Thanks to Disney, whenever the word “stepmother” is uttered, we think of a callous and cold woman who wants to make her stepchildren suffer. In real life, sometimes this is true, but, more often than not, a stepmother is a normal woman who has either had a huge part in raising her stepchildren or has come into the fold when they are older. Regardless of the situation, in order to respect the groom’s father, the stepmother must be involved in some aspects of the wedding.
- Attire: If the stepmother and groom are very close, and the groom’s mother will not be offended, it is acceptable for the stepmother to wear a gown similar to the groom and bride’s mothers (as the bride has selected), and she should be given a mother’s corsage. If the stepmother or groom’s mother feels uncomfortable about this in any way, traditionally, the stepmother should attire herself in what the other wedding guests are wearing.
- Seating: For the ceremony, the mother of the groom should be seated in the front row, with the father of the groom and his stepmother seated directly behind her. The reception can get a bit tricky, if there is ill will towards anyone. If the bride and groom’s immediate family are all sitting at the one head table, it might be best to create two head tables or limit the head table to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. If everyone gets along well, sitting together should not be an issue.
- Photos: For the big group family photos, it is rare, but, not unheard of, for the stepmother of the groom to be in the picture. If she is, she should be on the opposite side of the groom’s mother. If everyone is friendly with each other, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal. If there’s bad blood, though, the photographer should be discreetly warned ahead of time. The stepmother can be included in smaller group pictures with the bride, groom and the father of the groom so they are still involved.
Ultimately, if the groom’s stepmother is not well liked, it all comes down to how well your family can play nice on your big day. If there is a lot of drama, remind them that this is YOUR wedding and you would appreciate their help in making an awkward situation less difficult. Communication is the key. It is not recommended that you nix anyone from the wedding as a result of hurt feelings. One of my girlfriends did that when her father was upset at her stepfather’s involvement in the wedding. She has never forgiven herself for that – don’t make the same mistake!
More Sources: Wedding Stepmother Etiquette