58 seats. 62 Koreans.
November 30, 2016 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Sweet fiancé and I are getting married in a park, in July. Seating is extremely limited. How do I work this out?

Our ceremony (which should be 10-15 minutes long) has seating for probably half the guests, with plenty of room to stand/lean on other things. On one of those wedding message boards, I was told that this is horrifically rude, and I'm a terrible person. Very helpful.

Let's just say for argument purposes that our ceremony location is not able to be changed. [It is covered in case of rain] Do I need to put this on our invitations in case people just want to come to the seated reception? Or should I just tell people by word of mouth? Or is it okay to ask our coordinator to make sure that people who need seats (elderly, pregnant, or who can't stand for 15 minutes) get them?

[NYC specific. It's the big park in the middle of Manhattan. Most people walk everywhere, and will walk to our reception a mile away.]
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Society & Culture (52 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are we really talking about 4 seats too few? It seems like it shouldn't be that hard to add 4 seats: buy 4 foot stools at your local dollar store and have kid-seating there. Or buy a little bench that two or three people can sit on.

But anyway, you won't need to. There will be 4 people who don't mind standing. Also, the likelihood that 4 people who RSVP won't make it or won't make it on time seems quite high.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

We had a similar setting for our wedding and made seats available for immediate family and those that needed seating for medical or other reasons. Everyone else stood and were totally cool with it. The ceremony was brief and there were seats available during the reception in an adjacent building. Most people stood during a large portion of the reception too, just as they mingled, etc.
posted by goggie at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2016

Best answer: I am a justice of the peace and have married plenty of people and there are a lot of interconnected things involved in planning a wedding and it is not necessarily rude to have people stand during the ceremony and I would put that out of your mind. This is a situation where you can manage expectations. If you want to be as useful as possible here, I would suggest some notifications, maybe on a website with the usual stuff about the event (places to stay, registry, whatever)

- letting people know in advance that there will be mostly standing room but seats for anyone who needs one
- letting people know the ceremony will be short
- letting the people know you care about their comfort and finding a way for them to connect with someone (planner? someone from the party who is in charge of this?) to make sure they have their needs met.
- letting people know the reception is a little walk and what the plan is for people who can't make this

Not everyone has a visible disability (and you may or may not know your guests well enough to know their concerns, I don't want to imply you do or don't) and so people should be able to have a path where they can self-identify as needing a seat, optimally. And then seats can be set aside via reservations (you can put little "reserved" signs on seats) or by having one person in charge of that situation. This will vary a little if this is a wedding with four grandparents (for example) versus one with mostly young people some of whom may be pregnant or have skydiving injuries, for example.
posted by jessamyn at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2016 [18 favorites]

Yeah this is fine. I'd have friends and family pass the word AND the coordinator. I would be fine standing. I would especially fine if I knew before I sat down. There's no shame i having limited seating for a short service, so don't show any.
posted by Kalmya at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This describes my wedding very well, right down to how we handled it: we had a person who had the job of making sure the folks who needed the chairs got them. No one blinked an eye, and no one who stood said a peep about standing through our 15 minute ceremony. I mean, most folks wait longer at the bank or post office, especially most New Yorkers. You're fine.
posted by minervous at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, I'm talking about 90 guests.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2016

It seems fine to me to put something on the invitations like "Seating will be limited at Wedding Place. To accommodate all our guests, we ask those guests who can to stand during our brief ceremony."

Additionally or instead, you could privately ask your seven burly cousins or whoever to stand as a personal favor to you.

I would wonder why you didn't choose a place with seating for all your guests, but then I'd shrug.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2016

Add: "Ceremony seating is limited" to the invitation. Try to identify which guests are most likely to need seating. Reach out to them by phone, and let them know that they'll have a reserved seat at the venue. Try not to reserve more than 50% of the seats.

Have your coordinator make sure that seats are reserved as appropriate (preferrably with guest names on them), and then make sure that the people without reserved seats who need seats (elderly, pregnant, infirm) get them first -- maybe a sign reminding people that seating is limited?.

Keep your ceremony extremely short.

Have fun.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:53 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went to a standing-room-only ceremony that was outdoors in NYC in October (I'm young and able-bodied and walk many miles every day) and it was fine but got tedious fast. 10-15 minutes is really pushing how long it's comfortable to stand and look like you're paying attention (particularly if people are in dress shoes). It was also uncomfortably hot to be outside standing in a crowd (in a short-sleeved dress, in October). July might be brutal.

