To sit or not to sit!
This is a question that is often brought up on Social Media…..and there is no right answer.
As a Celebrant I have been in many situations where there have been no seats, where there have been only a front row of seats, where seats are provided for half the guests, or where seats have been provided for all of the guests. All work perfectly well.
Firstly, let’s talk about no seats. This is probably the most casual style of wedding ceremony and “Surprise Weddings” come to mind or weddings held in a backyard where it is more like a party with legalities!
2017 Surprise backyard wedding! So much fun.
If the guests have been invited to a 50th birthday party that then turns into a wedding you don’t want to give the surprise away by having a wedding set up when they arrive. The best Surprise Weddings are those that are totally incognito!
Alternatively, your wedding may be at a local park, or at the beach, and you wish to have a more casual stance where the bride and groom are surrounded in a half circle by their family and friends, and everyone is up close and feels very much connected to the bride and groom and the ceremony. I would hasten to add that if this was the case it may be a good idea to make sure your guests are in their younger years and the ceremony is fairly short and sweet. Consider the elderly that are being invited, as well as any guest who may be pregnant or have a disability.
SEATING FOR EVERYONE
Providing every guest with a seat is quite lovely as each one can sit comfortably and enjoy the ceremony. As the bride and groom, you are the hosts for the day and making your guests feel comfortable is all part of a good host’s criteria.
Some couples like to allocate particular seats to some of their guests and I always encourage thinking about who they would like to have closest to them on such a special day. The front row of seats are generally kept for close family and friends. The first seat (next to the aisle) on the left hand side (as you look at the bride and groom) is usually reserved for the person who is giving the bride away. Traditionally, the bride’s family sits on the left hand side and the groom’s on the right. Mostly, this tradition is kept only for the immediate family with friends and extended family sitting anywhere behind the two front rows.
I have seen many seating plans for the first and second rows where the guests have been allocated their own personal seat with a name tag. This is very special, thoughtful and quite lovely. Name tags can be tied with string or ribbon and be standard rectangular tags, heart shaped, butterfly shaped, boat shaped,….just dip into your creative mind! However, make sure they are well secured so they don’t blow away.
Seating gives you a chance to be a little more creative with your decoration. Ribbons in the colour of your wedding party can be added, or fresh flowers to the end of each row of chairs. Shepherd hooks are very popular and If you are into DIY you can make your own decoration in the theme and style of your wedding.
A word of warning for all brides with dresses with a full skirt ….make sure you leave enough space to go down the aisle with your dad, or the person who is giving you away. I have seen on occasion that some brides have to walk in front of who is giving her away as the seating set up hasn’t left a wide enough aisle!
In a Country setting bench seating is quite popular which makes your ceremony set up blend into the wonderful landscape surrounding you. Bales of hay are also quite a quirky and fun way of seating your guests! The sky is the limit as you draw on your imagination.
This is a compromise where, for example, you are having a wedding for 90 guests, you choose around 40 seats for the guests. Two blocks of ten chairs (two rows with a split in the middle for the aisle). This allows you to cater for your immediate family, elderly guests and also any guests who may be pregnant or have a disability. It also keeps the cost down a little bit.
On many occasions, with part seating, the guests are a little reluctant to sit down as they are being polite leaving the seating for other guests. However, it is your Celebrant’s job to make sure all the seats are filled, usually with a little friendly coaxing!
To sit or not to sit …..that is the question! There is no right or wrong way…..only YOUR WAY.
All the best!