Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: dragon_heart on January 03, 2014, 12:34:24 AM

Title: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: dragon_heart on January 03, 2014, 12:34:24 AM
This happened at a wedding but could also easily happen anywhere where there is a seating arrangement so I decided
to post it here instead of the wedding forum.

Background:
In this wedding, I am close friends with the groom but I don't know his other circle of friends. In the seating arrangement, I
was supposed to sit with his other friends. So I find my seat, and I noticed that 3 tables were meant for his friends. Also in my
country, dancing is not always a part of the reception.

I was attending the event alone and I figured that maybe I can make new acquaintances. Wrong.

When the people supposed to sit at my table arrived, they quickly found that the 2 adjoining tables were where their friends
were sitting. They then proceeded to drag their chairs over to the 2 other tables ( Each table can sit 6 people, so now there were
8 people per table ). It was a tight fit but they were able to make it work. I was left alone with another empty chair.

The wedding programs itself was typical. I left after the toasts were said after saying goodbye to the groom( I made an excuse).
I felt weird since it was the first time I experienced literally sitting alone in a party.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: purple on January 03, 2014, 12:41:09 AM
Most couples have guests at their wedding who do not know each other.  Most of the time, couples will try to sit people with others who they think they would get along with - people who are of similar ages, or have similar hobbies etc.

You handled it well and they were wrong to move their chairs like that.  It is incredibly rude!
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: metallicafan on January 03, 2014, 12:58:02 AM
I think they were wrong to move also.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Ceallach on January 03, 2014, 03:46:47 AM
Your table companions were incredibly, inexcusably rude.     In so, so many ways.   That simple act which they probably thought was "not a big deal" was inconsiderate to you as well as to their hosts who had prepared the seating arrangement.   They put their wants ahead of anything else.  Selfish and childish and not the way adults behave at polite events (going to talk to other tables is fine, and moving around during the night is fine.  Permanently relocating and basically re-arranging the seating arrangements is rude, as is abandoning a dining companion completely).

Ideally at these events there is a manager or hostess who will come over and politely move them back (perhaps under the pretext of the servers e.g. "Oh it's time for entrée, you'll need to sit back at your own table now!") but obviously this isn't always the case.   

I can't think of anything you could personally have done other than wander off and try to join another table yourself - which is very hard if you literally know nobody but the groom!  I would have done what you did.   
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: camlan on January 03, 2014, 06:48:36 AM
The other people at your table were rude. You are allowed to wander around and visit people at other tables before the meal is served, and after the meal is over. But during the meal, you sit at your assigned table and eat with the people there.

This applies to you as well. You could have gotten up before or after the meal was served and gone over to one of the other tables and asked, "Are you all Groom's friends? I'm Dragon Heart; I'm friends with Groom from work/school/childhood. I've been wanted to meet you guys; I've heard so much about you." But you didn't have to do this. (I'm very shy, so doing something like this would be very difficult for me, but for some people it seems easy.)

But for four people to get up and leave one person stranded at a table? Even if I'd have been rude enough to change my seat, I'd have seen that one person sitting there and felt badly about it and moved my chair back to that table for the meal, at least.

Guests have obligations to the host, just as the host has obligations to the guest. The host has to provide adequate food and drink for the time of day, and see to the guests' comfort--enough chairs and tables, etc. This is what is known as hospitality.

The guest also has obligations. This is what is known as comity, an atmosphere of social harmony, or  mutual courtesy and civility. A guest is supposed to dress appropriately, arrive on time, use their best behavior, fall in graciously with the host's plans, and when seated next to someone they don't know, introduce themselves and carry on a conversation for the time that they are sitting down. It's all part of being a polite guest, just as much as thanking your host at the end of the party is.

You did a great job under the circumstances. I'd have been tempted to rat out the groom's friends as being totally without manners, but you were able to refrain.

The other guests were rude to you, to abandon you at the table like that. They were rude to the host, to not follow the seating chart. They were rude to the waitstaff, because the serving of the tables was now messed up.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: dragon_heart on January 03, 2014, 07:44:45 AM
In this party, the meal was served buffet style, so there were no servers to speak of, aside from those manning the
buffet. You get your food, drinks and even dining utensils all at the buffet table. The only person I knew there was the groom
since we went to college together, but his friends I guess were his co-workers? I never found out how they knew him.

