Etiquette Hell

Wedding Bliss and Blues => Receptions => Topic started by: goldilocks on June 19, 2017, 10:46:47 AM

Title: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: goldilocks on June 19, 2017, 10:46:47 AM
This is the  2nd wedding I've attended in recent years where there was not enough seating at the reception.  I'm not talking about a slight shortage, I mean only about half the guests had a place to sit at the reception.

This makes it difficult  to put down your things  and dance, it's impossible to eat as well.   

Any reasons for this?
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: wolfie on June 19, 2017, 10:52:33 AM
This is the  2nd wedding I've attended in recent years where there was not enough seating at the reception.  I'm not talking about a slight shortage, I mean only about half the guests had a place to sit at the reception.

This makes it difficult  to put down your things  and dance, it's impossible to eat as well.   

Any reasons for this?

yes - as I understand it is supposed to make people mingle more  since they aren't sitting. In my experience it makes people mingle less.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: TeamBhakta on June 19, 2017, 10:52:41 AM
I've seen many wedding websites & articles that suggest not providing enough reception seating. It's supposed to force guests to mingle & move around. But it really just irritates guests into thinking "I bought a $50 gift from your registry, drove 40 miles to be here & bought a fancy dress. But you expect me to balance a plate & a drink in high heels the whole time ?  >:( " Which causes people to just camp out at the seats they can find.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Kiwipinball on June 19, 2017, 10:54:06 AM
I've only seen it at a dessert-only reception where it didn't matter as much. It would annoy me at a full-meal reception.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Harriet Jones on June 19, 2017, 12:23:35 PM
It might make people mingle more, but, for me, it would also make me leave early if I couldn't get a seat.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: cattlekid on June 19, 2017, 12:43:02 PM
Parking my POD right here.  Plus, what about the mobility impaired? 

It might make people mingle more, but, for me, it would also make me leave early if I couldn't get a seat.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: NFPwife on June 19, 2017, 01:52:59 PM
Parking my POD right here.  Plus, what about the mobility impaired? 

It might make people mingle more, but, for me, it would also make me leave early if I couldn't get a seat.

Me too! I plan shoes based on how many "miles" I'm putting on them and I would have planned having a seat at the reception, if I didn't and my feet started to hurt, I'd leave without a second thought. I'd assume that if you wanted me to stay, you'd have made me reasonably comfortable.

We were at a reception with an SRO cocktail reception, everything was at the same venue and we were ushered out of the ballroom to a cocktail reception while they reset the room. There was no seating. My late MIL and several older attendees were mobility challenged. My DH told a staff member he was getting chairs for them and they granted "permission." (Quotes because he wasn't permission seeking, he was informing.) Others saw the chairs and went to get chairs. At least 40% of people ended up sitting, people just don't appreciate balancing food (heavy apps that required silverware in a few cases) and drinks, while dressed up.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: mime on June 19, 2017, 04:15:10 PM
Just over 20 years ago as I was planning my own reception, this was presented as an option. The mansion we used could seat 100 guests for dinner in the dining room. Alternatively, we could have an appetizer reception for 200, where the seating in the ballroom and other rooms would seat not-quite half of those guests.

They also claimed that it allows people to mingle, and it allows for a larger guest list.

I hated the idea that over half of our gests would have nowhere to sit, and I figured the few who got seats would be reluctant to give them up. I also hated the idea that *I* would want to have a seat sometimes, and would feel extremely uncomfortable sitting while guests had to stand. It just didn't seem like it would be very welcoming.


Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Dazi on June 19, 2017, 04:23:02 PM
It's not new, but it's a HORRIBLE idea. The people that have seats refuse to vacate them for fear of losing their seat. The people without seats are peeved about not having anywhere to put their stuff/eat/sit. IME, all this does is make 1/2 the people leave way early in the evening.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: lakey on June 19, 2017, 04:48:33 PM
It isn't just a problem for people who are noticeably mobility impaired. A lot of us can't comfortably stand for long periods of time. Then there is the issue of the kind of dress shoes that  a lot of women wear. Some people may just be tired. I don't think it matters that the reception may  have only appetizers or dessert. It can still be hard for many people to stand for long periods. I think that not providing enough or any seating is thoughtless and inconsiderate.  I'd leave. 
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gramma dishes on June 19, 2017, 07:26:16 PM
 :o  How incredibly rude!

