Post # 1
Okay, let me preface this by saying I really love my FFIL and FSMIL. They’re lovely people, very kind and were good parents to FI. That being said, FI’s parents divorced…oh, it’s going on 25 YEARS AGO NOW. And although usually everything family-related usually goes pretty smoothly, there have been IL-shaped speedbumps on this road to wedding planning. I casually mentioned to FSMIL when we had dinner with them on Sunday that I had started working on the seating chart and it was almost done. We have 8-ft rectangular tables that, under this particular tent, will be placed end-to-end in 2 rows. So really, there are 2 16-ft tables. I have seated FFIL and FSMIL next to my parents on one side of the table, with FMIL and FSFIL and some friends of the family on the other side of the table. They’re not directly across from one another. FFIL is at one end and FMIL is at the other. We wanted to seat our parents and grandparents together at the first two tables.
Fast-forward to tonight, I get home late after picking up dinner and some stuff for the wedding, and FI tells me his dad called and wants to talk to me, so I have to call him back. So I do and he says (very nicely) that he’s not comfortable sitting ANYWHERE NEAR FMIL and can I move him and FSMIL. No problem, I say. Your comfort comes first. I would never force them into a situation that is uncomfortable for them. Trouble is, when I asked him “How close is too close?” he didn’t really give me a specific answer.
So here is my dilemma: FI thinks they would be more comfortable sitting with the aunts and uncles from his side. Trouble is, their tables are on the opposite side of the dance floor (tents and tables are arranged in an L-shape, dance floor and head table are under the middle tent of the big side of the L, if that makes any sense) from the tables with our parents and grandparents. I would hate for them to think (or for other people to – his family can be vicious gossips and if they think we’ve snubbed them we’ll never live it down) that I’m putting them in a corner. I would really like for them to be in a place of honor, but if they won’t be comfortable, is it really worth it? And how would I even broach moving them without offending them? I mean, they did ask to be moved, but not, I imagine, to the other side of the dance floor. It’s just stressing me out because they all sat at one table at FSIL’s wedding and FMIL hasn’t made a fuss – why can’t everyone just pull it together for one meal?? I get it – this isn’t about me – it’s just so frustrating!!
So, what would you do? Move them to sit with their own family but away from the rest of the parents? Note that this table is right next to he head table, just on the opposide side. Or just move them way to the other end of the 16-ft table with the rest of our parents? They don’t know anyone except FMIL at that table. FFIL has never even met my parents. I was really hoping they could get to know each other sitting together but obviously that’s not going to happen. Or should I just do what FI says since it’s his family and risk the fallout? I really though I had the perfect setup, guys…all the families were separated the way they needed to be, awkwardness was going to be at a minimum…now this. So…advice, please!! Bees with divorced parents especially appreciated!
Post # 2
Move him to the aunts and uncles. Your FFIL is making it clear his priority at your wedding is to stay clear from his ex wife. He isn’t going to miss much seated further away except for you and your husband shoveling food in your mouths. If you planned on him toasting notify him about the course of the reception so he knows approximately when he will be tapped to make his way to over to you all.
Post # 3
capitalbee: First thing: get FI to do the talking. It’s equally FI’s wedding, but it is his father. (In fact I think it was rather poor of FI to not ask his dad what the issue was, rather than get you to call him back. But whatever).
Then, FI can give him a simple choice: head table, or with the aunts and uncles at a bit of a distance, If FFIL and his wife would rather the latter, then let them. But no point putting them at the head table if they don’t want to be there.
Post # 4
aussiemum1248: That’s a good idea. I just hate that that’s what it’s come to. FWIW, FI and his dad don’t communicate very well, so if he had discussed it with FI, it would have got lost in translation and everyone would just end up angry. We both thought it was a question about their computer, anyway, which FI couldn’t have answered haha 🙂
Post # 5
capitalbee: Have your FI give them a choice: as far as possible away from FMIl and FSFIL, but still at the same table, or seated with the aunts and uncles.
Don’t waste any energy worrying what people will think. Everyone at the wedding will know they are divorced and there are almost always issues around seating when that is the case.
Post # 6
I used to work for a catering company. Most weddings had two separate tables for the families at each end of the head table. They were rarely sat all together at one.
Maybe they sat together at your FSIL’s wedding and were extremely uncomfortable or maybe something was said that made them decide they did not want to do it again. Those are personal reasons and while they need to get along for the day I do understand not wanting to be right with an ex for hours.
As for your parents and his parents/steparents getting to know each other, your wedding is NOT the time or the place to be doing that. Honestly my parents have not even met my MIL. She could not come to our wedding because she had emergency surgery a couple weeks before. They most likely will never meet let alone get to know each other.
Post # 7
Could you put them on the same side of the table but with a fair few people in between them so that they would have to put quite some effort into leaning forward far enough to be able to see each other? Saying that, my top table looks like this:
FMIL – my mum – Me – Groom – FFIL – My dad
My step dad – MOH Best man – grooms granny
Post # 8
Thanks for your advice, everyone. I guess I’m having difficulty with this because FFIL has guilt-tripped us a number of times because he doesn’t feel included enough in our lives/wedding, and this really upsets FI when it happens, which really upsets me. Then we try to make sure they know they’re important by seating them with the rest of the guests of honour, so-to-speak, and they refuse. I do, however, realize this and the ex issue are completely separate and I shouldn’t be associating them with each other. It was nice to be able to vent my feelings though, so thanks for that everyone and for your great advice! I’ve asked FI to call his dad and give him the option of being seated as far away as possible from FMIL at the parents’ table, or with his siblings.
Post # 9
capitalbee: Leave them at the same table but as far apart as you can. At a long table, you’re only going to converse with the people in your immediate vicinity so they can easily avoid one another.
Frankly, unless the divorce was bitter I don’t see why he’s making a fuss. Is this more about the step-mother and what SHE wants?
Post # 10
Zhabeego: I only know bits and pieces, but FFIL has been divorced twice and to hear him tell it, he was the victim in both marriages. I know that’s not the case, though. FSMIL has actually been an angel during this whole process. I was really surprised. She attended my shower with FMIL and was totally pleasant and civil. Anyway, it’ll work out.
Post # 11
Can you just show them the seating chart and work out where they’d like to sit? Then if anyone complains you could say that they chose the seating themselves. It sounds very complicated!!