In an effort to save some money on your wedding day, someone may suggest using the same chairs for your ceremony + reception spaces. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea for a number of reasons and, selfishly, it is actually not something I recommend because it does impact my ability to photograph your reception details early in the day. The amount of money you’ll save by doing this is marginal, it creates more work for your planner and their team, and it doesn’t allow me as much time to shoot your reception space since it won’t be “photo ready” until after the ceremony. For these reasons, I highly recommend investing in separate chairs for your ceremony + reception spaces.
Chairs make a huge impact in your wedding design because there are so many of them! This is why I always suggest carefully considering your chair choices because there is a huge difference between a standard white folding chair, a gold chiavari chair, posh King Louis chairs, and wooden X-back chairs. Sticking with more inexpensive chairs for your ceremony is perfectly acceptable, while splurging on your reception chairs will make a noticeable difference in the look + feel of your entire wedding. Or if you want to do something different for your ceremony, you can definitely splurge on chiavari chairs, mix and match seating, or ever wooden church pews! Whatever you decide, I still think it’s worth investing in separate chairs and seating for the ceremony + reception spaces.
I schedule time in my wedding day timeline to photograph your reception space before the ceremony for a number of reasons. Guests haven’t arrived yet, so I don’t need to worry about moving jackets + purses from the tables yet. The place settings and all of your florals are fresh earlier in the day, which is super important in the summer when it’s really hot. The earlier I can photograph your florals, the better. During family formals, everyone is occupied and focused on those – which allows me to photograph your reception space without onlookers walking through the space. Having a photo-ready, empty room is a rarity on the wedding day and I’ve found that my best chance at finding that is when my second shooter is photographing family formals before the ceremony.
However, if the chairs aren’t set up in the reception space prior to the ceremony, it means that photographing your reception space earlier in the day isn’t possible… unless you want room shots of just tables without any chairs!! I don’t recommend that because it looks really unfinished and the room looks empty. Also worth noting – if you want any chance at having your wedding featured on a blog or in a magazine, you HAVE to have your chairs present in those reception space shots. Editors WILL NOT publish a reception space that is unfinished.
Another reason I recommend investing in separate chair for your ceremony + reception space is because your wedding planner will thank you! Flipping a space after the ceremony is TOUGH, especially if cocktail hour is in the same vicinity because guests can get in the way while people are rushing around moving chairs + tables around. Guests also tend to stand around, waiting to put their jackets and purses down on the table – which makes it almost impossible for your photographer to get clean images of your reception space once the chairs are placed. Your wedding planner has a lot on their plate on your wedding day… having them move chairs from one site to another is cumbersome and not something I recommend because it can 100% be avoided. Why make things more complicated than they need to be?
This is especially true if you’re not doing a First Look, but in general, I recommend that clients ALWAYS invest in separate ceremony + reception chairs. Shooting the reception space before guests arrive on-site is essential to getting those swoon-worthy images with clean backgrounds. And if you’re not doing a First Look, it’s even more important that I get those reception space shots before the ceremony because I simply won’t have time to do them after the ceremony. That’s when I’ll be shooting all of your combined bridal party, family, and bride + groom portraits – and by the time I get back to the reception space, guests will have already put their bags and jackets all over the tables.
Overall, investing in two separate sets of chairs allows your photographer to use their time efficiently and it allows your planner to focus on other things after the ceremony instead of doing manual labor. There are definitely ways to save money on your wedding day, but this is one thing that I don’t think you should consider. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, from a logistical stand point. Having separate chairs for the ceremony + reception space is totally worth the investment – and your planner + photographer will thank you!!