If you have enough seats that people who really can't stand will have the option to sit, I think it's fine to just pass along the info that there will be seating for those who need it through word of mouth and to gently ask people who are able to stand to do so to save the seats for people who need them.

But, be aware that some people will be impatiently waiting for your ceremony to end (I was, even though the wedding was for two people I love and am very close to, and the ceremony itself was great and entertaining and not actually very long). Anything you can do to help people keep cool and comfortable would be really helpful - fans, water, opportunities for shade should all be abundant and in everyone's reach without disrupting the ceremony.
posted by snaw at 12:54 PM on November 30, 2016 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, last time I'll interrupt. We are going to have cold water, fans, and the ceremony is in the evening. So, maybe very hot, but without the sun overhead.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2016

"subway rules apply: please give up your seat to anyone visibly pregnant, aged or who appears to have difficulty standing"
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:00 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just went to a wedding like this this past weekend. I would never tell the bride and groom, but it sucked. I would reconsider and add seats if at all possible.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2016 [21 favorites]

Best answer: We got married in Central Park in a location with no seating. We brought folding chairs. If you're only talking about 5-10 people more than chairs, that should be doable (and you can designate people from the neighborhood to each bring one if you can't handle the extra schlepping). Older people, pregnant people, people with young kids, and people with disabilities will want chairs. Others will not need them as much - if there aren't enough, people who live in the city tend to understand. Especially if it's a short ceremony. If it's over 20 minutes or more than a third of the people will be without seats, then you might want to rethink your guest list or your location.
posted by Mchelly at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2016

Best answer: Seating for 2/3 of the guests is more than I would expect for a Central Park wedding. I went to a friend's wedding this summer where there were seats for about 1/2 the people present during the brief ceremony. (Don't make the mistake they made and have a bridesmaid scold guests for standing when there aren't enough seats. Talk about a WTF moment.)

People self-organized pretty well: family and the old or infirm got seats, younger folks stood. Taller folks migrated to the back of the standing space. This was with zero foreknowledge. If you do a little bit of communication beforehand, saying there are enough seats for 2/3 of the guests and the ceremony will be <20 minutes, your guests can probably handle the rest. I would also reassure your guests that there will be seating for everyone at the reception.
posted by Cranialtorque at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2016

Do you need to invite everyone to the ceremony? I've been to several weddings where the ceremony was only for close family and friends, but that everyone was welcome to join at the reception.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2016

A friend of mine got married this summer and had a similar issue. A week or so before the wedding, some of the guests got an email with a bunch of information about the wedding weekend that had the following note in it:

"Last, (Their Ceremony Site) -- our ceremony site -- is very very verrrrry small but oh so delightfully cute. We're asking our able family and friends to kindly stand and reserve the few seats for immediate family and those who need it during the brief ceremony. Will we all fit in the space? Maybe not! Who knows! But I think we will! And if you don't feel like standing, meet us at the reception at ~5pm at (Their Reception Site)."

They were probably short about as many seats as you expect to be, and it worked out totally fine.
posted by mjcon at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

We had a small wedding where we had zero seats. Ceremony was 10-15 minutes long and pictures after. It was fine, or at least no one complained. I think telling people that there are a limited number of seats and to please reserve them for people who need them is 100% fine. Then again, I'm extremely "It's *my* wedding," about weddings.
posted by cnc at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2016

I won't use the word rude, but it is very sub-optimal and I'd do anything I could to get more seating in there. Dollar store chairs? Party rental service?

Your ceremony may only be fifteen minutes, but many of your guests will arrive early and the ceremony may be delayed for whatever pedestrian reason comes up. I feel I usually spend an extra half hour at a ceremony in addition to the length of the service.

You have no way of knowing who can and can't sit - lots of seemingly able-bodied people have health and body problems. Also, guests in heels will likely want to sit.

I am an able-bodied New Yorker who walks everywhere, and while I would obviously give up my seat to someone in actual need, after walking to your wedding - in July, which can be very, very hot and humid! - I would want to take a seat before walking to your reception.

