I know this seems like a strange subject to revisit during the wedding planning, but I’ve got to assume that some people are reading Bridalwave who aren’t quite engaged yet – I know I did. The other night we had a first for our relationship: our parents met each other, around a month after the big question.
Everyone I speak to has a different reaction to the fact that our parents did not meet until after we were engaged.
My parents, being Greek, were accustomed to the idea of meeting before the engagement, although they didn’t mind either way. My future mother-in-law was unhappy with the idea of meeting beforehand and her Jewish friends and relatives seemed equally perplexed as to why they should, since there was no engagement. Personally I thought meeting before was a good thing, as did Ash, but we were happy to wait until everyone was fully comfortable; there’s no point adding tension to a meeting that can already make you feel nervous. I realised, of course, that there’s no universal – or even specifically cultural – answer to this one. If you know you’re going to be 2getha4eva (*wretch*), at what point do you let your family into the ring with his / hers?
Meeting before the engagement:
- No stress, no wedding planning, just a friendly conversation.
- They get the chance to feel they’re giving their blessing.
- Once wedding planning starts, the lines of communication are open already for them to help you plan / complain about you behind your back.
- Potential personality clashes are exposed before everything is ‘official’, so you can work on them before the point of no return…
- If you’re hyper-traditional, now’s the time to ask her dad for permission. (Although I find that all about cringeworthy. Sorry, but I’m not for sale.)
- They might be culturally uncomfortable with the idea of meeting before it’s official.
- If you haven’t properly talked about marriage it might make one or other of you feel unnecessarily pressured.
Meeting after the engagement:
- They’ve got plenty to talk about! The ice is broken easily.
- If you know any one of them is the type to get overly involved, meeting late enough into the planning means they can’t really interfere.
- They have the capacity to gang up on you and / or take over your plans if you let them!
- Any unexpected personality clashes are not going to help your wedding planning.
And how did our meeting go? Better than my wildest imaginings. So well that my in-laws have invited my parents round to lunch after my first dress appointment on Saturday. Let’s hope they can also behave when left on their own…
Alexandra Roumbas is a writer and editor living in London. She is feeling very relieved and looking forward to Saturday.