Joanne P.: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Joanne P.: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Stepmom of: Michael 
Venue: 1774 Inn, Phippsburg, Maine
Vibe: Dressy outdoors 
Dress: Ralph Lauren

bride and groom with parents

Joanne was already thinking about what to wear for her stepson’s fall wedding at a seaside farm house in Maine. Then he and his bride, Sarah, surprised Joanne by asking her to officiate the outdoor ceremony, which influenced her search for the perfect dress.

“I wanted something fun and flowy; solid colored and conservative. Classic, but not boring,” Joanne says. “A tough combo.”

groom escorting stepmom outside farmhouse

Joanne’s online search kept producing gowns that were “too lacy or too plain.” After eliminating the strapless and one shoulder gowns that didn’t strike her as right for officiating, or for her frame, she remained empty handed. Rather than get hung up on something new, she returned to what worked: a navy Ralph Lauren dress borrowed from a friend earlier in 2023 for her daughter Claire’s small wedding on Lake Superior.

“It was the most comfortable dress I’d ever worn,” Joanne says. The long sleeves made it conservative enough for officiating. The wrap stye felt flattering. And the bands of tulle on the bottom half of the A-line skirt gave it a fun wink. For Claire’s wedding, she’d covered the dress with a wine-colored pashmina. Besides, there was no wedding guest crossover between the two events.

stepmother with groom officiates wedding

Decision made, she was able to focus on leading the ceremony for her stepson, whose mother passed away several years ago. She offers this advice to other officiants:

  • Keep it short. “It’s so tempting to bring up memories of your son/daughter but that might embarrass them and put too much focus on you."

  • Make it balanced. Don’t talk too much about your child—think about your future daughter/son-in-law, too. “I asked Sarah’s bridesmaids to answer two questions: how did Sarah describe Mike when she first told you about him? How does Mike bring out the best in Sarah?”

  • Remember that the officiant is a conduit. “The focus should be on the couple expressing their love and commitment. Spend time asking the bride and groom questions about their vision for the ceremony as well as what they do not want."

  • Plan ahead. “In advance of the ceremony, place your script/book where it needs to be so you don’t have to hold it walking in. It’s likely that you’ll be escorted, and holding the book felt awkward to me.”

| Photography by Two Adventurous Souls

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