People will come in and say "oh, we did this and nobody cared!" Well, I have been to a ceremony like this and I cared, and people talked about it after the fact because they were expecting to sit and were confused by the setup, but of course nobody is rude enough to say something to the couple!
posted by lalex at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2016 [30 favorites]

As someone who would like a seat (especially if I had to walk a ways to get to the location, after dealing with the subway, etc.), I would be anxious about it. I mean, even with the caveat that it was only going to be 15-20 minutes. Personally, I'd probably skip the ceremony and go directly to the reception. And if I arrived to find no seats with no advanced warning, I'd be annoyed. Not pissed off or anything, but annoyed—mostly with myself for not arriving ridiculously early.
posted by clone boulevard at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just an FYI about folding chairs -- there are some rules about them in the parks -- if you are having your ceremony on grass they may not be allowed, depending on the location. It should be on your permit (assuming you have one -- if not, they're really cheap and you definitely want one because the cops do ask).
posted by Mchelly at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2016

A couple more thoughts:

If you want a 10 minute ceremony, you or your officiant needs to read every word of the ceremony (every vow, every reading) out loud with a timer running well before the day of. Be brutal about cutting. I thought my ceremony was short, it ended up being weirdly long by the time all those beautiful words were said out loud. In hindsight, I would have cut the single reading and made our vows shorter (and we had seats for everyone).

If you're planning on having anything like a standard processional, think about cutting it (they take longer than you'd think).

Your officiant should start talking the moment the clock hits the time on the invite. If you're going to keep the processional, it should start before the published start time.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Would you consider only inviting a select few to your ceremony?

I faced a similar situation - my dinner reception was held at a very small French restaurant. Only a select few were invited: our closest family members, our best friends and those who traveled from overseas. We were able to have an unhurried, very intimate meal. Three hours later, we held another reception with over a 100 guests (more distant relatives, less close friends etc.) with an open bar, plenty of appetizers and a live band.

Our invitation held information about the ceremony and the open bar reception. Only the select few got a separate invitation for the intimate dinner tucked into the envelope. A few people asked about the dinner and they were fine with our explanation.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 1:09 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did this recently at a summer wedding, and it was somewhat brutal in dress shoes -- it was also extremely hot that day, and it sounds like it won't be for you. But I agree it's not really a problem, especially as people generally let the right people get the seats. Still, it would've been nice to have known, since I probably would have worn flats. One of the bridesmaids gave everyone delicious popsicles at the end as well, which was a nice touch. TLDR: Sounds totally fine, but would warn guests.
posted by heavenknows at 1:10 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think you're a terrible person, but I think it's rude not to have seating for half the people at your wedding. A lot of the people who have to stand will be distracted and annoyed. And yeah, at an NYC park in July it will be hot. I wouldn't do this.
posted by zutalors! at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: [i think "58 seats 62 koreans" is a joke title - a google search turns up a reference to gilmore girls. so i suspect that there are, indeed, seats for only half the people. i know this isn't an answer, but i was confused and i think some people up-thread were also confused.]
posted by andrewcooke at 1:18 PM on November 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

In the time it took you to read your question, I thought of 4 weddings I've attended with few or no chairs. They were all fine in that regard. I think they all made it clear on their websites.
posted by juliapangolin at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2016

At our park wedding, we made sure there were enough seats for the dozen or so elderly guests and a few spares. It never even occurred to us to have seating for the bulk of the guests.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:47 PM on November 30, 2016

I'm currently planning a wedding. Since we are having the wedding in a backyard, and we're not millionaires (so hiring help to "flip" the yard between ceremony and reception isn't an option), so what is happening is that we're ordering 5 or so extra chairs for elderly people to use during our ceremony. Everyone else can stand, or lean on something, or pull over a chair from the table area, or go hide in the bathroom for all I care. Aside from a few older people who will be provided with chairs, we do not have any physically disabled guests. (I am the bride, I am in charge of the guest list, I know who's coming to the wedding and what their physical constraints are.)

I don't care if it's rude. Anyone who actually cares is welcome to throw me a grand or so for a staff to flip the chairs.

Also, no, not mentioning it on the invitations or anything because, again, people can stand up for 10 minutes, and those who can't will already be provided with chairs. And if the people who are capable of standing don't like it, they're welcome to sit in the grass for all I care.

