If you have been to a wedding, you may have entered a ceremony space only to wonder, "Which side am I supposed to sit on?" Typically for a wedding ceremony, the seating is arranged into two halves with an aisle down the middle, and guests are to choose which side of the aisle to sit on, either the right or the left. According to long-standing wedding tradition, some may say there is a right and a wrong side to sit on, depending on how you know or are related to either of the people who are getting married. So how are your wedding guests supposed to know on which side of the aisle to sit?
Bride's Side or Groom's Side
At a church wedding, the ushers often will ask guests, "Bride's side or groom's side?" But which side is which? And why?
Wedding lore tells us that hundreds of years ago, kidnappers would often capture and hurry off with the bride in order to steal her dowry. So, in order to ensure that the groom could keep his sword arm (the right) free, the bride stood on the other side (the left.) Today, in spite of the fact that the groom rarely wears a sword nor needs to fend off attackers, you'll almost always see the bride standing on the groom's left. It is also traditional for wedding guests to follow suit. Typically, the bride's guests and family sit on the left, while the groom's family and guests sit on the right.
At a formal wedding ceremony, the ushers will typically escort guests to the appropriate side depending on which family the guest is associated with. During the wedding processional, the families of both the bride and the groom will be escorted in prior to the bridal party. It is also important to note that typically the first few rows of seats on either side of the aisle are reserved for the couple's immediate family members, so be sure to sit back a few rows if you are not closely related to the couple.
Of course, unless your church is strict about tradition, there is no reason you have to adhere to this old policy, so feel free to switch things up. You might have more mutual friends than you do separate friends, or, in a same-sex wedding, such questions might not apply. Even if they do, feel free to designate either side as your own, or give your guests permission to sit anywhere with open seating.
Ultimately, the seating of your guests isn't something to stress over. For the sake of ease, many couples opt to give their guests freedom to sit wherever they choose.
It is very common for couples to display signage at their weddings with clever phrasing to indicate which side their guests should sit on, or to give their guests permission to ignore the old rules altogether. This wedding seating signage is a great way to share your seating wishes with your guests so they do not have to wonder where to sit.
Here are a few examples:
"Come as you are,
Stay as long as you can,
We're all family now,
So no seating plan."
"Now that we are together forever,
Please feel free to sit wherever!"
"Family and friends of the bride and the groom,
Please sit together, there's plenty of room!"
"She said Yes! Now we'll say I do!
Please pick any seat. We're now one family, not two!"
"Today two families are becoming one,
So pick a seat, not a side!"
"Choose a seat, not a side,
We're all family once the knot is tied!"
Updated and Edited by Jessica Bishop