Something I Read: Wedding Idea

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I was reading the Vows section of The New York Times over the weekend and came across an article on the wedding of Allison Palm and Ames Brown, which presumably took the lead story spot because Mr. Brown had once appeared on The Bachelorette. What followed was a simple, charming story of a couple meeting at sea, a long-distance courtship, and a seemingly down-to-earth bride and groom with a fondness for travel. The bride wore a lovely, non-traditional dress for a morning ceremony. And the couple changed into their trekking clothes for a honeymoon in Nepal after the reception. But what stood out to me, in the end, was an idea they put into practice at their rehearsal dinner: “The Empty Chair Idea.”

There was one empty seat at each table, with a place card that read either “Ames” or “Allison” and a certain time. “For instance, at my table the card said, ‘Alison, 8:15,'” said Jane Brown Grimes, the bridegroom’s mother. “At 8:15, Allison showed up and talked to everybody. The idea was to let the different families and friends get to know them, to see them up close. We called it ‘The Empty Chair Idea.'”

It strikes me that the precision might not appeal to some, and that this would be particularly appropriate to a larger wedding (and a larger rehearsal dinner), but it’s a creative solution to a few challenges, common at formal weddings. What’s the best way to get around and say hello to all of your guests (even if you do know everyone)? Is there an alternative to meeting many of the “Plus ones” for the first time at the reception? We had a more intimate rehearsal dinner, but after our ceremony I remember skipping past the table with some of my closest friends to make my way around, knowing I’d be dancing with them later, only to be shocked at how long the “making my way” took! One of my best girlfriends gently scolded me for not stopping sooner.

What do you think of “The Empty Chair Idea”? Have you seen (or employed) any creative solutions to the meet-or-greet-all-the-guests challenge at a wedding?

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P.S. An anniversary tradition we started. And a photo from our ceremony.

[Photos by An Rong Xu for The New York Times]

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