I'm sincerely not a fan of the idea that you have to spend thousands on a wedding because of all these weird "what ifs" that you'd definitely know if that pertained to you or not. Frankly, I think all this getting worked up over "but what if someone has a back problem", "what if people drink and have never heard of Uber", "what if one of your lifelong friends is a secret vegan and goes into a diabetic coma during the 4 hours of your wedding reception because you didn't provide her favorite food" garbage is mostly classism and not really meaningful in real life where people have to actually live and do things. Nobody would have an ordinary party and worry about any of that.
posted by Sara C. at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been to a few park weddings. The ones with chairs were infinitely better. I couldn't focus at all when I was standing for that long, and I'm able bodied. I'd invite fewer people to the ceremony or get chairs somehow. (Also, get an amplifier if it's allowed; unless you're all trained actors, no one projects their voice enough for the people in the back.)
posted by AFABulous at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted. Please don't use the edit function to add or change content; just make a second comment instead. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:22 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had to stand through a wedding ceremony recently. I'm sure people would describe me as "able-bodied" but when it comes to standing still in dressy shoes it got old in about 5 mins and very painful shortly thereafter. People can have non obvious physical limitations.

Everyone else can stand, or lean on something, or pull over a chair from the table area, or go hide in the bathroom for all I care. Aside from a few older people who will be provided with chairs, we do not have any physically disabled guests. (I am the bride, I am in charge of the guest list, I know who's coming to the wedding and what their physical constraints are.)

God, if I could've gone back and sat in the bus during the ceremony I would have loved it but my step mother (the bride) who was in charge and thinks she knows everything would've had me murdered (though to be honest, that would't have been all bad at that point...).

If there's any way to bring in more seats (even if people bring their own little folding seats) I would. Otherwise, make the ceremony as speedy as possible.
posted by kitten magic at 2:25 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: i would definitely mention it on the invites so people could decide for themselves if they want to attend the ceremony or if they want to just meet you guys at the reception place afterwards. (also, obvsly, mention that it is totally okay for people to just meet you at the reception place afterwards)

the thing about relying on someone else to allow or disallow seating to people based on their perceived needs is that there are so many invisible disabilities. i can't imagine anything more awkward than, for example, having to argue with a wedding planner that yes, despite the fact that i am only in my 30s and appear physically fit i still have severe chronic pain and would very much like to sit down instead of potentially passing out from pain in the middle of the ceremony. actually i guess passing out during the ceremony would be more awkward.

anyway in this hypothetical case if i knew ahead of time that there might not be enough seats for everyone then i could do something like change my outfit plans and/or bring a shawl to sit on the grass; giving people the information beforehand will let them work out what is best for their needs rather than having it surprise them at the ceremony.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:26 PM on November 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. There is no way to bring in seats (against the permit). We'll try and be short. And even I won't be wearing heels. I'll make sure my guests know not to wear anything uncomfortable if they don't choose to.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:27 PM on November 30, 2016

Best answer: Just popping in to say that I went to a lovely wedding like this over the summer, the guests were aware enough to make sure the people that needed seats had them, and I never once thought it was rude. There was no coordinator, about 90 guests, and about 45 chairs at most. They kept it really short. It was perfect. Yours will be too. Congrats.
posted by sockermom at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wow, I tried to be really accommodating to everyone at my wedding but NOBODY sat for our ten minute ceremony, except that perhaps somebody dragged a chair around for someone's nana. People milled around, sitting and/or drinking; my wife arrived and everyone followed us to the back deck and stood for around 10 minutes watching us get married (couple of princess bride references from the judge, 2 minutes of vows from my wife, 2 minutes of vows from me), and then we went back to where the food and beer and seats were. This is the first I've thought of it but on reflection I don't think anyone was uncomfortable, shuffling their feet, looking at their watch, etc.

If 10-15 minutes means "probably gonna be 45" then that's a different matter but otherwise, as long as you have seats for anyone that is elderly or has an obvious or nonobvious disability I feel it's totally fine. Just my $0.02.
posted by ftm at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thanks, everyone. There is no way to bring in seats (against the permit). We'll try and be short. And even I won't be wearing heels. I'll make sure my guests know not to wear anything uncomfortable if they don't choose to.

Are you allowed to provide picnic-style blankets for people to sit on? I think that'd be my play here.
posted by lalex at 2:34 PM on November 30, 2016 [12 favorites]

Bring a couple of waterproof picnic blankets (or designate a local friend/guest to do this*) and the younger guests or whoever can sit on the ground with those if they want.

