It happened again!

grace3July 15, 2007

I had a bad experience with my daughter's wedding 4 years ago...we had no one to coordinate things on the day of the wedding, which meant that it fell on my shoulders, which meant that I didn't enjoy the wedding day *at all*. Consequently, I decided that I was going to offer my services to friends when they or their children get married. I've done this a few times, now, and I find that I really enjoy it, and get very positive -- and grateful -- feedback.

But, I would like some advice from some of the more experienced wedding planners/coordinators on this forum. At almost every wedding I've "done" or gone to, it seems to be a problem to get the guests to go in and sit down (i.e, go and be seated by the ushers). This is especially true of the relatives and close friends, who tend to arrive very early (1-2 hours ahead of time), and then stand around in the foyer and visit right up until the last minute. When other guests arrive, and they see so many people just standing, not being seated, *they* then tend to do the same thing. For instance yesterday, 15 minutes to starting time, we have 2-3 dozen people milling around -- with more arriving, of course -- and only a half-dozen or so sitting in the church (and those are ones that -- because I knew them well -- I asked them if they would go ahead and be seated in order to try to get others to follow suit). I tried walking up to the different "clusters" and saying something like, "If we could get you to go in and be seated, that would be great...we'll be starting soon." But, it still was another 5 minutes before anyone made a move toward the door.

Any suggestions for the future?

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I've never seen that happen at any wedding I've attended. Usually people prefer to be seated early so they can have an aisle seat for better viewing. And then the ushers bring the guests in from the outer aisle so the better/closer seats are not forfeited.

I'm not sure if this falls under your "job description" or not since you're not actually guiding these people to their seats. Where are the ushers?

I think I would have the ushers approach the guests about 45 minutes before the service begins. Have them simply say, with friendly authority, that it's time to begin the seating. Without hesitation they should then start to ecort the guests in and merely ask whether they are guests of the bride of groom.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 12:07PM
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This happens frequently, particularly at churches and when guests haven't seen each other for awhile. I first tell the ushers that they need to get moving and take the initiative to ask people if they can seat them. Often the ushers don't seem to know what they are supposed to do. I then go to each group and tell them that the ceremony is about to begin and to please find a seat. I also have the guest book closed a few minutes early and I tell people standing in line that the ceremony is about to begin and they can sign it after the ceremony.

I wear a name badge when I am working and that lets people know that I am a person in authority and not just "Aunt Martha" telling them what to do. You might try speaking with authority; rather than asking them if they would be seated, tell them that you are about ready to start the ceremony and they need to be seated.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 9:46PM
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How about saying "The Bride has asked that people please be seated."

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 11:00AM
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the relatives and close friends, who tend to arrive very early (1-2 hours ahead of time)


Don't they have anything else to do?

This never happens in the weddings I go to in NYC, bcs these are BIG churches, and there's another wedding right before, so nobody shows up early.

Good advice here, though.

I agree w/the direct, non-suggestive approach. Tell, don't request. Polite tone of voice, and all, but an order nonetheless.

And "the bride has asked" is nice, too.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 10:43AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

Sweet Pea, I especially liked your suggestions to close the guest book, to have the ushers approach guests, and to wear a name tag.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 6:33AM
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The organist can also give a huge hint that things are about to begin. Instruct him/her to begin playing something about 10 minutes before....or have the bride tell him/her that she needs to signal people that it's time to begin.
I also have never seen unseated guests be a problem, but rather the very early arrivers who are sitting in the church while the florist is making last minute adjustments and the wedding party doing some last pictures.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 12:30PM
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I don't know why people show up hours early, but if they do, I don't blame them for not wanting to be seated then. 45 minutes sounds like a long time to me, too. I think most people stand around and talk for a few minutes before going in unless it is getting very close to start time.

Music is the best cue. Start it (or change it) when you want people to start being seated, and go around and just politely tell people, "Won't you please come be seated now?" A few groups ought to get the ball rolling. If they are not moving, approach the group that looks most likely to stand there forever and ask them to "help you" get everyone moving toward the room.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 2:18PM
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