Assign tables!! If you don’t assign tables:
– You need extra seating, because not everyone fits neatly into those size tables and people will come in with a group of 4 but only be able to find 2 together at a table if you only have exact numbers. And with extra seating, some seats won’t be taken and you can feel like your room is a bit empty vs every seat full.
– Risk that large groups (like 20 friends) get stuck on opposite sides of the room. By assigning tables, you can split them up into the groups that will have the most fun together but still keep them at tables.
– In my opinion, it makes the event feel a little bit more formal and well-planned to have assigned tables.
– Can put your families at the very best tables. You can do that by just putting a “reserved for family” table, but that doesn’t control if your crazy Aunt Mabel actually sits at a table intended for your mom and Dad. Family isn’t always a clear term.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that the seating chart was the worst part of the deal. I just did ours last week, and it was not hard at all. I wrote each person’s name on a little post-it sticky flag and put them on the wall and re-arranged them into groups until I had groups that made sense. Then I just looked at my room plan diagram and assigned each group a table number so they stayed with their “people.”
I have been to weddings where there was open seating, and it seems like everyone sort of scattered and never really sat down to do the formal wedding stuff (and there were either people pulling chairs in to try and sit with their groups at over-crowded tables or fully empty tables). I’ve also been to weddings where they tried to mix up the table so we could “meet new people and mingle.” Bleh, I just talked to that bride the other day (a good friend), and she says she regrets that. People, for the most part want to sit with others they know and are comfortable with. Plus, when people are uncomfortable with people they don’t know, they are more likely to leave early.
I’m a BIG fan of assigned tables.
We are having a sign that says “Choose a seat, not a side” and then on a second line “Please select a row and move in toward the aisle.” I don’t see any conflict between the two. The reason I’m doing that sign is because we aren’t having ushers (ushers annoy me, LOL), and because our sides are just slightly lop-sided. I have about 64 people on my side, and he has about 55 – but we only have 70 seats on each side, so a few of my side latecomers might have to sit on his side.