Separate Seating: Where to seat divorced parents

by epi on May 9, 2012

Q: What is the proper seating at the church and reception for a wedding with one set of parents divorced? The groom’s parents are a couple and the bride’s parents are divorces, both with other partners.

A: When parents are divorced, the mother of the bride or groom most usually is seated in the front row or pew either alone or with her spouse or a companion of her choice. Members of her immediate family are seated behind her, and the father is seated three or so rows back with his spouse, alone, or with a companion of his choice. At the reception, divorced parents are not seated at the same table. Rather each “hosts” his or her own table of friends/relatives. Divorced parents should not be treated as a couple, including in photographs. It is fine for the bride to have a picture taken with her father alone, and her father and stepmother, if he is remarried; and another with her mother alone, and her mother and stepfather, if she is remarried. But, if the bride feels that she would like to have a photograph with both of her birth parents together for sentimental reasons, this is also perfectly acceptable.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney June 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Thank you for bringing up the potential photo issues. My parents are still married, but my fiance’s parents are both remarried. I know we will be taking a wide variety of family photos to accommodate everyone. Most likely one with both sets of families. Mine is just me, mom, dad, and brother. His is mom, dad, step dad, step mom, brother, half brother , step sister 1 and 2. We aren’t close with the step sisters or step mom but would definitely need them in a picture. However, I would love to have a picture with my parents and both of his birth parents. We can also do one with my parents and then his mom and spouse and another photo with dad and his spouse too just to make sure we get all the combos. I really would like to be able to frame the photo of just us and our parents. It is so much less complicated. We can put the big family photo somewhere else in our house. I feel bad wanting that but looking at it black and white…these are our parents and why we are here and that won’t ever change. They are amicable so I think it should be a fair request. Please be nice in your replies but does anyone have a strong opinion the other way?

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Jody June 13, 2012 at 8:34 am

Courtney, I think you’ve come up with an excellent solution. Your photos will reflect all combinations and no parent/stepparent/step-sibling should feel left out. If the parents are amicable, and it’s what you want, I can’t foresee any issues.

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Rebecca Coe August 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

How does the seating chart work for divorced parents? Both Father and step-father are walking her down the isle, one of each side. I know they sit by their spouses but who goes in 1st, Mom, Step Mom/ where do they sit all of 1st row? Who’s on isle seat Father or stepdad, Mom, Father, Step Mom on same row/

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Elizabeth August 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

There are no hard and fast rules for such things. Try not to see the seating in terms of ‘priority’ or ‘importance’, and rather just have the person standing closest to the seat scootch in first. Seating position really has no significance.

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