If you are having a church wedding, you might be a bit confused as to who should sit where during the ceremony. Traditionally in a Christian wedding, the bride's family and friends are seated on the left side of the church (left as you are walking toward the altar) while the groom's family and friends sit on the right side. (With a Jewish wedding, this is reversed.)
So, what happens when the church has two center aisles? In this case, the bride's family and friends sit on both sides of the left aisle, and the groom's on both sides of the right aisle. The couple's parents would sit in the center section with the bride's mother and father on the left and the groom's parent on the right.
As guests enter the church, an usher will greet them and ask if they are a friend or relative of the bride or groom. The usher should extend his right arm to the female and escort her to her seat, filling up the church from front to back. If the female has a male escort or a male guest has arrived alone, the usher can simply say, "Please follow me" (after finding out if they are on the bride or groom's side) and lead them to their seat.
Any guests who are friends of both the bride and the groom get the best available seat. If you know prior to your wedding that one side will have far more guests than the other, everyone is just seated together, filling up the church from the front to the back.
The first pew or row is normally left open with no one seated there, in case someone in the bridal party needs to sit down during the ceremony.
The bride's parents sit together in the second pew on the left at Christian weddings and the groom's parents on the second row on the right (reverse in Jewish weddings). If your parents are divorced but not remarried, the same rules apply. If your parents have remarried, the parent who raised you (along with their spouse) sits in the second pew and the other parent sits in the third pew.
Grandparents sit in the third pew on the outside next to the aisle. Siblings, aunts and uncles can also sit in the third or fourth pew. Reserve pews by marking them with special flowers or ribbons. Ushers should seat other guests behind the reserved pews.
Guests that arrive late (within 10 minutes of the ceremony or after the bride's mother has been seated) should not be seated by ushers but rather just slip quietly into one of the pews in the last row at the back of the church.
Now that you have everyone seated at your ceremony, next week we will discuss wedding reception seating.