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How to Handle a Wedding as a Step-Parent

Being a step-parent can be a tricky role - add a wedding into the mix and it can get even trickier! Here's how to cope if you're struggling with your role as step-parent of the bride or groom

step parent at a wedding
Pexels/Maryia Plashchynskaya

step parent at a wedding
Pexels/Maryia Plashchynskaya

Weddings are full of roles - everyone in the wedding party will have their responsibilities clearly defined and delegated to them by the couple as they plan. But there’s one role that is often overlooked, despite it being increasingly common as more and more people become part of blended families: the role of the step-parent. 

It’s not always easy to be a step-parent, and this feeling can be amplified at large events and family gatherings - such as a wedding. If you’re feeling a bit lost and unsure of your role, that’s normal.

We asked Life Coach Grace McMahon for her tips and advice on how to handle your role as a step-parent of the bride or groom. 

“Being a step-parent can be hard work – work which is often overlooked when it comes to recognition,” explains Grace. “We accommodate new children, adapt our lives to fit around them, and strive to make sure they are just as happy as we’d like our own children to be. Whether you’re a step-parent who's been around since the early years, or a more recent addition to the family, navigating the wedding of a step-child can be daunting - but it doesn’t need to be.”

It can help to remind yourself of the following as you try and find your place amidst all the wedding planning: “At the end of the day, the wedding is about two people committing to each other, loving each other, and starting a new chapter in life together. And although many family members feel their say is very important, or that certain traditions must be carried out, it is the happy couple’s day, and they have the final say,” says Grace. “Weddings involve some of the most impossible tasks – often, trying to please as many people as possible. This means that if you aren’t ascribed a starring role, or any role at all, it’s imperative to remember your role in their life is still an important one, and the wedding day isn’t designed to recognise the role parents have played in the couple’s life.”

wedding party
Pexels/Soner Gorkem

How to Navigate a Wedding as a Step-Parent of the Bride or Groom

Grace shares her top three tips on how to cope in your role as a step-parent, when you may not have a clearly defined role in the wedding:


If you have strong feelings towards parts of the ceremony, the reception, or another part of the day, have an open conversation with your step-child. Unaired concerns or qualms will only bubble up to become bigger issues in the long run (especially if you’re eager or anxious for something). 

If you have ideas or creative moments, share them with the couple – they perhaps hadn’t thought of it or hadn’t figured out a way to have 10 bridesmaids and all their children as flower girls and page boys. 

If you’re feeling a little left out, overlooked or just anxious about how you fit in the day - communicate. Share how you feel and allow them to share with you how they are feeling. Make sure you listen to the couple’s decision - you can always ask for reassurance if you’re feeling vulnerable. Don’t let self-talk dampen the spirits for what will be a wonderful day - whether you’re up at the altar with them or a few rows back.

Be Patient

Remember how many people are involved in a wedding. The couple are surely keen to take as many opportunities as possible to show their gratuity and love for you – but many will have pipped you to the post. Grandparents, tradition-obsessed aunts and uncles, eager family friends – all of whom will be bending couple’s arms to ‘do the right thing’. 

It’s a stressful thing to organise a wedding, impossible to please everyone and themselves, so be patient for your role and if the decision is to be a guest, then be a wholesome guest, there to celebrate the couple.

Be Mindful

Bride hugging parent
Pexels/Cleyder Duque

Be mindful of the other wedding party members. If you’ve had rocky relationships with your partner’s ex, avoid conflicting topics of conversation. If there’s still an air of discomfort, try not to bite. Let it wash over you - weddings are dramatic enough without family feuds and alcohol fuelled rants about who should have paid for the dress and the venue. 

As a step-parent, you are more likely to be in the firing line, especially if relationships between parents and the co-parenting process haven’t been easy. The wedding is not the day to air all your parental concerns of the last decade; the day is for celebrating.

Weddings are a celebration of love, they are fun and happy times, so take on the role like a champ or sit back and enjoy being a guest. If you are worried, share this with your step-child, acknowledge their situation and the difficulty for them, and voice what you’re worried about so you are all on the same page when it comes to the big day!

You can read more about feeling left out of wedding planning here.