There’s one mistake I see couples making again and again at their weddings.
They plan out every aspect of the day, agonising over table plans and playlists and timings for toasts – but they don’t think through the ceremony.
Most couples these days prefer not to have ‘sides’ at their ceremony. Where traditionally – in you’ll-meet-your-spouse-at-the-altar times – the family and friends of the people getting married would be segregated on opposite ends of the aisle, couples these days have dated – and often lived together – for years before the big day. Their friends have met. They have shared friends. They don’t want to split the room into ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ on a day that’s all about being an us.
And that’s a wonderful thing. But it leaves one big problem.
People don’t know where to sit.
Those shared friends come into your ceremony and have to judge for themselves where they should be seated. Are they first-five-row friends? They might be close friends but are they closer than your cousins? And your partner’s cousins? Or are they more last-row friends? Should they sit at the back, where they can’t really witness the ceremony so much as your Aunt Sophie’s hat’s reaction to the ceremony?
It’s an awkward position to be put in as a wedding guest – forced to guess how much the couple likes you. And it’s worse when you don’t know how the other people in the room know the couple. No one wants to be the person who accidentally sits in front of the mother of the bride.
That’s why you should reserve seats.
Reserving seats at your wedding ceremony
You don’t need to do it for every guest. You don’t need to assign everyone a chair, the way you do for dinner.
But it’s worth reserving the first few rows for the most important people.
Who do you want to see, when you look out, beaming, at the people who’ve come to witness the happiest moment in your life? Your parents, wiping away a tear? Your best friend, cheering you on? Or Jo, who you haven’t seen since college, hunched in the front row, red-faced, because there was no place else to go?
Dammit Jo. It would be you. Pexels
Wedding procession logistics with reserving seats
And it’s not just about who gets the best view in the house. If you’re having a wedding procession – if you’re asking people to walk down the aisle as bridesmaids or groomsmen – there are some real logistics to consider about where they should go after they’ve sashayed to the altar. Are they going to stand at the front with you (and is the room big enough – and the ceremony short enough – for that to work?) or are they going to sit down?
If there are any children or older people in the procession, have them sit down! Asking them to stand still (and not pick their noses) for the whole ceremony would be… let’s say optimistic.
Take it from someone who nose… I’m 78% sure I’m eating what I just found up there.
But even with young, able-bodied, non-nose-pickers, it might make more sense to have everyone sit down. It’s awkward to have a large group standing at the front of an indoor wedding – they obstruct the view for everyone else. (And everyone else already has your Aunt Sophie’s hat to contend with.)
But even if you have miles of rolling field to spread out in, you need to consider what the ceremony is going to be like for the wedding party if you make them stand through it.
These people are in your wedding procession because they’re your favourite people; they want to share your day, they want to see this deep and wonderful moment, they want to hear your vows, they want to remember this, your wedding. Much more than ruddy useless Jo does.
If the choice is between standing in an awkward line, struggling to catch a glimpse of the ring exchange, and sitting in the front row, I’m sure your friends would have a preference.
(Sure, they’ll tell you, ‘Oh, whatever you want me to do,’ because that’s the infuriating, polite answer people give when you ask them a question, but they’ll have a preference.)
And it’s not difficult to organise. Your registrar will usually ask the whole audience to stand for the procession and to sit after it, so no one will notice your bridesmaids and groomsmen quietly slipping to a chair; you’ll still have photos of everyone gathered together at the altar, but no one will miss the most important part of the day.
How to do it
So, how do you reserve seats at a wedding?
If you have anyone acting as ushers – part of the wedding party who greets guests as they come in, handing them orders of service and confetti, and showing them where the ceremony is – they can always police it, stopping people from sitting in the first few rows.
But the most effective way is to tie a tag to each chair, marking it as reserved. It means you don’t need people right there, all the time (because they will miss someone – and it will be your ninety-two year old Great Aunt Lydia).
Plus, tags that match the colours and themes of your wedding are going to fit the day and look fantastic in your photos.
Case in point… Kooky Weddings
They match our Magment wedding website and invitation set, so if you’re using our festival-style stationery, they’ll match your wedding beautifully.
You’ll need to open the .PSD file in Photoshop or other image editing software, like Photopea, to add a name to each tag, so everyone knows who the seat is saved for. (Not sure how to use Photoshop? There are step-by-step instructions here.)
After you’ve added a name to each tag, print the tags out on card, not paper, to make sure they’re sturdy and cut along the lines to cut out each separate tag.
There’s room at the top to punch a hole in the tag (it’s definitely better to turn a punch hole on its side and use that rather than employing a stabbing technique – believe me!). Tie some string or ribbon (in your wedding colours, natch) through the hole and you’re ready to tie it onto your chair, and have a well-organised, well laid-out wedding.