Chairs are so important to the success of a wedding because they contribute to the guests’ comfort and placement during the ceremony. The process of setting up chairs for a wedding can seem like an unimportant detail, but if overlooked can cause major problems on the big day. It is especially important to plan ahead when setting up chairs in a wedding tent because you have limited space and a specific layout to consider.
- Position the chairs to face the front, leaving an aisle right down the middle of each row. This will leave about the same number of chairs on either side of the aisle. The aisle should be about 5 feet wide, providing enough space for the bridal party to walk down easily. Do not make the rows too wide as the guests on the ends of each row will have trouble seeing the ceremony or may have to view it from a bad angle. It is better to create more rows reaching farther back.
- Keep the chairs within the tent to protect guests from unfavorable weather; keep this in mind when choosing a tent. You do not want to have to cram chairs into a tent that is too small. Determine how much space the chair layout will cover before choosing a tent size so that you can choose one large or small enough to fit specific needs.
- Clear plenty of space toward the front of the tent for the actual ceremony and the bridal party. Make sure the bride, groom, officiant, and entire bridal party will fit under the protection the tent provides. To ensure this space is sufficient, place the middle chairs in the first row (on either side of the aisle) at least 8 to 10 feet from where the bride and groom will stand to face each other during the ceremony.
- Reserve chairs in the front row for close family. According to The Knot website, the guests of the groom are usually instructed to sit on the right side, and the guests more closely associated with the bride sit on the left side (if you are standing in the back facing the front); in traditional Jewish services, the sides are the opposite (see Reference 1). Each chair in the front row should be reserved for a specific person so that there are no extra chairs on either side of the family members. For example, if the bride’s mother, father, brother, and grandfather are to sit in the front row, there should be only four chairs placed in that row on the appropriate side.
- Reserve chairs for people involved in the ceremony. Depending on how big the wedding is, the second row can be reserved for close extended family, the ushers, or anyone involved in the ceremony who is not necessarily in the bridal party. This will prevent scrambling between seats when it comes time for these people to perform their parts in the ceremony.