It’s hard enough to figure out what to wear when you are the mother of the bride or groom, so what the heck are you supposed to wear when you are the stepmother of the bride or groom? Here are some dressing guidelines for getting it right.
Find out if the Bride and Groom are treating you as a Mom or a Guest
To know what to wear you have to be clear on whether you are being treated as a mom or a guest. This is determined by seating.
It’s totally up to the bride and groom to choose where they want their parents to sit on this very special day. Etiquette dictates that the biological parents sit together in the first row of the church, and any stepparents sit 2 or three rows behind. This may not seem fair and can really hurt, but remember this is your stepchild’s day.
Dressing if You are a “Guest.”
If you are going to be sitting a few rows behind, then the bride and groom have decided to treat you as a guest, not a mom, and you need to dress like a guest.
Often there is the temptation to try to upstage your spouse’s ex-wife, but don’t! If you try to stand out by wearing a very dressy or revealing style or a bright color, you will only look jealous and petty. You should not outdress the mother of the bride or groom.
Dressing if You are a “Mom.”
In some cases, when parents have remarried, and there’s no fighting going on, then the bride and groom may want their parents to sit with their current spouses in the front row. In this case, you are being treated like a parent, so you may wear something similar to what the mother of the bride and mother of the groom are wearing. Still, be careful not to outdo them.
The etiquette around selecting either a stepmother of the bride dress or a stepmother of the groom dress is as follows:
- the mother of the bride chooses her dress first, then
- the mother of the groom, then
- the stepmother of the bride or stepmother of the groom can choose.
A bride may have suggestions for what style and color might be appropriate, but she can’t dictate.
What Color to Wear?
The key to selecting the right color is: don’t wear the same color as the mother of the bride, mother of the groom or the bridesmaids. So if the bridesmaids are wearing blue, the mother of the bride is wearing pink, and the mother of the groom is wearing lavender, don’t wear any of these colors. Instead, you could wear a pale mint green, pale yellow, light gray or peach, even taupe would work. Err on the side of a more subdued color .
A few colors to always avoid would be white, red, and in some cases black. Royal blue or Navy is a popular choice because it is conseravtive, but a little livelier than black.
Can You Ever Wear Black?
Black is a tricky one. Sometimes brides don’t want it at all. Other times brides opt for black and white theme wedding and may request all parents or step parents wear black. You really need to consult with the bride before you go out looking at dresses.
In the end, go for a dress in a style and color that won’t steal attention away from the mother of the bride or groom. It’s also always good to choose a dress that will look timeless in family wedding photos for years to come.
Real Life Example: Stepmother of the Bride Dilemma
When Wanda’s stepdaughter was married, Wanda’s primary goal was not to upstage the mother of the bride. However, she still wanted to look nice and make a great impression.
Wanda, 61, did just that when she wore this stunning deep purple dress with wrap detail. She accented the dress with a beautiful necklace, earrings and vintage Gucci watch with an elegant band. It’s a chic, figure flattering look.
Wanda, you werea very beautiful stepmother of the bride.