Wedding Traditions

Wedding ceremony seating

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Groomsmen and ushers must know how to seat guests
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Wedding ceremony seating arrangements must be carefully planned

No wonder some people opt to elope. Planning and executing a large scale wedding requires the skill of an army general. One important aspect of nuptial planning is wedding ceremony seating especially in this complicated day and age of divorced couples, merged families, step-relatives etc. and so on.

Keeping the confusion at a minimum is ideal particularly if some guests donít like one another and would hate being seated next to each other.

The ushers, who walk the attendees in and out of the church or venue, must know who is supposed to be seated where. Do not assume they already know. How would they know unless theyíve done this before and even if they have Ö donít count on them remembering.

The Christian brideís family and friends normally sit on the left side of the room or church and the groomís family and friends are on the right. The Christian bride stands on the left at the altar and the groom stands on the right.

The Jewish bride stands on the right rather than the left when getting married so her family and friends should be seated on the right and the Jewish groomís family and friends are on the left because he stands on the left.

Just remember that whichever side the bride stands on when being married is the side her family and friends should be seated on. In a Jewish wedding, the parents of the couple stand under the huppa with the bride and groom.

The usher should ask each guest if they are a friend or family member of the bride or groom and then proceed accordingly.

The first few rows in the front should be set aside for members of the bridal party if they are going to sit during the ceremony or if they should become faint during the service and need to sit down. If you donít want to do that, then the bride and groomís parents should be in the front row. If you do leave a pew (or seats) open for the bridal party, the brideís parent should sit in the second row on the left along with their children who arenít in the wedding and the groomís parents should sit in the second row on the right with their children.

Grandparents should sit in the third row and other relatives are seated in the fourth row.
If one side of the venue fills up more quickly, the ushers can put the groomís friends and family members on the brideís side or vice versa so that it looks more equal and less lopsided.

If there is a log jam of guests waiting to be seated and not enough ushers, you can seat yourself but observe the rules: Donít sit up front and sit on the appropriate side.

Siblings of the bride and groom should be seated before the bridal coupleís grandparents and great-grandparents are. The siblings can sit with their parents or grandparents. Elderly guests should be seated near the front and those in wheelchairs or using crutches should be placed at the end or near the end of the pew.

If the about-to-be newlyweds have step-relatives, such as step-grandparents, they must be seated before the coupleís biological grandparents. Seat the step-relatives directly behind the immediate family members. However, if the bride or groom is very close to that person they may want them seated closer to the front. The bridal couple needs to instruct the ushers so no mistakes are made and no one gets slighted.

When one or both of the duoís parents are divorced, seat the parent that the bride or groom grew up with in the front row with his/her spouse. Seat the other parent, and his/her spouse, in the third row. Again, discuss this with the bride and groom and ask them specifically how they want their divorced parents to be seated.

The mother of the bride is always the last person to be seated and she is the first to be escorted out of the room following the bride and groom at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Do not arrive late for the wedding. If you do, wait until the ushers are finished escorting the immediate family members (mother of the bride and mother and father of the groom) to their seats. Most importantly, wait until after the bride has been presented to her groom and then discreetly sit down in the back of the room.

The ushers may require a flow chart particularly if itís a complicated family situation. Knowing where to seat people is going to prevent awkward or unseemly situations or confrontations, which is the last thing anyone wants to happen at a wedding.

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