It was the most boring and weird party I have been to, I should have brought my ipad with me that day had I known
in advance that was going to happen. The bad part is, guests need to pay a fee to access the hotel wi-fi.

I didn't say anything to my friend, I am sure he has got a lot of things to worry about than one guest being left alone.
I doubt he even saw anything. Until now I kept quiet. I am never going to see those people again anyway, and its not
my friend's fault his friends were rude.

Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Runningstar on January 03, 2014, 07:50:35 AM
This happened to my husband and I at a wedding reception about 20 years ago.  We were at a table for 12 and all but one other couple got up and moved their seats to jam into one other table.  It is so rude, and I would also have done just as you did and left as soon as I was able to if I'd be alone.  The only possible solution that I myself might be willing to do is to ask a server if there would be a table that has an opening for me as my seatmates have sat elsewhere.  Sometimes an on the ball server (or person in charge) would be able to do this easily and seat you with a group that isn't full. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Runningstar on January 03, 2014, 07:54:00 AM
In this party, the meal was served buffet style, so there were no servers to speak of, aside from those manning the
buffet. You get your food, drinks and even dining utensils all at the buffet table.
Posted my reply just before this, in this case Dragon heart, I'd have just done what you did if I was feeling shy that day.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 03, 2014, 08:29:49 AM
The other people at your table were rude. You are allowed to wander around and visit people at other tables before the meal is served, and after the meal is over. But during the meal, you sit at your assigned table and eat with the people there.

This applies to you as well. You could have gotten up before or after the meal was served and gone over to one of the other tables and asked, "Are you all Groom's friends? I'm Dragon Heart; I'm friends with Groom from work/school/childhood. I've been wanted to meet you guys; I've heard so much about you." But you didn't have to do this. (I'm very shy, so doing something like this would be very difficult for me, but for some people it seems easy.)

But for four people to get up and leave one person stranded at a table? Even if I'd have been rude enough to change my seat, I'd have seen that one person sitting there and felt badly about it and moved my chair back to that table for the meal, at least.

Guests have obligations to the host, just as the host has obligations to the guest. The host has to provide adequate food and drink for the time of day, and see to the guests' comfort--enough chairs and tables, etc. This is what is known as hospitality.

The guest also has obligations. This is what is known as comity, an atmosphere of social harmony, or  mutual courtesy and civility. A guest is supposed to dress appropriately, arrive on time, use their best behavior, fall in graciously with the host's plans, and when seated next to someone they don't know, introduce themselves and carry on a conversation for the time that they are sitting down. It's all part of being a polite guest, just as much as thanking your host at the end of the party is.

You did a great job under the circumstances. I'd have been tempted to rat out the groom's friends as being totally without manners, but you were able to refrain.

The other guests were rude to you, to abandon you at the table like that. They were rude to the host, to not follow the seating chart. They were rude to the waitstaff, because the serving of the tables was now messed up.

This. They were horribly rude.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: LadyL on January 03, 2014, 09:13:47 AM
Not only it that rude, it's just *mean.* Really, who hasn't been to an event alone and felt a bit awkward about it? What kind of person escalates that situation so thoughtlessly?

If it had been my wedding or party and I noticed it I would hope I'd talk to the singleton and then bring them over for an introduction to someone I thought they'd get along with.

We planned the seating at our wedding so that anyone seated with strangers, was seated with people they had things in common with, especially the singletons. One of the coolest things was seeing people become friends at our wedding! If a group of friends had ditched a singleton they would need a great excuse for me to not be upset with them, i.e. the singleton was telling horribly offensive jokes or something (again unlikely with our friends unless they got a concussion on the way there).
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: EllenS on January 03, 2014, 09:23:32 AM
I have to wonder what age group these guests were in? It seems incredibly immature.
Some of my most fun parties/conversations were ones getting to know the friends of friends at a wedding or other party.  I mean, you already know you have *something* in common, because you are both friends with the same person.

Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: mime on January 03, 2014, 09:45:41 AM
They were so rude to leave the table! I have trouble understanding how six of them at a table together would feel like they needed to join another group to be happy, and how nobody let a sense of social etiquette keep them from abandoning you.
The seating chart at my wedding represeted a lot of work to put people together who would have something in common. Some 'greatest generation' vets who heavily volunteered for Habitat for Humanity were together, some friends and neighbors who went to the same high school six years apart were together, some Shriners together, and (my best decision) some musicians with a love for the unexpected were seated at a table full of performance artists.
I'm sorry to think that you could have had a much better evening if everyone was open to getting to know you!
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: cattlekid on January 03, 2014, 09:49:43 AM
Ouch.  I was almost in tears reading your post, dragon_heart.  I would have done exactly the same thing in your situation, suffered as long as politely required and then hightailed it out of there after thanking the groom and his bride. 

I agree with a PP though, who stated that it is the responsibility of the guests at a table in this situation to greet the other people at the table and engage in polite conversation for the course of the meal.  This does not mean that you have to become best friends or even stick with each other after the meal is over. 

I've been in way too many situations like the OP mentioned.  Like OP, I've been at events where chairs get rearranged and jammed in other tables to keep families or other groups together.  I've been at events with arranged seating where seating charts are blatantly ignored because groups that want to sit together have been split up.  I've been seated at tables where the majority know each other and do not make an attempt to hold conversation with the non-majority.  I've been at events without seating charts where I've been left to wander from table to table looking for a seat because the group already at the table don't want an "outsider" sitting at their table. 

I'm not sure when it became acceptable to use a social event like a wedding reception or other large gathering to host your own reunion or separate party during dinner instead of being inclusive of all guests - which is what all of these situations seem to be indicating.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: jaxsue on January 03, 2014, 11:29:20 AM
OP, those guests were unbelievable rude! Who in their right mind does that?  >:(
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: RandomAngel on January 03, 2014, 12:05:17 PM
They were terribly rude, and it's a shame no one intervened. Even if those four people were genuinely oblivious, someone already at one of the tables they joined could have had a quiet word with them, or recruited a few friends to ask to join you "since their table got so crowded." Really; my jaw dropped reading that they just left you, and no one did anything about it.

One question: you say you left after the toasts. Was that also after the meal? I think our toasts were before we ate, but I just went to my friend's wedding and they were after, so it's hard to tell how long you were there.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Sophia on January 03, 2014, 12:11:20 PM
That is horrible.  The only upside is that you didn't get to know these people, only to later find out that they were horrible.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 03, 2014, 12:16:26 PM
The only thing you maybe could have done is scanned the room to see if there were any other tables that only had 5 people instead of 6.  And ask to join them as your other dining companions had abandoned you.

I don't blame you at all for not doing this, as I'm not even sure I could do it.

What unbelievably rude, boorish people!  Even more rude if the servers were bussing the tables - much harder to get in to do your job if people have squeezed in.

If you want to socialize with the other folks, fine, but you eat your meal at your assigned table and then tuck a chair in to chat later.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Delete My Account on January 03, 2014, 12:17:48 PM
Those people were jerks. I've been to weddings where I've sat next to people I didn't know, but always saw it as an opportunity to meet someone new. I would never have been as cruel to abandon someone like that. I'd actually take the chance to make you feel more included, if anything.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: bah12 on January 03, 2014, 12:19:31 PM
I think they were rude to change the assigned seating and I'm sorry that you were left alone and had a bad time.  I don't think this was the fault of the bride and groom, but that of the people at your table.  I don't think you can have done much to prevent it unfortunately.  My only suggestion would have been to see if there was a table that had room for you to join and try to mingle with people and possibly make a new friend. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: DCGirl on January 03, 2014, 12:44:52 PM
I don't blame the bride and groom -- they can't be everywhere ensuring that everyone behaves well at all times.  I also think it was terribly rude of the other guests.  While it's great to catch up with friends or out-of-town relatives you don't see every days while at a wedding, part of being a good guest is being nice to your fellow guests.  I'm the world's worst dancer, while DH has two left feet and zero rhythm, but when my college roommate asked us to get out on the dance floor to help her get the dancing started at her wedding, we graciously got out there and did our best for the first three songs. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 03, 2014, 09:41:50 PM
((hugs Dragon_heart)) - what a horrible situation to be in. I know I would have been pretty gutted if that had happened to me.

The guests who moved to a different table were rude. Doubly so if they already saw you there, sitting alone, yet chose to move anyway!

