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The Role of the Stepmother

Posted: 09 August 2010
The Role of the Stepmother

If you are a bride-to-be and have a stepmother, you may wonder what is the appropriate stepmother etiquette and how much of a role should she play in your wedding. Dealing with stepmothers can cause a difficult situation. A lot depends on how your stepmother and mother get along. If the two mothers get along fine, than your wedding can be planned however you want. But this isn’t always the case. If there are a few issues, these guidelines will help the situation.

The Golden Rule

It’s important for your stepmother to respect your wishes and accept your decisions for the part she’ll play at your wedding.

Talk About It

You need to tell your stepmother what her role is in your wedding ceremony and reception. Talk to her about her feelings and expectations in advance to ease any tension.


Typical wedding invitations include the parents of the bride and groom, as one or both sets of parents will be hosting. Stepmothers and stepfathers are usually not mentioned in the invitation unless the bride or groom prefers to do so. However, if you’re stepmother is contributing financially towards the wedding, then she should be named. However, should you and your fiancé be hosting and paying for the wedding yourselves, you don’t have to acknowledge any parents, or stepparents for that matter.

Appropriate Dress Code

Usually, the stepmother should dress in the same dress code as the other guests. If you choose to include her in your wedding, she can wear a similar style or colour as the other mothers, but should never dress to overshadow you or the mother-of-the-bride.

Seating Your Stepmother

At the ceremony, traditionally, the parents of both you and your fiancé are seated in the front row, with stepparents a row or two behind. Seating at the reception can be trickier; but the seating depends on your preferences and this means you may end up having separate tables for stepparents or separate tables for divorced parents and their spouses.

Family Photos

There may be an etiquette problem when it comes to family photos. The majority of photographers will arrange different shots for the parents and stepparents. It’s not common to see photographs with both the stepparents and parents together in the same photo. If, however, you do want a group photo with all the parents together, then make sure the photographer places the moms on opposite ends. Don’t find it strange though if your stepmother prefers not to be in any wedding photos, as this falls in the range of proper wedding etiquette for stepmothers.

May I Have This Dance

Proper etiquette stipulates that your stepmother will take the back seat and bow out gracefully so you can share this day with your parents. Your father will dance with you and your fiancée’s mother will dance with him.

Every Situation is Different

Etiquette rules don't apply to every situation that arises with blended families. The degree of closeness among members of your particular family and your wishes for your big day are most important. Try to relax and enjoy the festivities and do what makes you and your fiancée happy on your wedding day.

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