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Any further advice for stepmoms or stepmothers (and step-dads) at weddings?

jmvilen's picture

Okay. After getting burned at step-daughter's wedding and doing some research, I understand some things now, but not others: I get now that there is a total disconnect between what the bride/groom may be expecting at their wedding and what the step-mom is expecting. I see where the bride/groom’s thought is that they want their parents to be together on their wedding day and act 100% like their parents—just bio mom and bio dad as their parents. The bride/groom expect that somehow the step mom is supposed to just know that she is to stay completely out of the way, not sit with her husband, be in any pictures, etc. And, then, when step mom doesn’t do that or acts upset or confused because she has no clue that she’s NOT supposed to act like she is married to her husband, she’s the one made out to be the problem, when in reality the step-mom just wants to be with her husband, like any wife would. Okay, I get that. BUT, what I don't get is the total lack of awareness that bio-dad and step-mom are even married, even if it has been for years. I mean, it is usually adults getting married, correct? Just trying to figure out how step-kids/adults about to become a couple themselves could even think that it would be okay to leave the step completely out of any pictures at their wedding, for instance. Spouses of bio-mom and bio-dad belong in at least a couple pictures not because of their relationship to the bride or groom, but because of their relationship/being married to bio-mom or dad. After all, how would the bride and groom feel if after they were married, they went to an event and only one of them were allowed to be in any “family” photographs? Wouldn’t feel good. And, Hello!, if dad is contributing to the wedding, so is stepmom. Whatever money dad contributes, both stepmom and dad will have to make up for by eating less that month, etc. They are a married couple, and their incomes are combined, just like the bride and grooms will be after they are married. ANYWAY, anyone have any further insight? Maybe I'm overthinking it? :?


Ruby55's picture

What adult who us old enough to be married would act so childish as to need pics of mommy and daddy together as if their spouses don't exist. One pic maybe, that's it! I never dreamed of treating my dad AND stepmother like this!

positivelyfourthstreet's picture

Silly rabbit!

Don't you know stepparents aren't people?

We are the outsiders come to destroy!


No Name's picture

I fit right into all of this mess. When my SD was married she accepted my gifts and my help. Did I ever get a thank you? No.
When doing the seating charts the plan was to put me in the back of the room so that it would look like to the guests that her parents were still married. My DH put his foot down on that one.
I was not the other woman, I came along five years after they had divorced.
I was not included in any photo's.
I just sucked it up as it was her wedding, her day.
I just wished that I wouldn't have given so much of my time, energy and money to the skids because at the end of the day it never mattered. I am just married to their father. I am nothing to them.

Shaman29's picture

<------ High fives back at nothisagain......

I think we were writing at the same time. Smile

You were short and sweet....I was way too wordy.

Shaman29's picture

When my sister got married, our dad walked her down the aisle. Her bio-father was a guest at the wedding. She didn't want anything to do with him but mom told her she should at least invite him to the wedding. He made very little effort to spend time with her after he and our mom divorced when she was under 2 years old.

Dad and mom married when she was 5. He raised her. He is her dad.

Want to annoy the shit out of my sister, ask her about her bio-father.

All that being said.....

I don't give two shits about skid wedding, when and if that ever happens. H is a Disney Dad and I won't deny him his day with her. If I don't get invited, fine. If I do get invited, fine. Pictures, no pictures? Don't care. Not sitting with H at the wedding? Don't care.

It's not about me. It's about the skid and her new husband. If I make a stink at any point then I end up looking like a fucktard. So not worth the effort.

elvr's picture

The Ceremony
Formal seating at a wedding ceremony is fairly formulaic, however, with divorced parents and stepfamilies, it can become tricky. It is a good idea to determine when and where everyone will be seated in advance to prevent any last minute confusion.

Except in unusual cases, the bride's mother is always the last person to be seated before the ceremony, and the first to be ushered out. If parents are on good terms, ushered seating may follow the traditional order: groom's grandparents, bride's grandparents, groom's mother and father, bride's mother. The bride's stepfather would accompany the bride's mother unless he will be the one escorting the bride down the aisle. The bride's father can sit in the second or third pew with his spouse or relatives after he escorts the bride down the aisle. If the bride's stepfather will be escorting her, the bride's father and his companion should be escorted to their seats after the grandparents and before the bride's mother.

If the bride is close to her stepmother, her stepmother may be seated just after the bride's grandparents. If a stepparent is controversial, he or she might not be formally ushered in, but be seated early in the pew reserved for his or her spouse. In extreme cases where a parent's companion would cause a great deal of tension, he or she may be seated with the other guests, or graciously decide not to attend the wedding at all.

If the groom's parents are divorced, the above seating order can be followed, except that rather than be ushered in together, the groom's father would follow behind his ex-wife as she is ushered in and out. The groom's mother would sit in the front pew, while his father would sit in the second or third pew. All parties would be accompanied by their dates or spouses unless there is controversy or they are involved in the ceremony.

Giving The Bride Away
Who will walk a bride down the aisle? This is often the greatest dilemma with divorced parents. If you are close to your father, this may not be an issue, but if you are not, there are other alternatives.

If you were raised by your stepfather, it would be perfectly appropriate to bestow this honor on him. On the other hand, if you are close to your mom and dad, you can ask them both to escort you down the aisle. Perhaps both your father and stepfather deserve the honor -- in that case, they can both escort you. You may also have your beloved grandfather or brother do the honors. It's up to you. Whatever you decide, let your father know in advance.

Some brides walk themselves down the aisle, while others are escorted by the groom. Go with your gut on this. Whatever you choose will be right.

