I’ve seen a lot of interest in having a spiral or circle layout for your wedding ceremony. I think it’s a fab idea, particularly for those who have issues with ‘sides’ in seating. This is ideal for the wedding where one person has way more friends and family than the other. It’s very mingled and also affords a great view of the ceremony. If done well, this can be perfect. I’ve had experiences where it has not worked quite as well as I would have liked. Here’s what to watch out for.
Full circle or spiral seating layout.
Issue – Guests have to file into place one by one and tend to leave gaps of one seat between groups. No-one can get to that seat without the ‘move one down please’ shuffle.
Issue – Someone in the middle suddenly needs the bathroom. They are stuck, cinema seating style, having to get past everyone to get out. Not too bad when they are seated only a short time, but in some cases they can be out there for 30 minutes to an hour.
Issue – The elderly can’t always walk that distance to work their way down to see their Grandchildren get married.
Issue- People will take out chairs to short cut to their group or party and bypass the filing into place.
Issue – Someone is behind the Officiant. [ I heard one camera person saying 'get out the way Rev' while they were trying to take pics] Not conducive to good photos and of course they cannot see YOU getting married. In the picture above there is really no place for the officiant to stand without obstructing the view and people will get frustrated.
The Solution - It works really well if you leave a gap [as in the picture below] so that the officiant will have no-one behind them. This allows everyone to see you and also makes allowances for people rushing into their seats at the last moment, or needing to get up and move, without disrupting everyone else.
You need processional space of a sufficient width to allow you all to get down the aisle without cramping your style or your dress. The gap behind the officiant needs only to be one chair wide to fix all the aforementioned issues. If you are having a chuppah, try making four arc sections instead of the full circle. You get the same feel, but no one gets a chuppah leg in their view.
I do love this layout for many reasons, but please be aware of how important it is to your guests to both see and hear your ceremony.