So, we’re going to assume a few things here first before we get down and dirty on the topic of weddings and in-laws.
1. Your spouse’s parents are still alive.
2. Your spouse has a good (enough) relationship with his parents.
3. Your spouse’s parents are going to be part of the wedding day in any capacity.
That said, you may be wondering how you can include your in-laws in your wedding planning if you and your spouse have a desire to do so. The laws of, oh I don’t know, nature, sometimes dictate that the groom’s parents may pay for a few things here and there — or nothing at all — and just show up to the wedding. But in an effort to maintain a healthy relationship with your in-laws, it might be nice to include them in some aspects of your wedding planning, which may serve as an investment for your future positive relationship with them.
Assuming there’s already a drama-free relationship in place, I think in-laws tend to feel like they want to be included without overstepping bounds. They’re kvelling for the pending nuptials and are just as excited as your parents might be, but aren’t sure how much involvement they should have. So, if you have a nice relationship with them and would like to include them in the wedding planning experience, you can still invite them to share the ride with you while keeping other aspects intimate and special. And scoring extra points never hurt anyone either!
If one or both of your in-laws has a hobby, interest, or trade they’re passionate about, loop them into a similar wedding element. If your mother-in-law spends her weekends out in her garden, she’d probably love to join you at your consultation with your florist. Or if your spouse’s parents love to cook or travel the world trying new delicacies, they would probably be thrilled to attend the food tasting with your caterer if you’re allowed to bring guests. Choose some meetings with your vendors that you think would pique their interest. It’ll be fun and they might have something to bring to the table, too.
Host a dinner at your place for your in-laws and spend the night relaxing and having fun together. You can talk about wedding details over dinner and break out into some in-law bonding discussion. This might also be a good time to weigh in on their table seating opinions. They know their family best and can tell you that Uncle Ira and Aunt Esther are still not on speaking terms from The Great Chanukah Fiasco of 1993 when Uncle Ira took the last big chocolate gelt from the netting bag, and, therefore, should not be seated at the same table. The in-laws can also help you in deciding on some of the music your DJ or band should play that would satisfy their generation’s preferences (I know, the Boomers don’t always love Nicki Minaj unless, of course, the little English girls from YouTube are coming to your wedding). And if you really want to be sleuthy, find out their favorite slow dance song and ask your DJ or band to play it for them at the wedding; it’s a nice touch and they’ll plotz.
You’ve probably heard a dozen times that it’s not a good idea to have a whole entourage attend your dress shopping escapades or fittings. Too many opinions make for a stressed out bride. However, including your spouse’s mother at a wedding dress appointment may be a great way to make her feel loved and part of your inner circle. You know her best, though. If you think she’s going to complain or critique your dream dress, leave the broad at home. On the other hand, if she really just wants to share in the joy of seeing you glow in that three-way mirror with hefty chip clips holding you in, it might make for a fun ladies’ day out. This really depends on your overall relationship with her because, as you know, traditionally your dress is sacred and only your most favorite gals get to be a part of this most bridal experience. You be the judge.
Bottomline, you want to bridge the gap between the sets of parents and try to make everyone feel included based on your comfort level. None of this is required. These are simply ideas for fostering already in-tact relationships. Your friendly neighborhood Wedding Yenta is certainly not a family therapist, but these are tactics that have worked for other brides that may also work for you.
At the end of the night, when the high heels are tossed in the corner and the flowers are being disassembled, you’ll have a new set of official family members and wouldn’t it be nice if your in-laws were also your in-loves?