It's the epitome of poor hosting!  Whoever came up with this ridiculous idea?  It would be almost guaranteed to have the exact opposite effect of that claimed. 

Instead of encouraging mingling, it would greatly discourage it because the people who were fast enough to grab a seat are not going to risk relinquishing it to go across to the other side of the room and talk to people over there knowing you'll have no place to sit over there and that you'll certainly lose the one you have already!  No way is that going to happen!   :-\

So the seated people will stay put and everyone else will get uncomfortable and leave early thinking less of their hosts and maybe even regretting coming.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on June 19, 2017, 07:32:26 PM
My mum actually suggested a cocktail reception to "save money". But I hate parties like this, you don't get to sit down and don't get much to eat. We had a sit down reception with everyone at one table. Everyone got to sit down.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gramma dishes on June 19, 2017, 07:40:23 PM
My mum actually suggested a cocktail reception to "save money". But I hate parties like this, you don't get to sit down and don't get much to eat. We had a sit down reception with everyone at one table. Everyone got to sit down.

Actually I've been to cocktail receptions and they're fine!  In both cases they were called that in the invitation or in some way it was made  clear this was not going to be a meal.  But ... there were plenty of chairs for everyone.

I would say they were more similar to the 'cake/ice cream/punch' type receptions that were the first many receptions I attended and they are still popular today, especially in some smaller communities.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on June 19, 2017, 08:30:25 PM
Well, I was the bride, I get to pick what sort of reception I want. :)
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gramma dishes on June 19, 2017, 08:34:13 PM
Well, I was the bride, I get to pick what sort of reception I want. :)

LOL!  Of course!   ;D
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gellchom on June 19, 2017, 10:26:55 PM
I, too, have been to a few receptions like this over the years, and I can tell you that most guests hate them.  No one says a word to the hosts, but they roll their eyes to each other.  It definitely doesn't make people mingle more; it makes them leave early (and it makes older guests feel unwelcome).

For a cocktail hour between the ceremony and the dinner, you don't need to have enough seats for everyone (and in my experience, no one does), but you do need to have enough seats for your elderly and mobility impaired guests to sit down.

It's fine to have just appetizers or just desserts for a reception, but you still have to have enough seating for everyone (and be prepared for people not staying as long). 
 
I agree, it does not have the breezy, mingly, cocktail party groove that the hosts imagine.  It just feels inconsiderate and uncomfortable.  (For that matter, people like to sit at cocktail parties, too.)  I'm not mobility impaired, and I can dance and walk comfortably in high heels, but standing still in them for long stretches is rough.

In addition, there are usually just a few little high top tables.  So those fill up very quickly with dirty plates, napkins, and glasses, and unless you have an awful lot of servers, guests have no place to put anything down.  If I have a drink in one hand and a plate in the other (not to mention a pocketbook), it's impossible to eat anything on the plate.  If it's food that requires a knife and fork, you really need both hands and a table.  Guests end up drifting out into the hall of the venue to find places to sit or at least to put things down.  This isn't a problem for cocktail hours, in my experience, because people aren't eating as much as they do when that is the only food for the evening, and most of the items are tiny pickups that servers pass; nothing you need a fork or a plate to eat.

Why anyone is recommending this is beyond me.  I've never heard anyone say they like it, let alone prefer it.  Maybe venue owners are trying to maximize the number of guests the hosts can squeeze into the venue, so that they will make more money on liquor.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: sammycat on June 20, 2017, 12:43:56 AM
I've walked out of events that have had insufficient seating before.  I haven't encountered it a wedding yet, but I would also walk out if I did end up at a wedding like this, and take my present with me. (All the weddings I've been too have been sit down two or three course or buffet events, and I hope they stay that way).

It's completely and utterly rude, for all the reasons mentioned by PP; no exceptions.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: goldilocks on June 20, 2017, 10:48:10 AM
Yes, I did notice the entire bridal party had a table reserved.   Apparently they don't have to mingle, just the rest of us.

