Q: Our daughter is getting married. My wife and I raised her from age 10 to 15 at which time she went to live with her mother. (I had raised her from 3 to 10 by myself.) She wants my wife to be a bridesmaid in the wedding and I do not think that is a proper way to honor her. My ex-wife and I will walk her down the aisle. What is the proper etiquette so that my wife is included even if she sits by me in the front row?

A: I want to begin by congratulating your family. The fact that your daughter is looking for a way to honor her bonusmom while you and her mother walk her down the aisle is a huge acknowledgment to how the adults in her life have worked together over the years in her best interest. Good for all of you!

Now to your question: Most will tell you that its inappropriate for your daughter to ask your wife to be a bridesmaid and the world of traditional wedding etiquette, it is, but technically, your daughter can ask anyone she wants to be in the bridal party — however, it may seem out of place because your wife will be quite a bit older than most of the other bridesmaids and she will be unable to sit with you because if she accepts, she will be standing with your daughter.

If your daughter is committed to asking your wife to be in the bridal party, rather than a bridesmaid, although unorthodox, she may want to consider asking her to be the matron of honor. Traditionally, the maid of honor is the unmarried best friend or sister of the bride. The matron of honor is usually a close friend or relative of the bride who is already married. Some brides choose only one maid of honor or matron of honor, but it’s perfectly fine to have one of each. They both stand to the left of the bride during the wedding ceremony. Their duties are the same, helping with the wedding planning and helping the bride to get ready on the wedding day. It’s also the responsibility of the maid of honor or matron of honor to plan a bridal or wedding shower, and that’s where asking your wife can get sticky. Most regard it inappropriate for the mother of the bride to host the bridal shower. It smacks of looking for hand-outs, but your wife isn’t really the mother of the bride — so this is an unexplored gray area.

Traditionally, if the mother of the bride and the bonusmom get along, the bonusmom works more behind the scenes, supporting the bride throughout the planning and helping the mother of the bride with her responsibilities. The bonusmom is also the one to look to for last-minute solutions to unforeseen problems and possibly oversees the guest book and direct people to the correct usher to guide guests to their seats. And, as you have mentioned, she sits next to you in the front row if the divorced parents get along, or next to you in the second row if the divorced parents are estranged.

More about this in my book, “Ex-etiquette for Weddings.” 

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at:

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