Though there are of course couples whose families have known each other for years, for many newly engaged sweethearts, the proposal also signals that it is time for their parents to meet. Organizing such a gathering can be tricky – especially if everyone lives far away from one another. If you and your future spouse come from different backgrounds, it can be even more difficult to navigate the waters while introducing your parents. Traditional etiquette says the groom’s parents are to call the bride’s parents first, but it’s often easier for brides or grooms to take the initiative themselves.
Photo by John Solano Photography; Bridal Gown by Monique Lhuillier; Planning & Design by Alyson Fox, Levine Fox Events and Revelry Event Designers
While an engagement party may seem like a great way to introduce the two families, such an event with a larger guest list will likely lead to talking amongst those your parents already know, rather than proper mingling. Instead, try to get together for a meal before the fête. As each set of parents will probably fight over the bill, either plan ahead for you and your beloved to cover the check, or consider a nice meal at home! If you won’t be having a party to celebrate the engagement, try to get everyone together before any pre-wedding events, like a bridal shower, occur.
As with many such occasions, it’s generally a good idea to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. One way to help the conversation flow is to prep your parents ahead of time about shared interests. Bringing up hobbies, similar professions, vacations, and more can help bond people. If nothing else, you can always try to fall back on stories from you and your sweetheart’s respective childhoods.
Those with divorced parents know that it tends to make everything more complicated. If your parents are amicable, then you can likely proceed with a meeting plan as usual. However, if getting them to even be in the same room for your wedding is likely to be a struggle, then it’s probably best to organize separate opportunities for everyone to meet.
If it is not feasible to introduce both sets of parents before the wedding weekend, schedule time before your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. It’s best for the rehearsal dinner to not be the first chance for conversation, as emotions will be heightened.