Category Archives: wedding seating

Let’s Break the Rules

Certain things in life have rules and expectations that must be adhered to but others that, while are assumed, definitely are not required to be followed. There are long-standing wedding customs with important meanings behind them and some that were simply started and have been incorporated as time has gone on. It is a personal decision whether or not you choose to integrate any or all into your ceremony and here are just a few of them….

The Seating Chart: It’s not necessary to assign a place for every guest to sit at your venue and is perfectly acceptable to allow each to select their own upon arrival. No one needs to sit on one side or the other based on which part of the family they are associated with. The same goes for your reception space as, not only does not worrying about it ease your stress level and save you preparation time, it allows people to meet, mingle and interact with others they may not know.

The Rehearsal Dinner: While your rehearsal isn’t a tradition you should skip so as to ensure your wedding runs smoothly, the subsequent dinner is one you can. Any way to save money is a positive thing and two fancy dinners in a row are not necessary so long as that is clarified early on. One option is to invite those in your wedding party to eat while specifying you are not hosting (hence not funding) it. Another is gathering after your practice to simply give thank you notes or small tokens of appreciation.

The First Dance: Every wedding you’ve been to probably included a first dance with the couple, whether rehearsed or simply to a chosen song but that is not necessary either. After all, your guests have already witnessed the special commitment between your husband and yourself during your ceremony. Therefore, why not skip everyone watch you share more intimate time together before the festivities begin and let the first dance be one for everyone?

The Dress: The term “blushing bride” has a new meaning in the sense that it’s no longer necessary for you to wear a stark white dress. Shades of ivory, pale pink or beige are unique without being over the top and completely acceptable. If you want to go bolder, it’s perfectly fine as well. The tradition of wearing white began with Queen Victoria so it goes without saying that it’s one that can be discarded in this day and age.

It is your day, after all, and you should have it your way. Not only breaking these traditions but any of many others will make it special and memorable for yourself and your guests but likely inspire and open the minds of any friends who get married in the future.


Let’s Make Some Music

Music has often been described as universal and in many ways is just that. It brings people together, creates enjoyment and is often a topic of conversation that can be discussed with almost anyone as not everyone at your wedding is going to know one another. The music you select for your day in terms of the ceremony will, most likely, be different than anything you’d want to hear on the radio or purchase on iTunes. Songs for the reception obviously are a much different story but there are things to keep in mind in reference to both.

As for your ceremony, the music is usually broken down into several different segments:  the prelude (what is played as people gather and get seated), what you want people to hear when your family is seated, the processional (a selection for the time when your fiancé and bridal party take their places and, most importantly, the entrance and exit songs. It is acceptable for the entrance and exit songs to be the same as they will just be played at different speeds. Before you choose any of those, however, it is wise to decide on what type of musician(s) you want so as to ensure they are able to play and are familiar with your picks.

You certainly are not obligated to choose the “traditional” music such as “Canon in D” or “Clair de Lune” as many songs that you hear on the radio, for example, can be beautifully transformed in a way that isn’t cheesy or contradictory with the tone of your ceremony.

As for your reception, maybe you have specific songs and opt to make a playlist or perhaps you just prefer a certain tone and the individual songs are not of importance. You need to decide whether you want a band or DJ, both of which have pros and cons. Depending on the tone you want and your budget (as typically they are pricier), bands create a more intimate ambiance and a professional one can play most songs that you find important (or at least are willing to learn them).

DJs are often used when you want more vibrancy and energy and the doubt that something can’t be played is eliminated as they can find absolutely anything. However, it may be difficult for them to change the speed and tempo of music in order to adjust to/accommodate how people are dancing.

Regardless of what type of musician (whether a pianist, violinist, band, DJ or anything else), the wise thing to do is have a run through prior to the day of your ceremony. If that’s not an option or you choose not to, you should at least get either a CD or video of past performances so you are aware of what is in store and will not be let down or look back with regrets.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Your wedding is an occasion on which you share some of the most intimate moments of your life with those who are near and dear to you. Of course, there will be people in attendance who you don’t know such as the “plus ones” and some of those meaningful to your fiancé that you are not familiar with. Sharing one of your most important events is equally as meaningful to your friends and family as it is to you. However, there are some aspects that should be kept private and need not be addressed if they make you uncomfortable and/or should they arise.

