Can we make everyone stand at our outdoor ceremony?

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2009

Our ceremony will be outdoors, but we don't want to move the reception chairs outside. Can we simply have everyone stand?

It depends on how long your ceremony will be. A secular ceremony can be as short as ten minutes or as drawn out as 40. While the former isn't too long to expect people to stand, remember that guests will also be on their feet as they wait for the ceremony to begin. It's a good idea to provide some seating, even if it's situated in another area, so they can sit if they arrive early.

Of course, you may have guests for whom any amount of standing is too much. Rounding up a few chairs just for them would be wise. And do round up, as having extra seats will keep them from feeling self-conscious and will allow room for their escorts and others to join them.

The "no chairs" plan works best for a small guest list; Kelly Ortmeier, a facility rental manager for the Denver Botanic Gardens, recommends 50 people as a maximum. "Beyond that, you'd want to have some sort of organizational structure at the site," she says. Plus, as the group of guests gets larger, the standing time before the ceremony tends to grow as well.

Even for a small gathering, you'll want to maintain a sense of structure. Without seating, you'll need a focal point so guests know where to look. A raised platform of any sort will not only accomplish this but also make it possible for the shorter guests to see. Or, create an informal aisle using a runner or floral arrangements.

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