(Closed) Spinoff: tips for making no assigned seats work

posted 5 years ago in Reception
Post # 19
454 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

cherryiice:  I’m actually surprised you didn’t get more flack for this post! I wrote that I felt stuck in my seat at weddings ans someone told me I was “doing weddings” wrong…. Anyway I totally agree! the wedding I went to that I had the most fun at was informal open seating. It was PARTY. I don’t understand why you can go to all sorts of events and parties as an adult (reunions, birthdays, showers, etc) without ever having to be assigned a seat and then at a wedding it is all of a sudden a necessity to be told where to sit.  the only caveat to this being when you have a formal plated dinner, then yes i totally get that it is necessary to have assigned seats or tables so the waiter can take your order and serve you your meal. I think the reason some people including myself feel stuck is that there are only the seats you are assigned available usually, so if you get up there’s no where else for you to go except to dance or maybe a photobooth. I would say the key would be to have extra seats, a buffet is definitely a necessity, as plated dinner won’t work, and it would add different types of seating should facilitate it better. I like the idea of lounge seating, high tops, different size tables etc so people can kind of find a space they are comfortable. I think it would cause less anxiety about where to sit if the seating was more informal than the typical 60″rounds. For our wedding we are having 12 6′ rectangular tables, some reserved for bridal party. Lounge seating inside and outside, and round tables outside that seat 4-6 people And 8 high tops. I’m hoping the range of seating will help but I have no idea! Lol 

Post # 21
454 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

cherryiice:  will do! Hopefully I’ll have some insight 🙂

Post # 22
102 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2016 - Poulsbo, WA

cherryiice:  I was actually really surprised at the other thread and how many people said assigned tables/seats were a must. I’ve only been to two weddings with assigned seating, and I felt it kind of stuffy. That said, I am a casual person who prefers any sort of gathering to feel laid-back, fun, and easy. My wedding will be in a garden/orchard with a tent for dinner and some indoor spaces for cake cutting and dancing. So in the tent, we’re setting up long tables which will each hold about 20 people, and 3 or 4 round tables. We’ll have one table reserved for us, our bridal party (all family), their dates, and parents. Everything else will be open seating. We’ll have extra seats, small tables on the lawn, and picnic blankets set out. Lawn games too. So people can really choose how/where they want to eat. I’m not worried about it at all, as our friends and family are pretty laid-back people who mostly know each other. Good luck with yours! While reading posts that discourage open seating, I just try to think, this is our wedding, it’s what we want and what we like, and we know our crowd. Whatever you want to do, it will be great!

Post # 23
860 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2015


Regarding what you said about what people insisting on assigned seating do at BBQs and other parties…that’s what I don’t get. Life is full of informal cook outs, work Christmas parties, and other get togethers that don’t have assigned seating. And I don’t know ANYONE who hasnt figured out how to find a place to sit and make small talk with the people around them. I certainly don’t know how these people are who get “anxiety” about it. How do these people survive in the real world? Maybe I just don’t have socially awkward friends? I think (or maybe just hope) that people are being overly dramatic about it, because I really just can’t imagine grown adults standing around awkwardly trying to figure out where to sit at a party or wedding as if it were a high school lunch room.

Post # 24
80 posts
Worker bee



I have no problem making small talk, but I don’t particularly enjoy it.  Seriously, who enjoys talking about the weather when you could be having meaningful/fun/silly conversation with people you know well. 

I get that there are plenty of events in life that don’t involve assigned seating, but rarely are there events with more diverse a crowd than at a wedding.  You’ve got yours and your FI’s closest family, fringe friends, coworkers, your parent’s random friends, high school and college friends, your pastor, your weird uncle, etc. 

One time I ended up at a wedding without assigned seats ready to party after cocktail hour and got stuck sitting people who openly talked about their very different (and rather offensive in my opinion) worldview from mine.  Talk about a buzzkill.  We were sitting there because our group of friends ended up spread out throughout the room, which also meant there was nowhere for us to all gather without holding our clutches and drinks in our hands.  If someone were to ask me about the worst wedding I’ve ever been to, this one instantly sticks out.

Post # 25
1142 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I have literally never been to a wedding with assigned seating. I can’t think of anything more overly dramatic than someone simpering about how open seating ruined their night at a wedding. We made sure there was enough extra seating for single guests and odd numbered guests and reserved spots up front just for the family. We had zero issues. Everyone loved our the “relaxed vibe” of our wedding! We also did a BBQ buffet. I got pooped on by the ladies on this forum too, but just remember that people planning their own weddings will always be more uptight about the way a wedding is planned and eager to poop on you if you aren’t doing what they are doing (aka the “right” thing). 

Post # 26
9544 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

cherryiice:  Personally, I prefer assigned tables but there are some things you can do to make it better if you don’t assign tables. 

  1. Have a small wedding. The reason you can get away without assigned tables at BBQs is that they rarely have 200 guests (at least mine don’t!). The bigger the guest list, the more the need for assigned tables.
  2. Extra seating – I’d say to up the number of tables and chairs by 20%.
  3. Casual. I think this is pretty much a must. Formal events would have assigned seating.
  4. Provide lots of time for people to find a seat because it’ll take much longer than if there is assigned seating. 

Your wedding sounds fun, so good luck regardless about what you end up doing about seating. And, for the record, we had a casual, outdoor wedding by a creek and went ahead and assigned tables. Everyone sat at their tables for dinner, but after that everyone was up and moving around and table hopping or using the standing tables or on the dance floor, so I don’t think it made people think they had to be in their seats all night, if that was your concern. 

Post # 27
134 posts
Blushing bee

I think it all comes down to which type of seating you and your crowd are used to at weddings. for those of us used to open seating, we of course think it works well and find aassigned tables a bit stuffy or super formal. For people used to assigned tables, I can understand feeling a bit lost when throw into something that goes against the grain of what they are used to. 

Post # 28
128 posts
Blushing bee

Eribuzz: +1

Most BBQs, dinner parties, reunions, etc I go to have a much smaller/closer crowd than your average wedding (and for more casual events there is less of an expectation to be there from beginning to end, so if you are in an awkward situation you can easily slip out). For what it’s worth I’ve been to plenty of corporate and social events that had assigned seating or assigned tables, so it’s really not limited to weddings — I think it’s just more practical if you have a big crowd that you’re trying to fit into a designated space.

OP, you’re obviously set on doing it, so I’ll just echo the PPs who have suggested having more seating/different types of seating. In particular I think it is helpful to have seating for small groups, and also to make it so people can easily move seats around to make bigger or smaller areas. Also, if you want people to be moving around all night, it might be good if you can provide a cloakroom service of sorts — one of the things I like about assigned seating is having a “home base” for my stuff, especially if I don’t know anyone else at the wedding.

Post # 29
9034 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

cherryiice:  We didn’t have assigned seating at our wedding and it was fine but again we had a small guest list.

But I have been to larger guestlist weddings that have had both and I prefer open seating. The plus of open seating is that if you do choose a table with people you don’t feel comfortable with you can just get up and move tables (Using mingling as a reason) but you are stuck with assigned seating.

But I agree with pp’s who said have extra seats and a cloak room.

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