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Happy Seating

Extended families, in which your mother, your father, or both your parents have remarried, have become as much the norm as the exception today. Complicated? It needn't be, if you keep this hallowed guideline in mind: Separate your divorced parents unless they are good friends. At your ceremony, seat the parent you're closest to a usually your mother a in the front pew with her spouse. And where should you seat your dad? With his spouse two rows back, behind your maternal grandparents and other members of your mother's immediate family. If your mom and dad are divorced but have a friendly relationship, they both may sit in the front pew with their spouses. On the other hand, if one parent strongly resents the other's new spouse, that stepparent may wish to sit discreetly toward the back of the room, with a friend. And where should you seat a single parent? If, for example, your father has remarried and your mother hasn't, you may still choose to seat your mom in the front pew, though not alone. Let her select a good friend or close family member to sit with. For the walk down the aisle, the bride should choose whether she wants her father or stepfather to escort her. If she's equally close to both, she might avoid choosing between them by asking someone else, perhaps her mother. Or she may fall back on tradition and ask her biological father to be her escort. At the reception, seat each set of extended parents at their own table. Take separate photos. And how do you convey your wishes without offending family members? After listening attentively to your parent's requests and concerns, let them know, as gently as possible, what your wishes are. Your mom and dad know that this is, after all, your big day! Hopefully, at the end of the day, whatever makes you happy will make them happy.

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