Ask anyone who has ever been married. When you say, “I do,” you’re making a commitment to the entire family. When you take their last name, you’re taking on generations of family history, traditions, and occasional drama.
You might be new to the family, but, with a little effort, you might just become their favorite child. (Sorry, babe!)
Let’s begin with the proposal…
Express Your Excitement
Start practicing your Oscar speech now. When you announce your engagement to your future in-laws, take a moment to thank (and inspire) them. After all, they’re a big part of why your fiancé turned out so well! Channel all your post-proposal feels into telling them how thrilled you are to join their family. No doubt your enthusiasm will be contagious.
Introduce Your Parents
Who knows and loves you more than your own parents? Whether it’s at the engagement or right before the wedding, set some time to introduce your parents to your future in-laws in person. They’ll have the opportunity to brag about that time you won the spelling bee in sixth grade, and his parents will get to know you on a deeper level thanks to the people who love you most (other than your fiancé, of course). His parents will also get the chance to share their favorite childhood memories. And all that sharing will strengthen your families’ bond.
To bridge any awkward moments, make a mental list in advance of interesting conversation topics. What do both your parents have in common? What’s your future father-in-law’s favorite thing to talk about? Think of recent vacations, hobbies, sports teams, or charities to bring up if there’s an uncomfortable silence.
Talk to the MoB
Your mom has probably been dreaming of this moment for as long as you have. When you were playing dress-up, she was probably thinking about the day you would pick out your wedding dress together. Talk to her about where and when she’s comfortable including your future mother-in-law. If she’s fine with it, you might want to invite your future-MIL to your final dress fitting. Maybe there are some other wedding planning activities – like the cake tasting or bridal shoe shopping – you could involve both moms.
The mother of the groom will appreciate being included, especially if she doesn’t have any daughters of her own. These memories will be forever special to your relationship.
Respect Important Traditions
Religion, culture, and holidays can be extremely important to families. Talk to the groom about which traditions are most important to his parents. Dividing holidays is never easy. But knowing what matters most to his family will help you make the right decision as a couple about where and how you spend your time. His parents will appreciate you making the effort to understand and accommodate their priorities with your own. And at the end of the day, that’s what family is all about.
Send Shower Invitations
Make sure you include your future mother-in-law in any appropriate bridal showers or pre-wedding festivities—your bachelorette and lingerie shower can be no-mom zones! Even if it’s out of state, ask the hostess to send an invitation to both your mother and your future mother-in-law. If she can’t make it, she will appreciate the fact that you wanted her there.
Give a Thoughtful Wedding Gift
Your wedding day is an incredible opportunity to make your future in-laws feel special. They will cherish a thoughtful gift or a heartfelt note from the day you became their new daughter. Take the time to write them a letter, communicating what you value most about your relationship and what memories you’re looking most forward to making. Cover them in love as you prepare to walk down the aisle to their son.
Your future mother-in-law will appreciate any gift that comes from your heart. It will be an emotional day, so consider an embroidered handkerchief with a bible verse, an inspirational lyric, or a personal note to dry her happy tears. (“Thank you for raising the man of my dreams!”) For an extra personal touch, ask the seamstress to sew fabric left over from your wedding dress alterations into handkerchiefs for your future mother-in-law (also great for your mom and any grandmothers as well). A special charm/bracelet or jewelry to match her dress are also thoughtful wedding day presents.
True, in-laws can be tricky. But the most important thing to any parent is that you love their child. It doesn’t matter if you spend 2 or 200 hours with them between the proposal and the wedding. When they know how much you love their son— and that you want to spend forever by his side—they will welcome you into the family with open arms.
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee. And her mother still has the newspaper clip from her sixth-grade spelling bee.
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