While your wedding day is about you and your fiancé, as the contemporary bride and impeccable hostess that you are, you also want to ensure the comfort of your guests. Enter the topic of chair selection. I know what you’re thinking: “chairs?” Yes, chairs are an integral part of your planning. They are the ribbon on a package, the accessory that completes an outfit. Chairs are that final touch that can either enhance or detract from the look you are creating for your décor. To really understand your seating options and make the best choice, let us consider the following:
Today, it is easier than ever to research your seating options. Wedding magazines can present a wide range of ideas and resources when it comes to determining your style, and many party rental companies have web sites you can use to preview your choices without ever leaving home. With chairs available in metal, wood, and Lucite, some that are enhanced with an upholstered look, and others that include embellishments such as belts and brooches, there is a chair designed to suit every taste and theme. Chair covers are also available in myriad fabrics, colors, and textures –– not just white satin –– such as cushy suede cloths, lush velvets, and lace, which can allow the beauty of the right chair to peek through.
Regardless of your budget, it’s important to remember that there are several elements to creating the right environment for your wedding: color, available space, linens, floral arrangements, and of course seating. Integration of these elements is essential in retaining a sense of harmony. But a limited budget does not mean a limited selection of seating options. Do not be deceived by looks; even the most fabulous designs may be far more affordable than you think. Take the time to investigate, and you may be very pleasantly surprised.
If you are planning to rely on the chairs already present at your wedding venue, using chair covers is a great way to attain a custom look. (Remember: chair covers should fit securely or they may shift and result in a messy appearance, marring the elegance of the setting.) Another way to personalize the look of existing seating is to rent two designer chairs to create a sensational sweetheart table for you and your new spouse. You can also opt to rent a few more of these special chairs to honor your close family or friends by seating them at a table designed just for them.
When bringing chairs to a venue, you can stretch your budget by integrating a less expensive metal-back design with a complementary cloth-backed style. Not everything in your décor needs to match; the individuality of these additions can enhance the look of your event while reflecting your unique vision.
Often times, brides assume that using the same chair for both the ceremony and reception will be the most cost effective approach. This thinking may be deceiving. When determining cost, consider whether your chairs need to be moved to another location or require a change in configuration or placement to accommodate a specific space. Both scenarios add unexpected costs in personnel and time.
If budget is not a primary concern, then go wild! You might consider using different looks for each phase of the evening or for a specific area within your environment. You may select one chair for the ceremony, another for the reception, and a third that lends itself to a more relaxing and social atmosphere. The use of banquettes and couches is on the rise. This more informal style of seating can create both drama and interest. Integrating couches into your reception plan to create a lounge can work well with a black-tie event, but banquettes or booths may not be the most practical for dinner table seating. Just imagine wearing a floor length gown and having to be the one to slide into the middle seat!
I’m sure you’ve attended events where you’ve sat for so long that by the time you’ve stood up, your back hurts or your legs have fallen asleep! Some of today’s most astute chair designers have had similar experiences and have responded by providing ergonomic seating that supports the lower back. This group has also realized that asking someone to sit for hours on an inadequately padded cushion is unreasonable. Look for those designs that include such features and be sure to spend some time sitting in them. There is no doubt that your guests, young or old, will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
When determining the type of chair to select, consider the shape of your table, size of your guest list, and design of the room. Round tables, the most customary choice, accommodate a varying number of people. Generally, a 60-inch table will seat between eight and ten guests,while a 72-inch table allows for ten to twelve. When shopping for chairs, actually place the chairs around a table to see how they fit before making your selection. Remember, if space is limited, refrain from selecting chairs that are overly large or with armrests, as they may overpower rather than enhance beauty of the setting. Chairs are a highly visible element of your décor and will contribute to that initial and lasting impression you hope to create for your once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whatever your dream, follow your heart, and plan your day with both you and your guests in mind.
Opening photograph by Elizabeth Messina