The Meeting of the Parents


A friend of ours just got engaged to his girlfriend. We both like her a lot so we’re really happy for them. This past weekend was a big deal for them: the meeting of the families. Both their sets of parents came down to the area for their first official meeting (or possibly their first meeting period; our friends have only been dating for about a year and their families don’t live in the area).

“Did you get a chance to ask Rich how it went yet?” I asked Jon. “Nope,” Jon replied with a bit of a grimace. We both looked at each other. We realized that we’d never done a formal meeting of the families. Is that a thing? If so it’s one other thing we missed out on, but that both of us are perfectly happy to have skipped.

It’s not like none of our parents knew each other before the wedding. We started dating in our first year of college so there were encounters of various parental units for years before we got married. Our first summer apart, between our freshman and sophomore years, neither of us had a car if our parents didn’t want to let us borrow one for the whole weekend one of us would have to bum a ride from a parent if we wanted to see each other.

I think Jon’s mom met my mom most often this way, though my dad was around a lot to meet her too. Jon’s dad worked a lot so he met up with everyone less, though he was at Jon’s graduation so they ran into each other then. When I think about it, though, I’m not positive that there was a time that they were all in the same room (or field, to count graduation, because Jon’s mom couldn’t make it to that, which neither of us cared about because if we had the choice we wouldn’t have sat through that long boring ceremony) until the wedding rehearsal.

Is it the norm now to have the parents meet before the wedding? I’m talking months in advance, not just a few days; our friends are thinking of getting married in February. Is this maybe an older tradition that’s on its way out the door, or is it something new that Jon and I just missed because we don’t pay attention to these sorts of things?

Because Jon and I met in college, our sets of parents have never lived in the same area as each other. In fact, I don’t think that they’ve ever lived closer than two hours apart. Jon’s parents lived only about 20 minutes away from our college campus, but once we graduated and moved to Maryland we’ve also all never lived in the same place together. I guess if we were all in the same town or general area we might try to do holiday activities together sometimes, but because that’s not the case I guess I don’t really see the point in having our parents meet. It’s not like we’ll all be socializing together that often.

I do think the idea of having the parents meet is sweet; it increases the sense that the marriage represents the joining of two families into one. It’s just not something Jon and I ever heard of until our friends did it; just one more way in which we had an unconventional courtship.

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*(The above image by scottchan is from