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Wedding Etiquette: 18 Dos and Don'ts for the Parents of the Couple

Your kid is getting married! Congratulations and best wishes to you and your family! We know you’re excited and ready to get started planning with them - but, be sure to follow proper etiquette for the parents of the wedding couple. To help you out, we created this simple cheat sheet for parents. Follow these easy do’s and don’t to make sure your kid has the perfect wedding day with your help!

Mother of the Bride helping the Bride get Ready

Kennedy Blue Moss Dress | Photographer

Proper Wedding Etiquette for the Parents of the Couple

Proper wedding etiquette for the parents of the wedding couple involves things you should definitely do and things you should avoid doing. You want to be an asset, an ally, and assistant to the couple and avoid being a source of stress.

10 Things You Should Do as Parents of the Bride or Groom

Below are a few of the most important do’s and don’t for parents of the wedding couple.

1) Ask the Couple How & Where You Can Help (Before Doing Anything)

Your idea of helping may not be the same as theirs. We know you come from a place of love and concern, as any parent would. Remember that weddings are a show of independence. Ask the couple how you can contribute and what they need you to do to help. Try to stick to their plan so the wedding turns out how they envisioned it.

Father and daughter walking down the aisle to the altar at the wedding

2) Provide An Open & Honest Discussion About Budget Contributions

If you’re going to offer to pay for a portion of the wedding costs, be sure to sit down and have a conversation with the couple about the specifics. If you don’t think you’ll be able to contribute, you may want to mention that as well. They’ll understand if you don’t have anything or very much to contribute! If you do want to contribute, make sure everyone is on the same page about the amount and any stipulations involved. 

3) Offer to Plan A Couple’s Shower or Bridal Shower

Weddings aren’t weddings without bridal and couple's showers. Like weddings, these intimate parties require careful planning. A shower can be stressful for the bride to plan on top of her wedding. Why not offer to organize one? There are so many creative wedding shower ideas you can use! Need a head start? Choose a specific theme to run with and then find wedding shower games, decorations, and invitations that fit!

Group of Girls at a Bridal Shower

4) Help Provide Addresses for the Wedding Guest List

Your son or daughter is going to need the addresses and contact info for all of your family and friends that they are inviting. Be sure to help them by providing your address book or any information you can. Providing addresses is an easy way to help the couple knock something off their long to-do list. They’ll need this information for save-the-date cards, invites, and thank you cards. Just be sure to not invite anyone yourself unless the couple tells you it’s okay!

5) Write the Father of the Bride Speech (& any other toasts) and Practice

Not everyone is a gifted spontaneous speaker. If you want a poignant tribute, get your thoughts on paper and rehearse it, the way you’d do a choreographed dance. Not only does this show love and support. A well-rehearsed speech means you care. After all, the way you say it is just as significant as what you say. Buying a toast book to write your ideas and your final speech in may help you out!

Custom Toast Books for Parents of the Wedding Couple

Custom Toast Books for Parents of the Wedding Couple

6) Offer to Host the Rehearsal Dinner / Groom’s Dinner

If there’s anything more emotional than the wedding itself, it’s the rehearsal dinner. For some families, it’s an occasion of firsts – first time meeting siblings, grandparents, extended families etc. Having someone else plan the rehearsal dinner is a load off the couple’s chest. This is a selfless gesture and a must in any wedding etiquette manual. This tradition is sometimes called the “groom’s dinner” when it’s hosted and paid for by the parents of the groom. If not, it’s called rehearsal dinner.

Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

Simple Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

7) Ask for Guidelines on Your Wedding Day Outfits

Be sure to ask the couple what they expect you to wear on their big day. They may want you  to coordinate with the rest of the bridal party! Nothing says you care more than preparation. The effort it takes to prepare your outfit in advance is a loving gesture to show that you want to look your best on their big day. Once you have your directions, Kennedy Blue has a whole line of mother of the bride dresses for you to choose from.

8) Offer to Help Set Up & Tear Down Wedding Decorations

Wedding etiquette rule of thumb: always offer to lend a hand for set-up and tear-down. Enlist the help of able-bodied family members and friends. You’d be surprised at how willingly folks help out if only you’d ask. This is especially important if the wedding involves a lot of DIY features!

9) Share Family Traditions & Help Incorporate (If Desired by Couple)

If the couple wants to incorporate cultural, religious, and/or family traditions, they’re going to need your help! Don’t push any of these on them if they would rather have a non-traditional wedding. Offer to speak with the priest or other religious leaders you may be close with, show them pictures from ancestors' weddings, and offer advice on sticking with cultural expectations.

Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom praying over the bride

Latte Bridesmaid Dresses | Photographer

10) Offer to Read Through Vendor Contracts & Proofread Printed Materials

There is so much paperwork involved in planning a wedding. The couple is going to be inundated with contracts from all their vendors. Offer to help them read through these materials and help them understand the fine-print. This is especially helpful if you have experience in these types of contracts. The couple will appreciate you lending them your time and experience.

Mothers of the Bride and Groom

Betsy Mothers Dress | Kinsley Mothers Dress | Reigh Walker

8 Things to AVOID as Parents of the Groom or Bride

1) Don’t Micromanage Anything (Wedding Planning & Day Of)

The couple will probably want your help with decision making, planning, and organization. Just be sure to not micromanage their wedding! The couple has a vision for their wedding and they will want everyone to align with it. Trust that they can handle managing their own wedding day and that they will ask you for help when they need it. If you disrupt their planning flow by micromanaging, you’ll only add to their stress instead of helping as you intended.

2) Don’t Assume Any Roles. Discuss Everything with the Couple

Parents often forget that weddings are about the bride and groom. It’s easy to get swept away in the planning. Wedding etiquette strongly suggests simply making an offer to help out. Should they decline, guard your heart by keeping in mind that this is their day. Declining isn’t always a show of spite. 

3) Don’t Be Critical of the Bride’s Dresses if You’re Invited to Shop

Don’t assume that you’ll get an invitation to go shopping for the bride’s dress. The bride has mom(s), sister(s), best friends, grandmas, etc. that are also hoping for an invite and oftentimes only a couple are invited to go. Sometimes the bride even prefers to shop alone. If you are invited, it’s a privilege! So be supportive, especially if there’s a specific dress that she loves. Offer constructive criticism and if you have to express your disapproval, do so with tact.

Bridal Appointment at the Wedding Shoppe

Bridal Appointment @ the Wedding Shoppe (St. Paul, MN)

4) Don’t Invite Anyone Not On the Guest List

After the couple has drawn up their own list, only then can you ask if you are allowed to invite your own guests. Missed out on someone? The proper thing to do when it comes to wedding etiquette is to ask if you can extend an invite. The couple will let you know if they want to add your suggestions to their guest list. Respect their decision either way.

5) Don’t Wear Whatever You Want to the Wedding

All guests should follow wedding attire etiquette but as an important part of the wedding you need to make sure your outfit matches the couple’s vision. The main idea is not to outshine the bride and groom. Check in to see if they’ve got a motif in mind, then follow accordingly. Choosing a mother of the bride or groom dress can be difficult, but if you keep in mind your son or daughter’s expectations, you should be able to find something that makes everyone happy!

Parents of the Bride

Santi Murillo Photography

6) Don’t Take Over Wedding Planning Or Give Uninvited Opinions

Like micromanaging, taking over can be hurtful to the bride and groom. A wedding registry and a wedding theme are particularly intimate. The couple will want to decide on these to make the wedding their own. Offer to help and ask if they want your opinion. If they decline, don’t be offended! They just want to make their own decisions for their wedding.

7) Don’t Wear White (Unless Specifically Asked)

White is reserved for the bride, of course. And while it may not be your intention to outperform, best to stay away from white. This is, after all, her day. If the couple’s vision for the wedding involves you wearing white, then definitely go for it. Otherwise, it’s just safer to choose a different color. You may want to avoid black or bright red as well, just check with the couple if you’re unsure.

8) Don’t Insist On Paying For Anything If the Couple Has Expressed Otherwise

Money matters are always touchy. Constantly bringing up money can make wedding planning unnecessarily stressful. In the same light, constantly reminding them of who is footing the bill can strain relationships. Discuss the budget formally and let whatever decisions stand throughout the planning process.

Father giving a speech at his daughter's wedding

Additional Parents of the Bride and Groom Responsibilities Q & A

The parents of the groom have an interesting and varying set of responsibilities at the wedding. We created a guide to help you get started helping the future couple start their lives together! Make sure you double check with the bride and groom about what they expect from you and what they’d rather leave to other people.

1) Do Parents Buy Wedding Gifts?

Whether or not you decide to buy a wedding gift depends on your own judgment and your family’s traditions. If you are already contributing money to the wedding, a small and thoughtful gift will be more than enough. If there is a bridal shower, you should give your daughter-in-law or daughter a gift. If you need some gift ideas, we’ve collected a few of our favorites in the next section!

