Last Friday, after one and a half years of dating my wonderful boyfriend, our parents met for the first time. It was a nerve-wracking experience, mostly because of the pressure of hoping that they will all get along. Thankfully, both my boyfriend and I thought to prepare ourselves and our parents for this occasion. The dinner passed by smoothly and even better than we assumed – there was laughter, good moods, plenty of interesting conversation topics, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Phew – one big step forward in our relationship!

If the in-laws are finally meeting each other, here are some tips to make it all go smoothly:

1) Ensure that both sets of parents/families are open to the meeting

Don’t pressure them or force them into it. If they go with a closed mind or with negative feelings, the possibilities of them all getting along are significantly reduced.  Having everyone be open-minded isn’t always possible, but the best you can do is try, or take into consideration if it’s better to reschedule or handle things differently.

2) Share some background

Tell your parents some information and background on your partner’s parents and family such as their profession, anything that they shouldn’t mention, interests, hobbies, and so on. Anything that can be a cause for conversation is a great piece of information to provide. It ensures that you can limit the awkward, silent moments and give some fodder to make the conversation flow.

3) Arrange to meet prior to an engagement

In my personal opinion and based on my past experience, it’s best if the parents meet long before the engagement but when the relationship is already serious. Why? Because it avoids conflicts over wedding decisions, financial issues, home-buying prospects, and so on. Money can create enemies and wouldn’t it be best if they first meet without even having to consider expenses?

4) Check how everyone is going dressed – everyone should be dressed to impress

First impressions are incredibly important and you want to ensure that everyone is on the same page. You can all be casual, but dressed smart. (i.e. no torn clothes, too baggy, etc.) Of course, everyone’s personality should shine through but a little effort is always appreciated by others – whether unconsciously or consciously.

5) Decide on a casual venue that will inspire a natural conversation

Meals are a great option as food is always a favorite for people to discuss. Barbecues, cookouts, holiday meals, and restaurants all make good venues.  The neutral territory could be a great choice as it levels the playing field and lowers discomfort for all.

Have your parents met your parents-in-law? Have you had any experiences or tips you can suggest?