Got engaged? Congrats, now it’s time to meet the parents and that is stressful enough. What’s worse? It’s when the parents- in-law are introduced to each other. All too often the parents of your beloved are total strangers to your own parents, even though you personally may have a more comfortable relationship with them. It stands to reason that if your fiancé’s parents have not met yours they are going to be keen to meet them. It makes sense that they do so before the wedding. Before the rest of the family, on both sides descends on them.
Who calls who?
Weddings are times when traditions and etiquette come into play in a big way. In case your parents are sentimental about adhering to some traditions and customs you may like to tell your fiancé to inform the in-laws- to- be about this fact. Conventionally the parents of the groom are expected to contact the parents of the bride to set up this initial meeting. However these days it is becoming more common for the couple to set up an event to introduce their parents to each other. In case the parents have known each other as friends or acquaintances before you decided to get married, it is perfectly fine for the bride’s parents to call first and set up the meeting. It really doesn’t matter who initiates the meeting as long as they all get together and talk.
Are they in the same town?
If the parents and the two of you are in the same town, arranging a meeting is not too complicated. You can give them a call and ask them when they are free and then arrange to have everyone meet up for drinks at a club with the option of dinner if things go well. Unfortunately having all parents in the same town as you are is not all that common these days. Given the fact that most families are quite mobile due to the job situation these days, there is a good chance that the two sets of parents are not all in the same town. In this case it would be up to you two, as the couple to find a time and place that fits the schedules of all involved to arrange the meeting.
A weekend holiday, where everyone can kick back, relax and get to know each other, would be a good idea. Do make sure that the finances are handled delicately. Both sets of parents would appreciate the treat from their children, but may not be comfortable accepting it. Ideally each couple should pay for their own share and keep things tidy. Ease their mind on the subject beforehand to avoid an embarrassing situation later. It may seem like a small thing but has the potential to become a major issue if left unhandled.
Introduce just the parents first:
If the parents have never met ensure that the four of them first meet in your presence. Try and keep the focus on introductions for everyone in a somewhat informal atmosphere. Steer the conversation initially till they get comfortable with each other. It is not a bad idea to have a few topics in your mind to set the ball rolling. The latest best seller book, the block buster movie and even current affairs can make interesting and harmless conversation pieces.
If you know that both the fathers enjoy golf, get them to talk about that. If the mothers enjoy some common activity like yoga, reading a particular author or baking, bring it up and let them talk. This initial meeting can be tricky if one parent is a widow or widower. Do take into account their feelings at the occasion. Be certain to brief your parents on minefields to be avoided, and what could make a good impression. Whether you like it or not first impressions are lasting ones and you want both sets to make a good impression on each other so that your married life begins on a positive note.
What to do if it is not possible for them to meet before the wedding:
Have the parents come into town a couple of days before the rest of the family arrive in town for the wedding. This will allow you some time to introduce them in an informal and personal setting. The first meeting may be a short one where they can just get to know each other. The next one can include the rest of the immediate family. This can be a more elaborate event and is best planned on a neutral ground rather than in the home of either parent.
Meet the immediate family on Neutral Ground:
Organize a dinner in a restaurant or have club so that you don’t have to worry about the food and drinks once you have placed the order. Start out with a round of introductions going through all the attending family members. You can even have some family trees printed out with photos of the family members on it to make it easier for everyone to identify who’s who. A few games can make the evening fun and reduce any uneasiness that may arise with meeting strangers. Usually people are just looking to have a good time and all you need to do is give them the opportunity.
Feature Writer: Cashmere Lashkari