
lain in bed worrying when he stayed out too late. You mourned when he
moved out of your home and into his dorm room or first apartment. Now
he's getting married. It seems so final. How can you prepare yourself
for letting go of your son?
My catharsis in the weeks before Sam's
wedding was to create a photo journal of his childhood. I don't do "scrap booking". Mine was simple and straightforward, but from the
I used page protectors and a large ring binder with a clear
plastic sleeve on the cover in which to insert a favorite photo of
him. I copied pages from his baby book and representative photos of
his childhood--from birth through adolescence and young
adulthood--ending with his engagement photo. I included copies of other
nostalgic photos--of houses we've lived in, family vacations, siblings
and, to remind him that we were once young too, pictures of my husband
and me from before Sam was born.
Compiling all these photos and
memorabilia aroused a torrent of emotion that demanded to be shared.
In a letter to Sam, I told of the passions, the lows and highs, and the
conflicts and challenges I'd experienced raising him. When the
realization hit that, although I'll always be his mother, my role as
unsolicited advisor was about to change, I included some final free
words of advice--especially some concerning the big step he was about to
take. I sealed my letter in an envelope, marked it "personal" and
slipped it into a pocket of the ring binder.
Finally, I added a
section for Sam's bride, starting with a "Welcome to the Family"
letter. Since not many of Sam's relatives could come to the wedding, I
photocopied our photographs of the closest ones, including grandparents
now deceased. In words and pictures, I acquainted her with distant
aunts, uncles and cousins she has never met.
As I compiled Sam's
history, I cried, I laughed, and I enjoyed my son's childhood all over
again. When I was finished, I felt I was ready to watch him drive off
with his mate after the ceremony.
OUT OF THE CORNER
mother warned me. "Look for a corner to hide out in at the wedding,
because you won't be important." As a four-time MOG, I figured she
Although many of today's couples are planning and
paying for their own weddings, it is customary for the groom's parents
to host a rehearsal dinner. It can be very challenging to make
arrangements from out-of-state. It was for us. The Internet is no
help when there are no websites for restaurants and caterers in the
area. We had no way to gauge the suitability of local venues without
calling every one, so, with time running out, we recruited the bride's
parents to help us.
In the end, a relative offered her home for
the party and we bought the food and drinks, borrowed some grills, and
catered a barbecue ourselves. Our goal was to provide simple food in a
relaxed atmosphere. Since we couldn't take the leftovers back with us,
we offered them to the hostess of the gift opening to be held on Sunday.
me, hosting a rehearsal dinner provided a good chance to come out of
the corner and meet my son's new family. Several times, as I
introduced myself to people as "Sam's Mother" I was corrected. "I know
that," they said, "but what is your name? You do have your own
identity you know."
Mother was right. As the MOG, I wasn't important.
MEMORY BACK UP
old enough to have a child of marriageable age is probably familiar
with occasional memory lapses. Along with the already present
stresses, traveling to an unfamiliar city and learning new faces and
names can tax your mental equilibrium. A wise man said, "Memory is the
thing you forget with," but there is something you can do to lessen the
effects. Bring a bigger purse.
By taking a slightly larger purse,
you have room for the items that you would surely need if you had
forgotten them. I packed a small pair of scissors, tape, waterproof
mascara and a sewing kit, but I forgot the most important
item--tissues--much less the handkerchiefs I had planned to bring.
matter how prepared you think you are, your heart will flip-flop when
you see your son standing there awaiting his bride. There's no
question, your little boy has stepped into manhood. Barring even a
piece of toilet paper snatched from the ladies' room, you will surely
be caught on videotape wiping your eyes and nose with your finger.
me, the vows were the most emotionally perilous part of the ceremony
but I had to get over it quickly. In a few minutes I was heading back
down the aisle, trying to muster a smile for MOG photos.
CHOOSING THE MOG DRESS
your dress is a lonely chore. Your husband doesn't want to hear the
details of your search, and you don't want him to know how much they
The object of the MOG dress is not to embarrass your son or
upstage his bride, although it is okay to compete with her mother. I
decided that my dress should be attractive yet unpretentious. I wanted
to avoid wearing red or white, and I resisted the urge to get something
black and slinky, especially when I saw my rear view in the mirror. In
the end, the color was determined by what was available--and that wasn't
much because I found my dress in a resale shop. I chose a unique but
affordable dress in a color and style that I thought looked appropriate
for the occasion.
Although I had held my own "dress rehearsal",
including shoes and undergarments, I wasn't critical enough. Somehow
the neckline was much lower the day of the wedding than it had been
when I bought it. Fortunately, in my larger purse, I had a sewing
needle with thread the color of my dress, and I was able to avoid undue
self-consciousness so I could spend my time worrying about other things.
hard as I'd tried to look like the MOG, not everyone concurred with
me. My dear father said, "No, you don't look like the MOG. You look
like his sister"
Not that I believed him, but I accepted the compliment anyway.
