Four planners dish on the best way to include both important women in the ceremony and reception.
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If the bride or groom has both a loving mother and stepmother, they'd naturally want to include both women in the wedding, especially if the latter has been in the family for years. The situation gets complicated, however, when you start to consider what each woman's role in the festivities will look like. Dividing big-day duties between the two moms can cause infinite frustration since you want to avoid hurt feeling and awkward encounters. Here, four planners give their tips for including your both your mother and your stepmother in the wedding with ease.

Understand the Family Dynamics

While some moms and stepmoms coexist without issue, others can't stand to be in the same room. According to Meredith Sipe, owner of Blue Fancy Events, you'll need to figure out which camp your family falls into before you do anything else. "If you're one of those lucky couples that has a mother and stepmother that get along well, then you will have all the more reason to celebrate at your wedding," she says. "Include your stepmom in whatever way feels right to you." If, however, bad blood runs between the women, consider splitting up wedding tasks based on their interests and skills. "The last thing you want to do is to set yourself up for a poisonous environment on one of the most important days of your life," adds Sipe. "An open, honest conversation with both moms can be all that it takes. If not, you may need to keep them seated across the room from one another."

Get Ready Together

If both women get along, it can be nice to invite both your mother and your stepmother to join you as you get ready. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes to scrutinize your hair and makeup, you'll make both women feel included in the big day. If tension exists between the women, consider splitting time in the bridal suite, or ask just your mother to join you, but give your stepmother other important tasks. According to Calder Clark, owner and creative director of Calder Clark, this can be a great way to help both women feel involved. "Our favorite duty to pass along to stepparents is to enlist their support on welcome gift delivery or day-of-the-wedding snacks for the bridal party!" she says.

Participate in the Ceremony

Gift both your mom and your stepmom a corsage to wear throughout the big day, regardless of whether they're participating in the ceremony. Clark also recommends listing both women in the ceremony program. According to Katie Colosi, director of events at Laurie Arons Special Events, stepmothers can also participate in the ceremony processional, but they should always be seated before the biological mothers of the wedding couple. "If the bride's father is escorting her down the aisle, we recommend the rest of the processional is ordered like this: father of the groom and groom's stepmother, stepmother of the bride and escort, mother of the groom and groom's stepfather, and mother of the bride and bride's stepfather." In terms of seating, the mother of the bride usually sits in the front row aisle seat. If you're close with your stepmother, make sure she gets an equally great seat, whether it's in the across the aisle or directly behind the birth mother.

Conduct Readings or Toasts

Do you want a stepmother to play an important role in the wedding? Jennifer Thye, owner of Imoni Events, suggests asking her to conduct readings and prayers during the ceremony. Brides or grooms can also honor their stepmother by mentioning her in a reception toast. Colosi adds, "If the bride or groom is very close to her stepmom, asking her to give a short toast will truly make her feel a part of this special time!"

Dance with the Groom

Traditionally, a groom dances with his mother during the reception. There are a few ways he can handle the situation with a stepmother: dancing only with his mother, dedicating a separate dance to both his mother and stepmother, or splitting one song between the two ladies. A groom should think about his relationship with the women and choose the best option for the dynamic.


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