6 Things to Know Before Introducing Your Parents to Your In-Laws

It's a rite of passage, but for some reason, you're a bundle of nerves. We're here to help.
The Knot
Updated Oct 18, 2018

Now that you've committed to your partner, it's time to introduce your parents to each other.

Considering they're about to be "family" for life, it shouldn't be a big deal—but for some reason it feels like it is. Good thing we're here to calm your nerves (and fear of awkwardness) with everything you need to know to make sure the meeting of the in-laws goes as smoothly and pleasantly as possible.

1. Make the meeting fun.

If your parents live in the same town, great! Meet for brunch, cocktails or dinner at someone's house. But truly, the best way to encourage fun conversation is for everyone to meet during an interactive meal (like a backyard barbecue or a clambake), or an activity like bowling or a sports event. Trust us—this will supply everyone with plenty of conversation starters. The less awkward silences, the better.

2. Introduce them before the wedding—no matter what.

If your parents live in different parts of the state or across the country (or world), make an effort to find a convenient time and place for everyone to meet prior to the wedding. If that's just not possible, be sure everyone can convene a few days before the wedding to get acquainted. One good way to kick-start relations is to assign them last-minute wedding duties (favors, decorations) to tackle together.

3. Kindly give your parents and partner some guidelines (aka, tell them what's off-limits).

Every family likely has issues, experiences or talking points to steer clear of. Whether it's politics, a smoking habit or a recent death in the family, now's the time to share do-not-go-there subjects with your parents and partner alike.

In addition, remember all parents—and couples—have their eccentricities. If you foresee clashing quirks (it happens), have a word with anyone you think might be sensitive, just to be safe.

4. Have conversation topics at the ready.

It sounds dramatic or unnecessary, but you'll be happy you came prepared. To bridge awkward silences, stockpile interesting conversational topics for emergency saves. What do they have in common? What's in the news? Read up on some current events (beware of topics that might be too controversial) and make a mental list of your parents' hobbies, recent trips or community activities. (Pro tip: Think of things to reveal about their personalities and not their paychecks, so you don't alienate your partner's parents if they happen to come from lesser means.)

5. Set ground rules before you go (just to be safe).

It always gets a little uncomfortable when the check arrives at a group dinner. If you're meeting at a restaurant, be sure everyone understands that each couple will cover their own share (not split it three ways or down the middle), or bite the bullet and pick up the tab for everyone. Doing either of these things will eliminate awkward efforts to treat each other or bitterness if someone orders the most expensive thing on the menu.

6. Know your cultures.

If you're marrying someone from another culture, religion or race, ask your partner if there are any beliefs or protocol you and your parents should know about or heed before meeting. Everyone will be happy you did.

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