Meeting Your Parents-In-Law at the 11th Hour
For some brides-to-be, the in-laws don't enter the picture until shortly before the wedding. It can daunting to meet the new additions to your family so soon before it's official. What if you don't get along?!? While we can't make this experience stress-free, we can help you be ready for it.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
The more you know in advance about your spouse’s family, the more relaxed and at ease you will feel when you meet them for the first time. Sit down with your fiancé a few days before you plan on meeting his family, and have him fill you in on everyone. Make sure you learn the profession, hobbies, and names of children and pets of each person you are going to meet. Try to think of interests that you and his family members have in common and use these as possible conversation starters. Instead of simply asking his Aunt Martha what she does for fun, say, “Bill told me that you love hiking as much as I do.” His family will be flattered that you took the time to get to know them in advance.
Make sure to find out what topics are off-limits and should be avoided. You don’t want to boast about your promotion if his sister just lost her job, or invite his vegetarian uncle to eat at a steakhouse. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid talking about money, politics, and religion when meeting anyone for the first time.
If you are spending the night going to dinner, or attending a party at his family’s house, you’ll definitely want to bring a gift. Use the information you have already discovered about his family to select a personalized present that you know they would enjoy. His brother loves to cook? Buy him something special for the kitchen, such as exotic spices or imported olive oil. If you’re unsure about what to bring, food (especially something you baked yourself), flowers, or items for the home are almost always good choices.
Making the first impression.
Once you've decided on conversation topics and gift decision, put a finishing point on it by dressing appropriately. You don’t need to wear a suit or a formal gown, but you should save revealing garments, or overly casual clothing, for nights alone with your fiancé. Instead, wear something that is respectful and conservative but still reflective of your personal style.
If you spill food on your carefully chosen outfit or accidentally break a dish, don’t panic or assume that the evening is ruined. Your in-laws don’t expect you to be perfect. Just laugh off your mistake and ask where you can wash yourself off or offer to help clean up the mess. His family will be impressed at your ability to laugh at yourself and quickly recover from a mistake.
Finally, even though it's tough, try to relax and be yourself. They already know how happy you and your fiancé are, and are excited to meet you too. Share your hobbies and experiences with them and give them a chance to get to know you. Remember, they’re probably just as nervous as you are.