Mom's Advice on Wedding Seating

Updated on April 25, 2011
G.D. asks from Greenville, SC
16 answers

I need some advice as to how to deal with my dad's new wife at my wedding this fall. My mom passed away when I was 18 and she can't be replaced. I'm honoring my mom on my wedding day 1. because it would be her 50th birthday and 2. she will still be listed as the mother of the bride. My dad get remarried this past year and I'm not quite sure what to do with this new lady. I'm old enough now that I don't need a motherly figure, and if I do I go to my future Mother in law or some close family friends. My dad's new wife keeps repeatedly asking me what she needs to wear for the wedding and what her role is going to be, as well as what her two young daughters will be doing that day. It's an honor to be asked to be a part of someone's wedding and the fact that she keeps pushing herself and her daughters onto me to "make them feel included" really irritates me. Since you now have the background, what are some suggesttions as to seating arrangements at the ceremony, the processional, and announcing the bridal party? Thank you in advance!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the comments, I don't know how to respond other than writing here.
I should clarify a few things though... My fiance and I are paying for the wedding so ultimately I feel like it is our decision. I know she is my dad's new wife, but by no means is she my stepmother. She is only like 10 years older than me and acts like i'm not part of 'their' family. I don't get invited to family dinners, birthdays or holidays - i'm a fleeting thought to her. She didn't show interest in me until I became engaged. Her daughters are 14 and 11.
I plan on having her and her daughters sit up front with my dad, but I didn't like the idea of her being seated as a 'mother'. As for the daughters role, I honestly don't have anything for them to do. I have quite a large bridal party, since I have 3 sisters anyways. so I have plenty of hander-outers. and when I mentioned them handling out the favors at the end of the night, they begin discussing what dress I, yeah I, should be buying for them to wear. Unless they are just keeping things to themselves, I only hear them talking about what they are doing for the wedding and not what they could help me with or volunteer to help me with. It's a little stressful have to think about making sure they feel involved. I understand that 20 years from now we might be closer knit, but I shouldn't have to plan for people's feelings 20 years down the road. Thank you for the comments thoughts!

SN: I have talked to my dad about this - and he doesn't want to hurt their relationship by getting in the middle of it - which I am okay with being the bad kid for now.

More Answers


answers from St. Louis on

She is his wife she should sit next to him at the wedding but not be part of the procession, she should sit next to him at the reception and her daughters should sit next to her if they are old enough to attend.

She is not trying to replace your mom, she is trying to find out where she fits in in the wedding. I can tell you love and miss your mother but speaking as a mother it would make me sad if my daughters felt it was disrespectful to me to be respectful to the woman who is now making him happy.

On the announcing the bridal party, like any spouses of the bridal party she would be in her arranged seat clapping like everyone else. She is not part of the wedding party but she is part of the family, ya know?

Maybe it would be easier to talk to your dad about your concerns. He may be able to translate step mom for you.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Tough one for sure. She may be pushing for answers only because she wants to honor your wishes - that is what I am getting out of this.
I would have a sit-down with her and let her know your plans AND tell her exactly how she will be involved.
"Mary, you will be walked down the aisle just like other family members and seated on the bride's side. Your daughters (depending on age) will follow or be escorted down on their own to sit by you." also - the mother of the bride is usually the one who stands up first - to get all the others to stand- if you were amicable to this, you could ask her to have this duty (but if you future MIL or other matronly figure, just leave out).
Tell her the colors of the wedding and let her wear whatever the heck she wants - LOL! I would get each of them a nice little corsage to wear though. You have to remember while not a part of your current life, she is part of the new family and no reason to ostracize her completely - she could be a big part of your life for the next 20+ years. . . .
Seating - let her sit next to your dad with her daughters and if your dad wants to dance with her during the second dance, etc. you could highlight some of that, too.
the tricky thing is if your dad is paying for part of the wedding she may feel it is HER paying too and may want some recognition/thanks for that- I know it is crazy, but that is what happend to me at my wedding - dad's wife just wanted a little bit of props for her part in the financials and wanted some nice family photos for the wall:)
Good Luck!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi GD - I know this is awkward, and as the daughter of a woman who's been married 5 times (yes, 5), here's some input.

I think it's fine that she sit with your dad - everyone that knows YOU knows that she is the new wife and not your mom. Seating arrangements don't make her a mom, but having your dad's wife sit with him will make things nicer all around.

It's totally normal to feel irritated - especially now - because you don't have a real relationship with her, but you're both going to have to find a way to relate, especially if you have a good relationship with your dad. She's in an awkward place because she's "officially" part of the family through marriage, but NOT through relationship or affection - and that's the sticking part for you. When it comes to FAMILY - sometimes you have to find a way to include people and the including is not an HONOR but a DUTY (believe me, I know - I had to have my soon-to-be-SIL in my wedding because I HAD to, not because I wanted to).

