I thought this was a great question especially since this was a question I had to answer for my own wedding.
Q. My parents have been divorced for almost 10 years now after being married for 20+ years; my father is now remarried and to say that my mother does not like his new wife would be an understatement. My mother has made it a point to exclude my step mother from most of my events, including showers and bachlorette parties, and she definitely does not want her to be around the morning of the wedding. I should also say that I actually get along great with my step mother but I don't want to upset my Mother.
So, here are my questions...
1. How does the seating work at the church for my parents and their spouses?
2. Does etiquette dictate that the both of my parents will need to greet our family and friends together at the reception?
A. Wow! This is not only a tough situation but a very awkward one so let me start by saying etiquette is a guide for behavior, not a law. Each family and situation is unique. Use wedding etiquette as basis, but don't adhere blindly to the rules of etiquette when your common sense tells you otherwise.
In this particular situation, etiquette indicates that the mother of the bride and her spouse sit in the first row, and the father of the bride and his spouse be seated in the second row. If things get start to get more heated on the day of the ceremony than the father of the bride and his spouse should be seated in the third row, leaving a buffer row in the middle where siblings and grandparents can be seated.
As for greeting guests at the reception, etiquette should never dictate discomfort - it's really just a guide and not a rule in this situation. A good rule of thumb, would be that if the parents shared the cost of the wedding than they should just greet guests seperately.
If only one of the parents paid for the wedding, then only the host parent would need to make the rounds to thank the guests for attending. The other parent could visit with family and friends while mingling at the celebration.
I always like to ask the readers...what would you do?