How can I make sure guests please DON'T stand for the Bride?

Updated Oct 12 2015
everyone (except for me, my dad, and everyone sitting under the balcony)
CAN EVERYONE PLEASE SIT DOWN! Photo by Charlie Beck
One of the unspoken wedding traditions that drives me nuts is when everyone stands up for the bride.

I know it's an old tradition and it's a respect thing (or something like that. I'm not totally positive of the background). But why just for the Bride?

Is anyone planning/have you seen anyone address this? Do you ask the guests to remain seated? Do you ask them to stand as the groom comes down the aisle? -beccamink

Your shorter guests certainly will thank you for this! (As one Offbeat Bride Tribe member said, "So out of respect of the shorter individuals, everyone can SIT THE FUCK DOWN.") Our best suggestion would be to put a note in the program or have your officiant say something (possibly something funny) to let guests know.

Don't want people to stand up when you walk in? How are you telling guests?

  1. You know, I had seen this happen at other wedding but somehow never noticed people being told to stand. Then I forgot all about it, and didn't write anything for anyone to say about it either way. When I walked in, everyone stayed in their seats since they hadn't been instructed otherwise. I didn't really care either way, but it was unexpectedly nice because it meant I could look down the aisles and see everyone's face, beaming at me–people on the edges would've been invisible to me had they all stood up.

    So perhaps, if you've got a literalist group like mine, you just don't mention it at all and no one will stand.

    • People have automatically stood up at MOST weddings that I have either attended, or watched on TV.

      My mother was a (much sought-after) wedding coordinator, and she always had to have the officiate reiterate to the wedding guests to 'please remain seated' since they didn't pay attention to the 'please remain seated' info that would be printed in the bulletin.

      The reason? So that everyone would be able to see.

      If there is a rule-of-thumb to go by it is that if the mother-of-the-bride stands, then everyone follows suit.

  2. I think you have three options:
    1. Make it very clear in programs that you want people to stay seated the whole time.
    2. Don't walk down the aisle.
    3. Ask people to stay standing until you reach the altar.

    This tradition is ingrained in the collective guest psyche. Even if you ask people not to do it, they may do it anyway. People are well known for messing up requests that go against what they've always been taught, clinking glasses at the reception as a perfect example.

    You could choose to walk in from a different entrance as a surprise. When I got married, my husband and I switched places. I didn't want to be given away and he did, so I hung out at the front with the officiant and Husband's mom walked him down the aisle.

    If your problem with this tradition is that people only stand for the bride, you could have your ushers escort people to their seats and instruct them to stay standing for the procession. Then the officiant can tell people to sit after you reach the front.

    • Oh man, I hate the clinking glasses thing. I meant to find a way to deflect it for my own wedding, but forgot! Somehow it never came up….maybe because we just had bottled water, mini soda bottles, and juice boxes instead of glasses. Nothing to clink on!

  3. I went to a wedding once that began with the officiant saying a few words, then finishing with "Let's begin: please remain seated during the entire procession." This would also be a good time for other instructions, like "no cameras, y'all."
    I thought it was a really nice start to the wedding. I always felt like the music striking up and the wedding party entering was an abrupt start–at some weddings, people are still just sitting down at that point and even still talking.

  4. Being as I'm from the midwest (the heart and soul – good ole South Dakota) people tend to stand whether you like it or not. I have noticed that when there is a dinner theater style arrangement (tables and chairs) people are more likely to stay seated. I've never thought about it to be perfectly honest… I hope people stay seated for the most part. I went to a wedding where there was a lot of up down up down up down for hymns and readings of scripture and the like; that feels much like a church service to me. Since when am I the most important thing about a wedding? = to God? I think not….

    • Bit confused about your point here – if it was a wedding ceremony with hymns and scripture, then surely it WAS a church service? 🙂

      • Typically there are a few reading over the bride and groom, a sermon on the true meaning of love in a relationship. Sometimes hymns are sung. It depends on the branch of Christianity, the church and the officiant/pastor.

        • Catholics include an entire mass in their wedding ceremony. It's insanely long. I can't imagine being a bride and having to stand there the whole time.

