Most moms want to be intimately involved in their daughter's wedding, but what about stepmoms? Including her in your big day is a sweet gesture that won't go unnoticed, especially if you are close and mutually supportive. With your own mother involved, as well, though, things could get a little dicey. Here's how to navigate the rocky terrain leading to your walk down the aisle.
To start, making the choice to include your stepmother is an individual one—but one you should make with your soon-to-be spouse. Every stepmom-stepdaughter relationship is different so you have to look at your own without letting outsiders influence the decision. "A couple shouldn't feel pressured to follow any certain tradition; they should follow what feels right to them," adds Araceli Vizcaino-S of Azazie.
Soon after making the decision, you should probably alert your mom so she isn't caught off guard, and, without really knowing how she will feel or react, try to do it in a sensitive way. "When including a stepmother in a wedding, it's important to communicate openly to avoid any resentment," Vizcaino-S says. "Hear out the mother and stepmother's feelings if there's any hostility and try to work things out."
Fabrice Orlando of Cocoon Events Group agrees that it all comes down to open and honest communication. "Make sure both sides are aware of the level of involvement expected and express gratitude for having them both by your side," he says.
Once you've determined whether she'll be a willing and happy participant, figure out what kind of role she can play. "Leading up to the wedding, we'd encourage brides to get to better know what their stepmother would like to be involved in and consider offering her smaller tasks so she can feel more involved," says Orlando. "The best and easiest way to do this is simply to ask."
After figuring out how her preferred means of involvement gels with your needs, put her to work. If she's crafty and wants to do something creative, ask her to take care of DIY party favors, Vizcaino-S suggests. If she's interested in buying something for the occasion or contributing financially, see if she wants to purchase the cake or some aspect of the flowers or décor.
On the day of the wedding, charge her with keeping your dad and the groomsmen on schedule, Vizcaino-S recommends. And let her know that she's expected to help take care of the guests and make sure that everyone feels welcome. "Not only does this help keep the guests comfortable, but it also takes the pressure off of the newlyweds," says Orlando.
In most cases, since a stepmom will essentially be hosting the event with the other parents, it's appropriate for her to welcome guests at the door and also take part in the processional. If those elements feel right, then you should also include her in the reception introductions, Orlando says. Nobody will think twice or wonder why there's an "extra" parent mention. And she'll feel immensely grateful to have had the honor to be part of the celebration.