How to Make Your Wedding Reception Seating Chart When Family Dynamics Are…Complicated

Where to seat your, or his, or BOTH of your divorced and remarried parents? Our experts weigh in

Updated 02/22/17

Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

You’ve made a guest list, sent out the invitations, and now it’s time to work on the wedding reception seating chart. It’s a dreaded task that’s often made harder by family politics, and having divorced and remarried parents falls right into that camp. So what’s the best way to seat your guests when it’s a little more complicated than just “his and her family”? Here are a few tips from our experts.

Seating divorced and remarried parents at your wedding requires a little extra sensitivity. Unless your parents are still good friends and are happy to spend time with one another even post-divorce, you’ll probably end up with some extra VIP and head tables, but it’s nothing to lose sleep over!

Think about your venue’s floor plan, as well as where you’re planning to sit at your own reception. If the two of you have opted for a sweetheart table instead of seats at the head table, you’ll have a lot less to worry about. Simply put yourselves in the best spot in the house, then reserve as many parents' tables as necessary in prime locations. They should be relatively close to the two of you, as well as close to the dance floor, and the seats for your parents should have a great view of the newlyweds and all the action (like toasts and the first dance). This might mean a less-than-prime spot for your wedding party, but as long as they’re also close to the fun, you’re in great shape.

If you’ve chosen to seat yourselves at the head table with your wedding party, there’s a little more juggling involved. There are only so many tables next to yours, after all! If there's one set of parents who aren’t divorced, begin by giving them a table next to yours, as you would normally. Then turn your attention to the divorced couple. If possible, put one next to your table and the other behind you (so you have parents to the left, to the right, and behind the head table). No room? Seat two sets of parents to one side, with one table immediately next to you and one diagonally adjacent, and the third set of parents next to you on the other side.

Not sure what to do about step-families? Let your parents decide. They can either have your step-siblings sitting with them or opt to sit with their families and friends instead. Then you can seat your step-siblings as you would any other relatives, either with cousins or friends they already know or with people you think they’d like.

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