Post # 1
Okay, so we aren’t doing a seating chart at our wedding. It’s a backyard wedding with only about 70 guests, and I want it to seem more like just a big bbq/party. We are doing a sweetheart table, however.
I was talking to my soon-to-be Mother-In-Law today (don’t even get me started,) and she told me it’s rude that I’m not making designated tables for the parents and grandparents.
There are two problems with this: although my parents are getting along enough to organize the wedding, I don’t think they could sit through a whole meal together. Also, our tables hold 8 people at most, and between our parents and grandparents, it’s 9 people. So, we would have to split it up, and then I would be wasting space at tables.
I don’t want her mad, but I don’t know what to do in this situation, as my wedding is less than 3 weeks away, and I’m not up for big changes.
What would you all do in my situation?
Post # 2
Are you renting tables? Could you get two smaller tables that would hold 4-5 and split the parents/grandparents or one table that will fit 9-10 people? I know you’re only 3 weeks out, but it might be worth asking if you can get two additional smaller tables for family. After the experience we had last night, I have to say that I agree that you should have assigned seating for family.
We just went to a wedding last night that was around 80 people with open seating and it was a nightmare – almost everyone sat down at a table leaving a single seat between couples so there was a huge lack of places for most people to sit except for random single seats throughout the venue. We were some of the first people there and immediately put our bags/umbrellas on a table and hung on the chairs, but when we came back someone else was sitting in the seats so we had to gather our stuff and balance our food plates to try to find a new place to sit. Even with people leaving their stuff to mark a table, it was still hard to tell what was “saved” and what wasn’t. We ended up finding two seats together at a table with random people, but our friends (also an engaged couple) ended up having to split up and sit at separate tables with people they didn’t know. We all ate quickly and then spent the rest of the evening standing.
Anyhoo – as a guest, it was inconvenient, but fine. We met a couple of new people and just didn’t spend a lot of time at the table we finally found. However, I think this would be really stressful/inconvenient for a grandparent or other family member. I would definitely have spots reserved for them in some way – even if it means splitting them and assigning their seats and then letting regular guests fill in the open spots at their table.
I think another problem is if they are out taking pictures with you or are otherwise later to getting to the tables then they may have an even harder hard time finding a place to sit than we did last night. Even if they put their stuff down somewhere, people may still sit in the seats (our experience). It would just be easier and less stressful to find a way to reserve them seats so they don’t have to deal with it.
Post # 3
Hmm, I don’t think it’s “rude” to not reserve their tables, but I see the point the above poster is making. And yeah, 70 guests is not the biggest crowd but it’s still pretty big. What if you reserved some seats at the best tables – so table 1 has 3 reserved seats but 5 open, table 2 has 4 reserved seats, 4 open, etc. So whoever needs to be separated (your parents for example) will still have a guaranteed place but don’t have to sit next to each other. You could put reserved signs on the seats “reserved for dad” and let the important people know where they’re sitting.
However, I would still consider just making a table assignment chart for everyone, so the guests can be sure to have enough seats for their groups. It would suck to break up couples or close friends if you can avoid it.
Post # 4
assign tables, not seats. Wedding guests hate not having assigned tables.
Post # 5
Please assign tables. Nothing says lazy, self-centered bride more than open seating. YOU are getting an assigned table, and then everyone else gets the junior high school cafeteria scene of trying to find a seat and being told, sorry, we hare holding this seat. Some tables get crowded, others have empty seats. Reserving tables only for VIPs is telling the others, you are not important.
If you do not assign tables, then you need 10-20% more seating, to allow for people to find seats with whomever they came with. There will be empty seats. So you need more centerpieces, tables, place settings, etc.
Are you allowing children? So if you do not assign seats, larger groups need to find a place together. Some people without kids may get forced at a table with kids. Ugg.
As to your wanting people to feel more like a casual party, you cannot make people feel that way, open seating only creates stress among guests. And to reserve for some, and not others? If I were brining a check, I would rip it up (discretely, in private).
Figure out how to have seperate parents tables. YOu can add their friends/relatives to their respective tables.
Post # 6
- Wedding: March 2015 - On a Cliff Overlooking the Bay, Florida
we had 175 guests with open seating as its the norm where we live. We had a sweetheart table then we just reserved 6 tables for family our families ended up mixing together with seating and it was great
Post # 7
Here is an interesting commentary on why not to do open seating from a wedding planner.
One point she makes, on only assigning tables for family is that people may think they get to sit at the assinged table, when they are not.
What You Think Will Happen: “I want to have Open Seating with just a few Reserved tables for family. I want to put “Reserved for Bride’s Family” or “Reserved for Groom’s Family” signs on these tables.”
What Actually Happens: You have an aunt/uncle, stepparent, etc who thinks he/she is supposed to sit at this table, but you did not intend for this. This person has to be asked to move away from the table. This is an awkward thing to request (We know, because we are usually the ones who have to make the request and see the expressions on the family members’ faces when we ask them to get up) and can cause family resentment for years to come
Post # 8
I would take the time to assign everyone to a table. If you don’t want to do that, then you shouldn’t assign/reserve any tables. It’s much more rude to say “these people are important enough to have designated spots, but you’re not” than to just say “everyone sit where you want.” Open seating sucks and making it obvious that some people are more important than others also sucks. I mean, I KNOW my cousin’s mom is more important than me and I wouldn’t deliberately sit at the closest table, but it still feels shitty to be wandering around looking for an open seat, and see a table full of them but it says “RESERVED.” How hard is it to divvy up 9 tables to make sure nobody feels like that? It would take maybe 2 hours.
Post # 9
Most guests prefer assinged seating. They may be gracious and not tell you, if you don’t. Doesn’t mean
Post # 10
I had 45 guests and still assigned tables. It allowed for our parents to sit closer to the sweetheart table. It allowed them to share a table with their friends. It didn’t cause families to have to sit at different tables b/c they arrived later or were unable to find a seat together. It cuts back on more issues later.
Post # 11
That’s very interesting what Jaunita is saying. I think it does make sense that it would be hard for open seating to work out perfectly becuase it was hard as #*$&# to make a perfect seating chart. I can see where there is no way the guests would have been able to arrange themselves by chance into that complicated configuration meant to maximize both social ties and practicality. OP I know you meant well by decided to do open seating–you thought dicating was unneccesary formality, etc… but it may be the case that it’ll just be easier for everyone if there is assignment. Though your Mother-In-Law sounds difficult she raises a valid point that some people might be stressed out that they will end up at a table that’s not “right” becuase they were older/slower/whatever.
Post # 12
I totally agree with all of this!
OP, it ends up getting really stressful and unpleasant for guests when they literally have to break up couples in order to even find a place at all. Trust me, it happens! I was at a wedding like this and it turned what should have been a fun event into, at times, awkward and stressful.
One thing I did when creating table charts (not assigned seats, just assigned tables) was OUTSOURCING! 🙂 I asked my in-laws to create their own tables and just give me the groups of names. I asked my dad to do the same with his guests, and my mom with hers (they’re divorced and NO WAY was I putting them together — they aren’t hostile toward each other but they have their own friends and relatives they wanted to sit with, and honestly, who wants to sit with their ex at ANY social event anyway?). Anyway, by the time I got the lists from my in-laws, dad and mom, I only had left a few friends tables to do, and it was pretty simple!
Post # 13
I think that’s a great idea to have the parents assign their own tables. So much less work for for us. I will definitely be doing this!
Post # 14
- Wedding: September 2017 - Mississauga Convention Centre
We are having a large wedding, we are having parents and grandparents sitting together