(Closed) To have assigned seating or not… That is the question

posted 6 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
8446 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

We assigned tables, not seats, for this exact reason.  I didn’t want to do any seating originally (50 people with a buffet), but after talking to my guests, friends, family, and the lovely bees here, there was an overwhelming concern for having some sort of seating assignment.  The situation you described is what creates the problem.  The only solution to this would be to have 3-4 extra seats at every table, however, that usually isn’t feasible (extra cost of menu cards, rentals, etc).  We are going to put a few extra seats, some cocktail rounds, and tell people they aren’t stuck to their seat, but they have a “home table” to go to if they want.

Post # 4
908 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I want people for the ceremony to sit wherever they want, because otherwise my side will be dominated (I’ve invited almost twice as many family and friends). But I’m doing assigned tables for the reception because so many of our friends only know one or two other people there, and I don’t want anyone to end up at a table of people they don’t know.

I think both ideas (pick a seat not a side, but then assigned seating at the reception) can co-exist peacefully.

Post # 5
2295 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

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.

Post # 6
2685 posts
Sugar bee

I have a few friends who have done open seating for the ceremony, but assigned tables for the reception.  It seemed to work out pretty well and everyone was happy because they had at least some choice on their dinner seats.  Plus I’m sure it made things easier for the caterers to have people at assigned tables.  

I’m also doing open seating for my ceremony because my FI’s family is tiny and it would just look weird to have them on one side and my big family crammed on the other side of the aisle.  

Post # 7
2775 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

Open seating is fine for the ceremony, but for the reception you really need to assign tables or there will be chaos.  A family of 4 won’t be able to find seats together because by the time they arrive, there’s one seat here and two seats over there, but no available blocks of 4 chairs.  Your college friends will cram 15 chairs around your 9-person rounds so they can all sit together; meanwhile, the couple who knows nobody is stuck at a table by themselves.  Your VIPs will end up at crappy tables in the back if they’re not first to arrive.  You will have guests feeling like the new kid in the cafeteria on the first day of school as they wander awkwardly from table to table asking if these seats are taken.

You don’t need to assign individual seats, but in the name of guest comfort, at least assign people to tables.

Post # 8
10453 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

I am always in favor of table assignments, because of the exact scenario you described. At least when you plan ahead you can make sure people are sitting with who they would like to sit with or get along with well, instead of having stragglers stuck at random tables. 

Post # 9
666 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I was just at a wedding that didn’t do assigned tables or seats.  As a guest I found it uncomfortable.  When we arrived a lot of people had already sat down, and I didn’t see anyone right away that I knew, so we just sat at the first table with open seats.  I felt like it would be awkward to walk all around the room trying to figure out who I knew or might want to meet, and then find out if their table had two available seats, etc.

It turned out OK, but basically it was one group of related people and us at the table.  They mostly chatted amongst themselves, and it just didn’t feel very festive.  

Post # 10
604 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

I recommend assigning tables! I’ve been to two weddings that had no kind of seating assignments. One was a destination wedding and it worked out well.  Everyone found a seat and had a good time talking.  But at the other wedding, I ended up sitting at a table by myself.  I was a classmate of the groom and met up with two other single friends at the wedding.  Both of them left early to head back to the nearest town and catch a late flight out (it was a Sunday wedding and being new grads they couldn’t take much time off of work).  I ended up sittting at a table all by myself so I left. It was uncomfortable.  

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