Anything in reference to costs and pricing is off-limits and that should go without saying. Perhaps you will feel comfortable telling someone how much one particular thing ran such as your photographer or the veil for example (especially if the inquisitive one is someone who is preparing for a wedding of their own). However, you should never feel obligated to disclose anything in reference to money, who paid for what or anything of the like.

Inquisitions in reference to how you choose who to or not to invite are something else that you should never have to respond to. Perhaps it has something to do with your budget, might be related to how intimate you want your ceremony to be or maybe there is an unsaid conflict between two people who you are trying to avoid awkwardness between and keep from putting a damper on your day.

Your wedding is your own and something else that is not kosher is being asked whether your ideas in terms of planning and execution are yours alone or whether you “borrowed” them from someone else. Inspiration comes from countless places including magazines, photos, shopping and even weddings you’ve attended. You need not justify the reasoning behind any of your choices or decisions nor disclose where they came from.

The bridal party shouldn’t request another style or color of dress despite the fact that they are responsible for their own cost. You should definitely give some consideration to body shapes and sizes and perhaps choose different styles of the same dress (in the same shade of course). However, if someone would prefer something different, they most likely either had that at their own wedding or will when their special day arrives.

Every bride is different and if you choose to answer a question, go on and do so. However, you should never feel obligated to disclose any information that makes you uncomfortable or that you feel to be inappropriate. Your guests (and certainly your bridal party) should relish the moment and appreciate the fact they were invited to partake in your day. The details and decisions are not anyone’s business but yours and never need to be justified.

Avoiding Snaf(who)s

When planning a wedding, you will spend countless hours, months and sometimes years making sure that every detail is covered and everything is as perfect as it can possibly be. While the focus is certainly on you and your soon-to-be husband, it is important that your guests have an enjoyable time as well and that their feelings, expectations and desires are taken into consideration too. Inevitably, there will be some snafus but there are things you can avoid and do so in tasteful and thoughtful ways.

Chances are that many people at your wedding will not know one another as they come from both you and your fiancé and, most likely, haven’t met. As most strangers don’t tend to intermingle, if you are going to have an extended period of time between your wedding and reception, it is imperative (not to mention appropriate) to have some sort of diversion/entertainment for your guests. Plan for appetizers and cocktails to be available, rent a photo booth, have some games set up or anything else to keep your guests occupied so they don’t even notice the lapse in time.

Taste your food beforehand and give it some thought as two of the biggest gripes about weddings are that the food is either inconsistent in quality or that there are things that some of your guests, whether due to allergies, dietary restrictions or simple dislike, cannot eat. Choose a company that is reputable and is known for the first chicken breast, for example, tasting the same as the hundredth. Also, it is very important to make sure that you ensure an ample amount so that no one leaves feeling hungry.

Specify just who is invited on your invitations so you are not caught off guard and the location is not crowded to the point of being uncomfortable. It is prudent to either add specific names or include a check box for “plus ones” if they are welcome. Additionally, doing so can easily and tastefully avoid any issues if you choose to have a wedding in which children are not invited. All of these will help you to avoid unexpected guests as well as irritation, discomfort and a calamity of other errors.

At your reception, obviously, you choose those most important to you to give the toasts. Keep in mind a couple of things however. First, do exactly that. You don’t need to ask each relative, friend or everyone you’ve ever known to say something. Also, remember that many people who do so make references to times and events that a vast number of your guests will both have no knowledge of and/or in which they find no significance. The only thing worse than hearing about things you are not interested in is hearing about them for a prolonged period of time. Let your toastees know prior to the reception to keep it short and sweet. Have them choose a few important moments and express their wishes for you in a concise manner. That way, everyone can enjoy the speeches and memories and then the party can go on.

Respect your guests enough to spend some time considering the date you choose so it can both be special to you and not interruptive to them. There are many dates that you might not even think would be intrusive but often are such as any time around holidays as, for example, invitees from out-of-town may be less inclined to attend because they are accustomed to spending those times with their families. Days such as Friday where people either have to take off work (such as your wedding party) or attend after a long day are also not the best idea. Of course, perhaps there is a particular day that means so much to you that you insist on it and those who either can or choose to attend do and those who are not available for whatever reason don’t. The most important thing (if you are not set on a particular day) is to check the availability of those who are most meaningful to you and whose presence you want the most.

These are just a few of the things you should consider that, while may add additional time and effort into the planning process, will certainly make things easier as well as be worthwhile for both you and your guests in the end.

Have a Seat

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.