Recently I photographed a wedding and some late arriving guests whispered to me, “which side is the groom’s side?” I smiled and giggled because I wasn’t really sure how to answer appropriately. A part of me giggled, thinking, ‘is it supposed to matter?’ And then the other part of me, didn’t want to say anything either way because suppose it did matter to the couple?
That question was filed away in my brain as something to think about later, because the wedding song was beginning and that meant show time. Late in the evening as I was driving home I began replaying the wedding day from beginning to end. I suddenly remembered the question one of the guests asked me earlier that day. I wondered to myself, is this a tradition worth preserving? Why was it created in the first place? Who even benefits from a group of guests sitting on one side of the ceremony over the other?
So then I thought about the setup of a traditional wedding ceremony. If you are facing the officiant, the bride usually stands on the left with her bridesmaids and the groom and groomsman on the right. Therefore, if it were truly important to the couple, the guests would follow suit and sit on the appropriate (and I use that word loosely) side.
But then I remembered a moment that I happened to have caught on my camera at a different wedding. After the bride and groom had their first kiss as husband and wife and were walking down the aisle together, I captured an image of the bride doing a “fist bump” with one of the guests. While that was a candid image, there had to be a teeny tiny bit of forethought on the bride and the guest’s part. You can view this image here on my website. So in that scenario, I can see the benefit of the couple knowing which side their guests are seated.
But from a broader perspective, I have a tendency to believe that when a couple marries, they become one. So, in my opinion, it shouldn’t really matter whose side guests are seated because at the end of the day, everyone is there for one purpose, to support both the bride and groom.
Whether I know the bride personally or the groom personally, either way, when I arrive at a wedding as a guest, I am elated for them. I am hopeful for their future. I am a believer in “the possibility.”
Call me a hopeless romantic, or call me the non-traditionalist, but as one couple stated: “today a couple is coming together as one, pick a seat not a side.”