Weddings are full of all sorts of family members. Some you feel you just have to include because they’re family while others you couldn’t imagine without them. Often a stepmother falls in one of these categories. Stepmothers don’t always get the best treatment at weddings as they’re pushed to the side to honor the father and mother. It truly depends on your relationship with her.
Personally, my stepmother was in my life ten years before I became a bride as she married my dad a few years after my mom passed away. Everyone has a different story, but we have some great ways to include your stepmother whether she’s your favorite person or worse enemy. Hey, she’s family, so stuffing her in the back of photos probably won’t be enough on your wedding day.
Mom Vs. Stepmom
It’s often a difficult tightrope to walk if both your mom and your stepmom are included in your wedding plans. You don’t want to take the spotlight off your mom, but your stepmom doesn’t need to be hidden in the basement either. There are ways to make both of them feel special. Be upfront about your intentions. Tell both women you want to include them in the wedding and they will both be honored in different ways. You don’t want to surprise your mother by saying nice words or giving your stepmother a few bridal mom duties. It’s easy to accidentally gravitate towards your biological mom in all of the planning, but this could leave feelings hurt. Talk to your stepmother about her expectations and what she’s feeling throughout the planning process. She probably understands her role is different than your mother, but she also doesn’t want to be left sitting in a corner alone at the wedding. Be open and honest with the entire family, and include the father of the bride in the conversations. This will alleviate any hurt feelings at the actual wedding.
Let your stepmother take some of the reigns when it comes to plans. She might enjoy throwing you a shower or finding you the perfect DJ. Everyone has different strengths, so let her flex her planning muscles. She may love crafting so she could work on the centerpieces or other decorations. Whatever she is doing when planning is making her feel included. You could even take her wedding dress shopping with you as you choose your dress if you are close enough. Many times a bride’s mother comes along, but if everyone gets along, let her come along as well. This is a very special occasion so let her in on the secret of the dress and have a little fun shopping while you’re at it.
The Wedding Toast
Including your stepmother in the toast is like getting a shout out from your Academy Awards speech. It’s a coveted position to actually be called out in a room full of people. Give her a special thank you for all she’s done for your family and for the wedding. It can be difficult not to step on your mom’s toes during this speech, but you don’t need to mention your stepmother first as long as you mention her. The main point is to touch on the fact that she matters and she’s important to you as you enter this new chapter in life. She’s going to be in your children’s lives, and they won’t necessarily know her as a step-grandmother because they’ve always known her to be there. Your mention of her in the toast might be simple, but it could be huge to her.
Mother of the Bride Dress
Since it’s your wedding, it’s totally up to you how everyone dresses. The mother of the bride usually buys a beautiful, extravagant dress that makes her feel like a queen standing next to her princess on the big day. You can coordinate the colors of the mother’s and stepmother’s dresses or you can just have them complement one another. It also depends on the preferred styles of each woman. One might hate strapless dresses while the other loves the look. The main thing to think about when it comes to how the women dress for the wedding is not having them clash. You don’t want one wearing a bright pink dress standing next to one wearing a bright red dress. You probably don’t want them to dress exactly alike either so it’s best to have them wear the style that looks best on them in complementing colors.
Family photos can always be tricky especially when you include a stepfamily and extended family members. This is a time when you don’t want your stepmother to feel left out. Make sure she is included in an immediate family photo. Have the photographer take one of your dad, stepmother, and the newly married couple. Also have the photographer snap one of this group with any of your siblings and step-siblings. You may not appreciate all of these photos if you don’t have the closest relationship, but sometimes family simply cannot be chosen and you don’t want anyone to feel left out of photos decades down the road. It may be stretching it to get a photo that includes both your mother and stepmother, but if you’re all close, then go for it.