If I was feeling bold, I would have - as Outdoor Girl suggested - scouted the room, and if there was a table not full up, asked those people if I could join them. However, I don't think you were rude at all for leaving early. If I wasn't feeling bold, I'd do exactly the same thing.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Iris on January 03, 2014, 10:59:55 PM
Rude, immature and selfish people! Perhaps it's for the best that you don't know the groom's 'other' friends.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Surianne on January 04, 2014, 10:49:37 AM
That is flat-out bizarre behaviour.  Wow.  I'm really sorry that happened to you.  I've been the lone single person at a wedding table before and always appreciate it when the others are interested in including me...it's hard enough when they're still sitting at the table but just ignoring you, so I imagine I'd have been pretty dumbstruck if they actually *left* the table like that.

I like the suggestion to find another table to sit at where people seem welcoming.  I think leaving was fine too -- in the moment I may have been so surprised or upset that I wouldn't have thought to move to another table.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: dragon_heart on January 04, 2014, 11:06:49 AM
They were terribly rude, and it's a shame no one intervened. Even if those four people were genuinely oblivious, someone already at one of the tables they joined could have had a quiet word with them, or recruited a few friends to ask to join you "since their table got so crowded." Really; my jaw dropped reading that they just left you, and no one did anything about it.

One question: you say you left after the toasts. Was that also after the meal? I think our toasts were before we ate, but I just went to my friend's wedding and they were after, so it's hard to tell how long you were there.

The toasts in this case was said after everyone had eaten. The people from the other tables were close friends with the 2 pairs of couples supposed to sit with me.

No, they never said a word to me. They all knew one another, and they spent a few minutes chatting while the others remained standing. Then I heard one person there say, "Hey, why don't we all sit together?"

The age group would be around late 20s to early 30s crowd. Most of those people were either married or in a relationship as most of them were couples.

It was possible for me to join another group but since there was no usher or server around, and I didn't know anyone there I just let things be.

Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: TootsNYC on January 04, 2014, 11:11:47 AM
It's incredibly rude. every etiquette book has a paragraph about *not* changing the seating if your hostess has placed your place cards somewhere.

Here's another example (to me, at least) of guests over-valuing themselves. Their enjoyment was all they cared about, and they completely lost sight of the fact that guests have an obligation to their hosts to help create an enjoyable party for everyone. Even if that means that the guest is a bit uncomfortable or inconvenienced by having to socialize with someone they don't know. Don't know YET, anyway.


The bride & groom probably carefully checked over their seating arrangements, and placed you near people they thought you'd enjoy. So not only were these people rude to you, they were really rude to their hosts.

How to handle it? I guess you could drag your chair over with them... Moving to another table is certainly fine, as was leaving, but what a bummer!
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Bijou on January 04, 2014, 11:36:03 AM
That was a terrible thing to do.  I can't believe that no one saw what was happening and took it upon themselves to invite you to join them or join you/stay at your table.  That's as bad as everyone in a group getting up to dance (with someone else), leaving someone sitting alone. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Snooks on January 04, 2014, 01:31:11 PM
I can't believe the bride and groom didn't come over to speak to you and done something to fix the situation.  Seems pretty crappy on their part.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: TootsNYC on January 04, 2014, 04:41:10 PM
I can't believe the bride and groom didn't come over to speak to you and done something to fix the situation.  Seems pretty crappy on their part.

I disagree. I can't imagine that at a busy reception, the bride and groom (who are also guests of honor, not *just* the hosts) would have time to notice every action among their various guests across the room. And they may have figured people had moved only temporarily.

(This is actually one of the reasons why the mother of the bride was traditionally the hostess--because she would more likely be free to attend to the *work* of hosting, while the bride and groom could focus on being the guests of honor.)
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 04, 2014, 11:56:59 PM


How to handle it? I guess you could drag your chair over with them... Moving to another table is certainly fine, as was leaving, but what a bummer!

That means there would have been nine people (including the OP) at a table designed for six. I have a gut feeling that someone would have told the OP "There's no room for you - you'll have to find somewhere else to sit."