You said she didn't show interest in you till the engagement - that's not really surprising because you had & have your own adult life apart from your dad when she came into his life. I's possible she doesn't know quite where she fits and quite how to handle how much to be involved, etc. I think your DAD's dropping the ball here, cause HE should be inviting you to family things and not expecting his new wife to muddle through his/her new family relationships without help/support.

Weddings get most girls excited so she wants to be part of it. If you don't have hard feelings about her - just ambivalent or you're unsure how she fits into your life, I'd find small ways to involve her & her kids that aren't directly wedding-party involved. They can feel a part, but don't have to buy any new anything, etc., and you can let them know that - ("Oh, dads-wife, we would totally love for X and Y to hand out programs. No need to worry about buying any special clothes - it would just be lovely if they could participate." Same for her - see where you could use her, what she'd enjoy, and then get a little gift for her and her kiddos (flowers, necklace, etc- nothing to break the bank, but a token of family). And have YOUR DAD step up to the plate a little here and help you help them feel involved. He's the one who got married, so HE should help build the relationships.

Your relationship will NOT be the traditional mother/daughter-in-law situation because of the smaller age difference. She is more of a peer than a parent figure. She'll have to accept that. Who knows, you may end up with a great friendship out of this. My stepsister - who is old enough to be my mother - is one of my best friends and has become a mother figure in my life.

I hope you find a richer relationship here than you expect. Don't worry about 20 years down the road. Just enjoy your planning, hold your DAD accountable to help with the relationship-building, be pleasant to his new wife, and have a fantastic wedding :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

I would let her and the girls sit up front with your Dad or the row behind him. As for their role, why not put them in charge of the guestbook or passing out programs. Then your Step Mom can supervise and be out of your hair. If your Dad is walking you down, they will not be in the processional. They wouldn't be announced in the bridal party either.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on


Ok, I TOTALLY agree with Mommy of 1. :)


Well, at first thought, it would seem to me that your father's wife and step-daughters would be seated with him at your wedding. That does not mean that they have to have any futher "role" in your wedding, but they should be able to sit with him and enjoy your wedding with him. I'm sure that's what he'd want. If I'm assuming correctly that your dad will walk you down the aisle, I don't think any of them need to be involved in the processional. They can be seated in the row where your dad will sit after he walks with you. I don't know what proper etiquette says, but that's my humble opinion. Or, if you're ok with it, they could be escorted down the aisle, like other important family members.

As for her pushing the "involvement" things on you, I'd simply tell her that she can wear whatever she chooses (unless you have some preference there, which if you do, you should share that with her). As for her daughters, you don't say how old they are, or if you have a wedding party, etc. But could they maybe do something minimal (if age appropriate) like handing out programs at the door? Or handing out bubbles or some other item that may need distributed to guests? Those would be easy ways to incorporate them, but in a small way that might keep everyone happy. But ultimately, it's YOUR day, and if you don't want them to be involved, you don't have to involve them. But remember, they are children and by you including them, you may make them feel really special. They aren't their mother, and they are just adjusting to being in this new family too, and not by their choice. So if you can find something unobtrusive that they can do, personally, I think I'd let them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I agree with the others that she's probably not trying to force anything, but does need to know more about the plans. I would tell her your color scheme (she probably doesn't want to choose anything that might clash) and let her know she's welcome to choose any outfit she'd like, that you're very open to what she prefers.

She doesn't have to serve as a mom, but I would see this as a great opportunity to make her feel part of the family. It certainly can't be easy joining a new family and I bet she's unclear what her role is supposed to be at the wedding, not wanting to step on any toes. I agree with the others on explaining how the wedding will go, so she knows.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

She should sit with your dad at the ceremony, and if you want to leave an empty seat in the front row for you mom, you can do this. My SIL did this for her dad, and during the ceremony to honor her dad she placed a single rose in his seat. As for the announcing, the daughters will be seated already and so can step-mom, but if you are annoucing your father, you should, to avoid any added drama, and it's only for 30 seconds, announce her too. But I would say Father of the Bride .... and his wife ...., with no mention of mom or step-mom. Tell the wife that she is responsible for her own dress and her daughters dresses and your colors and that she can wear anything but white and your colors.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. You may not need or want a replacement mom. However, your father married her. Like it or not, she and her children are now a part of your family. Please be gracious, kind, and inclusive. A wedding can set a tone for much of your future life with family and friends. A wedding isn't just a special day for the bride. Just as importantly, it is for family, friends, and community to acknowledge and celebrate a union. Since this woman is your father's wife, she should be seated next to him and her children should be seated as any blood related children would be seated. It is only right that the newest people in your family feel included. Its sweet and appropriate that you want to honor your mother and put her name on the invitation. I hope that it's not too confusing to you or others that the special day of your wedding is also her birthday.
I'm not just preaching. I also got a step mom and step family when I didn't want or need them. But, we don't choose our blood relatives and we don't chose the relatives brought in by marriage. Whatever difficulties and emotional issues we have with our relatives cannot be worked out at a wedding. The only statement that ought to be made in front of everyone is your love and commitmant to your new spouse. If you can open your heart and relax about all the big and small details of your wedding, both the wedding and your future life will surely be the better for it. Good luck and good love.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Athens on

I am sorry that your mom died and won't be able to share in your wedding. Honoring her in the invitations is sweet. If there is anything you have of your mother's that you could wear (seen or unseen) or tuck into your pocket or bra, I would encourage you to have it on you. You will have a piece of her with you on that special day.