Mother of the Bride Responsibilities

2) What Are the Mother of the Bride Responsibilities vs. Mother of the Groom?

The difference between the responsibilities of the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom vary based on tradition and what the couple wants. Some traditions state that the mother of the groom should reach out to the bride’s family to organize a get-together if they haven’t met yet. Often, the mother and father of the groom are also responsible for organizing and paying for the rehearsal dinner.

The mother of the bride should organize an engagement party if the couple wants to have one. The mother of the bride usually helps the bride pick out her dress and goes to fittings. If the bride wants the mother of the groom there too, she’ll invite her personally. 

3) Who Should Follow Up with Late RSVPs?

Depending on the couple’s wishes, it is very helpful for the mothers to offer assistance with RSVPs. Traditionally, the mother of the bride will follow up with missing RSVPs on the bride’s side, while the mother of the groom will follow up with late RSVPs on his side. It is also said to be a duty of both mothers to ensure that out of town guests are properly hosted.

4) What Can the Parents of the Couple Offer to Pay For?

Most parents in modern day can’t afford to pay for the entire wedding. There are a bunch of other ways you can contribute financially though! You can offer to help pay for the venue, photographer, videographer, hair and makeup, the dj or band, or any other vendors the couple is working with. It might also be helpful to offer to pay for the wedding dress or the groom’s suit, the wedding food, or the open bar. Paying for the honeymoon (or part of it) is another great wedding gift idea!

First Dances at the Wedding with Parents

5) What Can We Do to Help At the Wedding?

Parents of the wedding couple need to be ready to support their kids on their big day! Mothers: be ready to help the bride in case she needs assistance with anything during the wedding. Parents of both the bride and groom can be helpful by welcoming and talking to all of the guests, especially since many will be your family and friends. Make sure you’re prepared for all the toasts, speeches, and dances the couple wants you to participate in!

Thoughtful Wedding (& Bridal Shower) Gift Ideas From the Parents

Is your son or daughter getting married and you’re thinking about buying a gift? Whether it’s a parent gift to the groom, a bride gift from mom, or even a mother of the groom gift to the bride, we’ve got you covered! Below are some of our favorite ideas for parents to give to the wedding couple. *This post contains affiliate links. While we may receive commission, opinions are entirely our own.*

1) A Custom Wedding Photo Box

The couple will need a special place to keep their wedding photos! Get them this beautiful wooden photo box. It comes specially made to hold 4x6 photos and even comes with a USB drive for the digital photo files! You can gift this to the couple before the wedding with other special photos printed beforehand.

Wedding Photo Box

Wedding Photo Box with USB Drive

2) A Scrapbook for Future Adventures as a Married Couple 

We love this linen hardcover scrapbook/photo album with gold stamping details. This album contains 50 large, open pages for displaying photos, postcards, certificates, tickets, memorabilia and more, with white space for handwritten notes to mark the occasion. This is the perfect way for the couple to document their relationship, wedding, and future marriage!

Marriage Scrapbook Wedding Gift

Marriage Scrapbook Wedding Gift

3) Family Recipe Books (Share the Traditions!)

Make sure the couple keeps your family traditions alive by handing down your favorite recipes! These books are full of pages for you to write down the same recipes that were handed down to you from your parents. This is a perfect wedding gift for couples who love to cook!

Family Recipe Books

Custom Family Recipe Books

4) Custom Ring Dish for the Couple 

What better way to celebrate the couple’s new wedding rings than with a custom ring dish? Customize the dish with the couple’s initials and wedding date. This lovely piece is sentimental and useful. It’s the perfect place for the couple to keep wedding rings when they do the dishes, wash their hands, shower, and sleep.

Custom Wedding Ring Dishes

Customized Wedding Ring Dish

5) Personalized Wedding Candle for the Couple

A candle is the perfect gift for any occasion These soy coconut blend wax candles are hand-poured in Tennessee. Get one with the couple’s names and wedding date printed on the label. Choose from 8 different creative scents to create a candle that suits the couple’s personalities or interests.

Custom Wedding Candle

Personalized Wedding Gift Candle

6) Engagement Gift Box

This engagement gift box includes: a champagne toast candle, safety matches, Mr. & Mrs. glass stemless champagne flutes, and a custom written note. This is a great gift that any couple will love! The best part? All of these items are made from sustainable materials!

