I encourage my couples to keep the
seating of their guests close to them during the ceremony, no more
than six to eight
feet from the couple to the first row. Closeness gives a strong sense of
family and invitation. Too much distance means guests will neither hear your
words nor see what you’re doing. Two very big black marks against your
Seating Can Optimize
the Enjoyment of Your Ceremony
The graphic at left illustrates a standard arrangement
of chairs for a wedding ceremony. This arrangement closely resembles the
use of Church Pews.
You can improve on this..
Note: In the three graphics
used on this page the bridal party is in red, with squares representing groomsmen
and circles representing bridesmaids. The bride and groom stand forward of
the bridal party, with the bride as a white circle. The entire bridal party
is facing the seated audience which is represented in blue. I, as an officiant
am represented as a black diamond and am facing the bride and groom in center
aisle with the guests all around me. A photographer represented by a green
diamond stands slightly behind me and to the right, and is taking photos
of the beautiful bridal party
User Friendly . My ceremonies
are optimized at all levels. I use stage and theatric principals to design
them, they are extremely photogenic, and they are fine tuned to meet the
needs of the audience. Seating therefore, can be used to enhance
this effectiveness as I encourage, or it can be used to detract from it
as described below. The guests and photographers will have full view of the
bride and groom and their bridal party. Every seat is a good seat at your
ceremony. Just click on the Venues link in the topics column at left to
see 225 examples of this.
most ceremonies, seats are placed in rows like church pews. We can improve
on this by removing the first two seats
of the first row, and the first seat of the second row. See now how the hard
right angles are removed. Furthermore, this openness creates a Virtual
Stage, by which the couple will gracefully maneuver in when
giving roses to their moms and/or vips. Photographers and videographers find
it much easier to position themselves in this open area as well without
crowding the bride and groom.
We can optimize seating further if you like
by canting the seats toward you. The final graphic shows how the seats are
angled toward the bride and groom as well as having the corner seats removed.
This means the guests are more comfortable watching your ceremony as they
are not looking over their shoulders at it. This seating arrangement is called Chevron.
You could also arrange the seating in gentle curves or arcs around you. Seating
in this arrangement is called Amphitheater and is used
in the photo at the top of this page.
time to time a couple will ask if putting their guests around them in a circle
is a good idea?
It isn't, and for a number
of critical reasons: Seating in this format has been called a
Ceremony in the round. The bride and groom stand in the center
of their guests much like the bulls-eye of a target, with the guests
being the outer rings of that target. Bridal party members stand in
the aisles or wherever they can find room.
Though some would give a high mark for its novelty,
novelty must bring function
which this arrangement of seats does not. It actually hurts your ceremony.
Ceremonies in the round reintroduce the problems that
facing forward has remedied- namely that couples are once again turning
guests and speaking away from them as well. Remember that the bride
is turning her back on half of her guests and the groom the other half.
A Ceremony in the round makes
the bride and groom the absolute focal point of the ceremony and ignores
the venue's best aesthetic background (such as the picturesque grounds
of a country club). True, half will see this background when seated, but
the other half will have their
both good seats and bad seats at your wedding ceremony). A Ceremony
in the round might be a good choice for a featureless environment,
like the surface of the moon, but most couples pay a premium to have their
ceremonies in picturesque
locations- all of which is ignored by this arrangement. For these reasons,
I do not, and will not, perform my ceremonies in this format.