Wear a beige lace dress? Shut up and show up? Not any longer, as mothers of the groom are taking a bigger role in weddings today than ever before. With so many details to address prior to a wedding, the groom’s mother may wonder what her duties are, particularly with regard to the wedding rehearsal dinner, as it is a common custom for the groom’s parents to host the dinner party after the rehearsal.

Typically, the groom’s mother has no particular duties during the wedding ceremony. Her ‘time in the sun’ is the rehearsal dinner. The groom’s parents should set a budget, and work with the couple to determine a venue. The bride and groom should provide the rehearsal dinner guest list; but the mother should send out the invitations.

The mother of the groom should work closely with the venue’s manager, to assure that any requests made by herself, or the wedding couple, are honored. For instance, the menu should be carefully planned as to not duplicate in any way the wedding supper.

If there is an audio-visual presentation, it is important that the arrangements are all secured prior to the party’s arrival. The groom’s mother should create table cards for arranged seating, and arrange for centerpieces for each table. She (and her husband) also will be expected to greet the guests, including the bridal party, and thank them for their role in the wedding. The hostess should ensure her guests have all they need, in the way of food and drinks.

The groom’s parents (most often the father) should give a short speech after the guests are seated, but before dinner. It is important to thank everyone for their participation and emotional support of their son and his soon-to-be bride. The speech should be short, and directed mostly to the bride and groom. The day of the rehearsal is the final celebration of their lives before the marriage and their journey as a couple should be recognized.

The mother of the groom should inform her son of the need to get all the unsavory toasts out of the way during the rehearsal dinner. He should make it perfectly clear to his groomsmen and friends that this is the time for them to tell the funny story (and not during the wedding). The groom’s mother should let the groom remind the bride of this, and she will inform her bridesmaids and friends, as well. This is a nicety that the groom’s mother shows to the bride and her family as she knows they will want the wedding supper to be as elegant as possible. Crude toasts and speeches are never appropriate at wedding suppers.

I don’t think it is necessary to give favors at the rehearsal dinner, and the choice to have music and dancing is entirely optional.

As for the wedding day itself, the degree of involvement in the wedding planning should be left to the bride’s discretion. If the mother of the groom has special wedding-planning talents, she may offer to share these with the bride, as well as her willingness to help.

It is appropriate for the groom’s mother to call the mother of the bride in advance to make sure their dresses coordinate. It is never appropriate for the groom’s mother to wear black as this is seen as an outward expression of her disapproval of the wedding. But she—after consulting with the bride’s mother—can wear anything she likes.

I remember a family wedding where my sister was the groom’s mother. The bride’s mother was wearing a long formal dress, and my sister chose a short dressy suit in the same color family. The pictures turned out fine and each mother wore what she was most comfortable wearing to the wedding of her child.

So as you can see, the old cliché of the groom’s mother wearing a beige lace dress and keeping her mouth shut are long gone. But, it still is her obligation to remember it is the most special day in the bride and groom’s life, and that always, the bride is the center of attention.

John Sullivan has a fine arts degree from Kansas City Art Institute. He has partnered with Ken Miesner for the past 25 years at Ken Miesner’s Flowers at Plaza Frontenac, where they have done flowers for more than 1,000 weddings!