What to Wear at a Wedding Party as the Stepmother of the Bride

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The stepmother of the bride is not a central figure in the wedding party, and her attire should reflect this. Generally, the stepmother has to dress in a manner that does not in any way compete with the bride’s gown, or with the dresses of any more central figures in the wedding party. Her attire must adhere to the dress code dictated by the mother of the bride and complement the bridesmaids’ dresses, but it must be deliberately understated in comparison. In essence, she is more of a wedding guest than a member of the wedding party, but she still needs to be in harmony with the bridal party.


The stepmother of the bride has no official role in the wedding party. She may be required to perform the function of a hostess at the wedding reception, as the companion of the bride’s father. However, this is subject to the wishes of the bride and her mother. Weddings are traditionally the bride’s day to shine. They revolve around the bride and her mother, who are the chief decision-makers. The stepmother is therefore expected to keep a low profile during all wedding-related proceedings.


The stepmother of the bride is expected to dress demurely, so as not to call attention to herself by trying to outshine the bride or the bridal party. As the bride’s stepmother, you will have to take your dress cues from the bride’s mother. Find out what she will be wearing well in advance of the wedding day. Pick your dress accordingly. Get something in line with her color scheme and style, but ensure that your dress, shoes, hat, accessories and hairstyle are subdued and less flamboyant than the bride’s or her mother’s.


There is always a potential for conflict at a wedding between the stepmother of the bride and the bride’s mother and members of her family. You need to be sensitive to this, and dress as inoffensively as possible. You will also need to monitor your behavior and body language to ensure that you are not seen as trying to upstage the bride or her mother in any way.


Try not to wear white, ivory or the color of the bride’s wedding dress unless she has stipulated that the wedding party and guests may wear these colors. Always check with the bride’s mother to ensure that there is no last-minute conflict with clothes, colors or accessories. Be prepared to be separated from the bride’s father during the proceedings, and to be seated along with the other wedding guests. If the bride’s mother is deceased, you may be asked to stand in as the mother of the bride and should dress accordingly.