When you imagine walking down the aisle and standing by your partner’s side at the altar, how do you visualise everyone else? On either side of you in rows of decorated four-legged chairs as is traditional, or will you go for something that’s a little more creative? Here are some of our favourite wedding ceremony seating and layout ideas.
Contemporary vintage bride and groom. Shop vintage in Confetti’s shop.
Wedding Ceremony Seating Alternatives
Your guests may spend up to—or even over—an hour sitting down for your wedding ceremony, so they need to be comfortable. If you’re having a church wedding, the pews are ready and waiting. It may be that your non-church venue provides chairs and chair covers for the ceremony too. But if you have a choice of seating, banish from your mind the idea that your aisle has to be a straight line with rows of chairs on either side. Your seating options can be so much more interesting!
Church pews as wedding ceremony seating via Anna and Jack’s Real Wedding by Douglas Fry.
Benches, Sofas, and Chairs
Chairs and benches are some of the most common wedding seating options. Not only do they come in many styles and therefore fit near any theme, but they’re also easy to decorate. But you can be a bit broader in your chair and bench searches too—consider ottomans and loungers and chaise longues. Or a stylish mix of them all that’s perfect for a vintage wedding theme.
For a more laid-back seating arrangement, consider having your guests sit on pouffes. These are particularly suitable for outdoor or beach wedding ceremonies as they’re a lot less formal. Nonetheless, they can look extraordinary and be of any shape, size, or pattern that you want. Other options include cushy pillows, cushions, and beanbags.
Perfect for a picnic- or Arabian-style wedding, rugs are even more informal than the above pouffes, cushions, pillows, and beanbags. In fact, cushions and pillows work very well in conjunction with rugs, or even blankets, to make for a cosy, relaxed ceremony.
Rugs as wedding seating.
Hay bales or packed straw are great seating options for rustic wedding themes, and tree trunks or tree stumps are great for woodland weddings. To stop them itching or poking into your guests and making them uncomfortable though, you can lay a piece of cloth over or put a cushion on each one (maybe with their names stitched into or written on the fabric to act as seat markings?).
However, when looking at your seating ideas you must think carefully about who is coming to your wedding ceremony. Children may have a blast on your bean bags and blankets, but if you have elderly or disabled guests you may have to provide seating that’s more suitable. Also, consider your location. In a field or on the beach, the legs of your chairs could stick into the ground and make for very uncomfortable sitting.
Wedding Ceremony Seating Layout Alternatives
The layout of your wedding ceremony guest seating can add an interesting touch to your celebration. The possibilities are many and varied, from simple pew-like rows to rising tiers like an amphitheatre. Furthermore, the layout you choose can determine the feel of your ceremony, from traditional to intimate to quirky.
Rustic outdoor wedding ceremony.
Classic Wedding Ceremony Seating Layout
The classic wedding ceremony setup is for the guests’ chairs to be arranged in straight lines on either side of the wedding aisle. But even this classic layout can be shaken up a little bit. Curve the guest seating toward the altar, in a smooth curve or a more squared angle. This way, no guest is too far away from the couple when they say their vows.
Traditional wedding ceremony aisle and seating layout.
Circular Wedding Ceremony Seating Layout
Couples are more creative than ever when it comes to their wedding, and many now choose to set up their ceremony seating in a circle. If a wide gap is left at one end, you then get a layout more like a horseshoe. These layouts are possible with any number of guests too.
A fragmented seating layout usually begins as a circular layout. This circle is then divided into parts like the cutting of a cake. Chairs are left in sections with aisle-like gaps in between, and these sections look great whether rounded or squared.
Circular wedding seating in four pieces. Photo courtesy of John and Joseph Photography.
Squared wedding ceremony seating in four fragments. Photo courtesy of John and Joseph Photography.
A spiral layout is exactly that—a spiral made up of a single, double, or multiple row of guests’ chairs. With this layout, like with the circular layout, the couple can be seen and heard by all of their guests rather than only a few at the front.
But when it comes to your seating layout you must think about practicality. Especially in a spiral layout, and especially if there are quite a number of guests, it may be a long way to walk around in decreasing circles to the altar, and then in increasing circles on the way out again. And depending on how closely together your guest chairs are placed together, it may be difficult for people to find and exit their seats. Also consider the space you have to work with. A circle around the altar will work outdoors in a meadow, but it may be a little more difficult if your wedding will be held in a hall or function room. Make sure your space is big enough.
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Leanne manages Confetti's Instagram account (@confettiwedding) and is one of Confetti's article writers. She enjoys being a highly creative person with a life-long passion for art and creative writing; she has a determined dream of becoming a published author. She values giving help and advice to everyone she can, and loves talking to new people.