Wedding Etiquette for a Stepmother

Newlywed couple at wedding reception

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Traditional etiquette rules often fail to address stepparent issues, and that may be a good thing. Specific guidelines for stepmothers often depend on their relationship to their stepchild getting married. Typically, stepmothers should never expect to replace the biological mothers in planning or participating in the event.

Planning the Event

Generally, stepmothers do not actively participate in the wedding planning. The decision about who gets to give input on wedding decisions is made by the bride and groom. As a stepmother, you may be asked to accompany the rest of the bridal party to fittings, cake tastings and other planning events.

Participating in the Event

A stepmother's role in the ceremony depends on her relationship with her stepchild. Some stepchildren treat their stepmothers as stand-ins for their biological mothers or as second mothers, especially if no bad blood exists between the stepmother and biological mothers. Some couples ask stepmothers to give a reading, sing a song or participate in the ceremony in some way.

Attendance & Attire

Stepmothers who are not included on the wedding invitation or specifically asked to attend should not go. Stepchildren are often under pressure from other family members to exclude stepparents. They may worry about awkward moments or a biological parent causing a scene. When invited to the wedding, a stepmother is not obligated to wear any certain attire or even to match her attire to that of the other mothers. However, some brides and grooms may suggest certain colors or attire, especially if the stepmother will be included in photographs.

Respecting Decisions

In an effort to keep peace between the families, the bride and groom may choose to separate the biological and stepparents at the ceremony and reception. For example, biological fathers and their wives may be asked to sit in the third row while the biological mother and her partner sit in the front.