    • Well most Christian faiths believe that the marriage arrangement was created by God and it's common for Christian couples acknowledge it in different ways throughout the ceremony. This was probably their way of celebrating their faith in their marriage. Every couple and their faith is different…

  5. I was at my cousins wedding and the JP DID NOT tell everyone to sit down so they didn't. Yes they were a crowd of idiots. For my wedding it would be hard for some people to stand so I would like the announcement of people sitting during the procession but I was also thinking how many swivel chairs we'd have to buy!!

    • Was this my wedding?? Seriously, this is why my advice for all brides is that the first words out of the officiant's mouth should always be, "Please be seated."

    • In defense of wedding guests, I was at a wedding last weekend where the officiant didn't tell us to sit so we didn't. My first thought was honestly that he was going to do some sort of community vow/affirmation thing, since he started off talking about the importance of community, and then when it was clear he'd just forgotten, peer pressure and not wanting to disturb the ceremony kept me standing (thankfully it was only 15 minutes).

      But yes, this does happen, and we will be reminding our officiant to ask people to sit. We're paying $4.75 a chair, ffs!

  6. We got married in my in-laws backyard, and to save the hassle of moving all of the chairs from the ceremony area to the reception tables we just had everybody stand during the ceremony. It worked out well because it meant no transition time.

  7. I completely forgot that standing for the bride was a thing, until I stepped toward the aisle on my wedding day, and everybody stood up! it took me by surprise, actually, and then my dress got caught on something (or my dad stepped on it. i'm not really sure what happened, but we were outdoors so it could have been anything) and then I felt guilty that the guests were all still standing there staring. And my bridesmaid who was singing had to throw in an extra instrumental verse because everything took longer than we planned. Between all of this, and trying to see who all was there for guests, I completely forgot to even look at my husband. I got to the end of the aisle, faced him and went "OH. HI!" because I basically forgot he was there in all the chaos. It was not my finest moment.
    We wrote our own ceremony though, so I know the JP never asked everybody to stand. People are going to do what they're going to do. You can ask them not to (we had our JP ask people to put away their cameras before the ceremony. if I'd been thinking, I might have asked him to tell people not to stand). The question is, does asking people not to stand draw more attention to the whole thing, and is that what you want? (if it is a patriarchal tradition you want to draw attention to and defy) or is it a case of not wanting the attention, because then you might actually be better just letting people decide to stand or not on their own.

  8. I think it could be as simple as this:
    *The music starts (or I guess if there is no music, whatever the cue is for whoever is walking down the aisle)
    *The officiant says to the crowd "will everyone please stand."
    *You guys all walk down the aisle
    *The officiant asks everyone to be seated

    This seems like a good solution if you don't mind people standing for everyone, not just the bride. If you don't want people standing at all, maybe the officiant could says (as the music, etc. starts) "Please stay seated throughout the entirety of the processional."

    Really it comes down to knowing your group. If you think you can get away with saying something clever, do it. Just know, some people may not know if the officiant (or the wedding program) is being serious and do it anyway. Keep in mind, it only takes one person to start the standing. If one person does it, everyone is going to do it. Like sheep 🙂 I'd say, go for clarity over humor.

  9. Basically seconding what everyone else has said; having your officiant ask "will everyone please remain seated" seems like a good way to go.

    My initial thought was to write "program notes" like the kind you get in playbills announcing that an understudy will be performing tonight…except instead they're notes saying something like "At the request of the bride, please remain seated throughout the entire ceremony."

    Or whatever you choose to do…"at the request of the bride, please stand once the procession music starts" or somesuch.

  10. I went to a wedding once where the majority of the guests had to stand up mainly because of poor seating arrangements. I say regardless of whether you want your guests to stand up or not, be sure there are enough seats for everyone, especially if it's an outdoor affair and there's a chance that the weather may not be ideal (as was the case with the wedding I just mentioned).

  11. For several reasons, including the standing thing, my husband and I walked down the aisle together. People stood, but they stood for both of us. I really loved holding his hand on that walk, and it was nice to have the attention on the two of us, rather than a single one. If the attention for just the bride is an issue for you, you could share the spotlight.

