Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Where to seat quarreling in-laws?

My fiance and I just got engaged, and have been discussing parts of the wedding to get an idea of a budget (we're both E3s in the military, so we need to start saving as soon as possible because we don't get paid all that much). 

During the time of our engagement, his parents will be divorcing and his father will be remarrying, and certain circumstances in this have caused there to be tension between his immediate family(he, his mother and his brother) and his father and his intended (not that his father isn't his immediate family or anything. It's just the best wording I have). That considered, we have no idea where the hell to seat his father's party. 

Tradition says that we put both his parents in the front row with the step parent included, or we can exclude the stepparent and/or his father entirely by putting them in the third row. However, I feel like it would be rude to seat his father and/or would-be stepmother in a different row than his mother and brother, especially considering that my parents, including my stepmother, will be seated in the front row because they get along great, and separating HIS parents in a way I did not separate my own seems like it would be alienating and highlighting that there is an issue rather than an attempt to make the wedding as peaceful as possible. His parents would keep the peace at the wedding because, well, it's a wedding and they have home training, but I'm more concerned about the reception, and seating them at the parents table or at a head table with us next to each other considering alcohol will be present and the reception is more of a social setting than the ceremony itself. 

Has anyone else had an issue with this and what did you do to solve it? We have plenty of time to figure it out, but we don't even have a clue where to start other than to ask the two sides to get along, which can't be promised considering his family has no problem telling people off, even each other.
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Re: Where to seat quarreling in-laws?

  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Do not separate them in the wedding. If they can't be adults in a place where they don't even have to talk to each other, that's not your fault. They should put the love of their MUTUAL child first over their anger with each other. 

    With the reception, I would reserve tables for family and allow them to sit with the family members of their choices. I would not seat them with the bridal party or at a parents table.

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  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    For the wedding his Father and his new wife should be seated in the front row.  It isn't like they will have to interact during the ceremony, they just have to sit there and at least have a some what pleasant look on their face.

    For the reception sit your FI Dad and his new wife with members of the Dad's side of the family. And do the same with your FI Mom.  

    There are no rules when it comes to where people should and should not sit.  I have never heard of the "move them to the third row" rule in my entire life.  And there doesn't have to be a designated parents table.  You sit people with who they like and get along with, not by some weird rules that you read some where.

    And I hate head tables.  I would just have you and your FI sit at a sweetheart table and let your wedding party sit with friends or family.

    OliveOilsMomhuskypuppy14
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Ditto Maggie.  Allow each of your parents to host their own table at the reception.  Even though your mom & dad get along, let them have their own tables at the reception to enjoy with their family/friends.  I asked my parents and MIL who they wanted to have at their tables first, then planned the rest of the seating chart.

    Also, make sure that your FILs tables are placed equidistance from you at your table.  Also put them on opposite sides of the room to keep them mostly separated. 

  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its

    My fiance and I just got engaged, and have been discussing parts of the wedding to get an idea of a budget (we're both E3s in the military, so we need to start saving as soon as possible because we don't get paid all that much). 

    During the time of our engagement, his parents will be divorcing and his father will be remarrying, and certain circumstances in this have caused there to be tension between his immediate family(he, his mother and his brother) and his father and his intended (not that his father isn't his immediate family or anything. It's just the best wording I have). That considered, we have no idea where the hell to seat his father's party. 

    Tradition says that we put both his parents in the front row with the step parent included, or we can exclude the stepparent and/or his father entirely by putting them in the third row. However, I feel like it would be rude to seat his father and/or would-be stepmother in a different row than his mother and brother, especially considering that my parents, including my stepmother, will be seated in the front row because they get along great, and separating HIS parents in a way I did not separate my own seems like it would be alienating and highlighting that there is an issue rather than an attempt to make the wedding as peaceful as possible. His parents would keep the peace at the wedding because, well, it's a wedding and they have home training, but I'm more concerned about the reception, and seating them at the parents table or at a head table with us next to each other considering alcohol will be present and the reception is more of a social setting than the ceremony itself. 

    Has anyone else had an issue with this and what did you do to solve it? We have plenty of time to figure it out, but we don't even have a clue where to start other than to ask the two sides to get along, which can't be promised considering his family has no problem telling people off, even each other.
    I agree with PP. Sit them all in the front row. Tell them of your plans, if someone does;t want to sit in the same row then they can sit in the second row - problem solved. You didn't alienate anyone, if they want to put their contempt on display by not sharing a pew that's their call.

    I would let each parent select who sits at their table - friends, family or otherwise from the guest list - like Olive said.
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • Everyone in the front row for the ceremony.
    Different tables for the reception.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I'm going to go against everyone else and say I see no problem why the father can't go into the second row, if they truly can not sit in the same row for an hour.  Sad, but I don't find it a big deal if the are in different rows.  Now sure why you skipped to the third row.    To me that would be a bigger slight then them just sitting a row apart.

    None of the parents should be separated from their spouses or SO.  That should never be an option.


    The reception I would ask each parent who they want to sit with. Some divorced parents get along fine and they want to sit together at the reception.  Others can get along at the ceremony, but having dinner with their ex is a little too much to handle.

    We asked my parents (who are together) and MIL who they want to sit with.  My parents picked my siblings (and spouses) and one of my BMs  (we didn't have a HT).   MIL picked DH's siblings (and dates) and her sister.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    MairePoppy
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited December 2014

    I don't see it as an insult to seat the FOG, his S/O and their entourage in the second row. MOG can take the front row with her entourage. I hope if you don't make a big deal of it, then neither will they.

    ETA - @lyndausvi and @alexandducky412 The MOG will be in the second row; the FOG is seated in the third row if the wedding party is seated in the first row- such as in a Catholic wedding. If the wedding party is standing the MOG gets first row, the FOG gets second row.

