Typically, the first things you think of when you get engaged are finding your dress, venue, figuring out the guest list and who you want to include in your bridal party. It is not until the excitement wears off a bit and you actually start planning the day that you realize all of the details involved. One aspect that may be very time-consuming is the seating arrangement for the ceremony as it can get complicated, don’t want to offend anyone and you should definitely spend some time considering it.
Traditionally, your friends and family will be seated on the left side and those of your fiancé will be on the right. While you can choose any seating arrangement you want, here are some things to keep in mind that are status quo regardless of what style your wedding is…
Parents: Your mother usually is always the last one to be seated and should typically be in the first row. If your parents are married, it goes without saying that your father should sit next to her and will take his seat after walking you down the aisle and giving you away if that is something he will do. Your future husband’s parents should be given their place prior to your family. If your parents are not together, there are some options. One is that whoever is closest to you sits up front and the other occupies the third row. If things are amicable between them, they can share the first row with their relative spouses (if applicable) and, if not, they should sit separately.
Decorations: It is not necessary to decorate every pew but, on average, most brides will do something to the first few rows to distinguish those who are most important from the other guests and make them know that their presence is the most meaningful. You can do that with flowers, bows, ribbons or anything else imaginable.
Other Family and Friends: Most often, grandparents are placed in the second row with the eldest closest to the aisle. Your brothers and sisters typically go next to them. As for your friends, aunts and uncles, etc., many brides allow for free reign on seating as whoever gets there first chooses their location and the subsequent ones are left with the remainder of options. An alternative is to have a specific seating chart in terms of which row everyone is on if that is what you would prefer, however, it may be offensive to some of your guests. If you choose to do so, you can give the chart to the ushers so they can ask each guest’s name and then lead them to the correct seat. Otherwise, you can have cards at the end of each row with names so the attendees can find their intended spot on their own.
It goes without saying that everyone who is asked to share in your marriage ceremony is special and invited for just that reason. It should never be insinuated that, because someone is not closest to the front (right behind your family), that they mean any less than those who are. While it is something for you to contemplate, at the end of the day, all your guests will remember is your union and certainly won’t give a second thought to where among the other guests they were seated.