(Closed) Pros/Cons of open seating

posted 10 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
1510 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Pros: You don’t have to do a seating chart

Cons: Guests are confused/it can get awkward/you need to have extra seating available

I’d do a seating chart. It’s a pain in the butt, but everything runs a little smoother.


I’m a wedding photographer- I’ve attended a few seat yourself receptions. The only one it really worked at was a heavy appetizer reception held outdoors on a patio (it was really well done). The others I’ve attended have been awkward. Watching guests “call” seats is a little weird. At one wedding people shoved round tables together so they could be one large table. In the first dance photos there is my couple and then these clusters of shoved together tables.

Post # 4
71 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

The con to an “open” seating is you have to have “extra” tables because some may not want to sit at other tables. If you have assigned seating all of the tables will be planned out with out having to do extra centerpieces.

Post # 5
2896 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Pros of open: You save the time of setting up a chart, people can sit by their friends and wherever at the table they like.

Cons: People ‘call’ seats (all the weddings I’ve been to with Mr.ND have ‘seat squatters’ who will claim a table and sit there the entire time to keep it before the meal), people expecting a chart can be confused, people will move your tables, it’s harder for servers if you’re having a plated meal, and it’s awkward for the family of 3 that shows up and there are only 2 seats open.

Our compromise was assigned tables but allowing guests to sit wherever at that table. A little bit of direction, no ‘saving seats,’ but people still get some choice in what direction they’re facing/what they’re looking at.

Post # 6
3282 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 1993

We had open seating for ~150 people and I think it worked out well. We had a couple extra tables so if people wanted to be in a group of 5 rather than 8, they could. To be honest, most of our guests spent the night dancing and moving around to chat anyway (minus the elderly).

For me the time spent to figure out a seating chart was not worth it – especially because I had several no-shows and non-rsvp’d attendees that would have messed it all up anyway. Literally, there would have been at least 6-8 people that would not have had a place card.

Honestly, I have not been to an assigned seating wedding and I’m not sure how much I would like that. I like to be able to choose who I sit with and where in the room we sit. I was worried about not making everyone happy with who we sat them with, so I figured I would let them decide for themselves.

Post # 7
2268 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

We had open seating. As mentioned before you just need to make sure you have a few extra tables so people can stay in their chosen groups and not feel awkward. We had no complaints. Assigned seating just seemed too formal for our event.

Post # 8
198 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I’ve been to both, and personally I like assigned seating/tables better.  When you’re at a wedding where you don’t know any other couples its nice to know where you will be sitting instead of randomly sitting at table full of strangers hoping you aren’t taking someone’s “called for” seats.  

Post # 10
428 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

I’ve never been to a wedding with assigned seating, they just aren’t common here. We normally have buffets and seating for only 3/4 of guests and there is never a problem of confusion of where to sit. We normally reserve a table for family and thr bridal party.

Post # 11
285 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

The worst wedding I ever went to had open seating and the open seating was one of the main reasons it was so bad.

Post # 12
8943 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

We had it and there was no mass hysteria or anything.  It helped us to wander around and sit with whoever we wanted to sit with at the reception.

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