Step Parents Role In The Wedding Party?


I need some advice regarding my stepson’s wedding this coming fall 2005.

I am stepmother to groom in his late 20’s, his father and I are married 18 years and I always have had an ongoing close relationship with his 2 sons. They were best men at our wedding and my sister was my only attendant MOH.

We always lived close by & had frequent stayovers and nice vacation trips, until they were grown. Now we usually do dinner and get together for family occasions. We are in touch by phone regularly. I was not the reason their parents divorced over 20 years ago and I and have had an amicable relationship with groom’s mother for years. She has never remarried.

We moved out of state last year. My ss became engaged in the fall. There was no engagement party and we have never heard from bride’s parents but there was an open invitation from the couple and groom’s mother to meet the bride’s parents when we got back to visit. We saw my ss and fiance when we visited in March but still did not get to meet her parents. We just saw them again at a destination wedding and we made plans to meet her parents in a few weeks when we will fly to their hometown. We have emailed the bride’s parents an invite to dinner and told them how much we like their daughter.

The wedding is now four months away. Although they have shared info about the venue, nothing was ever mentioned about colors or dresses. I only just found out about the BM colors by asking my ss over the phone. I also asked about the dress choices of the mob and mog. I asked my ss to ask his bride if there is a color she would like me to wear or if it doesn’t matter to her. This was several days ago and I have not heard anything. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything? Upon asking, my ss told my husband he can wear the same tuxedo the groom and gm are wearing or whatever he wants. My husband asked him to ask his bride. We are waiting to hear.

I just provided a list of my family members to be invited (per their request). We asked my ss about the rehearsal dinner (anticipating we would host it) and he said his mother is having it at her house. We are surprised nothing had been mentioned to us and that plans are already made. We thought we would have been kept in the loop. I did not want to interfere with the planning but now I wonder if we were purposely left out?

My husband says he is not bothered and that if we are not helping with the wedding costs we will just give the couple a larger monetary gift.

I have read various conflicting points of view about stepmoms on different websites. Some say that the stepmom is NOT part of the wedding and is just a guest and can wear anything she likes as she is NOT in pictures. Then I have read that if the relationship is close, she is included. Other websites assume the stepmother would certainly be included in the dress plans so she can coordinate her dress because she will, of course, be included in the pictures. I don’t know if I will be or not.

I think my relationship with my ss was and is good. I hate to put my ss in the middle of anything. I think he is being a good boy and doing what his mom and fiance want. I just want to know where I stand and what is expected.

Here are my questions:

1. What does my husband wear and is he considered part of the bridal party? What do I wear?

2. Since the groom’s mom is having the rehearsal dinner for the bridal party (and I assume we are not part of the bridal party), can we host a non-rehearsal dinner the same night before the wedding for our out of town relatives on my husbands side? My concern is that my husband and I will be essentially hosts for my husband’s large family that will be coming to the wedding, most from out of town, and probably staying an hour away from the wedding and rehearsal dinner location. I am very close with my husband’s family.

When I mentioned to my husband that I may not be in the wedding pics since they don’t seem to care what I wear, he says he won’t be in the pictures either.

I think I would be happy just blending into the background, but we will be traveling far to attend the wedding and we will be hosts to my husband’s large family and so I feel I do have some responsibility and need to know what is appropriate.

Thanks for any insight you may offer.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Step Mom,

It really is up to the couple whether your husband is in the wedding party or not. But, usually if everyone is friendly, he definitely is. Because his son told him that he could dress as the rest of the groomsmen and him, he should don a tux.

If you haven’t been invited to the reheasal party, you may not be. Though, usually you would be if everyone is friendly and your husband is considered part of the bridal party. Actually, you may be invited later.

I suppose, from what you have said that your husband will just be acknowledged as the groom’s father and won’t have any typical ‘father of the groom’ duties–you two will be honored guests instead of hosts. This is common if you are not contributing to the wedding costs.

Typically the step-mom blends into the background. She is not usually included in the pictures unless she is viewed as a second mother. This is entirely your step-son’s choice. So, you are probably expected to dress as one of the better dressed guests. I would wait to find out if you are being included for a little longer though. You still have four months until the wedding.

Asking for a list of your family to invite was very considerate. This is not common. Once you find definitively that you are not invited to the rehearsal dinner, it would be appropriate to plan a dinner or gathering for your out of town guests. The night before the wedding is fine. This is often done for our out of town guests.

Best wishes,