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What role should stepparents play at your wedding?

Wedding days can be fraught with family politics and drama on a good day, but if your parents are divorced and remarried, adding stepparents into the mix can be confusing. What role should everyone play?

Well, that depends.

First, how close are you with your stepmother or stepfather? Are they like an additional parent to you, or merely your parent’s spouse? The size of the stepparent’s role in your wedding should correspond to the closeness of your relationship.

Second, how long has this person been in your life? If you’ve known your stepparent(s) since you were a child, they’ve likely played a larger role in your life and upbringing. If your parent is recently remarried, you may not know the new spouse as well.

So, what do you do?

No matter what your relationship, Martha Stewart Weddings says you should start from a place of respect. Whether you like it or not, your stepparents are VIPs at your wedding because they are your parents’ spouses. How to handle some tricky situations:

Invitation: It is generally expected that you will include your parents and stepparents on your invitation, especially if they have had a hand in raising you or are helping to pay for the wedding. If that’s too confusing, some couples opt for “Together with their parents, John and Sue invite you …”

Saying Thanks: Include stepparents when you list your parents and bridal party in your program or wedding website. It’s a respectful way to say thank you and make sure no one is left out.

VIP Status: If you’re giving corsages and boutonnieres to parents and grandparents, make sure your stepparents get flowers, too.

Seating: Ceremony and reception seating can cause you fits. If everyone gets along well, seat them all in the front row, or put Mom and her spouse in the front row and Dad and his spouse right behind her in the second. At the reception, let each parent and their spouse head their own table with relatives and friends from that side of the family.

Special Situations: Here are some other situations to consider if you have stepparents:

  • Walking down the aisle: If you are close to your dad and your stepfather, ask both to walk you down the aisle or have one walk you halfway and the other walk you the rest of the way.
  • Parties: If your stepmother wants to host a bridal shower for you, she can do so with guests from her side of the family.
  • Special dances: Again, how you handle this depends on how close you are to your stepparents. If you’d like to honor a stepfather or stepmother with a special dance, you could split the father-daughter or mother-son dance in half, or you could set aside a second dance later in the evening for your stepparent.

No matter what you’re planning in any of these situations, make sure everyone involves knows the plan in advance. You’ll save yourself a lot of drama and hurt feelings.