Post # 1
Do I have to do a seating arrangement for the reception or can I let my guests sit where they want? The ceremony and reception are both at my parent’s house. Ceremony is in the side yard. Following the ceremony the caterer will immediately open the bar and pass hors d’ouerves while his staff move the chairs to the back yard where the dinner tables are. None of the guests will see the back yard until after the ceremony so they can’t "stake out" their territory early. Expecting about 100 people. I’ve been the guest at receptions that have done it both ways. But can anyone offer personal experience for pros or cons to either pre-arranged or random seating?
Post # 3
I would just maybe give your parents and close family members reserved seats. You want to make sure your parents and his parents don’t get so busy saying hello’s that they get the "back" seats at their own childs wedding.
I would just put placecards on the seats/tables you know you want family to sit at and let the rest of the guest fill in the non-reserved seats.
Post # 4
Unless all of your guests know each other well, I would at least assign people to tables. This is to avoid the kid-in-the-junior-high-cafeteria-don’t-know-anybody-searching-for-an-empty-seat phenomena.
Post # 5
I was stressing about it two weeks before and my guy said…why do we need one? And I said, because weddings have seating charts. And that’s when I decided I was stressing out about it way too much. We reserved seating for us, and the vendors so they’d have a place to sit if they needed to. Other than that, it was a free-for-all. We had names on all of the favors, so people used those to save their seats.
Post # 6
I’m totally serious when I say this, but PLEASE have some sort of arrangement. All you have to do is assign the tables and then people don’t wander aimlessly.
Think of it…have you ever been to an event or even a dinner with a large party at a restaurant and when everyone goes to sit with down and they are all hesitating to make sure that they get the seat they want, next to the people they want in the arrangement they want…now imagine this with a whole. bunch. more. people.
Your guests will have a much better time if they don’t have to even think about whether they will get all of those things.
Post # 7
It depends, I think, on how well your guests know each other, and how the meal is set up. A plated meal seems to call for assigned tables in a way that a buffet does not. I am having 300 guests and food stations, and am not assigning seats.
Post # 9
I think it depends on your guests. For just our rehersal, we had a free for all, it was around 50 people. People were getting annoyed, because some people were "saving" seats, but those people didn’t know they had a seat saved and sat somewhere else. So it felt like everyone was playing musical chairs. One friend got stuck with old great uncle X, and had to painfully listen to his stories the entire time. Some groups and families were split up because there weren’t enough empty chairs at one table.
It was good to have a seating chart at the wedding, because a lot of people who knew each other were coming from different locations and could talk over dinner. Also for people coming as singles or didn’t know anyone else, we could make sure they sat near people that had similar personalities. It was a little stressful, but less at the actual wedding. Also we did this thing were the DJ annouced if people wanted us to kiss, a table had to stand and sing to us. So we put people at the same table, who we knew would do it.
Post # 10
If you have the time, and don’t get stressed easily, do assigned seats. At the very least you need to assign each person a table, for all of the reasons above.
Post # 11
I also agree with Mrs. Corn! It may also allow you more time for fun and dancing later; if people have assigned tables, you can get through dinner more quickly and move onto the party! People have plenty of time to mingle then.
Post # 12
My sister did not assign seating, other than saving two head tables. She had about 140 people. There was no problem at all. Her guests were about evenly divided between work friends, who mostly knew each other, and family, who mostly knew each other, and neither group of which knew the others. There was an 60-minute cocktail hour, during which my sister and her new hubby mingled and introduced people, and everybody found seats. I don’t recall seeing any "musical chairs" type of confusion, or anybody who just couldn’t find a seat they liked. My sister’s tip, from her banquet coordinator, is that if you don’t assign seating you need to provide about two extra tables for a group that size (so eight extra seats for 140 people) – such that people don’t have to sit with someone they really don’t like, and everybody can easily find a seat with their partner/date/spouse.
We are not assigning seating either, (for about 150 guests) and I expect it to go fine. Our group is about 2/3 family, 1/3 other friends, and it is also true for us that our friends pretty much all know each other, as does our family. There are actually no guests who won’t know at least half a dozen other people.
I think you really have to judge your crowd, and what’s normal where you live. I am 43 years old, and have been to my share of weddings, and I have been to only two that I can remember where seating was assigned. One of my assigned seating experiences was pretty much a disaster – very hard to read calligraphy on the cards, and a couple hundred of them standing on little trays, and then you had to wander all around the room trying to figure out which table was yours. A whole lot of people just got cocktails and ignored the seating system, which resulted in half the guests still not knowing where they were sitting when people were asked to be seated for dinner.
Post # 13
I didn’t want to do seating arrangements for our smallish (50 people) reception, but in the end we decided to anyway. The groom thought it would just be polite to assign people to tables. That way we were able to 1) keep my divorced parents and their new spouses away from each other, and 2) the groom pointed out that his mother would throw a huge fit if she didn’t get "properly" seated near the bride and groom’s table. We didn’t have a head table due to how the location was arranged, but still had a table with the bride, groom and wedding party.
Post # 14
"My sister’s tip, from her banquet coordinator, is that if you don’t assign seating you need to provide about two extra tables for a group that size (so eight extra seats for 140 people) – such that people don’t have to sit with someone they really don’t like, and everybody can easily find a seat with their partner/date/spouse."
If you are still on the fence about assigning tables or not, consider this: if you DON’T assign seats, you CAN get around the confusion and frustration by having extra tables. But unless you want to pay for extra linens, extra flowers, extra table settings, etc. you might as well save yourself the hassle and quickly assign people to tables.
Post # 15
since our venue is pretty small, we’re having table assignments.
Post # 16
I totally agree with corn. My comment was going to be the fact that if left to themselves people will leave at least one seat between them and the next person unless they know the people very well. If you don’t assign at least tables then you may end up having a lot of "one seat here and one seat there" situations happening.
On the other hand though, if it comes down to being totally stressed out and not enjoying the last few days/weeks before your wedding and having a seating chart. I say, let people fend for themselves! 😀