The Reception
Receiving Line
Many couples are eliminating the receiving line altogether, but if you plan to have one, the general rule is that whoever is hosting the reception stands in the receiving line. For example, if the bride's mother and stepfather are hosting, they would stand together in line, and the bride's father would be a guest (not in the receiving line). Divorced parents should not stand together in a receiving line.

Both of your parents will want to sit in places of honor at your wedding reception, but neither should sit at the bridal table. Rather, each parent should host his or her own table. Make sure that any divorced parents are not sitting at tables too close to one another. Giving them space will allow them to feel relaxed and enjoy themselves.

Bridal Dances
To avoid the awkward situation of a DJ or bandleader announcing dances that probably shouldn't occur, decide on the dances beforehand and inform the announcer of the way you'd like to proceed.

If you feel that your stepfather deserves the honor of the father/daughter dance, tell your father ahead of time what you are planning to do. If you like, you can dance with your father first; then mid-song, take your stepfather's arm, thus honoring both men. For the "parent dance," avoid hurting any feelings by having both parents and their spouses (if remarried) take the floor. If you think the entire dance scenario is going to cause grief, do away with it. Simply explain the situation to the bandleader or DJ ahead of time.

Be sensitive where photography is concerned. Talk to your photographer in advance about the situation, and let him/her know which family shots, as well as candid shots, you would like taken. While you may want family photos with both of your parents, former spouses may refuse to be in photographs together. Find out ahead of time what is acceptable for them.

If applicable, it is appropriate to include stepparents in some -- but not all -- wedding pictures. You are not obligated to include a parent's casual girlfriend or boyfriend in any formal pictures.

Toasting may go on during the reception. Avoid any awkwardness by having the best man be the first to toast the bride and groom. Alternately, the first toast would go to the parent hosting the affair. If both parents are hosting, the bride's father is usually the first parent to toast the new couple.

All of this may seem like a lot to consider, but take heart -- you're almost at the finish line. By thinking things through ahead of time, you should be able to avoid sticky situations. If your instincts are still screaming at you to run far away, you can always elope. But then again, you might not wear that incredible gown, eat that gorgeous triple-tiered butter cream wedding cake, or worst of all, share the happiest day of your life with the people who loved you first -- your family.

Sootica's picture

DH's parents are divorced and FIL has been with his partner for over 20 years.MIL is single.When we got married we made sure we met with our photographer beforehand to discuss what photos would be taken.We had photos with MIL and the SILS then we had separate photos with FIL,his partner & their daughter (SIL 3).At no point was there any need to have photos with MIL and FIL together DH did not feel either were less of a parent to him because he did not have photos with the two of them TOGETHER.

Regarding seating arrangements,I knew this was something which could cause upset as before we even thought about seating plans I had FIL's partner corner me asking are the seating arrangements done yet.I spoke to DH and he said he didn't feel it was appropriate that FIL's partner be seated at the head table as she never raised him and came into his life when he was in his 20's.He did say she should be in one of the front tables with important family members.Regarding to where FIL sat we left it to him,explained he could either sit at head table or at front table with partner,FIL opted to sit with partner.

katielee's picture

When my DS got married, it never even occurred to him to want pictures of me and his birth dad together (as far as I know). It never occurred to me until this thread that it could have been a thought or possible problem in his stepmother's mind lol.

We took pics with my son, his bride, me, his (then) stepdad and my DD, his half-sister.

Then they took pics of my son, his bride, his birth dad, his stepmother, and his other half-sister by his dad.

Nobody thought a thing about it. I wonder if my his stepmother was worried? I know it was never talked about beforehand. My sister did the pics.

Aniki's picture

My DH has an SD - BioHo's oldest daughter. DH raised her from age 2 and she has NO relationship with her BioDad - met him once. She called DH to tell him of her engagement. After the call ended, DH said No Way would he be at the wedding because BioHo will be there. I asked if SD will want DH to walk her down the aisle. He thinks she probably will but restated he will NOT go because
1) he will NOT sit near 'Ho in church
2) he will NOT sit at reception near 'Ho, and
3) he "will NOT, in any effing-way, effing-shape, or effing-form, be in one single effing picture with that effing 'Ho". :O

I know his SD will be hurt if he says No (she and I have a good relationship). I suggested he request that his SD
1) allow him to sit in 2nd row (opposite end from 'Ho) at church
2) allow him to sit at reception table opposite of 'Ho, and
3) gently tell SD that he simply will not be in any pictures with 'Ho

The wedding isn't until Fall of 2016. I know that if SD expects DH to be anywhere near 'Ho, he will not attend or he will leave at the moment that is expected. No words; just walk.

ldvilen's picture

Sometimes I think women forget what the women's movement was all about. It was about being yourself and not being ashamed of it. I see site after site where stepmom is expected or told to take the back seat, be invisible, stay out of the way, pretend not to be a family member, etc., and I am saddened. How sad that we let ourselves be treated like second-class citizens at these events. Every other married couple at these events will be treated as a married couple, but not us and our spouse. We are supposed to "do the right thing," "take the high road," and pretend like we are not married to our husband. We are supposed to wear beige and sit in the third row alone and look down at our feet a lot. You know, it is the year 2015 and not 1915, and I think it is time more stepmothers stick up for themselves. We ARE our husband's spouse. We ARE intelligent women. We ARE married, yes married to our husbands. And, we should allow no one to try to infer or treat us otherwise. AND, when we go to any event, including ALL weddings, we will be with our husband, and we will sit next to our husband, and we will laugh with our husband and hold his hand, if we want to. Because, we are not second-class citizens and we are NOT ashamed of ourselves or whom we decided to marry. If you don't like it, too bad.