As for your dad's new wife, try not to resent her. It seems to me that she is just trying to figure out her new role in your life. You can be honest with her and tell her that you would like her and her daughters to attend as your guests. They can sit in the front row or in the audience and wait for your dad to finish his fatherly duty of walking you down the asle and the father-daughter dance. Tell her to just relax and enjoy herself. That is what she can do to help.

Just as you would want your dad to accept your new husband into the family, he wants the same from you. Children tend not to think of thier parents as people who want love and companionship like they do. Your dad is still young and deserves to be happy after losing his first wife. He has finally found love again and would like you to be happy for him.

Congrats on the marriage.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My husband's mom is deceased and his father is remarried. When my husband and I got married, his father and stepmother were introduced as the "father of the groom and his wife". My husband is not close to his stepmom but didn't want to slight her in any way. I don't think anyone felt that she was replacing his mom.

Since it is your wedding, it is ultimately your decision how to handle things and what role (if any) you want your stepmom and stepsisters to have. You and your fiance also might want to announce the wedding party to your dad/stepmom so there isn't any confusion.

In any event, it is never up to the bride to buy dresses for anyone (other than herself). You could always offer to go shopping with your stepmom to help her pick out something that compliments the bridal colors. If you are up to it you could make a day of it and pick out dresses for your stepsisters to wear too. Maybe talk about wedding plans so they feel involved even if they aren't technically part of the bridal party.

Good luck! Try not to let this stress you out too much so you can enjoy the planning and your big day!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Everything depends on you & what role you want your dad's wife to have. I've always said that adults don't need a step mother. So, if you do not require her assistance with anything politely say, "Jane, every detail is all taken care of. All that's expected of you & your daughters is to show up in your prettiest dresses and have a good time. Plan to sit her with your father. She is HIS wife and they should be allowed to sit together to avoid any future issue. The people in your wedding should be those people who care deeply about the survival of your marriage and will support as well as encourage you & your new husband during a rough patch. This is not the Easter play where all the kids get a speech or a role in the play. People arenot entitled to play a role in the wedding, just because they are in the family. Good luck & God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It sounds to me like she is only trying to help and you are being a bit sensitive about it all and taking it the wrong way. Weddings are a huge deal and perhaps she feels this is her open door to become closer to you. I don't see anything wrong with her asking you what she should wear and as far as her daughters, could they pass out the bird seed or bubbles, take gifts to the gift table? There's lots they could be doing and I really think you are punishing them because of your feelings toward their mother.

As far as remembering your mother, my husband and I had candles we lit in remembrance of those who had passed on from our sides of the families and then we listed who we were honoring in our program. It was a really nice way to honor them and everyone watched as we lit candles for our loved ones.



answers from Atlanta on

She should wear something classy. In other words, a bit conservative, not sexy and not too casual.


answers from Phoenix on

I would just tell her what the wedding colors were and tell her she could wear something that would "compliment" that. I think I would find something little for the girls to do like you mentioned but just say they can wear something as well that will go with the colors. That leaves it to HER to purchase them. And some advice...I would try VERY hard to get along with her. You don't have to be best friends but try to be the better person and put any fellings aside. She is the woman your dad decided to marry and you should be respectful of that. Congrats on the wedding and good luck.



answers from Atlanta on

I'm not getting the problem here - tell this woman all she has to do is show up at the wedding and enjoy herself - she's just your father's new wife and I mean what role does the mother of the bride have that much anyway - it's all about the bride and groom - not her. And as far as her asking you to pay for her daughter's dresses?? - that's totally off the wall.



answers from Columbus on

Can you talk to your dad about your concerns? I know it's a touchy situation (he probably doesn't want to hear anything negative about her/her children). However, you could broach the subject like, "Dad, I wanted to get your thoughts on our wedding. I know that it's ultimately our decision because we are paying for everything, but I welcome your thoughts." Then explain to him that you want to honor your mother's memory, and so feel awkward handling the issue of your step-mother, and how she and her family should be involved, if at all. And be sure to say that you want to involve them, and that you wholeheartedly welcome their help (operative word being HELP.... :). But that you do not want her to take your mother's place, but do want her to feel included. He knows her (or he should!) better than you and hopefully better than most other people, so he may have some suggestions on how to handle this.

And if you do go with the girls handing out favors, which I think is a lovely idea, just tell "step-mom" that you're glad that she wants them looking their best, but like all the others in the wedding party, you expect them to pay for their own clothes, and that a nice spring or summer dress with pretty florals (or whatever criteria you deem fitting) is perfectly fine, and that they don't have to buy a special dress just for this occasion, unless she wants to buy them something.

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