*I'll be back in NYC by the time of your wedding and have several and can bring them to Central Park for you at the time of your wedding, if needed.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:36 PM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been to a couple of weddings like this recently, for couples I am really close to, and while I would never dream of complaining to them about it, like snaw said and like crazy with stars also said it really did take away from the experience. Your ceremony may be short (one of the ones I went to wasn't) but that doesn't account for all the standing around before and after. You can tell people on the invitation to wear comfortable shoes, but that is probably an invitation for them to buy new shoes and potentially a whole new outfit, if they want to comply. But the thing that I found most challenging about the setup was not being able to stand with my partner. I am a short woman (5'2"/157cm), so if I am to see anything (particularly when wearing flats as instructed!) I really have to be in the front standing row, right behind the chairs. My partner is an average-tall man (6'/183cm), so if he stands with me at the front, then nobody behind him will be able to see. I feel a special glow in my heart seeing my friends make their vows, and it does make me sad not being able to share that moment with my partner. I have felt this way at every single one of these weddings.

I'm sorry; I know this is a thing people do and I don't mean to make you feel bad about your choice but I find it saddening every time. Perhaps if you have the space you could make it a less formal "in the round" kind of experience, so that you don't have rigid rows (and the tall people riiiiiiiight at the back). Picnic blankets would also be lovely (I would have been all over that!).
posted by Cheese Monster at 2:51 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: And even I won't be wearing heels. I'll make sure my guests know not to wear anything uncomfortable if they don't choose to.

I think making that known to your guests is really important and will be SO appreciated. What pissed me off most about the standing was that the dress code was strict and yet totally inappropriate to the nature of the outdoor ceremony. I would have been fine if I could dress appropriately.

Have a lovely day!
posted by kitten magic at 2:56 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

And I hope you notice upthread that part of the answer is to have a relatively short ceremony;
the other issue that I noticed was to somehow be able to transport those who cannot walk the mile to the reception.
posted by calgirl at 2:59 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is unusual and should definitely be mentioned on the invitation, not sprung on your guests as a surprise.
posted by grouse at 2:59 PM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

The picnic blanket suggestion is really nice !
posted by zutalors! at 3:26 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have been to a couple of weddings like this, including one that I'm pretty sure had maybe 2 chairs at the most for the very elderly (everyone else stood). They were lovely! I'm honestly sort of shocked that people think standing up for 15 minutes is such a burden! Obviously you would want to make seating available for those with disabilities (and you're doing that), but for non-disabled folks, surely you regularly stand for more than 15 minutes in lines, on the subway, at parties, at concerts, at work, etc.? Maybe I'm just a weirdo city dweller or something, but I guess I am having a hard time imagining how this would be an awful burden unless you're requiring people to wear stiletto heels or something crazy. I mean, I regularly stand for two hours at a time when I'm teaching, and it's really fine. (Again, obviously you'd need to make allowances for disabled folks, but that does not seem to be an issue here since there will be plenty of seating for those who need it.)

Some things to make this go smoothly:

1. Make the location and dress code very clear on the wedding website and ideally the invitations. Maybe something along the following lines: "Our ceremony will be outdoors in a park, and it's a mile walk from the ceremony to the reception. We'll definitely find you seating and transportation if you need or want it, but otherwise there will be some standing and walking involved! So, please wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can walk in -- heels are strongly discouraged."

2. Have a clear plan for how you will make sure those who need seats get them, and for how to provide transportation for those who aren't able to walk a mile. You might know your guests well enough that it's obvious who will need this stuff and you can sort it out with them individually, or if not think about how you can make it easy for people to let you (or a planner) know and make arrangements. And, have someone (either a professional planner or a trusted, reliable friend) tasked with troubleshooting the day of. We thought we had all this stuff worked out but then realized during our rehearsal that my grandmother couldn't quite manage the steps involved in getting to where she was going to do a short reading. We were able to reorganize the space a bit and make it all work, but in general just try to be flexible and have someone who is not you who can troubleshoot this stuff on the day of.

3. Do what you can to make people comfortable, but then let things go and enjoy your day the way YOU want it to be. As evidenced above, some people are not going to like standing for 15 minutes and will think it is rude. At my wedding, we had seating for everyone, but I'm sure there are people who were horrified that we were married by a female minister, or that our menu was served buffet style rather than by waiters, or that we only did beer and wine rather than an open bar with liquor, or that people had to walk a ways from the parking area. I mean, literally any choice you make, there is someone out there who will be HORRIFIED by it and think it is incredibly rude. But, ultimately it's your wedding and you should do what you want! Give people full information so they can decline the invitation if they are really that horrified by standing in a park for 15 minutes (!!), but do what feels right to you and your future spouse.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:39 PM on November 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

If it really is a quick ceremony, standing isn't that big a deal.

