How To Seat Divorced Parents For a Wedding Ceremony

Ceremony & Vows, Etiquette
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Photo: Marie Labbancz of Art of Love

Usually, guests can seat themselves for a wedding ceremony (within the rules, of course: In Christian ceremonies, the bride's family sits on the left, the groom's on the right. In a Jewish ceremony, it's the opposite; the bride and her family are on the right, the groom and his are on the left). But when divorced parents are involved on either the bride's or groom's side, some advance planning may be needed. How do you coordinate this? Our wedding etiquette experts are here to answer your ceremony questions in our daily post.

My fiancé's parents went through a bitter divorce and his dad has since remarried. What's the best way to seat them (and their respective family members) at my wedding ceremony?

Have them sit in separate pews—with a buffer row in between—to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Usually, the easiest way to figure it out is using this rule of thumb: The parent who was mostly responsible for raising your fiancé should sit in the front pew with his or her escort. That may be a more difficult decision in joint custody upbringings, in which case, consider who may arrive earlier, who would need to sit closer, or who (if either) paid for more of the wedding. Siblings and grandparents can sit in the row behind them. The other parent and his or her escort occupy the third pew along with family and honored guests. You'll want to seat them at separate tables at the reception, too.

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