Q: My parents want to seat their older friends and family members in the good seats near the head tables. I don't want to offend my friends, whom I want near me and the dance floor. Where's the compromise

A: For the same reasons that you might give up your subway seat to an elderly woman, you should consider conceding to your parents' wishes. To make everyone happy, explain the seating arrangements to your friends. "If you explain the situation in advance, they won't be surprised and hurt when they walk in and find themselves seated at the back of the room," says Sylvia Bigelson, author of The Ties That Bind...And Bind...And Bind (Element Books). Remind your parents that older guests may in fact prefer sitting away from the band because they want a quieter area. Seat your friends (who will be doing most of the dancing) at the prime tables, but have chairs at the edge of the dance floor where the older guests can sit and watch the action.

See all questions about wedding receptions etiquette

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