But as someone who does not have a disability that is visible, longer than about 10 minutes can be difficult. Depending on the day, even standing for 20 minutes can be hard.

I hate hate hate taking a seat though. I get nasty looks. Throat clearing, fake coughing, mumbling under breath - the works. Believe me, I have all the self esteem a person can need for two lifetimes, but being treated like an asshole because people don't know my health problems just sucks and I am sensitive about it. (I have been yelled at in parking lots for using handicapped spaces - and I have disabled PLATES, not just a placard. Don't get me started on all the standing and sitting at temple or keeping your seat on public transportation.)

I'm probably not the only person who feels this way, so try to take that into account. I would happily sit on the ground if there was a cute blanket out for that purpose. Or something to lean against.

It's an easy thing to say to people with invisible disabilities that they should just take a seat and not worry about it, but they're not the ones who deal with the blowback.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 3:54 PM on November 30, 2016 [13 favorites]

Nthing that this will be fine. I went to a wedding a lot like this last summer, and, as many others have said, the guests self-organized in a very efficient manner so that the right people got seats, taller people stood toward the back, and people with small children were on the fringes so they could sneak away if the kid started crying or whatever.

This sounds great and I'm sure your wedding will be wonderful.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:20 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing that it will be fine. I'm a minister (in the Universal Life Church, thank you very much) and have done about 10 weddings. Several, including the last one I did a couple months ago, featured fewer chairs than attendees. The key is to assign one or more helpers to make sure that the people who really do need the seats -- like the ancient aunties, anyone with a handicap, visible or not, etc. -- are taken care of. The rest is a free-for-all and it'll all be fine. Mazel tov!
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:25 PM on November 30, 2016

Best answer: The "seating will be limited, subway rules apply" wording for the invite is a great idea -- all New Yorkers would get that instantly. For those who do need a seat, could they indicate that on the RSVP? Also for those who arrive early, is there something to occupy their attention and thus prevent them from sitting down in the unreserved seats right away? (I tend to get to places early and would be absolutely mortified if I unwittingly took a seat from someone else who might need it.) A photo booth seems tacky at the ceremony, but some sort of scrapbook/best wishes book?
posted by basalganglia at 4:43 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I just keep wondering why you are trying to have twice as many people as your ceremony venue intends to comfortably allow. As you are imagining, it is going to be hard to pull off stress-free and who wants to add to wedding stress? I understand that it is outside and that must provide more leeway, but I also understand why some people are balking at it. That said, I think the blankets and the advance warning are great ideas that will help.

If there is no changing anything to accommodate the size of your guest list, then I love rainbowbrite's wording: "Our ceremony will be outdoors in a park, and it's a mile walk from the ceremony to the reception. We'll definitely find you seating and transportation if you need or want it, but otherwise there will be some standing and walking involved! So, please wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can walk in -- heels are strongly discouraged."
posted by juliplease at 5:03 PM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

My $.02 is picnic blankets with space for all your guests.
posted by brujita at 5:24 PM on November 30, 2016

Best answer: Huh. I hope it's ok to repeat my plug for a bathroom warning if there are no public bathrooms within a 5-10 minute walk of the ceremony!
posted by lalex at 6:55 PM on November 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

I was definitely going to suggest blankets as well.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:08 PM on November 30, 2016

I don't know enough about Central Park weddings or NYC norms to offer a concrete suggestion (but imagine those making suggestions do).

Just want to add another voice to those asking you to please question assumptions about who can and can't handle walking a mile, and then standing for 15 (but realistically, minimum 30) minutes, (and then probably doing some more walking?) without pain. I don't look like I'd have trouble, and I definitely would, even in "comfortable" shoes. Clearly am not the only one.

I wouldn't take the seat of an older or expecting person, because who does that, and I wouldn't make a stink about it if there weren't another extremely obvious, extremely accessible, extremely publicized option that was socially comfortable to take. But I'd be judging for sure, and I would not remember your wedding with pleasure.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:47 PM on November 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

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