I agree, however, that the OP could have tried sitting at a table that had six or less people.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Raintree on January 05, 2014, 02:06:46 AM
Their behaviour was not only rude, but I also find it immature. What, they can't handle being at a table without all their friends for an hour or two? It kind of reminds me of a seminar I attended while I was in college. (Extracurricular, but relevant to what we were learning in our field of study, and practical/hands on). It wasn't just students, but also people who were already working in our field going for their continuing education credits. So the instructor at one point told us to pair up for a hands-on practice session. Most people just paired up with whomever happened to be sitting near them, so I turned to the nearest person (another student not in my year) and asked if she wanted to pair up, and she said "No, I want to go find my friend" and went running off for her friend somewhere else in the room, leaving me scrambling to find someone else, as everyone else had found a partner within 2 seconds. I don't think I smelled or anything.  I thought, good grief, grow up already, expand your horizons a little, this is adults learning a new skill related to their profession, not a bunch of teenagers in high school who have to hang out with their friends.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: RandomAngel on January 05, 2014, 06:22:28 PM
Oh, my...I just saw a "lite" version of this at a wedding last night!!

DH and I were both in the bridal party, so we were late to our table. We found four people there and four empty seats (two of which were ours, of course), and one of the guests mentioned that another place setting had been moved to a neighboring table. Recalling the seating chart I realized that three people who were meant to be seated with us had moved to that next table. There had been two empty seats there (last-minute cancellation due to weather), and the third guest had asked the waitstaff to move her seat so she could go along.

I kind of understood, since DH and I were the "bridge" for the two groups, and we weren't there at first. The shyer group apparently wasn't comfortable being seated with people they didn't know well (I doubt they would have had contact since our wedding, six years ago), so they moved to their family's table. No one was left alone, but I thought it was quite a shame--they basically travelled hours by plane to have dinner with their parents, instead of hanging out with a fun, friendly group they'd been seated with. And that group was a bit put off, as well, because even if the rejection wasn't nearly as brutal as dragon_heart's it was still the sort of thing you can't help but notice.

I certainly hope that moving one's assigned seat isn't becoming an epidemic, because it hardly ever seems to be a good idea.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: katycoo on January 06, 2014, 01:30:42 AM
When I have been planning events like these, i go out of my way to:

1. seat them with friendly people
2. TELL my friendly friends that they know NOONE else at the event so please take them under your wing?  They don't need to babysit them all night but make an effort, introduce them to others etc.

I'd be mortified if you were my guest and this happened.
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: earthgirl on January 06, 2014, 07:50:17 AM
When I have been planning events like these, i go out of my way to:

1. seat them with friendly people
2. TELL my friendly friends that they know NOONE else at the event so please take them under your wing?  They don't need to babysit them all night but make an effort, introduce them to others etc.

I'd be mortified if you were my guest and this happened.

This is what I did at my wedding - I had one friend who knew absolutely nobody else, and didn't bring a +1 - and she was the only person attending in that situation.  I sat her at a table with a few friends as well as my cousin, and emailed my cousin's wife, who is one of the most bubbly, gregarious people I know, to please keep an eye out for her.  As it turns out, my friend held her own just fine and I still have some of my coworkers asking about her two and a half years later (they weren't seated anywhere near her!), but it made me feel better knowing that I'd done what I could to ensure she wasn't sitting in a corner all night.

OP, if I were in your situation I probably would have done the same thing. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 06, 2014, 08:04:21 PM
If I was the Groom in the OP's situation, I'd want to know if a group of my friends effectively turned their back on another guest. I'd want the left-out guest to tell me what happened. If only so I could have stern words with the other friends next time I saw them!
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: delabela on January 06, 2014, 11:03:03 PM
Stunningly rude.

I would assume any adult has the ability to have pleasant dinner conversation with their table mates and then circulate for more socializing with other people later. 
Title: Re: Weird seating situation at a party
Post by: Ginger G on January 07, 2014, 08:05:10 AM
Years ago I attended the wedding of my SIL's brother by myself in another city.  I didn't know anyone except the groom and my SIL and brother who were in the wedding party so they were seated at the head table.  The others at my table completely ignored my existence, and I sat there bored and miserable picking at my food.  I'm somewhat introverted but I did make small attempts to be included at first but quickly gave up.  At least they didn't all go sit at other tables though, that would have been way worse!  I did end up having fun after the dinner was over and I was able to hang out with my brother and SIL.  They had a great Beatles tribute band which is the main reason I wanted to attend in the first place.