Proper Seating Of Groom’s Family

My oldest son was married in 2008 and now my middle son will be marrying in 2010. There were many issues with my older son’s wedding from the rehearsal dinner to the wedding reception. I do not want the same issue to occur with the next wedding. I would like to know if I am viewing things incorrectly. The rehearsal dinner for our oldest son was a huge stress on us and many times we felt as if our views or opinions did not matter at all-all they wanted from us was for us to pay the bill. The bride insisted on the location and approved the menu.

She comes from a very wealthy family, which we are not. Everything she picked out was over the top. In order to not cause any problems I agreed with most of what she asked for. However, I did draw the line at providing alcohol. My Father and Step-Mother are very religious and I was not about to host an event that served alcohol. The bride then proceeded to ask if she could pay for it if I would not. I was very insulted and felt that after she had picked the place, the menu, grooms cake and even had me running all over town to get place cards that were the “right weight”, that she was behaving like a spoiled child. I did not express my feelings but did draw the line at the alcohol.

She insisted on inviting family to the rehearsal dinner that only live 30 miles away. This event ended up costing $3000.00. Her family had picked a photographer that as part of the package would photograph the rehearsal dinner. I was not told that he would not be taking pictures of the grooms family or parents, therefore there was one picture of me and one of my husband. The reception was even worse. Upon arriving at the location, which is a very nice venue, I let them know that I was the MOG and that I had noticed several reserved table and wanted to know was there a reserved place for us to sit. I was told no and that we could sit anywhere else other than the reserved seating area. Apparently that was for the brides family. This was a very large wedding and as soon as you left your seat someone would sit in it. After an hour and a half of this and not seeing my son or the bride for almost as long my husband and I left.

My questions regarding the rehearsal dinner: Should the Groom’s parents commission a photographer even if the bride has one that will be taking pictures to insure that there are pictures of both families at the event? Also, has it some how become proper etiquette for the bride to make such demands? My questions concerning the reception: Do I have the right to request reserved seating for my husband, myself and my son’s grandparent’s at the wedding in 2010. I honestly don’t see things being the issue that they were at the wedding in 2008 but I just want to make sure.

After the 2008 wedding my husband and I were very upset and felt as though it was strictly about the bride and her family…after all they were paying the bill. I even talked with the photographer that was used at their wedding and he stated that he focuses on what is important to the ones paying the bill. That alone told me that he had probably been given instructions to focus on the bride and her family. We do not even have a picture of our son with his grandparent’s. I hope you can make sense of this and help me. I want to know if I was expecting too much.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Tsullivan,

Honestly, the wedding is mostly about the couple these days. That also means that the couple is financially responsible for all costs. You may contribute any amount you wish, but don’t have any planning liberties, except if you are hosting the rehearsal dinner. If you choose to host one (it is optional), you choose the venue and everything that goes with it. Please read our many posts on who is invited to this.

Usually there is a “parent’s” table that is reserved at the reception. You might want to ask if this is possible for your son’s wedding/reception. Some don’t have reserved seating for anyone.

It appears that your daughter in law and her family didn’t know what is proper etiquette for weddings. That is unfortunate. She shouldn’t have had much say in the planning of the rehearsal dinner. Normally, as host, you would have asked her for a list of all who were rehearsing and their significant others so you could invite them. Other than that, you would have done all the planning.

Best wishes,

Reader Response

Thank you for your response. I hope the upcoming wedding will be much less stressful. However, I would like to know if it is common to have two photographers at the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception? I want to make sure that there are plenty of pictures of both families. It was very upsetting to see all the beautiful pictures of her and her parents and grandparents but none of our son and his grandparents. Thanks for your help.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

No, it is not common, nor it is polite to consider that one would have to hire a photographer in order to have pictures taken at the reception. A photographer for the rehearsal dinner is not common at all. Any one can take pictures for this. It shouldn’t rival a reception.

Just speak to your son about wanting a few pictures of the family. It doesn’t mean that there will be pictures of exactly who you want to be photographed or the number you want. But, there is nothing wrong in relaying your hope to be included in the pictures.

Reader Response

Thank you for your response. I guess after the last wedding I am only trying to make sure that the same hurtful things do not happen again. My son’s grandparent’s were terribly hurt as was I by the way we were treated. I know my daughter in law’s parents paid for the wedding and the reception but it would have been nice for our family to have felt welcome and part of the celebration. Looking at the pictures only reaffirms what we felt at the wedding reception, that we were not any more special to the bride and groom than the other guests. No need to reply and I do appreciate your help.

Donna, Wedding Queen

Please remember not to post more than one question at a time. The question regarding the photographer really should have been posted as a new question, giving other experts, such as our photography expert, the opportunity to answer too.

Thank you