The dos and don’ts of meeting the in-laws for the first time

How will Prince Harry fare when he finally becomes acquainted with Meghan Markle’s father?

Sabrina Barr
Friday 11 May 2018 17:56 BST

No matter how old you are, where you’re from or how long you’ve been in a relationship, meeting the parents of your partner can be an extremely daunting prospect.

It’s been reported that Thomas Markle, Meghan Markle’s father and a former television lighting director, will be walking his daughter down the aisle when she marries into the royal family on May 19.

That means that when Mr Markle arrives in the UK in the week preceding the wedding, Prince Harry will finally become acquainted with his father-in-law-to-be.

While it’s not unreasonable to believe that Prince Harry will be feeling nervous about making a good first impression, dating consultant for The Inner Circle, Nichi Hodgson, believes that the timing of their meeting could play in the prince’s favour.

“If you’re only meeting your in-laws for the first time upon marriage, you don’t need to worry so much about proving yourself,” Hodgson told The Independent.

“After all, your partner has already ‘chosen’ you and it’s your partner’s opinion and confidence that matters.”

There are a number of things that people need to consider when preparing to meet the in-laws for the first time, regardless of royal status or lack thereof.

Here are eight important dos and don’ts to take note of during your first face-to-face meeting with the in-laws, as explained by the experts:


  1. Accept the first invitation to meet that you receive from them if you can, advises eHarmony relationship expert Verity Hogan. This will demonstrate your eagerness to familiarise yourself with your partner’s family.
  2. If you’re invited round for dinner, make sure that you offer to help, says Hogan. This will display your hardworking and proactive nature.
  3. Sheela Mackintosh Stewart, a relationship guru and matrimonial consultant, recommends bringing a nice gift for the in-laws even if your budget only allows something small.
  4. It’s important to keep the PDA to a bare minimum in front of your partner’s parents, says Plenty of Fish dating expert Shannon Smith.
  5. Furthermore, show your in-laws affection by showering them in compliments, Smith states. You could comment on their cooking, their hospitality and even express your appreciation for their parenting skills.
  6. Before you meet your partner's parents, make sure you learn about their hobbies and interests, says Hogan. This will demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them.
  7. Use the opportunity to observe the way your partner interacts with their parents, Hodgson suggests. This will tell you a lot about both your partner and their family dynamic.
  8. It could be worth finding some time to talk to your in-laws in private in order to foster a closer relationship with them, says founder of Old Style Dating agency Dennie Smith. “Prince Harry and Thomas Markle may be worlds apart, but it will be imperative to their relationship that they display an equal interest in one another’s lives when they become family,” she says.


  1. Try to avoid discussing serious or controversial topics during your first meeting such as politics, religion or sex, Stewart instructs. However, if these subjects do come up in conversation, she suggests trying to maintain a “balanced view”.
  2. While it’s important to prepare, try not to overdo it, says founder of I Love Your Accent dating site Rochelle Peachey. You want to ensure that conversation flows fluidly.
  3. Don’t feel the need to answer every single question that’s fired your way, Hodgson states. You’re not required to divulge your deepest, darkest secrets just because you’ve been asked.
  4. Try not to pretend to be someone that you’re not, advises Hogan, as maintaining a false façade will inevitably become both difficult and tedious.
  5. Try not to drink too much during your first meeting, says Peachey. “Liquid courage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” she explains.
  6. If you’re staying at your in-laws' home, don’t make the assumption that you’ll be sleeping in the same bed as your partner, says Stewart. Every family has different rules.
  7. In the instance that your partner’s parents take you out for dinner, you mustn’t presume that they’ll automatically be paying for the meal, says Plenty of Fish expert Smith. Even if it seems incredibly likely that they'll cover the bill, you should still offer to pay as a courtesy.
  8. Under no circumstances should you check your phone while in the middle of a conversation, the founder of Old Style Dating states. This rule also extends to manners while on a date, she explains.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in