How to seat guests for your ceremony when your family is huge and his isn’t

Image by Autumn Twilight exclusively for Mountainside Bride

Traditionally, the bride’s and groom’s families sit on opposite sides of the church during the wedding ceremony. In the Christian tradition the bride and her family is on the left. In the Jewish tradition, she’s on the right.

But what if your family is huge and his is tiny?

What if you don’t want a wildly unbalanced-looking church?

What if you’d rather have guests sit where they want to, irrespective of family ties?

Go for it!

Gone are the days when strict adherence to tradition rules the day. In today’s modern weddings, you are free to mix things up and choose traditions or eschew others according to your tastes and personal needs.

In the case of seating guests at the ceremony, I particularly love the sign “Today two families become one, so pick a seat, not a side.”

It makes a clear statement about unity and family. It also allows you to fill your ceremony site evenly.

But Don’t let go of your ushers just yet!

Just because you aren’t following traditional seating protocol, doesn’t mean you don’t need ushers!

Let your ushers know that you want the church or ceremony site seated evenly starting from the front and working back. This will also make the ceremony site look fuller in pictures.

Take it from me: When guests are allowed to pick their own seats and scatter, your ceremony can look somewhat ill attended.

Also, make sure to save the front row or two for close family and VIPs.

If traditionalists in your family balk, your ushers can simply say it’s your wish to fill the church evenly, and that it will allow everyone to be able to see and hear the ceremony more clearly.

Good luck!

Christie Osborne
Christie Osborne has lived in or visited every mountain range in the US. Once a mountain bride herself, she's dedicated to helping mountain brides plan their weddings and find the perfect vendors. She's known in the blogging world for her no-nonsense attitude, and she loves to ski. Follow Mountainside Bride on Twitter Facebook and Pinterest.
Christie Osborne
Yosemite #Wedding at the Ahwahnee by @BergreenPhoto See their work - 5 hours ago
Christie Osborne


  1. says

    I love this post! I completely forgot about this aspect when it came to our wedding. I have a HUGE family and Kevin’s is not so big. Luckily people balanced themselves out and the ceremony images came out looking okay. The one suggestion I do have with reserving the front row or two, make sure you count how many you want in those rows and definitely let them know those sets are for them. I had reserved seats for close family members but I neglected to tell them so they didn’t realize those seats were for them. So then ended up seating a row back. And now looking at the images of our ceremony, it looks like no one wanted to sit it the first two rows. :-( Oops…my bad ;-)

  2. says

    I’m a huge fan of symmetry so I’m loving this advice!

  3. says

    Symmetry fan here, too–great advice! Plus, why not let all your favorite people mingle early on?