Sunday, September 03, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS: HOW TO DEAL (PART IV)

As I've mentioned before, table arrangement issues are oftentimes the most complicated--and contentious--when it comes to dealing with your guests.

With regard to divorced/separated parents, these situations once again come into the forefront. This time, these issues are not within the control of others (i.e. band members, DJs, or even the bartender), but entirely within your own hands.

I can tell you right now - you will not please everyone.
Finding the "perfect" table arrangement is not necessarily an option - however, creating a WORKABLE table arrangement-- when it comes to divorced/separated parents -- is the name of the game. Again, the goal is to put everyone at ease to the greatest extent possible. If you attempt to do that, your job is done. I'm dealing this time around with the concept of DISTANCE -- not the actual people at each table. Read on.....

I was talking with a college friend the other night (Liz), who was telling me about a wedding that she had recently attended (for one of her best friends, Tara -- a pal from graduate school). Liz knew (through hearing about it on many occasions from Tara) that Tara's parents had recently gone through a tough divorce--and while it didn't come to dish-throwing or custody-battles (or a War of the Roses type scenario), it wasn't that pretty, according to what Tara had told her about the situation.

Liz told me she was surprised to find, then, that at the wedding, Tara's mother and father were sitting at tables within inches of each other. Seated with her new boyfriend, Tara's mother was laughing and joking around with her friends/relatives at Table 2, while Tara's father at Table 4 (who attended the reception solo) was seated with his relatives and other assorted guests. Both the mother and the father were polite and interacted with one another on occasion (for example, when images of Tara in her snowsuit at age 3 popped up on the screen during the slide show, or during the dinner hour, as they greeted guests and thanked them for attending), but Liz said it looked like an awkward situation for the two.

I asked Liz why she thought Tara--who was cognizant of the strained relationship --would have seated her parents so close together. "I don't know -- I guess maybe she was hoping that they would be ok, and somehow it wouldn't be awkward. It's her parents, after all -- that's the way she looks at them, and that's how she wanted to remember them on that night, I guess..."

Liz went onto note that while Tara's parents were cool about everything, and did nothing ridiculous or offensive like making a scene, it seemed to her that they shouldn't have had to make small talk with each other, and could have at least sat a few more feet apart -- not necessarily across the room, but at least some distance apart that they could have done their own thing for most of the night.

Interesting story from someone who actually witnessed a table arrangement situation (as related to divorced/separated guests) -- as well as knew about the relationships that were in play.

Stay tuned!

2 comments:

Amy said...

It is possible that the two tables were close together to create the same proximity to the head table. While I didn't deal with divorced or separated parents at my wedding (which was four days ago), I did deal with the issue of which tables get seated closest to the head table. This couple may have been trying to keep both parents equal and make both feel equally important and included by seating them close to the head table.

Anonymous said...

So I was at a wedding recently where they had a seated dinner, but did not go to the trouble of creating table seating arrangements, so all the guests just found seats where-ever, except that by the time some of the families arrived (mine included) there were only 1 or 2 seats together available anywhere. So brides, do your guests a favor and actually assign all the seats so that you don't end up with folks standing around awkwardly or being unable to enjoy the reception because they didn't get a seat (or silverware, favor, drink, etc)! (And this was my cousin's wedding, btw!)