Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seating The Guests

While it may seem logical to you, many people - especially the ushers - don't have a clue as to how to seat the guests at your wedding. While many guests show themselves to their seats, especially when the usher is nowhere to be seen, there is a custom to escort special guests to their seats before the wedding ceremony begins.

Even though you may be calling these particular groomsmen "ushers," they may not know how to escort the guests to their seats. I knew one usher who blithely took the groom's great-grandmother up the back stairs of the church to the choir loft because he thought it provided the best view in the house. Then he neglected to tell anyone he had done this. For ten minutes, the bride's father, the groom's father and all the bridesmaids were frantically seeking Nana and there she was, all alone in the choir loft trying to figure out how to get downstairs with her walker.

At the wedding rehearsal, take a few moments to explain to the ushers the protocols of seating the wedding guests. You haven't invited all these people to witness your wedding only to have them miffed before the ceremony even starts!

My suggestion is that you have photo prints of each important guest made and placed in a coordinated seating plan. Go over it with the ushers ahead of time. It doesn't cost a lot to have prints made and for you to sketch the rows where these guests are to sit, but it can save huge fusses later.

Place this chart at the back of the ceremony site near the guest book as a reference so that there is no confusion. It's not that you don't trust the ushers to recall your instructions, but they may not know who everyone is and this will help them make things go smoothly.

There are several permutations of seating that occur for different religious wedding ceremonies.
Most prominently, in Christian weddings, the bride's family sits on the left side of the church while the groom's family is on the right. Reform and Conservative Jewish weddings are just the opposite. Orthodox Jewish weddings segregate the men and women from sitting together at all.

The first row of the ceremony site is reserved for parents, the second for siblings, the third for grandparents and other close relatives. After that, ushers may seat guests as they arrive from front to back. Closest relatives should be seated last and separated from the rest of the guests due to their relationship. Guests who arrive late at the wedding ceremony should quietly sit at the back and don't need to be escorted by ushers.

Plan ahead now and save against seating headaches later!

No comments: