Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Q & A: Wedding Ceremony Seating

Reader's Question: Chris and I are finally starting to make some wedding preparations (yay!). We are in the Phoenix area and trying to plan an earth and wallet friendly affair. Chris is an Arizona State University faculty member and we have found a lovely secluded courtyard that we can use for free for our ceremony because of his association with the university. It's just a big grassy area with some mature trees along the walls and we're wondering about the seating arrangement for the ceremony - no chairs/benches/tables are available unless we rent them and bring them in. I'd love to avoid that extra work for someone and the extra expense. We've seen pictures of ceremonies where everyone stands in a circle or half-circle around the couple and we really like that. But you know what else sounds neat? Everyone sitting on different patterned picnic blankets around us! We could just use sheets that we find at thrift stores...But of course, not everyone is as comfortable as we would be lounging on a blanket, and some of the older relatives might not be able to. Any thoughts on merging the idea of brightly patterened picnic blankets with comfortable seating for everyone without having to rent a bunch of chairs?

Yes! You are a kindred spirit. I love, love, love picnic blankets. I think asking guests to sit on picnic blankets to watch your ceremony would create an incredibly relaxed, intimate, and unique experience.

But I agree that it's important to keep your guests' physical comfort at the forefront of your mind. Here's my advice:
  1. Look through your confirmed guest list and estimate how many people would prefer to sit in chairs.
  2. Figure out where to borrow chairs from. I know I personally have four folding chairs that I would be willing to bring with me if I were a guest at your ceremony (I'm not trying to invite myself; I'm trying to point out that you can tap into the resources of your friends and family!) And I bet your partner can figure out someplace to borrow them from on campus. If all else fails, you can try to put an ad on craigslist to see if someone has access to some folding chairs and would be willing to let you borrow them. You might have a friend or family member with a truck who would be willing to pick them up.
  3. Give guests the heads-up that they will be sitting on blankets during the ceremony. This knowledge might affect their choice of attire. If you have a wedsite, it's very easy to convey this kind of information.
  4. Start searching for sheets from thrift stores! (Matt and I did that for our tablecloths.) Make sure you open them all the way in the store to find out if they have any stains.
Hooray for such a fun idea! Thanks for sharing!

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Katie said...

Our venue does not allow chairs, so we were also considering the picnic blanket idea. granted, much of my family is snooty and would be appalled at being forced to sit on the grass, but everyone needs at least one humbling experience, right??
i'd love to collect old quilts from thrift stores for the wedding, but that might be getting a bit expensive.

in last year's real simple wedding magazine, they featured a wedding where the whole thing was a picnic! it was so cute! the couple had brown bag lunches packed form an organic caterer, and they hand-made all the blankets!

Anonymous said...

My brother did this at his wedding, and he actually asked guests to bring their own blanket to lounge on. (He brought extras, just in case.) Some people also brought lawn chairs and just set them up near the back so they didn't block anyone's view.

He also brought about 20 folding chairs for older guests, and most of them ignored the chairs and plopped down on the grass!

Eco Yogini said...

I have seen a few weddings with cushions to sit on! Kinda like meditation cushions but a little bigger. More comfortable than blankets :). However, may be a bit tricky to source but like Sara said, posting on craig's list or kijiji and asking friends and family and you never know what you'll find!

Anonymous said...

What about borrowing bales of hay to use as benches that you can then lay the blankets/sheets over? That is more comfortable than the ground and easier for those who can't swing the ground seating. Although I am in the midwest and hay bales are easy to come by--not sure about in AZ...

Kelsey said...

Thanks for posting this Sara and for the input and thanks everyone for your comments - I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Unknown said...

I think the idea of sharing the seating info is great.
Someone like me who has terrible back pain can bring a beach chair and be comfortable.

megan said...

if you're a member of a church somewhere, they might have folding chairs available for you to borrow. if not, like Sara said, the university might have some available of which to take advantage. also, i'm a major ebay lover! by a wholesale lot of blankets to save money!

Anonymous said...

Old sofas can mix really well with picnic blankets if you've got people to borrow them from - comfier and more stable than chairs on grass, and with a lower profile and quirkier. I've seen it done at music events.

Kate said...

One consideration is how much effort it would take to bring seating with you to the venue and how long it will be used for. And how many people will be there.

If it's an hour-long ceremony on a hot day, people will want a seat. But if it's less than a half hour, I think that mostly will likely be alright to stand. Keep in mind, if there are a lot of guests and they are all standing, some people might have a hard time seeing.

I love the picnic blanket idea and the beach chairs.

We're having people stand in a half circle, but are using a few of the chairs that we're renting for the reception for older guests. We have one person assigned to bring the chairs to the location and pack them back up.

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