As your wedding day approaches, you might be coming to a new realization: you’re about to become someone’s wife AND someone’s new daughter. What’s the best way to start building this new relationship with your future in-laws?
Our real brides are here to help. I took to Instagram (come join our Ask a Real Bride community!) to ask brides how they started nurturing this relationship before and after the big day. I hope their advice gives you some sweet ideas!
While the engagement is a happy time, it’s also a little stressful for all involved. Your goal is to get started on the right foot. You have the rest of your life to build a relationship with your new family!
For some parents, the wedding feels like a seismic shift. If you and your future husband are under the age of 30, this shift might feel more dramatic than it would for older couples. This is especially true for mothers-in-law. One reader shares:
“Have the frame of mind that she is ‘losing’ a son in some ways and transferring her role [to you] as the most important woman in his life. It’s such a joy-filled time but also a slightly challenging time for them, I believe. It helps to be empathetic and understanding.”
More than half of the brides I surveyed sensed their mother-in-law was having trouble letting go. And while that’s a normal part of life, having a compassionate attitude can help you understand and interpret some of her words and actions.
Involve Them Along the Way
Our real brides have some simple ways to include your in-laws in the months of wedding planning ahead! Here are the most popular ideas, along with the percentage of brides who did them.
Show Your MIL Your Wedding Dress: 53% say yes!
Choosing your dress should be as intimate as you want it to be. But once the decision is made, it can be a sweet gesture to invite your future mother-in-law to a fitting. This is especially meaningful for mothers of the groom who don’t have daughters of their own!
Invite Your MIL to All Bridal Showers: 100% say yes!
Even if she won’t know many people there, including her in all of your showers is a way to welcome her into your inner circle. The exception is (obviously) the lingerie shower.
Ask For Their Opinion: 68% say yes
Asking for someone’s opinion communicates, “I value you. I want to hear your take on this.” When someone asks for my advice, I take it as a compliment! And I imagine that many in-laws feel the same way.
An important caveat: only ask for opinions if you are willing to take them. While the majority of in-laws don’t seek to be involved in wedding planning, it is sweet to involve them in areas where you would be open to ideas. You could start by asking if they have a favorite song they love to dance to at weddings, or if there are any traditions from their side of the family you could incorporate into the wedding. One bride shares:
“My in-laws had a favorite photo from their own wedding of them clinking champagne glasses. My husband and I recreated it at our wedding, and I know it meant a lot to them.”
Even if your mother-in-law doesn’t want to be involved in the planning, at the very least, share your overall vision and color palette for the wedding–this will help her as she chooses a dress.
Handle Conflict Respectfully
“When I asked my mother-in-law her opinions she made it clear she didn’t like my choices.”
What if you end up with very opinionated in-laws? I would begin by sharing as few wedding-day details as possible. Unless they have a financial stake in the wedding, there really isn’t any reason for them to approve your choices.
If you are still besieged by unsolicited opinions,check out this blog post with ideas on how best to handle conflict with your in-laws (and your parents too)!
At the Rehearsal Dinner or On the Wedding Day…
Consider Writing a Letter
This is the perfect time to express your appreciation to the people who raised your son into the man you have chosen!
Give a Gift
In-law gifts are by no means necessary, but they are a sweet way to express your love and appreciation–especially if your in-laws are hosting a rehearsal dinner in your honor or contributing to the wedding.
These mother-of-pearl frames from Pottery Barn feel perfect for the father and mother of the groom. Promise to fill it with a wedding picture later!
A candle is a classic gift. These gorgeous Jo Malone lavender candles come in a ceramic vessel and smell as lovely as they look!
A sentimental wedding gift, like the handkerchief pictured above, is a sweet token that will become a treasured heirloom.
Raise a Glass
If you are giving a toast at the rehearsal dinner or giving a wedding speech, include words of appreciation for your in-laws.
Consider an In-Law Dance
We all know and love the traditional mother/son, father/daughter dance. Why not switch it up? After these traditional dances, you could share a dance with your future father-in-law while your groom dances with your mom. That way, two people who don’t usually have a dance in the spotlight are honored! If you are concerned with keeping your reception timeline tight, dance with your father-in-law at the same time as your husband dances with your mom!
And if you’re wondering what songs could work for this non-traditional dance, Spotify has a whole playlist of possibilities!
After the Wedding Day…
Host Your In-Laws
Put all of the beautiful wedding gifts you just received to good use: use the fine china and brand new platters and glasses to host your new in-laws! Welcoming them into your home is a sweet way to settle into your new role as “daughter-in-law.”
Have a Question for our Real Brides?
Let me know what topic you’d like us to tackle next! And if you’re interested in learning more about etiquette, gift giving, and celebrating in style, be sure to subscribe to the RegistryFinder GiveIt blog for weekly posts on wedding etiquette, bridal showers, wedding trends, and of course, wedding registry guidelines and tips! And as always, be sure to refer your guests to RegistryFinder.com, where they can conveniently locate all of your registries in one place!