Wedding Tips for the Stepmom

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A wedding is both an exciting and stressful time – especially to blended and extended families.

The Stepfamily’s Relationship

Depending on the relationships – specifically between the biological mother and the stepmother – and the roles that they played over the years and in the wedding preparation, that needle on the stress meter may swoosh all the way to the red zone with no warning. While the stepmom may be very much involved in the wedding planning – if they are very close with the stepchild who is getting married, and perhaps has live with them for many years – it is not unusual for a young bride to gravitate emotionally to her biological mother, even if they are estranged or were never close.

Many women they may be longing for a mother- daughter relationship, and once the biological mom is in the picture, the stepmom may find herself in a delegated, secondary role. This can result to feelings getting hurt, and relationships dented after the wedding. And if the bride is naturally close to her biological mother, the stepmother may feel even more alienated and outcasted.

Tips for the Stepmom

stepmother of the bride

Family issues can get the better of us at weddings, and this can make things emotional, and even more dramatic post- wedding when you all meet again at home. There really are wedding etiquettes for both when the stepmother is close to the bride and for when she is not. But here are some helpful tips to guide the stepmom in her role at the wedding.

  • Talk. Talk to your stepdaughter (or stepson) early. And talk to them often through out the course of the wedding planning. Be open about your own hopes and expectations of your role at the wedding. Let her know that you understand that this is her special day and you would want to be involved. Also, make sure you ask and cover the important details early: who will be in the procession, will you be escorted down the aisle, where will people sit at the ceremony and at the reception, will you be wearing a corsage or carry a bouquet. These are just some examples, make sure you cover other items that are particularly important to you. Talking will help set expectations early to avoid disappointment.
  • Involve all parties in the discussions. While this may be very difficult, talk to the biological mother, especially if the bride intends to give her mother a role at the wedding. Let her know that you are not trying to take her place, and that you just want to have clarity on everyone’s expectations and roles. If this is too awkward, or you and the biological mother are not in speaking terms, ask your stepdaughter or a member of the family or even the bridal party, to be the go- between. As uncomfortable as it may be, remember that it is your daughter’s day and you want it to be as perfect for her as possible.
  • Don’t put dad in between. While he may seem to be the natural negotiator here given the situation, your husband as the middle person might only open more issues and wounds and may also have his own coping issues in seeing and dealing with his ex and her family. However, do talk to your husband and make your wishes very clear. Let him know that you wish to sit with him at the ceremony and reception and that it will make you feel abandoned otherwise. Remind him that while you are not his daughter’s mother, you are his wife.
  • Check with the wedding planner. A professional at weddings will not make the issues go away, but they will likely have suggestions on how to handle them. Talk to them and discuss the rough spots in the family and get their opinion. Make sure you talk to the wedding planner with the bride present, so she doesn’t feel like you went behind her back.
  • Expect difficult situations. You should already know that yours is a special family situation, and despite all the talks and preparations, expect some unexpected situations. Make a mental picture of things that can go wrong on the big day, and decide how you want to react.
  • Bring your support team. Have allies at the wedding – bring your own friends and family. By no means should you use your ‘team’ to win, fight or upstage the biological mother, or anyone at the wedding. But you can depend on them anytime you’re feeling lost or left out. They can also make great dance partners when its time to join in other guests after the father daughter dance. If you and your husband are planning to stay until the end of the reception, ask a friend to stay with you so you have someone to talk to or hang out with.

No wedding is perfect and there will surely be some bumps and craziness throughout the preparations. Setting expectations early and coming prepared will help you get through those bumps. Be happy and proud, you may not have given birth to your stepchild, but helped create them to be the person that they are today.


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