Post # 1
Just had a horrible conversation with my Dad and his new wife. She is very upset that she will not be sitting next to my Dad at the top table of the wedding meal.
We are from Scotland and getting married there. The traditional top table set up, that I would very much like to stick to, is (from left to right) Maid of Honour, Father of the Groom, Mother of the Bride, Groom, Bride, Father of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Best Man.
When talking to my Dad and his wife over Skype, I asked her if she would be okay sitting with her daughter at the first table. She said no and after me not immediately giving in, she started crying and went off and would not come back. My Dad is very much taking her side and saying I am being inconsiderate of her feelings and not making her feel welcome. She is determined to see the seating as a personal slight to her and not just a seat for two short hours of her life. I personally cannot understand not just being flexible and doing what the bride and groom want, since it is their day.
I feel that her reaction was very unreasonable, especially considering she was unwilling to come back and hear an explaination or talk it over. I feel that she is trying to get her own way using emotional blackmail and throwing a bit of a childish temper tantrum. Also, I feel she is putting me in a very difficult position as I know my real mum would be upset if she the new wife was seated at the top table. My Dad and his new wife have a lot more money and like to fawn over each other. I really think it would not be nice to rub this in my mum’s face as she doesn’t have a SO and the divorce was not what she wanted in the first place and has left her in a difficult position finacially. The step mum is making me pick between upsetting her or upsettning my mum. I think she could decide to not take it at all personally and just deal with two hours of time without my Dad by her side.
I do feel that the real issue might be that she does not feel that she is getting enough attention at the wedding. I think she is less bothered about being next to my Dad and more concerned with having a place of honour at the top table. She acted the same at her other daughers wedding. She was crying in the bathroom right before the ceremony about how selfish her daughter was for not appreciating her helping out with the wedding. I think she just can’t deal with it not being all about her.
Anyway, the only problem now is I do not know what to do. My Dad and her are paying for the majority of the wedding. Does this mean they have effectively paid for the right to control what goes on? I feel I would have been much more accomodating to her if she would have just being willing to discuss things reasonably, but I really hate giving into emotional manipulation and I did really want the traditional table layout.
What do you bees think I should do? Should I feel bad about not having seated her at the top table?
Post # 3
In general I take the position that it’s inconsiderate to sit spouses/partners separately at weddings. I see why this is a somewhat different case, though. But why not forgo the head table setup and remove the need to choose which person to upset? I know the setup you describe is traditional in some circles, but it doesn’t really adapt too well to the realities of modern life, which may be why it’s been falling out of favour over time.
Also, your step-mum sounds like a spoiled, manipulative brat. But I suspect you know that.
Post # 4
Ughhhhhhh wow that is a crappy dilemma. I’m not sure of the answer. My dad is from Edinburgh, born and raised, would it help if I asked his and my (English) mum’s opinions?
Post # 5
@loving_life: That would be great! I have been to a couple of weddings back home and the top tables are always arranged like that, but they didn’t have divorced parents! I would love to know what people in the uk think.
Post # 6
she definitely was dramatic about it, but i do feel it’s very rude to not sit your dad with his wife.
Post # 7
Sit them together and keep her at bay. It will make things easier for you in the long run, if she’s going to behave like a child now imagine how she will act at the wedding if she hasn’t got her way.
Post # 8
So the traditional set-up is that the mother of the bride and father of the groom sit together, and the mother of the groom and father of the bride sit together at the other end of the table?? So, if I’m understanding this properly, even if your step mother were seated at the table, technically she shouldn’t be sat next to your father anyway!
At the end of the day, it’s your wedding. It’s your and your fiance’s special day, so if there are particular people you want to honour and celebrate for their role in your lives, then that is your decision. Unfortunately, though if you’re worried that your father and step mother may pull out some of their financial support, then you’re obviously going to have to be careful how you handle it. I generally don’t respond well to emotional manipulation, though, and will often just refuse to co-operate (regardless of what the issue is), if I feel that the other person is being manipulative.
Perhaps reach some middle ground by saying to your dad “I see that it’s really important that you and step-mum sit together. In that case, I’ll put you on table 1 with her, and we can have someone else at the head table (or not).” If they want to sit together, let it be on your terms – it sounds as though you don’t want her at the head table, so perhaps having him sit somewhere else with her might work.
