I find that there still are wedding planners/advisers who hold to very old – some would call them “traditional Victorian” – views on where people should sit at a wedding. For example, the bride’s side is the left facing the front of the church/venue, and the groom’s side on the right. The challenge is that different religions have different traditions as to which side the bride and groom stand on and hence which side the guests sit on. This is sometimes presented as a rule to follow. Knowing what rule or custom to follow can get quite confusing!
Above: Photo on the left, a Christian ceremony. Photo on the right, a Jewish ceremony.
My advice, regardless of whether or not you are attending a ceremony in a church or other religious space, is to not worry or become obsessed with which side for which side! As for the couple planning their weddings, don’t stress out over where you guests sit! There really is no right or wrong way. What is “right” is having manners. Here is my advice:
Remember that close family will probably be seated in the front two rows on either side. These may be roped off as ‘reserved’. Leave the first two rows available for close family and make sure you follow any directions that have been laid out for guests.
When you arrive – and guests should arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony – seat yourself closer to the front. This will leave the back rows for the late comers and give the room a sense of fullness. Photographers love it when their pictures give the sense of many welcoming guests even if it is a small wedding.
If you are unsure, ask! There will certainly be someone from the wedding party or a family member who can help you out.
Last year, at the White Wedding Chapel, a couple had this sign printed up for their ceremony. I just love it! “Pick a seat, not a side!” Good advice for all marriages as two people and two families become one! Where you sit is not important. What is important is the continued support of family and friends in the years to come.