by Robbin Montero
Seating is important because it honors guests and acknowledges the heads of the families at the wedding.

            Sure, weddings are familiar and fairly predictable events. However, it is necessary to identify and assign roles to the members of your wedding party to make sure your ceremony proceeds as you wish. Bridal couples make choices about how the wedding procession will take place at the rehearsal.


Seating honored guests

            Seating is important because it honors guests and acknowledges the heads of the families at the wedding. At the rehearsal, eliminate confusion and assure the task is handled with grace by having a discussion with ushers or groomsmen about seating. Groomsmen handle the seating detail in the absence of ushers. They should understand that ladies are escorted by ushers/groomsmen and the husbands or partners follow them to the seat.

            Decide who will escort key relatives to their seats so nobody has to hurry up and down the aisle between seatings. When it comes to seating key family members, it is unwise to have the same person seat two grandparents in a row, for example. Doing so would  hold up other seatings and possibly cause the grandparents to feel rushed. 

            After invited guests have been ushered to their seats on the bride or groom’s side, the  grandmothers and mothers are seated as the husbands walk behind them to their seats. The groom’s grandmothers are seated first in the center front row on the grooms side, followed by the bride’s grandmothers in the corresponding row on the bride’s side. If the groom has a stepmother she is seated first and then the groom’s mother, who is always seated in the front right-hand pew on the aisle. The same sequence is followed for the bride’s stepmother, should there be one, and mother, who is always seated in the front, left-hand pew on the aisle facing the altar. 

            If the mother and father of the bride or groom are divorced and amicable, they may share the front row accompanied by their spouses. If relations are difficult, the father can sit one or two rows behind the mother. Godparents can also be placed in the first row with parents and grandparents. The second row is for siblings and their families, as well as special aunts and uncles.


Walking the walk

            Once the families are seated, the groom, best man and officiant enter from the side and remain standing in the front of the church to watch the processional. Walking in a slow, measured gait, bridesmaids and groomsmen can walk down the aisle side-by-side or groomsmen can enter with the officiant and the bridesmaids can walk without escorts. The sequence is typically from tallest to shortest for both groomsmen and bridesmaids. The maid of honor precedes the ringbearer and flower girl(s). The bride is last down the aisle.

            The question of whom will walk the bride down the aisle is determined by the bride. It can be her father or both parents. If her father is unavailable, the bride can ask a stepfather, brother, grandfather, uncle, or even her mother. It is also perfectly acceptable for the bride to take the walk unaccompanied. Though groomsmen may precede bridesmaids to the altar, they will partner up for the recessional. When numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen aren’t equal, they can double up with one or two lucky groomsmen escorting two bridesmaids or vice versa.

            Ring bearers are charming, but this is where key members of the wedding party may also come in handy. The maid of honor and best man can handle the rings of the bridal couple, or the best man can hold both rings. 

            The entire bridal party should attend the rehearsal and it should be suggested that they arrive a half-hour before the actual rehearsal begins to get socializing and organizing out of the way. There should be two run-throughs so everyone will be on “automatic pilot” the day of the wedding.


 “Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding.  Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” 

©2009 Robbin Montero


This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.

Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.

©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero's expressed written permission.