Your Quick 3-Step Guide to Ceremony Seating

The ceremony is the most meaningful and sacred part of a wedding, which is why it's important to ensure that all guests are properly (and comfortably) seated for the entirety. For brides and grooms with questions about such seating and what works best for their own ceremony, we gathered up some etiquette expert-approved answers. Read on!

Do I need to save seats for family members at the ceremony?

It's always a thoughtful gesture to reserve ceremony seats for family members. This way, they are guaranteed a prime viewing spot as they watch you and your groom exchange wedding vows. Block rows off by draping a length of ribbon or garland across the opening of the rows to prevent other guests from sitting there. In addition, you'll want to brief your ushers on who gets a reserved seat (provide them with a printed list that they can refer to).

And as you're working out the reserved ceremony seating, keep in mind:

• Elderly guests should be seated near the front.

• Guests in wheelchairs or on crutches should sit at the end of a pew.

• The first four or five rows may be reserved for immediate and extended family (like aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents) and other special guests (like the parents of a child attendant).

We're having a low-key beach wedding and want to keep things simple. Is it OK to ask our guests to stand during the ceremony?

While it is a bit unusual, asking guests to stand during the ceremony is perfectly acceptable, as long as you keep your guests' comfort in mind and make decisions accordingly. To ensure your "standing" ceremony goes smoothly, follow our best advice:

• Keep the ceremony under 15 minutes to minimize guests' discomfort.

• Keep your guest list small, preferably under 50. Standing ceremonies work best at more intimate weddings.

• Provide enough chairs for any older or disabled guests in attendance. Place "reserved" signs on the seats so they'll know exactly where to sit.

• Give guests a heads-up on your wedding website about the standing ceremony — that way they'll know what to expect and can dress accordingly (read: leave your stilettos at home!).

• Serve chilled drinks like sparkling water and juice to guests as they arrive, especially if it's a warm day.

Our wedding ceremony venue is very rustic and we were thinking of using hay bales for seating instead of chairs. Will guests be comfortable?

We love the idea of using hay bales for a rustic outdoor ceremony, but keep in mind that hay bales are not as comfortable as chairs, so it is important to keep your ceremony as short as possible (ideally under 20 minutes). Cover the hay bales with a sturdy fabric, like Mexican blankets, so that guests don't get poked or sit on an uneven surface and have more comfortable options for elderly guests. If your guests have severe hay allergies, though, consider using rustic wooden benches instead of the bales altogether.

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