    If it's the standing part you're concerned about, and you want to make sure all of your guests stay seated, I would suggest as others have mentioned, and ask the officiant to start you off with a few announcements and requests, including that of staying seated. The problem with putting it in a program is that 1) that means you have to have a program (which we didn't), and 2) people are notorious for not reading directions. If the officiant announces it just before the processional, it'll be harder to forget.

  12. YES YES YES!
    My Grandmother has been in a wheel chair my whole life. I have attended many a wedding and watched her feel she had to laboriously stand for the bride, not only that but even then she cant see anything.
    I decided long ago that I would request for people to stay seated especially for her.

    • That's part of why I don't want people standing at mine, either. I'm thankfully not yet tethered to a wheelchair, but I have mobility issues that make transitions between standing and sitting both graceless and painful. Standing itself is painful (and makes me lightheaded and sometimes involves fainting if it goes on too long), so when everyone stands for the bride, I don't. Then I feel conspicuous. As if crowds and lots of people I don't know weren't anxiety-producing enough, then I'm also freaking out about people thinking the worst of me because my disabilities are mostly invisible. And then I feel guilty both for being disrespectful, and for taking attention away from the bride. As you can imagine, it's a crappy downward spiral.

      For all those reasons, I don't want anyone standing for me. I don't want anyone to feel that way at my wedding. I haven't yet decided whether to walk down the aisle, and to be perfectly honest I think we are going to plan the ceremony with it and with an option of me starting at the front like the groom does, so that I can choose that day depending on how I feel and a host of other issues.

      We are planning on having me (and the groom) sit for the ceremony. And I just had the thought that I kind of want to sit facing the crowd, thereby having the officiant's back to them, because let's face it they're there to see the bride and groom, and no one is looking at the officiant's face anyway lol.

      • You could do everything set at "2/3" or "3/4" with your shoulder turned out toward the audience at a bit of an angle. Think of scenes in a movie (older Jimmy Stewart flix are a good example) where 3 or 4 actors have to be seen by a camera. With a narrow seating arrangement to force the perspective, like a theater 'orchestra' section you'll know everyone can see while you're seated, and most folks can see the stuff the officiant will do (passing rings etc.) without having to see your backs for the whole ceremony.

      • It is pretty normal here for catholic weddings that the bride and groom get to sit down during the readings etc. We were sitting to the side, slightly back, angled across the altar so we could see both the priest at the front and the congregation.

        what we did:
        Walk down the aisle, stand for the opening blessing, be seated for the readings and sermon, stand for vows and then go and sign the official documents before walking out. we were probably seated for 70% of the (45 minute) ceremony, plus we got to look at all of our guests.
        I only recommend not doing this if looking at any of your guests will make you cry (I had to avoid looking at my mum the whole time because if she started crying I was going to be stuffed too).

        If you want to be seated for vows I would consider arranging the chairs so you can be looking towards each other (we were just next to each other looking out).

  13. My husband and I walked down the aisle together and I was a little miffed our guests didn't think to stand for both of us!

  14. Typically isn't the standing for the bride cued by the mother-of-the bride in the front row? At least, that's how it worked at our wedding…the guests waited for her to stand and then everyone else stood, so maybe if she hadn't then people wouldn't.

    But I second the idea of having a short announcement..especially with people in wheelchairs, an easy "please remain seated so that everyone can see the processional" would probably work well.

  15. You can't make grown adults do (or not do) whatever you tell them. I discovered this the hard way when my BMs ignored plenty of my requests before and during my wedding. All you can do is ask everybody before the bride walks down the aisle, and speak to a few key people others will take cues from (eg family and close friends) before the big day – if they sit down, hopefully others will get the picture.

    Like I said though, adults think they know better than some rule or request. You can't make anyone do anything, but if they are the only one standing they may feel a little dense.

  16. I was just going to ask the officiant to say something about no flash photos and "Please could everyone remain seated as the mother of the bride is rather short and would like to be able to see everyone"

    (My Mum will be walking me down the aisle and her height is a family joke)

  17. I actually wanted people to stand for me, and no one did — even though I'd made a point to tell people the day before to please stand up!

