Managing divorced parents

If your parents are separated or divorced, there are areas of your special day that will require careful handling and meticulous planning if the day is to run smoothly and remain as tension-free as possible.Trying to manage split families and new stepfamilies can become very confusing, combine that with wedding protocol you may feel having an amicable wedding is impossible, however it is possible so please read further for some practical advice.

Where should people sit during the ceremony?

Traditionally, the bride’s parents sit in the front pew on the left hand side of the church. It isn’t appropriate for a casual lover to sit with either parent; they would be better positioned with other guests during the ceremony. It is acceptable for step-parents to be seated in the front pew provided relations are good. Ensure that everyone knows where they will be seated in advance to avoid confusion and awkwardness on the day.

Split the duties

Etiquette states that it should be the father of the bride who walks her down the aisle. However, if you are not close to your father or were raised by your stepfather, it can cause a great dilemma. Why not choose a man you feel close to, for example a brother or even a grandfather. Alternatively there is nothing wrong with your mother walking you down the aisle. Another option is to split the normal duties of the day between a natural father and step father. Perhaps traveling from home to the ceremony with one and walking down the aisle with another, think about who would give a better speech or indeed have 2 speeches!

I’m not sitting next to him! Coping with seating plans at the reception

As the top table is the focus of the wedding breakfast, any underlying tensions between ex-partners will inevitably be spotted.

Traditional Order








Best Man



If you are unable to have the traditional order and don’t wish to mix step parents on the top table then another option would be to get sets of parents/step parents to host separate tables. The top table could be just be for the bride and groom with their attendants, I have done this at many client weddings. Or how about a romantic sweetheart top table for two?

What about the photos?

Spend some time with your photographer before your big day to explain the family set up and discuss your requirements. It’s important to be sensitive where photography is concerned. After all, it’s a lasting memory of the day and you want everyone to look happy and relaxed. Let him/her know which shots you would like taken and also seek their advice A professional photographer will have seen numerous family arrangements and will be able to make suggestions for your wedding. Also speak to your parents, find out their feelings about being photographed with their former spouse. Being prepared with knowledge of how everyone feels should enable you to plan so that the day runs as smoothly as possible. Hopefully, any warring couples will put aside their differences for one day – the wedding day of their child.

And finally

Communication is the key to a hitch-free wedding day. Ensure everything is discussed well before the event. Perhaps talk to the parent to whom you feel closest and discuss your feelings and dilemmas. Be up front and frank about what you are thinking and your concerns. Try to work through options together. There are many different solutions to resolve even the most complicated family issues that may present themselves on your wedding day, the golden rule is to choose the one that makes you feel most at ease and make everyone aware of your choice.


Photo Credit: Kerry Morgan & Mydas Photography

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