Really I think what happened is the bride selected this venue and when they realized it wasn't big enough, they just decided to "make do".   Big mistake in my opinion.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Zizi-K on June 20, 2017, 10:58:10 AM
I have found that a greater demand for seating than there is supply does not have the intended effect of causing people to get up and mingle. Quite the opposite, people that get seats first are terrified to lose them, so they refuse to budge from them during the whole event. Or, they camp out with close friends or family, who save the seats while people make food or beverage runs. It's terrible, IMO.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: HannahGrace on June 20, 2017, 11:16:35 AM
Curious, was this the same wedding you posted about with the loud band?
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: TeamBhakta on June 20, 2017, 11:25:39 AM
Yes, I did notice the entire bridal party had a table reserved.   Apparently they don't have to mingle, just the rest of us.

Really I think what happened is the bride selected this venue and when they realized it wasn't big enough, they just decided to "make do".   Big mistake in my opinion.

Ah, the good old A-list vs B-list approach  :P
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: BigBadBetty on June 20, 2017, 12:28:27 PM
I have found that a greater demand for seating than there is supply does not have the intended effect of causing people to get up and mingle. Quite the opposite, people that get seats first are terrified to lose them, so they refuse to budge from them during the whole event. Or, they camp out with close friends or family, who save the seats while people make food or beverage runs. It's terrible, IMO.
This has been my experience, too. I have never been to a wedding where this happened. However, I have been to other events where there has been a shortage of seats. People are terrified of losing their seats. Other people are like vultures waiting for a seat to open. While I am in relatively good health, I am a complete klutz. I cannot eat, hold a drink and maintain my balance at the same time.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: goldilocks on June 20, 2017, 04:07:50 PM
Curious, was this the same wedding you posted about with the loud band?

Yes.   I didn't really enjoy this wedding very much.   
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Winterlight on June 28, 2017, 11:13:18 AM
Personally I feel that providing your guests with sufficient seating so everyone has a place to sit is a basic tenet of hospitality. Especially at an event that is going to last several hours.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: katycoo on June 28, 2017, 11:48:52 PM
Wow.

I had a cocktail reception.  There was plenty of food.  The bridal party did not have designated seating.  There was not seating for every guest as that defeats the purpose of the style of function, but there was still lots of seating, and the staff brought out additional chairs when requested.  And honestly I think that's the key.  if you need a seat and there isn't one - ask.  Any decent venue will do their best to accommodate.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: TeamBhakta on June 29, 2017, 12:08:36 AM
Wow.

I had a cocktail reception.  There was plenty of food.  The bridal party did not have designated seating.  There was not seating for every guest as that defeats the purpose of the style of function, but there was still lots of seating, and the staff brought out additional chairs when requested.  And honestly I think that's the key.  if you need a seat and there isn't one - ask.  Any decent venue will do their best to accommodate.

I don't think it's fair to put the onus on guests. I wouldn't be too happy if I only got a chair after chasing down the busy venue staff.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gellchom on June 29, 2017, 02:02:12 PM
Wow.

I had a cocktail reception.  There was plenty of food.  The bridal party did not have designated seating.  There
 was not seating for every guest as that defeats the purpose of the style of function, but there was still lots of  d a seat and there isn't one - ask.  Any decent venue will do their best to accommodate.

I don't think it's fair to put the onus on guests. I wouldn't be too happy if I only got a chair after chasing down the busy venue staff.

I agree.  Unless I were disabled, I would feel like a real special snowflake doing that.  I probably just wouldn't stay very long if I didn't have a place to sit/put down my things.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a cocktail party reception -- at least if all of your guests are fairly young and fit; you have to remember that Grandma is your guest, too, and you have to consider what works for all your guests, not just your peers.  I have been to a couple of weddings where there was a seated dinner first, and then the dance part of the evening was in a room that had zero seating; the middle aged guests went up and down stairs bringing chairs for the elderly relatives while the HC and their friends blithely danced away.  Katycoo wisely anticipated that, it sounds like.

But for an entire reception without seating, I would only figure on around 60-90 minutes, and no dancing.  People need a place to put their stuff while they are dancing and a place they can count on sitting down together when they need a rest.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: goldilocks on June 29, 2017, 03:58:05 PM
Wow.