MEETING THE MOB
Sam and his bride would be leaving for their honeymoon on Monday, we
decided to come early rather than stay late. The extra days gave us a
chance to spend time together in one place with all of our children,
and to meet the bride's parents.
Just as Sam no doubt was anxious
about meeting his future in-laws, we were a little apprehensive as
well. Would we get along with them? Did we have anything in common?
Did they like our son?
Of course they graciously invited us over
for dinner and we got well acquainted with each other. Seize the
opportunity to bond with the MOB because you will be emotional allies
in a communion of tears on the "day of". And you will be sharing your
children for the rest of your lives.
IMPROMPTU WEDDING ETIQUETTE
you haven't been to many weddings. Maybe you haven't been to one in
recent memory, or maybe, like me, you are a product of the rebellious
baby-boomer generation and you don't handle tradition well. In any
case, I can say from experience that you are wise to brush up on your
wedding etiquette. As Oscar Wilde said, "Experience is the name
everyone gives to their mistakes."
There's a good chance that
the bride and groom won't have a clue about the cake cutting and the
best man won't know how to conduct a toast. An inexperienced DJ might
be worse than unhelpful at making announcements, and the bride's mother
could be knocking down her third Merlot at the other end of the hall
during these special moments. The job of etiquette coach could be
Be prepared. I wasn't.
It was time for the
cake-cutting ceremony. My husband was goading me on. "Help them. Help
them! They don't know what to do. Get up there. Go on."
up there but I drew a blank. With experience as a server, I had cut
and served wedding cake many times, so that's the direction my advice,
based on supposed knowledge and experience, took.
If I had put any
forethought into it, I wouldn't have removed the miniature bride and
groom from the cake. I would have remembered that the top layer is not
cut, but saved for the first anniversary. I would have directed Sam
and Kristin to hold the knife, his hand over hers, while photos were
being taken, then to cut and feed the cake to each other. If my mind
had been lucid, the entire humiliating episode, with me smack in the
middle of it, wouldn't have been caught for eternity on videotape.
GAINING A DAUGHTER
is commonly said that you're not losing a son, but gaining a daughter.
What they don't say is that the bride is gaining another mother.
the MOG must walk a fine line between helpfulness and seeming to
interfere or take over. There will be a multitude of last minute
details to help with, so take your pick but avoid offering unwelcome
suggestions and advice.
Maybe an adoptive parent feels the way I
did about my future daughter. One of my greatest pleasures at the
reception was talking with Kristin's aunt. Through her anecdotes I
glimpsed a tiny bit of Kristin's life before my son entered into it. I
gained another perspective on the woman he had married.
Sunday, we gathered with Kristin's family for a brunch and gift
opening. When Sam opened my gift to him he held it up for all to see.
My oldest son called out, "It's the Owner's Manual!"
laughed, but after they returned from their honeymoon, Sam called to
thank me for the "User's Manual" and the letter marked "personal". I
had scored a hit with both. Kristin had cried when she read her
section of the book. Maybe an adopted child feels the same way she did.
ROSES IN DECEMBER
my son and husband had taken digital photos and videotaped images of
the ceremony and reception, our son's wedding lasted longer than a day
for us. In the days and weeks after, I helped edit the videotape onto
a DVD. The footage and soundtrack of the couple's first dance and the
Father's Dance, were priceless. We also made a CD of the best photos,
with captions, and sent these to grandparents and other close family
members who couldn't attend, to the bride and groom and to their other
It has been said "God gave us memory so that we might
have roses in December". Because we knew that memories fail, we had
captured the beautiful, the romantic, the emotional and the silly. We
will have roses in December--and always.
The following is my mother's response after reading this article:
MY MOTHER RESPONDS
actual quotation that I heard was "(The) Mother of the Groom should
wear beige and sit behind a potted palm". You know me and there is no
way I am going to wear beige anywhere especially to my son's wedding.
I always wore what I wanted and only once did I get into trouble for
selecting a dress the color that the MOB wanted to wear. Too bad for
There was only one
time that I suggested something for the wedding and learned that MOG
doesn't make suggestions. MOB (and her mother and sisters) has all the
ideas and makes all the decisions. This is the time for MOG to head
for the potted palm and stay there until the fur stops flying. Potted
palms are sometimes a good thing.
At (your younger
brother's) wedding I had a slightly higher status than MOG. You might
call it MOG+. I was the seamstress who made the miniature bride's
dress. That brought me a little closer to the inner circle but it
didn't give me voting rights. I was often introduced as the seamstress
to which I had to add "and MOG and proud of it".
Now that all our
children are married, I can look back at five lovely weddings...five
lovely couples. I have learned that it isn't the color of the dress or
the cut of the shoes or the music that matters. What really matters is
that the lovely couples stay married and make a life together until
death do them part. Our children are doing so well. I am very, very
proud of all of them.
Copyright 2005, Mary Hartford, GrandCountyWeddings.com. All rights Reserved.
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