The Role of the Stepmother of the Bride

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The question about the stepmother’s role in the wedding has always been a gray area. There is no manual on this, and even with the advent of the world wide web, you won’t find any definitive etiquette guide for the stepmother of the bride or groom.

Questions about the role of the stepmother of the bride


Blended families are not unusual, yet when it comes to accepted etiquette, especially for weddings, there is no guide or how- to’s. Questions revolve around who will walk the stepmother down the aisle (or whether she should be escorted at all); should she be announced at the reception; and whether she should be holding a bouquet too. Seating questions are always crucial: where should the stepmom be seated at the ceremony and the reception; and the proper placement at the receiving line and the photos to be taken by the official photographer.

Etiquette with blended families

Blended families’ situation vary – and widely at that. This is the primary reason why you won’t easily find self help manuals or guides to wedding etiquette when blended families are included.

The role of the stepmother

Wedding guidelines and etiquette is continually changing and evolving. For the most part, couples today can dictate what will happen at their wedding: who sits where, who gets escorted, where everyone will be placed in the photos, etc. This includes the role of each family member, including the stepmother.

In short, the bride and groom will get to decide what your role will be on their big day. Some brides ask their stepmoms to stand as their bridesmaid, or, if they have a really good relationship, to step in with the role of a ‘second’ mom at the wedding. Others will ask their stepmother to do a reading at the ceremony or do a toast at the reception.

Hence, your role in the wedding will determined by your relationship with your stepchild. If you don’t have a very close relationship with her, then it is likely that your role in the wedding will be kept to a minimum. Some etiquette experts say that the stepmother should be seated with her husband both in the ceremony and the reception. Other than that, it is up to the bride. AND you should honor and respect her decisions.

It is always customary for the bride’s mother to get the best seat – the front row aisle seat. If you have a good relationship with your stepdaughter, she can opt to seat you and your husband in the front row too, or perhaps seat you in the second row aisle seat. However, if there is conflict between you and your husband’s ex wife, the bride and groom will likely try their best to seat you apart both in the ceremony and the reception.

Best Advice

It will be easiest for you (and everyone involved) if you try and keep the communication open between you and your step child. Ask the bride (and groom) where you will be seated, what your role is and what you should expect. This will help ease the tension and set your expectations so you don’t feel left out or shocked on the big day. Whatever the case, remember that this is perhaps the happiest day in your stepchild’s life and you should be happy too –  regardless of where you will be seated or what your role is.

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