I had a cocktail reception.  There was plenty of food.  The bridal party did not have designated seating.  There was not seating for every guest as that defeats the purpose of the style of function, but there was still lots of seating, and the staff brought out additional chairs when requested.  And honestly I think that's the key.  if you need a seat and there isn't one - ask.  Any decent venue will do their best to accommodate.

Should  I also have asked for another table to be  put out?   
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: katycoo on June 29, 2017, 09:13:59 PM
Wow.

I had a cocktail reception.  There was plenty of food.  The bridal party did not have designated seating.  There was not seating for every guest as that defeats the purpose of the style of function, but there was still lots of seating, and the staff brought out additional chairs when requested.  And honestly I think that's the key.  if you need a seat and there isn't one - ask.  Any decent venue will do their best to accommodate.

Should  I also have asked for another table to be  put out?

Why do you need additional tables if there are plenty of drink tables around that the staff are clearing regularly?

Honestly, I feel like on this forum there can be a bit of attitude that the guests must be treated with kid gloves.  They should be able to arrive and have every whim catered for, regardless of the style of event.

At a cocktail event, people should be moving around.  People also might want a rest at times which is why there's seating available.  And elderly or impaired guests might need a seat for the evening - which is fine.  This idea that guests rush in, bags a seat and refuse to budge for fear of not getting another one is ridiculous - I've never seen this occur. 

If you hate cocktail events that much, just decline.  Noone is making you attend.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Bales on June 30, 2017, 06:29:28 AM
I would not know enough to decline, since "cocktail reception" does not translate (in my mind) to "you may not have a seat."  I'm glad it works for some, but I don't find the concept appropriate for a wedding.  A cocktail fundraiser or work/industry event - sure.  But at a wedding, I'm not sure why sufficient seats cannot be placed out from the start, even if they are spread out and none are assigned to facilitate the cocktail atmosphere.  Providing a seat is not coddling guests; it's basic hosting.  Even for a backyard BBQ, if I know I don't have enough seats, I let folks know and ask them to bring their own lawn chairs if they can.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: HannahGrace on June 30, 2017, 07:21:23 AM
I would not know enough to decline, since "cocktail reception" does not translate (in my mind) to "you may not have a seat."  I'm glad it works for some, but I don't find the concept appropriate for a wedding.  A cocktail fundraiser or work/industry event - sure.  But at a wedding, I'm not sure why sufficient seats cannot be placed out from the start, even if they are spread out and none are assigned to facilitate the cocktail atmosphere.  Providing a seat is not coddling guests; it's basic hosting.  Even for a backyard BBQ, if I know I don't have enough seats, I let folks know and ask them to bring their own lawn chairs if they can.

Agreed. And also, even if I knew that the "purpose of the style of fun" involved me not being able to sit down, if it's a wedding there is more social pressure to attend than a regular cocktail party / fundraiser.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on June 30, 2017, 07:39:51 AM
Not having a seat at a wedding would be so outside the norm for me, even if the invite said cocktail reception, that I would be quite surprised to not have a seat.  And it would cause issues because I would choose my footwear based on the fact that I would be sitting for a good portion of the evening.  If I had to stand for an extended period of time in heels, I'd be in agony and would have to make my excuses and go home.

So while I wouldn't turn the invitation down, I would very much like to have the information that there might not be enough seats so that I can wear appropriate footwear that, while less fashionable, will allow me to stand for much of the evening with a minimum of pain.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gellchom on June 30, 2017, 07:58:32 AM
I would not know enough to decline, since "cocktail reception" does not translate (in my mind) to "you may not have a seat."  I'm glad it works for some, but I don't find the concept appropriate for a wedding.  A cocktail fundraiser or work/industry event - sure.  But at a wedding, I'm not sure why sufficient seats cannot be placed out from the start, even if they are spread out and none are assigned to facilitate the cocktail atmosphere.  Providing a seat is not coddling guests; it's basic hosting.  Even for a backyard BBQ, if I know I don't have enough seats, I let folks know and ask them to bring their own lawn chairs if they can.

Agreed. And also, even if I knew that the "purpose of the style of fun" involved me not being able to sit down, if it's a wedding there is more social pressure to attend than a regular cocktail party / fundraiser.