Post # 9
I think those traditions were set up well before blended families started being more common. I can definately see where your step-mother is coming from and to me it is a slight on her. You have basically told her that you do not see her in any way shape or form as being a parent. That is a bit of a slap in the face don’t you think? Especially since she and your dad are paying for a majority of the wedding. She probably thinks you are happy enough to accept their money but not happy enough to recognise her as a step parent.
Post # 10
Even if she was your real mum, she wouldn’t be sitting next to her husband. You could try explaining that.
Failing that, since they are paying, I think you should change to the USA (and Australian) style of no parents at the head table. Yes, that isn’t what you want, but when someone else is paying you’ve got to compromise.
Post # 11
@ms-valentine: and by sit them together I mean don’t do the traditional seating…I am tired and don’t make sense, sorry!
Post # 12
Your stepmom is being a child. I honestly will never understand how women of this age can be so freakin’ petty. (Not just your stepmom, but many women I know or have been acquainted with at that age). Her behaviour/ tantrum is completely unacceptable.
That said, I do think she should get to sit next to your dad. Traditionally, parents were married right? Well, that’s not the case anymore so traditions need to change to fit reality. I would be pretty upset if I was travelling (I assume? since you’re in Boulder) to a wedding where my husband was supposed to sit at a table near his ex wife to fit some antiquated sence of family that doesnt’ fit ours while I had to sit at another table.
I know that you said you’re not personally slighting her, but it sure looks like a slight from the outside. Not to mention, they’re paying for the majority of the wedding! That means that your SMOM has probably contributed financially, or at least curbed her spending habits for YOUR wedding. IMO, she absolutely should be honoured at the head table. That’s pretty gracious of her to give you money like that, and I can totally see why she’d be hurt or want to pull the money.
Look, I’m not trying to be harsh. I get it, I totally do. Totally complicated relationship with my SMOM right here. But at the end of the day, you are digging your heels in for 2 hours and a table on one day. Ruin your relationship with you SMOM on this, and you will $%@# up your relationship with not just her, but also your dad, for years to come. Is it really worth THAT?
Post # 13
As a step mum i can see why she would be upset. If I had but a lot of effort in my step daughters wedding wether financially or otherwise. I would feel extremely hurt not to be sat up there with her on her big day. I suppose it depends on your relationship with her. But not sitting her at the table is inconsiderate and your basically saying she’s not part of the family
Post # 14
@Liverpoolbride: +1. I agree that the traditional set up you are describing really doesn’t accomodate what many families look like today. I also have to be honest that I am not familiar at all with the traditional set up you are talking about and I wouldn’t care for that at all. I’m a 3 time MOB – and I have stepdaughters in there. I would never be too keen about sitting separately from my husband but that IS very traditional here in the USA also.
I do think it is a bit of a slap to say “yes, I know you and dad are paying for a lot of the wedding, but you will be relegated to a regular table and not with my dad, in a place of honor.” Yeah, I think she could have handled herself a bit better, but I don’t blame her at all for feeling very slighted. I do encourage you to rethink this.
Post # 15
Oooooh that is tricky. In this situation I personally would choose not to sit the parents at the head table.
I understand how your Mother would be upset by your Dad’s new wife sitting at the table and I also understand how your Step Mum would feel being excluded and also not getting to sit with her partner (who doesn’t like to sit with their partner), that said as a few people have pointed out she wouldn’t necessarily be sitting with him anyway.
I’m a Step Mum myself, and for a while there my daughter also had a Step Mum as well, granted our children are much younger lol, but I do understand the jealousies and insecurities that come with blended familes.
I do think that if you are accepting a substantial amount of money from your dad and step mum they do deserve a little more consideration than if you were paying for the wedding yourself. Also how long she has been your step mum for would have a bearing on how upset she should reasonably be about not sitting at the head table. If she has been a part of your life for many years especially if you were a child and she actually acted as a parent at some point then I would understand her being a bit more upset.
That said this is YOUR wedding and all parents concerned step or otherwise should be mindful of the fact that you also should not be placed in an awkward position.
Post # 16
@gingernutjo: Sorry OP but I would take my mother’s feelings into consideration before your step mother’s. I don’t understand how for a couple of hours she can’t take a step back and let your mother have that honor that is due to the mother of the bride. If your mum wasn’t there I could understand, but that’s not the case.