Wedding Etiquette for Church Seating of Divorced Parents
- The first few rows at the church where the wedding ceremony is being held are sectioned off with ribbons for the immediate and extended family members of the bride and groom. Typically, about five rows are designated for family members. Not every member of the extended family will sit in these rows, though -- often, just close family members will sit in the front of the church. These seats can include ones for step-parents and step-siblings, if the bride and groom chooses.
- In divorced families, typically one of the parents raised the child more than the other parent. For example, the bride's parents may have divorced when she was very young, and even though she may get along well with both parents and be close to both her mother and father, her mother may have raised her most of the time and her daughter lived with her for most of the week. In this case, the mother, along with her new spouse, should sit in the first row of the church.
- The parent who didn't have as much of a hand in raising the child, for whatever reason, should be seated two rows behind the primary parent, along with their spouse, if they have one. An exception to this first-third row rule is if both parents -- and the new spouses -- get along well. In this case, and if they both agree, parents and spouses or step parents can sit together in the first row. It's best to ask each person how they feel about this arrangement beforehand.
- If a parent is elderly or handicapped, regardless of the divorce or new spouse situation, they should be seated in the first row on the end closest to an exit. Not only will they be able to hear and watch the ceremony better from close up, but it will also be easier to get somebody's attention or leave the room if there's an emergency.