It’s a challenge trying to keep everyone happy when planning your wedding, and who to seat at the top table when your parents are divorced can be particularly worrying. As Confetti’s wedding expert I have answered thousands of your letters over the years, and now I’m sharing my advice to help others with the same dilemmas.
Q: How do we reorganise the top table for divorced parents?
I have a dilemma over our top table. My h2b’s parents are divorced, his dad remarried but his mum is single. It is not amicable, and his dad is unlikely to come if he’s not sat with his wife; we want to include her but it leaves an odd number on the top table. Should we just have an odd number or should we leave one of the bridesmaids off the table and would that be strange? Any suggestions would greatly reduce my stress…
A: The wedding expert on the top table for divorced parents
This is a very common question and an issue you can resolve in a number of ways. The simplest thing to do – as long as everyone is in agreement – is usually just to add extra places at the top table for new partners. If it is not amicable though or that makes the top table too long then yes it would be wiser to take the maid of honour and/best man off and seat them elsewhere. However, it can be a better idea to have just your best man and maid of honour seated with you while your parents and your fiancé’s parents and respective partners sit at different tables, along with other close family members, right next to the top table. That way everyone is seated with people they feel comfortable with, and that’s so important on your big day.
The other, even more alternative option for you to consider, is to have a simple ‘sweetheart’ top table just for you and your groom. That way no one feels left out at all. This is also a good option for anyone whose divorced parents do not wish to sit at the same table as each other.
I am a great believer in breaking the rules, as wedding etiquette is, in my opinion, to be used as a guide. You should not feel that you cannot adapt this guiding set of rules to give a more positive outcome. It is your wedding, so it is your choice.
Don’t let it stress you out. Talk about it with your husband-to-be and then discuss it with your parents and venue and make a decision everyone is comfortable with from there. Then your peace of mind will return.
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.