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Designing Your Ceremony

Facing Your Guests (Modern Format)
Backs Turned (Traditional Format)
Examples of Wedding Vows
Effective Seating
Aisle Runner or Petals
Children in Wedding Ceremonies
The Escorting of a Bride
Taking Parental Vows
The Use of Music
Using a Pedestal
Using a Wedding Carriage
A New Role For Grandparents
Wedding Ceremony Readings
In Memoriam

Ceremonies in Special Places
Ceremonies in Theme
Taking Your Ceremony to Others
Staying in Character
What Name Should I Use?
What if it Rains?
Fibbing Your Start Time
Ceremonies in Candlelight
The Reception Line

The Order of Events

Primary Options:
Read this First
The Unity Candle
Champagne Sharing
The Sand Ceremony
The Blessing Tree
Tying the Knot
Tasting the Elements
Using a Photomontage
The Giving of Roses

Options In Finale:
Butterfly Release
Dove Release
Balloon Release
Tossing Petals
Bubbles in a Wedding Ceremony
Applause Walk

The Five Rules:
Rule One
Rule Two
Rule Three
Rule Four
Rule Five

Advice on Photography
Advice on Wedding Coordinators
Death by Venue
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Effective Wedding Ceremony Seating
Amphitheater Seating
Amphitheater seating at a gazebo in Valparaiso, Indiana
How Seating Can Optimize the Enjoyment of Your Ceremony
I encourage my couples to keep the seating of their guests close to them during the ceremony, no more than six to eight feet from the couple to the first row. Closeness gives a strong sense of family and invitation. Too much distance means guests will neither hear your words nor see what you’re doing. Two very big black marks against your ceremony.

church Pew SeatingThe graphic at left illustrates a standard arrangement of chairs for a wedding ceremony. This arrangement closely resembles the use of Church Pews.

You can improve on this..

Note: In the three graphics used on this page the bridal party is in red, with squares representing groomsmen and circles representing bridesmaids. The bride and groom stand forward of the bridal party, with the bride as a white circle. The entire bridal party is facing the seated audience which is represented in blue. I, as an officiant am represented as a black diamond and am facing the bride and groom in center aisle with the guests all around me. A photographer represented by a green diamond stands slightly behind me and to the right, and is taking photos of the beautiful bridal party arrayed before him/her.

User Friendly . My ceremonies are optimized at all levels. I use stage and theatric principals to design them, they are extremely photogenic, and they are fine tuned to meet the needs of the audience. Seating therefore, can be used to enhance this effectiveness as I encourage, or it can be used to detract from it as described below. The guests and photographers will have full view of the bride and groom and their bridal party. Every seat is a good seat at your ceremony. Just click on the Venues link in the topics column at left to see 225 examples of this.

Virtual Stage SeatingIn most ceremonies, seats are placed in rows like church pews. We can improve on this by removing the first two seats of the first row, and the first seat of the second row. See now how the hard right angles are removed. Furthermore, this openness creates a Virtual Stage, by which the couple will gracefully maneuver in when giving roses to their moms and/or vips. Photographers and videographers find it much easier to position themselves in this open area as well without crowding the bride and groom.

We can optimize seating further if you like by canting the seats toward you. The final graphic shows how the seats are angled toward the bride and groom as well as having the corner seats removed. This means the guests are more comfortable watching your ceremony as they are not looking over their shoulders at it. This seating arrangement is called Chevron. You could also arrange the seating in gentle curves or arcs around you. Seating in this arrangement is called Amphitheater and is used in the photo at the top of this page.

Chevron SeatingFrom time to time a couple will ask if putting their guests around them in a circle is a good idea?

It isn't, and for a number of critical reasons: Seating in this format has been called a Ceremony in the round. The bride and groom stand in the center of their guests much like the bulls-eye of a target, with the guests being the outer rings of that target. Bridal party members stand in the aisles or wherever they can find room.

Though some would give a high mark for its novelty, novelty must bring function which this arrangement of seats does not. It actually hurts your ceremony. Ceremonies in the round reintroduce the problems that facing forward has remedied- namely that couples are once again turning their backs on their guests and speaking away from them as well. Remember that the bride is turning her back on half of her guests and the groom the other half.

A Ceremony in the round makes the bride and groom the absolute focal point of the ceremony and ignores the venue's best aesthetic background (such as the picturesque grounds of a country club). True, half will see this background when seated, but the other half will have their backs to it, (creating both good seats and bad seats at your wedding ceremony). A Ceremony in the round might be a good choice for a featureless environment, like the surface of the moon, but most couples pay a premium to have their ceremonies in picturesque locations- all of which is ignored by this arrangement. For these reasons, I do not, and will not, perform my ceremonies in this format.

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