Thursday, December 17, 2009

1 Aisle, 2 Aisle, Bride Aisle, Groom Aisle

Our beloved church in Norfolk presented us with an aisle conundrum.  The crux of the issue is that there are two aisles, neither centered.

I say it was a conundrum and call it an "issue," but really, I was never too perplexed about it.  Out of the 6 churches I've attended over the years, half of them did not have a center aisle.  I've seen a few workarounds at weddings (including moving the ceremony to churches with a center aisle), and I was confident that we could have the ceremony at our church without too much consternation.

One workaround I've seen is to shift the focus and seating to one side of the church.  This eliminates the two aisle problem by creating the illusion that there is one aisle.  At some of the bigger churches, I've seen the decorations go so far as to line the unused aisle in pipe and drape to hide the other space.  Honestly, I've never thought about it too much because the decorations have been beautiful and effectively staged the space to look natural.  Here's an example from my friend J's wedding at the church I grew up attending (from this camera angle, it's hard to tell the set up, but there's a whole third of the seating that is not being used to the far right):

Photograph by Andres Alonso

Since our guests will almost fill the sanctuary, we needed to come up with a plan that included both sides of the church.  We followed the advice of other two aisle couples and the basic gist of our processional/recessional is that I'll go down one aisle and we'll leave the other aisle as a married couple.  We have a few more complications though.  The bride's side and groom's side seating can only be accessed by their respective aisles without having to walk across the front of the church.  So my family will process down the bride's side and his family will process down the groom's side.  We also wanted to infuse a little Jewish tradition into the processional, so the future Mr. Palindrome will process with both of his parents down the groom's side.  If he was processing, we thought it'd be nice to have the groomsmen process as well.  We decided to have the groomsmen and the bridesmaids process simultaneously down their respective aisle sides.  The orchestration of the particular order in which everyone should process took a little thinking (take out your thinking caps!), and I hope that I was able to show it more clearly in the diagram below:

Since I made this diagram, my mom read that etiquette-wise the groom's grandparents are seated first.  I don't have a preference either way and since it's such an easy thing to accommodate, I thought I'd just make the switch.

Do you have a 2 aisle venue?  How are you using/ignoring the extra aisle?

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