Color Confusion: What to wear as a stepmother

by epi on June 27, 2012

Q: My husband and I have been married just under two years. We were both widowed and feel very blessed to shared our lives. My stepson is getting married in another state in May. As a stepmother, I am unsure of my role before and during the wedding. Also….the mother of the bride has told me she is wearing navy blue. The attendants are wearing stem green/cream dresses. This is a formal daytime wedding. Should I also wear navy blue? I’m not sure if that would be considered copying or blending. Navy is not a good color for me, but my best color, red, is not appropriate.

A: As stepmother, you are your husband’s wife and fill in as mom wherever appropriate. You are seated with your husband in the front row or pew during the ceremony, you are seated with him at the reception. You would be included in some photos, but would also make sure there are some photos of just your husband with the groom and/or bride and groom. You offer assistance in any way you can before the wedding, and participate in all events traditionally conducted by the groom and his family, including hosting a rehearsal dinner if that is in your plans. You would not wear the same color as the bride’s mother, nor as the attendants, but rather a color that is flattering to you and different from what they are wearing. While it is not inappropriate to wear red some people do see that as a problem so it is probably best not to consider it. Think about pastels, other shades of blue or green if flattering. . .just not white, cream or black, and definitely not the same color as the bride’s mother is wearing.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder June 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Dear EPI team,

Again, the Answer given is very well phrased. Indeed, the color red is one of attention asking, if analyzed as a color itself and that is not appropriate for this day.
Hope this stepmother will find a nice formal outfit for the day and feel happy in it.
Sincerely,

Mariette’s Back to Basics

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Alicia June 29, 2012 at 7:50 am

What shade of red makes a big difference cranberry red is absolutely appropriate bright cherry red well maybe not.

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Jessica June 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Dear Ms. Post,

I am getting married in October. My wedding is not traditional in the sense that my husband and I have been married for a year now. We were married at the court house for insurance reasons. We wanted to have the traditional wedding with our family and friends. My parents have been very gracious and are paying for the whole event. My husband’s family has not offered to help us at all.
I have decided not to have bridesmaids or groomsmen because I cannot ask people I care for and love to purchase dresses and pick up other expenses because I want them in my wedding. I’ve been in 3 weddings and did not think of it as an honor or privilege and in all honesty I haven’t spoken to any of the brides since their big day.
My question is we are not having a rehearsal dinner because it really is not a necessity. That is an expense the groom’s parents pay for. They have not offered a dime to us for any of the wedding. My husband has two sisters who have both had the traditional weddings costing over ten thousand dollars each. Should the groom’s parent be responsible for expenses since I am eliminating the rehearsal dinner? Should they contribute as much to our special day as they did for his sisters?
This situation is making me become bitter towards them and that is the last thing I want to do. My husband also mentioned to his father that we are helping out my parents especially with things that we really want (like a band vs a d.j.) and his father’s response was “I didn’t ask for help with your sisters’ weddings why do her parents need help”. This also has rubbed me the wrong way. His father does not know my parent’s financial situation and does not know that they gave us half of our wedding budget last year so we could put a down payment on a house. His parents also want to invite more people than what we have budgeted for but have not offered to pay for them.
My mother has no family members so her guest list is close friends, my father has 10 brother and sisters and my adult 1st cousins, and my husband has 3 different sets of families and everyone including his parents’ friends is expected to be invited. His father has 4 siblings plus their children. His mother has 3 siblings plus their children and the third family is a family that has adopted my husband’s immediate family years ago and there are 7 siblings plus their children. The children are all adults in each of our families and we have decided no one under 21 will be invited due to the amount of guest we can afford.
How to I approach his parents without becoming confrontational? I am losing sleep over this. My parents are not wealthy people and we just found out my husband is getting laid off from his job. We have already put money down on the venue, the caterer and the band so we really can’t cancel without losing money. Please help me. I don’t want to lose family over this stupid situation. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Winifred Rosenburg June 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

The old rules about parents paying for various aspects of a wedding are no longer in place. Now, if parents choose to contribute they may but they are under no obligation. There is nothing you can do to make your husbands parents chip in. What you are within your rights to do is to limit the guest list for the sake of your budget. Figure out how many people from your husband’s family you would like to have and tell his parents “we can only have X people from your side so let us know which X we should invite.”

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Alicia June 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Well nobody is required to pay for any portion of your party except you and your husband. It is lovely that you want to have this huge event but it is your and your husbands event. Parents are not required to pay for any portion of a party you make the choice to have or even a wedding if this was a wedding. You are having the event you must pay the bill. You and your husband need to host the event that you can afford and inviote only those guests that you can afford. That said the best choice since this is streaching your resources and you are already married may be simply to forgo the party and allow the sunk venue costs to be just that sunk cost not add to the cost by hosting a party that is beyond your means that way you only lose the lesser non refundable amount. Or scale the party way back to something you can afford to host.
You absolutely should not be having a fight in any way with your family over this party. It is time to stop assuming you have the right to others wallets.

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country girl June 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I’m sorry to say that the simple answer is that you don’t approach them for money. The time to have found out what, if anything, each family desired to contribute to this celebration was before the planning, and before any big decisions or purchases were made. Your husband’s family’s contribution, the same as your own family’s, is dependent on their own budget and desires to help, and is not determined by their past expenditures or demanded by you and your husband. They could have any number of reasons for not wanting or being able to afford contribute, and that is their choice to make. At this point, your husband can politely ask his parents if there is anything they would like to contribute to this celebration, but with the knowledge that they are absolutely not obligated to.

As for hiring caterers and musicians outside of your budget, that is unfortunately a mistake that you and husband are responsible to deal with instead of force onto his family. Your only option is to find out the cancellation policies of these vendors so you can scale back on your celebration without going broke or putting undo strain on your relationship with husbands family. I understand that you may be a little hurt, my own fiance’s family paid entirely for his brothers’ weddings and have thus not been able to contribute anything to ours’. So we also planned on scaling back on many parts of our wedding to make it fit our budget and I know it will turn our just wonderful anyway. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful celebration!

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Just Laura June 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I can’t find fault with any of the above answers. We can only afford what we can afford, and unfortunately we don’t all have the savings account of Donald Trump.

By the way, nice to see you again, Country Girl!

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Jen January 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Hi, I am having a hard time trying to figure out what to wear to my stepdaughter’s wedding. I have been in her life for 24 years of her 26 years and am very excited for her. I am driving myself crazy about what to wear, a gown or a dress? I don’t want to outdo the mother and I am not sure what is appropriate. Her mother and I used to be on good terms, once upon a time, so I am unaware of the color or type of dress she will be wearing. What do you suggest would be appropriate?

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Elizabeth January 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

It really depends on the wedding. Is it during the day or in the evening? Casual or formal? What is the bride wearing? I would discuss it with your stepdaughter and get her input. She likely knows what her mother is wearing and can steer you to a different color. She may even want to go shopping with you! Alternatively, you could pick up a couple of options, see which you both like best, and return what you don’t wear.

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