A wedding is a very special gathering of family and friends. Planning the seating arrangement for parents at a wedding is often overlooked. Proper seating arrangements have a bearing on how close you are to your parents. They should have the place of honor as you will not have a wedding if they did not bring you into this world. Here are tips on how to seat parents at a wedding.
- The two sections of wedding hall should be assigned to both families, one section for the bride and the other one for the groom. Traditionally the left side is the bride’s side and the right is the groom’s side. This is reversed in Jewish ceremonies. Talk with your officiant if you are in doubt.
- Grandparents should seat with the parents on the first row. There is an order to this when ushering out the families of the bride and the groom - last in, first out. Grandparents should be seated first, near the outside aisle, as they will the last to be escorted out of the wedding hall. The mother sits with the grandparents, together with the father. The father should be seated on the outside since he will be escorting the bride into the hall. The mother should be seated nearest to the inner aisle, as she will be the first to be ushered out. Siblings, aunts and uncles should occupy the rest of the seats and the next row or two.
- If the parents are divorced, the one with the new family may sit in the next row together with the new family and/or relatives. If they are on civil terms, the father or mother can sit with the grandparents, separated by other close relatives.
- In cases where the bride’s stepfather will give her away, the bride’s own father and his new spouse should be led to their seats, a row or two away from the front row after the grandparents have taken their seats. The bride’s mother should be escorted to her seat beside the grandparents after the ex-husband and his wife have taken their seats.
- If the bride is close to the stepmother, the stepmother can be reserved a seat behind the bride’s grandparents and mother. If this is not the case, and there is tension between parties, the stepmother and the bride’s father should be seated early. They should be several rows away from the bride’s grandparents.
- If the divorced parents are still unattached, the bride’s parents can still sit in the same row, but separated by other relatives. Or the parents may elect to sit together with other close relatives. The father can also choose to sit among the groom’s relatives.
- Make sure that the front seats reserved for grandparents, parents and siblings are not obscured by huge floral arrangements. They need a clear view of the whole ceremony and of course, they should be unimpeded when they want to take pictures.
Should there be a big difference in the number of relatives between the bride and groom, make sure that the ushers, usherettes and wedding coordinators know about this in advance and make arrangements to keep the seating arrangement in a balance. This will require seating other friends, distant relatives and other guests on either side.