With over 50 weddings under my belt, I have to say, that this can be the most unorganised part of a wedding if it is not properly planned and has become one of my many bug bears at a wedding.
Couples go to such great lengths to make beautiful seating plans and place names for their wedding breakfast, and of course this is a must if you want to remove any confusion who is sitting where, buy then it seems to stop there.
So for those of you that do not have a wedding planner to advice you on your wedding day, here is my insight in this area and in fact any novice wedding planners popping your head in here, take note for your couples.
Let's face it, everyone wants to sit at the front of a wedding. It's like being a concert, you want to get as close as you can to the action, but in reality no one will know exactly where they can sit and how near the front they can get, and that's just the guests. There are always lots of gaps left too.
This doesn't stop there however, also all the close family and bridal party often are not sure exactly where to sit, other than up front, that's all they know. I've seen it many times it's now become one of my bug bears that I have to ensure is carried out with perfection.
It's complicated enough with a regular family, but so many families has far more complexities nowadays. Couples having both parents and step parents, or mum or dad has a new partner, or you may have birth parents and some with foster parents or your grandparents bought you up, it has become a real complication when it comes to seating in those situations and it needs to be managed and planned properly and not left to their own choice.
Even without all the complications, this does need to be carefully planned. All of these things that are the unknown until they turn up and wander around the seats with no idea what is etiquette and what is not, where to sit and where not to.
So, my advice is to follow this process
1. Find out what the seating format is in your church / ceremony location. i.e. 4/6/8 each side, as they will all differ
2. Discuss together who you want up front with you i.e. bridesmaids/men, groomsmen /woman, Best Man/Woman, Mum, Dad, Step Parents, or partners, grandparents etc.
3. Once you have decided who you want right at the front with you, you can start to plan your seating arrangements and how many rows you need to reserve.
4. Allocate them a seat. My personal choice, for the little effort it takes, would be to put their name on the chair to save any confusion whatsoever, but at the very least, put a reserve sign down and tell your wedding party and family where they will be seated in advance.
5. Please please please tell whoever is Ushering in your guests too. Whether that be your Groomsmen, Best Man or Toastmaster. If they don’t know the answers and you haven’t put names on seats, you are back to square one
Make sure that they know for guests, its Brides on the left and Grooms on the right, unless you are mixing them all up.
This is especially important if you are running late, because you just then want people seated and it will annoy you massively if you see roaming bodies everywhere scratching their heads.
Other things to consider. Where needed, make sure you have made provisions for anyone with a wheelchair. Preferably make a space at the end of the Aisle so they don’t stick out or become a hazard. It will make them just feel uncomfortable so make sure they are considered.
Ask your Groomsmen to Usher anyone with oversized hats to the ends of the Aisle so as not to restrict viewing for all the other guests. They look great, but they make terrible windows, so that’s just good sense to ask them to sit at the far end of the aisle (or they can it off).
If you are having a videographer for your ceremony and you are marrying in a church, you may want to consider asking your guests to remove their children if they start to scream. Sound travels far inside a church and you can often hear a pin drop. It does not matter how maternal you are, there is nothing worse than going to watch your magical day on video and you can’t hear your own vows over a screaming child.
You may want your Ushers to seat children with their parents on the end of the Aisle (either side) so that they can sneak their child out without too much interruption to your ceremony.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to have both parents on your special day and having your Father walk you down the aisle, then why not ask your Toastmaster or a Groomsman to walk your Mum to her seat when you know you are ready. I always offer to do this when I'm a Toastmaster, it's just a really nice touch. This will make your Mum feel special and part of your day as much as your Dad will be, it will also let the groom know that you are ready. Obviously you can do this for whomever is taking up those relevant roles for your in life.
If you don’t know what jobs to give your Groomsmen/Ushers, drop me an email and I will whizz you over a list of duties you can delegate to them on the day. Delegation is key for your wedding day. You want to be the VIP not the event organiser!
Photo by Motiejus
I’m going to throw a little Covid on this post. As the seating is far more regimented during the pandemic to be compliant with social distancing and with a restricted headcount of only 15 or 30 too, it is even more important that you do a seating plan to ensure that everyone knows where to sit. You need to make sure that your nearest and dearest are all seated in the right places for you.