    I think people will stand if they see other people stand. If you don't want people to stand up, tell as many people as you can "hey, don't stand up when I start walking in" and everyone else will probably take their cue from the people who don't stand.

  18. I always felt like the first people to stand were people who wanted to snap a photo of the bride, followed by people whose view was blocked by the standers, followed by more people whose view was blocked by the new standers, and then more people stand because they feel awkward sitting when so many are standing… I always see a few people who remain seated, though.

  19. Duct tape? 😉 It could be a way to 'give a job' to someone if you're stuck for tasks for kids to do, etc. Rugrats carrying signs are popular for "Here comes the bride!" and such, so if you do that, on the back you can say "Really, don't get up. She's short" or something else cute/funny to reiterate that staying seated is preferred. People might well start chuckling before you walk, which can help with avoiding weepers too.

  20. I was adamant I did not want people standing for me. Neither did I want to walk down an aisle. We fixed this by getting to the church first before everyone else, and sitting at the front. Our friends and family filed in behind us as they arrived, and when it was time for our ceremony, we just stood up and took a step forward. It was such a relief not to have to do the aisle walk!

  21. You know, the other way of looking at this problem is to get everyone to stand up for everybody, which is the way I choose to handle it. We're having a traditional Episcopalian wedding, and since it's our tradition to stand for the every-Sunday procession of the acolytes, lectors, and priest, we decided to just stick myself and my groom at the end of it. This way, everyone is standing for the whole procession, and not just some over-drama'd "here comes the bride" moment.

  22. I walked down the aisle to a hymn — Holy, Holy, Holy, played by a musician friend — and I think that threw people off. My husband's father actually stood up, so everyone else did. If you don't want people to stand (which I gotta admit, it was pretty cool to allow myself to be the center of attention for that brief moment), I'd recommend choosing a nontraditional song to be played while you walk down the aisle. People are conditioned to stand when they hear the traditional wedding songs.

  23. In a traditional Catholic ceremony, the guests are standing to sing the opening hymn. Those who cannot stand/kneel usually sit in the front of the church or in another area designated for those with mobility issues.
    My wedding was a traditional Mass, where my husband and I processed in together, so all the guests were standing for the bride AND groom. So if you're worried about gender equality (standing for bride/not standing for groom), consider walking down the aisle together.

    • In my family you are either Catholic or "resting Catholic" (ie don't go to Mass or keep traditions) and every Catholic ceremony where the Priest has a good reason to suspect a lot of non-Catholics are in attendance – weddings, baptisms etc – they've always introduced what comes next with instructions as to what to do for example "Let us stand/sit/kneel to…".

      The entrance would be the only one where the Priest isn't in place to give guidance – but again, there's usually a catechist or lead musician who will give a few "housekeeping" rules (no flash photography, if you can't kneel it's OK to sit, keep aisles clear, if there is a children's liturgy, this song is a solo etc) who can cover it.

  24. My husband walked down the aisle solo first, then I did, both of us during the same processional song (that he'd written :)). Before the song started, our officiant asked everyone to please stand.

    If you don't want ppl to stand, just have the officiant say "please remain seated" when s/he comes out & before the music starts.

  25. I want people to stand not just for me but also for my groom. But not for the groomsmen or the bridesmaids or the flower girl & ring bearer. Basically the groomsmen walk out first (guests seated), groom walks down (guests stand), bridesmaids (guests seated) FG & RB walks down (guests seated) and last Bride and Mother walk out (guests stand)
    How do I word it for the officiant to say: for the groom and bride please stand but in between please sit??
    I have this so far: The Bride has a request that all guest please stand for the Groom walking down the aisle.
    How do I say sit for the rest of the wedding party members but stand for the bride. Help! We are meeting with the officiant on Friday and I have no ideas.

    • Unless your attendees are Catholic (and even if they are), they're going to find the stand up – sit down – stand up -sit down thing very strange and off-putting. I'd say move the groom to be after the flower girl, have your officiant announce "All Rise!" when the groom is about to walk down the aisle right in front of the bride, then "you may be seated" after you both get to the front (or after the give-away line if you're keeping that part).

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