Wedding Gift Box

Engagement Gift Box

7) Couple’s Initial Embosser (For Book Lovers or Envelopes) 

One of the most fun things about wedding gifts is putting the couple’s initials on everything! This embosser is perfect for adding a unique personal touch to wedding stationery, wedding invitations, and thank you cards. The couple will use this for years to come as a way to customize any letters or cards they send out!

Initials Embosser

Personalized Wedding Initials Embosser

8) Anniversary Journal 

An anniversary journal will help your favorite newlyweds capture their marriage memories. It starts with the details of how they met and moves through dating and engagement. The rest of the book highlights the best moments of each year all the way through their 70th anniversary! Every 10 years, there is a bonus section to document the highs, lows, and important lessons of each decade!

Anniversary Journal

Anniversary Journal Wedding Gift

9) Personalized Wedding Dress Hanger 

Get the bride a personalized hanger to hold her wedding dress. This also doubles as a sweet keepsake that she’ll have forever! Add her name and the wedding date to these beautiful wooden engraved hangers.

Custom Wedding Dress Hanger

Personalized Wedding Dress Hanger

Prepare for Your Role as Mother and Father of the Bride or Groom!

If your son or daughter is getting married you’re going to want to start preparing as soon as they announce their engagement! Get started picking out your mother of the bride or groom dress, figuring out what your role is at the wedding, and deciding on gifts for the wedding couple. Let us know if we can help you get your dress or suit ready for the big day!

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Leave a comment

December 08, 2023 16:10

My son and daughter (who I love more than anything) got engaged in the same year and we are so, so happy for both of them. My son first announced his engagement and also set a date for the wedding. This is where it all starts going downhill. My son expressed that it would be inconsiderate if a younger sibling sets a wedding date and gets married before him. Well it happens that his sister who announced her engagement secondly has set her special day 4 months before his and he has expressed his feelings about this (inconsiderate). We no longer her from him and we are not sure where this is going and for how long. So it breaks our hearts that this type of thing is happening when marriage is supposed to be the most wonderful day/time for the bride/grooms lives and their families. I could go on and on but I feel I’ve stated the highlights of this mess and we are speechless how to handle it if there is in fact a way to handle it. Hoping things simmer down before the big date(s).

March 24, 2021 13:43

My neice is getting married my sister is mother of the bride. Her ex husband has been seeing a lady for 6-7 months and she’s hosting a party the day after the wedding and didn’t invite my sister the mother of the bride. I think this is totally wrong and rude.

June 26, 2020 15:15

These are so thoughtful! Thank you!

June 06, 2020 17:21

Both my mother and my FH’s mother have been incredible with not overstepping during planning. They are both splitting the cost of our venue, which we appreciate SO MUCH, and his mother offered to pay for, but not plan, the rehearsal dinner. We’re very fortunate to have supportive parents and support networks that don’t try to supersede our vision.

Alisha Dan
April 24, 2020 16:13

My soon to be mother in law offered to plan the rehearsal dinner and I was so thankful that it was one huge chunk off my plate. 🙏

April 16, 2020 13:43

Great tips!

Marlene' Watts
January 29, 2020 14:08

Is it appropriate to wear a black cocktail suit to my daughter’s third wedding?

Marlene' Watts
January 29, 2020 14:08

this is my daughter’s 3rd. marriage. this wedding is in Florida at a very elite location. would it be proper to wear a black cocktail evening suit? I am a petite lady, and cannot carry off a lot of fluff, as it is not my thing. Just black, elegant, in no way outshining the bride. Also, I am soon to be 80 years young, and want her to be happy with what I am thinking.

January 13, 2020 10:35

Thanks for all the information on your blogs, but as MOB, this is all good to know. Thank you.

September 19, 2019 15:55

My son is getting married next May. His fiancé is very demanding and actually sent us an “invoice” if you will on what we are to pay for. She has excluded my wife from any participation over a miscommunication two years ago. I took the liberty of arranging a surprise videographer to which she told a family member I just needed to pay my half of the cost and not but in on her plans. She did express there would be no mother-son dance and my wife was not invited to the bridal shower nor her family to the wedding. She only wants the $10,000 to cover “my half”. With her disrespect for my wife, I’m considering not contributing a dime. I love my son, they are both college educated and live out of state, but I cannot believe he is participating in this request. We are very hurt, but I love my wife and cannot be part of someone who blatantly hurts her.

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