It's not just a question of social pressure to attend.  For me, I want very much to be at your wedding and would be very disappointed to miss it -- much more than a regular cocktail party.  I don't want to be uncomfortable, but I don't want to miss your wedding, so I'll be there. 

It's easy to say "if they don't like XYZ type parties, they don't have to come," but I think most HCs would be disappointed and maybe even a little hurt if any of their dear ones declined their wedding just because they don't like cocktail style events. 
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: petpet on June 30, 2017, 10:29:08 AM
My brother's wedding was like this and I thought it was awful. They had 200 guests and only seating for 100. The whole event was in the same space so 100 people were squished around the edges of the room to watch the ceremony.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Yvaine on June 30, 2017, 11:28:10 AM
I would not know enough to decline, since "cocktail reception" does not translate (in my mind) to "you may not have a seat."  I'm glad it works for some, but I don't find the concept appropriate for a wedding.  A cocktail fundraiser or work/industry event - sure.  But at a wedding, I'm not sure why sufficient seats cannot be placed out from the start, even if they are spread out and none are assigned to facilitate the cocktail atmosphere.  Providing a seat is not coddling guests; it's basic hosting.  Even for a backyard BBQ, if I know I don't have enough seats, I let folks know and ask them to bring their own lawn chairs if they can.

Agreed. I've seen it work OK for, say, an art event, where the point is for people to wander around and see the art, and there isn't really space for a bunch of tables anyway, and people will come and go throughout the evening so that no individual guest is stuck there on their feet the whole night. And it's still a pain to balance all your stuff, etc., but you can just leave when you get sick of it. A wedding has more of an expectation of "come to it to support your relative/friend, even if you don't like the style of it," and more of an expectation of "stay for a long time."
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: goldilocks on June 30, 2017, 12:24:08 PM
The event I attended was not a cocktail reception.   It was a buffet dinner.   
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gramma dishes on June 30, 2017, 12:29:01 PM
The event I attended was not a cocktail reception.   It was a buffet dinner.   

No excuse for not having a seat for everyone then.  That's just ridiculous!   >:(
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: katycoo on June 30, 2017, 08:20:15 PM
I am very surprised at the number of people who don't associate cocktail event with specifically a non-seated event.  I mean, finger food while seated is unheard of (to me, at least).

Perhaps it is more of a regional thing.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: Harriet Jones on June 30, 2017, 08:42:31 PM
I would definitely associate a cocktail event with not much seating.   

However, I'm not comfortable standing for more than a couple hours, especially if I'm wearing heels.   If there's nowhere to sit after my knee gives out, I'll be leaving.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: HannahGrace on June 30, 2017, 09:34:16 PM
Sure, a cocktail party, I don't expect to have a designated seat.  I also don't expect to be there more than an hour or two max.  A wedding, I expect to be there at least a few hours, and I expect to get to sit to go along with the longer time frame.
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 01, 2017, 12:24:30 AM
I think I've posted about this issue before. I've been to cocktail receptions before. In theory they sound good. The idea is that everyone (bar the elderly, very young, injured, etc) - at some stage of the event - will have a turn at sitting, standing, dancing, etc. It's definitely meant to encourage people to mingle (as well as save money, since they're generally cheaper than sit-down receptions!).

In practice however, it usually doesn't work that way. As others have stated, what tends to happen is that people rush to claim a seat, then basically sit there all night, refusing to give it up. That results in the other guests having to stand all night.

I think the able-bodied, younger guests who hog a chair for the entire event are also partly to blame. I don't think the hosts share all the culpability here. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the solution is - except perhaps have chairs for everyone? Or for the hosts to politely remind their guests to take turns to sit/stand/etc?
Title: Re: not enough seating - is this new?
Post by: gellchom on July 01, 2017, 08:53:44 AM
 Really I think the only way to make a cocktail party style reception work is to figure on it only lasting about 60 to 90 minutes, with no dancing. I think that speeches and toasts and cake cutting and such would have to be kept way, way short as well:  less than three minutes total, even, maybe. Because it's one thing to stay on your feet mingling and having cocktails and nibbles; another to have to stand on your feet to listen to speeches and toasts.

If your only guests are young people who all like clubbing, then I suppose it could work to have a longer party with dancing. But that brings me back to what I wrote above about having to be considerate of all your guests, if your group is more varied.