Wedding Etiquette for the Stepmom

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Today more and more families find themselves being blended, and truly, each family situation is unique. Stepfamily and blended family weddings can be anything from tearjerking to strange, and can be more dramatic than any soap opera the TV industry has ever seen.

Stepfamily Relationships

While some stepmoms are lucky enough to be part of a more harmonious blended family, others have more drama and chaos at their hands. Each situation is a soap opera with its own melodramatic scenes, and there really is no one specific guide to wedding etiquette for stepmoms.┬áPersonal family experiences and scenarios are very diverse and complex, and what we have here is a guide more than ‘etiquette’ rules for stepmothers.

Wedding Etiquette Guide and Tips for the Stepmom


Eric and Rona’s wedding in the Philippines, with the groom’s parents and stepmom seated on the front row

Your relationship with your stepson or stepdaughter will largely determine how you will be “treated” at the wedding. This includes your role, where you will be seated in the ceremony and reception, whether or not your name will be in the invitation, etc.

While many wedding professionals say that the stepmom should take a step back and sit in the second row, this is not true for many weddings. Lots of couples, especially stepchildren who grew up with their stepmothers, give a lot more consideration to the situation and adjust the seating arrangement accordingly. It is not uncommon to have the stepmom and biological mother sitting next to each other, or to have both even walk down the aisle. In the photo, Eric and Rona decided to seat Eric’s mom, dad and stepmother together on the front row. They thought this was the best way to go and it actually worked perfectly. Photo credits to Mot Rasay Photography.

The key here is to set expectations early on. Talk to the bride (and / or the groom) and lay out your expectations – not demands. Ask them too where they plan to seat you, or what your role be at the ceremony and reception. Early expectation- setting means less disappointment on the big day.

Suggest to have a “Switzerland” table. You can call it any wacky name you want. This table will be neutral and safe. In fact, depending on the complexity of your family, you may need more than just one table here.

Dress appropriately too. Choose a color and style that compliments the wedding theme and color, but nothing too overpowering or attention calling. Be mindful of the length of your dress or the neckline. Steer away from white, black and red. It is best to communicate with the bride, as well as the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother if possible, while you are shopping for a dress to avoid conflict or misinterpretation of your chosen outfit.

The couple may or may not ask you to help out with the wedding planning. If they do, only agree to do things that you are comfortable with. And if you do agree to extend help, do not expect anything in return. Don’t expect to sit on the front row because you helped organize the bridal shower or paid for the bouquets. Do so because it is your stepchild’s wedding and this is important to them. This may hurt, but the truth is and always will be, no matter what you do, mom will always be mom.

On the day of the wedding, be yourself. Be gracious and social, and have fun. Smile to everyone, be ready to offer help when needed, enjoy the day and remember not to drink too much.

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