Wedding Etiquette for the Stepmother of the Groom

by Claire Valenty on November 21, 2010

in Special Occasion - Weddings, Wedding Etiquette

wedding stepmother etiquette

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

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie B April 30, 2012 at 2:57 am

If the mother of the groom is recently deceased (weeks before the engagement), and I, Stepmom, contributed significantly to the groom’s upbringing, what etiquette tips can you offer that will honor the groom’s mother and….help me and the groom’s dad do the right thing, and keep everybody happy? Thank you1!

Pat September 6, 2018 at 9:50 pm

When doing the photos, think about how they might be displayed in someone’s home or photo book. For example, the bioparent probably wouldn’t want to display a photo that includes a stepparent, and parent/stepparent wouldn’t want to display a photo that includes an ex. Assuming that the stepmother is on the bride’s side, a good rule of thumb is bride and biomom; bride and biodad; bride groom, biodad and spouse; bride, groom, biomom and spouse; bride, groom, biomom and spouse along with biomom’s parents/children/grandchildren; bride, groom, biodad and spouse along with biodad’s parents/children/grandhildren; a photo with everyone if possible. The key is inclusion: stepparents should never be excluded.

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