Post # 1
We are having a reception of 150-200 guests with a buffet dinner…is it really necessary to have assigned seating? I feel like it would be so much easier to just have a few tables reserved for immediate family and let the rest of my guests choose where they want to sit. Is there a down fall to this plan that I’m not thinking of?
Post # 2
We have a large guest list as well and have contemplated the same thing. The one thing that I’ve read that’s making me lean toward having a seating chart is that if you don’t you may end up with random empty seats at each table. This could be a problem depending on how big your venue is. If it’s big enough to have extra tables set up then no biggie but if not a seating chart would probably be good so that you can ensure families/groups get to sit together.
Post # 3
I think assigning tables is a good idea, you don’t have to assign individual seats at the table, just let people sit where they want once they find their assigned table.
We went to a wedding in May that had open seating and just a few tables assigned for family and it was an absolute disaster. Some people hesitated to take a seat because they weren’t sure where people they knew would be sitting – several put their things down and then walked around and found some place else they wanted to sit when they ran into friends, but it looked like they were still sitting at the original place, so they were essentially taking up 2 seats each. We ended up having other people take our seats twice throughout the night. We only knew one other couple, but we ended up having to split up for dinner – we all just sat and ate quickly and then got back up to find each other. Turns out the other engaged couple ended up having to sit at separate tables because they couldn’t even find 2 seats together. As the PP said, most people will not fill in and sit next to someone they don’t know, they will leave one seat in between them – this leaves you with tons of single seats around the venue and couples either having to ask people to scoot over a seat or just splitting up. This particular event also got started almost 30 minutes late largely because people couldn’t get it together to sit down somewhere when they had no direction of where to go.
By the end of the night we were all miserable from standing for so long and not having a “home base”. I think the couple had extra seating, but because of all the factors above, it wasn’t enough.
I’ve certainly been to events with open seating where it did work, but they were mostly weddings where the large majority of the guests knew each other so it didn’t matter too much who you sat next to. With a wedding where you are blending new families/friends/etc it can be difficult because inevitably, without assigned tables, groups will get split up. We figured that if people were flying from all over the country to see us, the least we could do was to make sure they had a reserved seat with their friends who they were also flying to see as a bonus.
We got married last night and did assigned tables, but let people choose their seat at the table. It went so smoothly and we had a lot of people compliment us on how nice it was just to be able to walk to a table and not have to look around and try to play the game of finding enough seats for their group. All of our guests were seated and comfortable 5 minutes before we even needed them to be and everything started on time without a hitch.
Post # 4
I personally hate assigned seating and won’t be doing it. Adds stress of trying to keep people from sitting next to people they shouldn’t, and means that people that I may know know each other the option to sit together and catch up. Also, most times Ive seen assigned seating, people still don’t stay where they are supposed to be.
Post # 5
Thanks so much! That’s very helpful
Post # 6
yes, there is. No seating chart might be easier for you, but it’s really terrible as a guest. Essentially, people are competing for seats at tables and it’s not uncommon that the last people in have to be split up from their dates/other people they know because there are no seats left together. It sucks.
You don’t have to assign individual seats, but you should assign tables so that everyone has a place with the people they came with.
Post # 7
Assign tables. It’s not that hard and everyone has a place to sit. That is simply part and parcel of being a hostess.
If people aren’t assigned tables, there’s nothing to keep them from moving seats around, leaving a few people sitting all alone.
I’ve never been to a wedding where seats are assigned, but each one I’ve attended has had assigned tables.
Post # 8
Our guest list is much smaller than yours (about 110 people) and have had so many people say that we should at least assign tables. We will only have as many spots as there are guests, so if people decide to leave empty seats those who are last to come into the reception will have to split up from their partners in order to find somewhere to sit. At least if we assign tables, we can ensure that couples and families are seated together (and can ensure that my step mother’s divorced parents, who do not get along at all, don’t inadvertently find themselves at the same table etc).
Post # 9
Please assign tables. I have been to three open seating weddings now and each of them were terrible. I wasn’t able to sit with anyone I knew, and in one particularly terrible incident, there were literally no tables with two seats left, so my date and I were forced to either split up, or be super awkward and drag a chair and place setting to another table and squish in. It really should not take you that long to assign tables.
Post # 10
Please at least assign tables. We went to a wedding last night with 200 people and there was open seating and it was a complete disaster. Fiance and I sat at a table with our other couple friend and people had come over and saved 6 seats and never came back, so people were coming over asking us if the seats were open or saved. We told everyone that asked they were not saved, but we ended up not having anyone sit there. Other tables ended up the same way and people kept moving tables to sit with people they knew or came with.
Post # 11
- Wedding: May 2015 - St Peter\'s Church, East Maitland, and Bella Vista, Newcastle
<— What she said. We assigned tables but not seats and everyone was very comfortable with that. If you don’t assign tables, you’ll find you need extra place settings because people will leave single seats vacant and couples get split up.
Post # 12
Please please please assign tables for your guests. It’s a pain in the ass to do it but it will save your guests so much headache and embarassment. If you were having a 20 person wedding I’d say screw it since everyone will be somewhat sitting together anyway, but with that many AND a buffet there is a high probability that families and couples will be split up.
By doing “reserved” tables, its somewhat tricky because you have to let certain family/friends know that they actually are supposed to sit there, which can be a headache on its own….don’t want grandma ending up elsewhere when she’s supposed to be at table 1.
Also, I don’t know how it works with your family or culture, but in mine, it’s a very big deal to make sure the immediate and close family and friends is seated close to the “front” or the head table nearest the couple and then outward based on closeness/importance. You may not want your closest family members ending up at the back table near the bathroom just because they didn’t grab a chair right away because they were visiting with guests whereas others who are not as familiar with the majority of the wedding guests just take a seat right away in a “prime” spot. I’ve seen this happen unfortunately and it sucks…
Ask your parents and future in laws to help you if you are having trouble seating people together. I will be giving my Future Mother-In-Law my fiance’s guestlist and having her make up the tables since I am not as familiar with who is related and speaks to whom.
Post # 13
I was at a wedding where the father of the groom ended up in a corner pretty far away from the head table and reserved tables. Anyone and everyone thought they were entitled to sit at the 4 tables reserved for immediate family. Then what everyone else is saying so many empty seats! I was also at a wedding without seating charts where this ridiculous group of girls took chairs from 3 tables and somehow managed to get them all around 1 table. They were really loud and disruptive and no one near them could hear anything going on. After seeing those 2 things we agreed to do assigned tables. Plus we also need to keep my SO’s mom away from my extended family and his dad. So it will be less headache for everyone in the long run.
Post # 14
Your story actually reminds me of a wedding I attended as a child when the bride’s extended family all sat at the head table! I don’t think this extended family understood what the “head table” was all about, since they felt they were privileged guests.
OP, assigning tables helps to idiot-proof your wedding.
Post # 15
- Wedding: October 2017 - The Capitol Room
Me and my partner are getting married next fall in the State Capitol in Des Moines. It is a pretty fancy establishment and we are planning to invite roughly 70 guests. Not a whole lot of people and they are all close relatives or close friends of our families. There are a few people who aren’t the best of friends so we are definitely going to have a seat chart.
It is better to do so if you have a good idea about who will enjoying sitting next to each other and who wont. It’s worth the effort, because it’s not every day you get to have a wedding. Hopefully only once.