                       
    photokittyOliveOilsMom
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its

    I don't see it as an insult to seat the FOG, his S/O and their entourage in the second row. MOG can take the front row with her entourage. I hope if you don't make a big deal of it, then neither will they.

    ETA - @lyndausvi and @alexandducky412 The MOG will be in the second row; the FOG is seated in the third row if the wedding party is seated in the first row- such as in a Catholic wedding. If the wedding party is standing the MOG gets first row, the FOG gets second row.

    That is true, but is what she said:

    "Tradition says that we put both his parents in the front row with the step parent included, or we can exclude the stepparent and/or his father entirely by putting them in the third row. However, I feel like it would be rude to seat his father and/or would-be stepmother in a different row than his mother and brother, especially considering that my parents, including my stepmother, will be seated in the front row because they get along great, "

    So I was confused how we went from first rows to him in the third row.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    MairePoppy
  • You could always seat him on the opposite side of the aisle in the front row, if he can't get along well enough to sit next to his ex-wife for half an hour. There's no law saying the bride and groom's families can't intermingle.

    For my wedding, we had a head table that was only me and H, best man and his wife, MOH and her BF, which was right in the center at the back of the room. Other wedding party members and their families were seated at other round tables. My dad and step family got a table directly to our left, my mom and her sisters/BILs were directly in front of us. Cousins sat between them, diagonally from us. Both tables were technically equidistant from us. 

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    STARMOON44
  • alexandducky412alexandducky412 Jacksonville, NC member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    You could always seat him on the opposite side of the aisle in the front row, if he can't get along well enough to sit next to his ex-wife for half an hour. There's no law saying the bride and groom's families can't intermingle.

    For my wedding, we had a head table that was only me and H, best man and his wife, MOH and her BF, which was right in the center at the back of the room. Other wedding party members and their families were seated at other round tables. My dad and step family got a table directly to our left, my mom and her sisters/BILs were directly in front of us. Cousins sat between them, diagonally from us. Both tables were technically equidistant from us. 
    The plan was to mix the families together and not do the "pick a side" deal, especially considering we're having a beach wedding that isn't super formal, and the only reason the mention of seating rules besides "parents in the front" got mentioned is because my aunt brought it up in response to he and I mentioning his parents. It's looking like my best option is to ignore my aunt's older traditions and seat people how me and my fiance want them seated.
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  • alexandducky412alexandducky412 Jacksonville, NC member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    lyndausvi said:

    I don't see it as an insult to seat the FOG, his S/O and their entourage in the second row. MOG can take the front row with her entourage. I hope if you don't make a big deal of it, then neither will they.

    ETA - @lyndausvi and @alexandducky412 The MOG will be in the second row; the FOG is seated in the third row if the wedding party is seated in the first row- such as in a Catholic wedding. If the wedding party is standing the MOG gets first row, the FOG gets second row.

    That is true, but is what she said:

    "Tradition says that we put both his parents in the front row with the step parent included, or we can exclude the stepparent and/or his father entirely by putting them in the third row. However, I feel like it would be rude to seat his father and/or would-be stepmother in a different row than his mother and brother, especially considering that my parents, including my stepmother, will be seated in the front row because they get along great, "

    So I was confused how we went from first rows to him in the third row.
    Oh, I had no idea either. I was following seating rules my aunt brought up and when I asked where the second row went, I got the equivalent of "don't question Christian traditions." 

    Part of me wants to tell her that the practice is apparently Catholic, not Baptist, but I'm pretty sure she'd just tell me I hate Jesus. Again.
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    MairePoppyOliveOilsMomHeatherKat
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    you just need to bean dip your Aunt.   I think parents are traditionally in the front row, regardless of religion or lack there of.   But it's not a tradition forcible by law.

    So If your in-laws truly can't sit for an hour or so then put mom in the first row, dad and wife in the second row.  No one is going to really think much about that, except of course your aunt.    

    Banning dad to the 3rd row would be more of a slight IMO.  






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its

    Oh, this an auntie that's worried about who's going to sit where? Just thank her for her for sharing her thoughts and do whatever you like.

                       
    OliveOilsMomJen4948theartistformerlyknownasSTARMOON44
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Just disregard whatever Christian tradition your aunt is trying to bestow upon your wedding.  Do the seating how you and FI see it best.

    FWIW, At every Catholic wedding (a bunch) and the Methodist wedding I attended, the WP would sit in the front row and the parents in the 2nd row.  Depending on the size and layout of the church, sometimes the BM & MOH would sit on the altar with the B&G.  But for the beach wedding, non-denominational wedding, and hotel wedding I attended, the WP stood off to the side of the B&G during the ceremony.  So really, there is no right or wrong, just what works best for you and your ceremony.  
  • Every time I see this thread it reminds me of premarriage sessions we attended where the counselor answered "Where do we seat family who cannot get along, for the wedding or reception?"
    by saying "put one group of time out chairs in the north parking lot and one group in the south side lot, and tell the people that they can come inside when they stop focusing on their petty quarrels and act like civilized people."

    We don't indulge our young children by rearranging school classrooms and car and bus seating to accommodate antisocial and dysfunctional behavior, why do it for adults at a wedding?
    ohannabelle
  • Every time I see this thread it reminds me of premarriage sessions we attended where the counselor answered "Where do we seat family who cannot get along, for the wedding or reception?" by saying "put one group of time out chairs in the north parking lot and one group in the south side lot, and tell the people that they can come inside when they stop focusing on their petty quarrels and act like civilized people." We don't indulge our young children by rearranging school classrooms and car and bus seating to accommodate antisocial and dysfunctional behavior, why do it for adults at a wedding?
    I was just about to suggest the parking lot, for those reasons. That's hilarious!
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