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How I navigated my son's wedding as mother of the groom

30 Sep 2021

Following her son's wedding at Cressbrook Hall in Derbyshire, Jackie Gregory reflects on her role and how she navigated the planning stages as mother of the groom

Image gallery

Image gallery

After my son and his fiancée had set their wedding date, I realised I was acquiring a new title – mother of the groom. I was proud, happy, excited and totally unbelieving that I was old enough to be at this point. It suddenly sounded like a step up in the generational hierarchy, and I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate through.

Each family dynamic is different, but it is fair to say that as mother of the groom, you are on the edge of the inner circle. The groom doesn’t always relay all the details of the cake, the flowers, the guest list; he seems to vaguely know about the colour scheme, date and venue, but that’s about it. I wasn’t there for the bridal dress fitting, writing the invitations or looking through wedding breakfast menus… and I am not complaining, it was completely liberating. There was a sense that I should be stressing, but it was all in hand.

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Above: Jackie's son Jimmy and wife Charlotte on their wedding day, with daughter Freya

The most delicate negotiation happened 18 months earlier, when the bride brought the parents together for a meal and opened discussions about the financing of it all. We agreed to split the financial hit between us. It felt good to give very practical support. It also meant that it felt less awkward about asking/insisting that a few very good family friends be included on the guest list.

As mother of the groom there is a delicate balance between being super interested and supportive and taking a step back and waiting to be asked for help. It’s about spotting how to take away some of the stress and not add to it. In our case, the couple have a two-year-old daughter, so I offered to have her for a few days in the lead up to the wedding, to give the bride and groom some space.

My friend also took this approach and recounted how at her son’s village hall wedding, when it was a 'bring and share' food affair, nobody, until the last moment had thought about who would make cups of tea, put the food out, find the crockery, etc. So she stepped in to save the day, pinny on over her best frock.

Ah, the frock – as mother of the groom, do you embrace the whole mother of the bride look? A structured dress, a hat or no hat, heels or flats? Do you enquire of the bride’s mother’s outfit to complement or contrast? Do you go with the bride’s colour scheme or co-ordinate with the father of the groom? How much do you spend? You will be on some official photos, but then again, quite rightly, on the periphery.

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Above: Jackie with husband Gabriel and dog Molly, who was a top table guest too

I decided I was the groom’s tribe, and as they were wearing kilts, I would wear tartan. What’s more, I decided to be myself. Hence off-the-shoulder vintage-style tartan, curls like Jerry Hall, a beret and boots, to match with the kilted vibe of my tribe. It was a day for dressing up, to celebrate, and not for conforming to some kind of traditional norms. After all, you are with family and friends, who already love you for who you are, so dress accordingly.

My advice to future groom mums – enjoy the night before the wedding. Have your son to stay, with siblings present if possible, be that birth family again, toast the future, laugh about the old days. It’s a very special moment.

It was always going to be emotional when the bride and groom said their vows to each other. I must admit to feeling a very slight punch in the guts when my son told his wife, that she and their daughter were the most important people in the world to him. Once as a mum, I was that most important person, but I remembered too when as a baby, he had a bib with a little bluebird on it and the words: 'One day I will fly away'. This was the day, and I was proud that my son is a loving partner and father. All those years of bringing him up had led to this moment.

My son now has his own loving family unit, and as I told myself: “That’s a job well done, mother of the groom!”. 

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