Your stepchild’s wedding should be a time of joy, but it can also be a struggle for you to find your place in the wedding without stepping on any toes. You’ll likely be a part of the bride and groom’s professional wedding portraits, so your clothing should look appropriate next to the rest of the family but not be so flashy that you draw attention from the bride or your stepchild’s mother.
Consulting the Bride
Asking the bride for input about your dress lets her know that you value her opinions and ensures you won’t look out of place. Ask her what level of formality she wants you to wear. For instance, she may prefer you wear a casual cocktail dress or may decide on a more formal evening dress. She may also have an opinion about whether she wants you to wear the same color as her bridesmaids or whether she’d prefer that you and the bride's and groom’s mothers wear a similar color to make the photos look cohesive.
Consulting the Mother
If you have a friendly relationship with your stepchild’s mother, giving her a call or sending her an email is a way of letting her know that you don’t want to step on her toes. Coordinating with her also ensures you won’t accidentally show up in similar dresses, which will be awkward at best. Ask if she’s chosen her dress yet so you can ensure you choose something that won’t clash. If you already have a dress in mind, send her a website link to it and ask if she thinks it’s appropriate for the type of wedding her child is planning. She’ll appreciate you asking for her input.
Follow the same color restrictions that the mothers of the bride and groom has. Dresses in shades of champagne, ivory or anything close to white is off limits. Black or anything too flashy like red is also not appropriate. You may consider choosing a dress to match your husband’s tie or vest color so the two of you look like a pair. Neutral colors such as lavender, blue or silver are always appropriate. Ultimately you should choose a color that you think looks flattering on you.
Choosing the Dress
One of the most important rules to keep in mind is that you should be dressed less formally than the bride's or groom’s mothers. Wait until your stepchild’s mother has chosen her dress before you buy your dress. While you don’t have to get the bride’s final approval on your dress, asking her to shop with you can provide you with some bonding time, and if she knows what her mother or the groom’s mother is wearing, she’ll be able to direct you to dresses that are appropriate.
Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
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