Around the Circle

My fiance and I both want a non-traditional wedding ceremony, without the procession. The ceremony and reception will be held at an restaurant in NYC. I've read somewhere we could have our guests stand in a circle around us with a small wedding. However, we are inviting about 50+ people and am not sure if this could still work with this many people. Do you have any thoughts on this or any other alternative ideas to a non processional wedding? -Dorothy

As those who've read Offbeat Bride know, I loves me some circles, and of course it's only fitting that I'd be all for couples trading in the aisle approach for circle time. Doing your wedding in the round is a great symbol (you start your wedding inside a ring!) and also a nice way to avoid the hierarchy of rows of seats, and skip the aisle completely.

As you can see from the picture here (from Vania's Island celebration), you can make some pretty big circles with lots of guests. That said, if you're in a smaller enclosed space, I can imagine it could get kinda tight.

In that case, I would vote for two circles around you — a seated inner circle, and a standing outer circle around the chairs. It still means you have to split your guests into two tiers, but that's better than rows. Making some of your guests stand wouldn't work for a long ceremony, but it's good encouragement to keep things short ‘n' sweet.

If you need some inspiration about how it might look, check out this post:

Or browse our wedding in the round archive!

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Comments on Wedding circle seating

  1. Thanks for the mention! I liked the circle idea and 2 circles would be a great solution – ours was just a wee bit too big when we had to speak up over the sound of the waves in the water.

  2. We totally did the circle (lo, these many almost 7 seven years ago) and I had so many people saying how much they loved being “up close and personal” with us. Our officiant actually had us pause and look around at all of our friends in turn, which was great. We used bamboo that we cut from our site to mark the aisle and the circle – simple and inexpensive, plus totally organic/recycle-able.

  3. It’s not circular seating, but one of the coolest weddings I’ve been to didn’t have an aisle. It was held in an old hall with a stage at one end. The guests gathered in front of the stage and the curtain went up, revealing the bride, groom, and wedding party all standing in place facing the audience. It was gorgeous and dramatic.

    And hey, I’m a first time commenter on here, but I’m really excited for your reading in Bellingham this weekend!

  4. I attended a handfasting ceremony that took place in a wooded backyard. Everyone stood in a circle holding hands. The best part of the ceremony was when everyone gave personal blessings and advise to the couple (one guy spoke Klingon); the worst part for my date was that you couldn’t break the sacred circle until the ceremony was finished and there were 50 people wishing the couple well… he really had to pee.

  5. We're doing a handfasting ceremony up a canyon. Everyone will be standing in the sacred circle. We'll have a chair for my aunt and a few extra for anyone not wanting to stand for the whole 15 minute ceremony. 🙂 The circle idea works especially well with the weird 'stem mom and mom' dynamics and who would sit where. 🙂

  6. We are having 2 flower girls and 2 ring bearers, and now I don’t want to even have chairs at the ceremony (unless guests-all family or family of bridal party- bring their lawnchairs to sit in). Now I’m not sure how to let the kids “do their job” without having an aisle. Maybe we could start by guests gathering on two sides of the arbor making an aisle, and when we all get to the front, they can all scootch together and arrange themselves however they want. Would that make any sense? Any other ideas?

    • I have a feeling the flower children would LOVE running in a circle spreading petals..let them know they have the important job of “finishing” the circle as/after people gather ’round!

  7. I love the idea of circular seating. Where should our parents sit? Opposite each other?

  8. We did our wedding in a circle, and we had 120 people. It was beautiful, and everyone said they could hear fine (no mics).

    • Were the guests standing or seated in a circle? We have an outdoor venue that does not allow chairs or amplified sound and we have only about 50 people. If it worked for you I’m sure it will work for us, just want some reassurance!

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