10 Tips for Meeting Your Future In-Laws When You're Engaged

Nervous about meeting your future in-laws? You're not the only one! Follow these10 tips to make the best first impression.
by Lori Seto
Newlywed couple holding hands
photo by Stephanie Yonce Photography

Worried that your first experience with your future in-laws will turn into a scene straight out of Meet the Parents? Sure, some parents seem to be looking for faults, but most just want to make sure that their son or daughter's fallen in love with a sane, likeable person. The best way to boost their confidence is to ace the first meeting, and the trick is to be authentic and on your best behavior. Here are 10 ways to make sure your future in-laws love you (almost) as much as your fiancé does.

Dress to Impress (And Wash Up, Too)

No torn jeans, concert T-shirts, or leather jackets, and skip your favorite leather miniskirt and sloppy sweat pants. You don't need to be in formalwear (unless you're meeting for a fancy meal or at a party), but definitely clean up. In short, aim for a conservative look for the first time.

Do Your Homework

Do yourself a favor and brush up on your in-laws—their finding about their jobs, hobbies and biggest pet peeves is a good place to start. You'll thank yourself later when they're super impressed with your well-informed questions and amazing gift-giving skills.

Kowtow to Culture

Engaged to someone from a different culture? Do everything you can to show respect for your fiancé's family heritage. Go above and beyond and learn proper greeting etitquette (should you shake their hands, bow or kiss them on the cheek?), and ask your partner to teach you a few pleasantries—like "pleasure to meet you" and "how are you"—in your future in-laws' native language.

Be Polite

This goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: Say "yes" (not "yeah" or "yup"), "please," and "thank you." See if there's anything you can do to assist in the kitchen; help clear and clean the dishes and you're golden. Remember that little acts of consideration will stick in their memories.

Address the Name Issue

Don't make the mistake of addressing in-laws too informally or by a name that they haven't signed off on. This is especially true in other cultures, where calling parents by their first names can be a sign of disrespect. The best solution is to simply ask how they would like to be addressed. Address this issue right away or ask your partner what they think their parents would prefer you call them. 

Come Bearing Gifts

Bringing a hostess gift is common courtesy in most circles, and when you're going to dinner at your future in-laws' house, it's a non-negotiable. This is where your research comes in handy: A bottle of good wine is a great gift—unless they aren't big drinkers. Be creative or crafty and remember that anything homemade scores points.

Project Interest

Act alert, attentive and interested. How? Body language. Look your future in-law in the eye, lean forward, and nod at the appropriate times. Don't look around the room when someone is speaking to you, tap your foot, look at your watch. And definitely put that phone away! There's no need to risk losing your future in-laws' respect and approve to check how many likes your recent Instagram post has gotten or catch the score of a game. 

Avoid Sticky Subjects

This is a no-brainer, but we are morally obliged to say it: Don't start or be goaded into conversations about controversial topics such as politics, religion, or sports (if you root for opposing teams). Dirty jokes, your own family laundry, and your dating history are also off-limits.

Be Nice

Be kind to whomever you encounter during your visit (the dog, grandmother, neighbor, you name it). It's important to remember that how you act towards other people—even pets, who are often like family members to their owners—is one of the clues to what you're really like "off camera."

Don't Fake It

In addition to—and despite—the previously mentioned pleasantries, be yourself. Don't try to be who you think they want you to be (parents can smell that from a mile away). 


Last but not least? Breathe. Remember that everyone there is going through a transition—each of you is gaining new family member. But they're also dealing with letting a child go, so make sure you come across as the right person to 

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